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U.S. Olympic men’s soccer qualifying tournament gets new dates

United States Training Session

CARSON, CA - JANUARY 30: United States U23 Head Coach Jason Kreis walks onto the field at Dignity Health Sports Park at Dignity Health Sports Park on January 30, 2020 in Carson, California. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

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The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team will try to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2008 in March in Mexico.

CONCACAF announced that the qualifying tournament, rescheduled from last March, will be March 18-30 in Guadalajara, the same site as the canceled 2020 tournament.

The U.S. is in one of two groups, with Costa Rica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic (same as it would have been in 2020). The top two teams in each group reach the semifinals, where the winners of those two matches qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic tournaments, marking its first back-to-back Olympic absences since 1964 and 1968 (not counting the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games).

World powers France, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Argentina were among the nations to earn Tokyo places from previous continental qualifiers.

If the U.S. qualifies, its Olympic roster must be 18 players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, with three over-age exceptions allowed.

Some of the U.S.’ best players, including Christian Pulisic of Chelsea, Weston McKennie of Juventus and Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund, are eligible for the Olympics without needing to use an over-age exception.

However, their European clubs might not make them available to play in Olympic qualifying or the Tokyo Games. None of them were on coach Jason Kreis’ roster that was named for the qualifying tournament in 2020 before it was canceled.

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