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For the United States U-23 national team, the Olympics will be a time to prove themselves as they try to do something that has never been done before. Returning to the competition for the first time since 2008, this talented squad has a chance to become the first men's side to medal at the Olympics, betting the team's fourth place at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. 

The Olympics will kick off on July 24 and coach Marko Mitrovic will have quite a challenge. Drawn into a group with France, New Zealand, and the winner of the AFC versus CAF playoff, the USMNT will be expected to advance to the knockout stages, but that doesn't mean that it'll be easy even after showing their talent in drawing a friendly against France behind goals by Cade Cowell and Griffin Yow.

Only allowed a 22-player roster, Mitrovic will have some tough decisions to make, so I tried to put myself in his shoes selecting a versatile roster that can take to the tournament. Mitrovic will be able to take three overaged members of the squad who will also be factored into the decision. 

Olympic roster projection 

*'s denote overaged players

Goalkeepers (2): Gabriel Slonina (Eupen), Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew).

Defenders (7): Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)*, Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo), John Tolkin (Red Bull New York), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United), Jonathan Tomkinson (Bristol City).

Midfielders (7): Paxten Aaronson (Vitesse), Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Daniel Edelman (Red Bulls New York), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Tanner Tessmann (Venezia), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Kellyn Acosta (Chicago Fire)*.

Forwards (6): Brandon Vazquez (Monterrey)*, Griffin Yow (Westerlo), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg), Cade Cowell (Chivas), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City SC).

Why no Christian Pulisic?

Determining the overaged players was one of the hardest parts of this roster. Copa America is happening during the same summer, and while it would be great to have Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Gio Reyna in this roster it's something that creates far too much risk. Players who take part in two summer tournaments back-to-back run the risk of picking serious injuries. During the last Olympics we saw that happen to the likes of Dani Olmo, Richarlison, and Neymar, but at the same time it's important for players who have national team experience to be involved in this roster.

Zimmerman and Acosta have both been to the World Cup and were involved in big moments for the national team while Vazquez is someone who while in good form for his club, doesn't feel close to breaking in at striker for the senior team. Because of that, the best experience that Vazquez can get this summer is by heading to the Olympics. Ricardo Pepi while not an over aged player is someone else who could be in contention for this squad depending on how the selection goes for Copa America.

The rise of Griffin Yow

There are few soccer players in the world enjoying a better start to 2024 than Yow. Bursting onto the scene with Westerlo, Yow now has four goals and two assists in the Belgian Pro league to kick off the year. He;s an example of how D.C. United's fingerprints all over the roster. Yow developed at the Major League Soccer side and is another example that while the results may not have been there for the Black and Red in MLS play, they're doing their part to create USMNT internationals.

Yow wasn't on the Olympic radar but he has now surpassed regulars like Quinn Sullivan to have a leg up on making this roster. Alongside talented attackers like Diego Luna and Cade Cowell, Yow can help make a formintable attack that will give the USMNT a chance to punch above their weight at this tournament.