With World Cup qualification secured, USMNT U-20 focus on Olympics

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For the fifth time in a row, the United States Men’s National Under-20 Team will take part in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, but with a victory against Honduras on Friday, the U-20s of the ‘USMNT can do something they haven’t done in 12 years — qualify for the Olympics.

It’s an odd dichotomy for Mikey Varas and his players who are all eyeing spots for the aforementioned U-20 World Cup in 2023, but are a long way off for a 2024 Olympic roster that sets the age limit at 23. .

“We were laser focused on the first step which is qualifying for the World Cup,” said head coach Mikey Varas. “The boys are going to love winning and the step they took tonight, but we’re very aware that we’re not going to get too high because we have the potential to help the country in an even bigger way on Friday. ”

At a time when the United States men’s national team heads to Qatar for the World Cup in November after failing to qualify in 2018, the return to the Olympics is an important barometer for American football to show that they have gone beyond the notion of the “lost generation”.

“The Olympics are so important,” Paxten Aaronson said after the game. “We haven’t qualified for the last three Olympics, so the team knows how important it is and I know the boys will be up for it.”

In March 2021, the United States Men’s National Under-23 Team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Honduras in regional qualifying that ended their hopes of returning to the Olympics and, luckily, the Americans face Honduras in San Pedro Sula with an Olympic spot on the line at a different level.

The Hondurans beat Panama 2-1, securing their place in the semi-finals behind a brace from Marco Aceituno, but the USMNT U-20 squad are confident they are ready for anything Honduras throws at them.

“As a group we have the fire inside us and we don’t back down from anyone,” Varas said. “We were one of the teams that gave the opposition defense the least amount of time to be on the ball and make decisions and I’m very proud of that,” Varas said.

Tired legs may also be a concern for the Americans playing their sixth game in 13 days, but Honduras also face the same challenges, although the Hondurans have the advantage of being in front of their home fans.

“Rotation was key,” Aaronson said. “At the end of the day, when the fans are in the stadium, I think the adrenaline helps a lot, but you’re always up for those kinds of games.”

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