U.S. Soccer on Monday announced the 31-player training camp roster that will gather in Bradenton, Fla. ahead of the Concacaf Men’s Olympic qualifying championship beginning March 18. Three Atlanta United players—Brooks Lennon, George Bello and Miles Robinson—were among the invitees, with the trio set to travel to Florida with an eye toward being selected for Jason Kreis’ final group of 20 that will head to Mexico in just over 2 and a half weeks...
...until they weren’t.
We’d later find out that they’d remain with the club with the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League against Alajuenense looming on April 7—one week after the finals of the pre-Olympics qualifier—because they’d have to quarantine and most likely miss Atlanta’s season opener as a result. Granted, Atlanta would have had a tough task ahead of it against an in-season Tico side that is atop the Primera División standings 10 games in, so its choice to decline to release anyone with the qualifiers outside of a FIFA match window makes sense.
Still, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Let’s be realistic: Bello and Robinson had a much greater chance of making the final 20-player roster than Lennon and very well would have made it, in my opinion. However, U-23 and Olympics head coach Jason Kreis all but ruled out of a potential trip to Japan for any player outside of those called into the qualifying roster. Getting there is an issue of its own: the U.S. hasn’t qualified since the 2008 Games, a squad that featured Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestian, Stu Holden, and a 24-year old defender from the New England Revolution named Michael Parkhurst.
With Atlanta’s players not training with the USMNT in Florida ahead of qualifying, their hope of a trip to Japan might hinge on a change of heart by Kreis depending on their form with the club over the next few months.