US get automatic bid for 2012 Olympic quals
CONCACAF announced on Wednesday that the United States, Canada and Mexico will automatically appear in the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, while two squads from the Caribbean and three from Central America will fill out the eight-team field.
The two finalists earn a berth in the '12 Summer Games in London.
The U-23 tournament follows the same structure as its predecessor in 2008. Each country will be placed in a four-team group and play a home-and-home against the three other members. The top two teams advance to the semifinals.
The US will rely on a core of current and recent members of the U-20 side. Defenders Gale Agbossoumonde and Greg Garza will likely man the back line, while Sebastian Lletget and FC Dallas' Brek Shea should figure into the midfield. Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney and New York Red Bulls product Juan Agudelo are key contenders to run the American attack.
The US reached the final in the 2008 edition of the qualifying tournament, where they conceded a goal in the 102nd minute to Georgie Welcome and fell 1-0 to Honduras. By reaching the final, they clinched a berth in the '08 Summer Games in Beijing.
Freddy Adu was the qualifying tournament's top scorer with four goals, while Eddie Gaven and Sacha Kljestan also netted for the American side. Future senior team members Charlie Davies, Jonathan Spector, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden and Robbie Findley were also on the roster.
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahedavis.