The United States will have to go through a group that includes Canada, Cuba and El Salvador if they are to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The two four-team CONCACAF qualifying groups were announced on Tuesday, with Mexico headlining the other group that will include Honduras, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.
The United States' group stage qualifying will take place from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., while Group B will be held at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The top two teams from each group will then advance to the semifinals, which will be held at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. on March 31. The winner of the semifinals will then advance to the Olympics. The CONCACAF championship game will be played on April 2.
This will be new U.S. U-23 coach Caleb Porter's first big test since being hired. The Akron coach will hold his training session in Sarasota, Fla. from Dec. 15-23.
"Obviously it's very exciting to finally know our matchups in group play, which allows us to concentrate our preparation even further," U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter said in a statement. "Although our primary focus right now is on our own process, this will give us even greater insight into how we will plan for qualifying, especially as the games get closer. We have been gathering information on all of our potential opponents, and now we can isolate our scouting even further. The path to reaching our goal of qualifying for the Olympics is a lot clearer."
Although a roster has not yet been announced, it will likely include young MLS standouts like Brek Shea, Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo, Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson. Internationally based players such as Tim Chandler, Mikkel Diskerud and Gale Agbossoumonde could also be included. Olympic teams are ostensibly U-23 teams that are augmented with up to three "overage" players.