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Josh Atencio named to USA Olympic team as alternate


Josh Atencio named to USA Olympic team as alternate

Josh Atencio will be going to Paris with the United States men’s soccer Olympic team, but his role there is unclear. The 22-year-old was one of four alternates named to the team, just missing out on the core 18-player roster.

With the possibility of teams playing six games in 17 days, alternates are often used. An apparent rule change makes it even more likely that Atencio could feature. Unlike previous tournaments, if an alternate is called into the gameday roster the player they are replacing can be added back for future matches.

Atencio is expected to join his teammates after the Seattle Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match against Sacramento Republic on Tuesday for two weeks of training before their opener against host and favorites France on July 24. U.S. Soccer had also requested for Jordan Morris to be made available, but sources indicated that the Sounders were only willing to release him if it was after their match against St. Louis City on July 17, which U.S. Soccer would not agree to. Even with that late arrival, Morris would have missed a home match against LAFC on July 20 and at least the two group stage matches in the Leagues Cup.

Following their match against France, the USA will play New Zealand on July 27 and Guinea on July 30. The top two teams from that group will advance to the knockout round, where they will be paired against Group B, which includes Argentina, Morocco, Iraq and Ukraine.

If Atencio plays, he’ll become the first active Sounder to appear in the Olympics. Kasey Keller played three matches as an overage player for the 1996 Olympics team that went out in the group stage, 13 years before joining the Sounders. Patrick Ianni also played in the 2008 Olympics, a year before he joined the Sounders in the expansion draft. Chris Henderson, another Washington native, was a member of the 1992 Olympics team, but did not play.

Unlike previous iterations of the USA’s Olympic squad, this one has a good deal of experience. Of the 18 players on the core roster, 15 of them have at least one senior national team appearance and four have represented the United States in at least one Gold Cup and/or World Cup. Virtually all of them are regular contributors for their club teams, as well.

It has been an interesting year or so for Atencio, who won the Sounders’ starting job toward the end of last season and even parlayed that into his first USMNT senior national team cap. He then opened the 2024 season as a starter, only to lose his job through a combination of injury and Obed Vargas seizing the opportunity. Atencio has made 11 starts and 16 appearances through all competitions, but has played just 113 minutes over the past two months.


Goalkeepers (2): Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew; St. Charles, Mo.), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea; Addison, Ill.)

Defenders (6): Maximilian Dietz (Greuther Furth; Frankfurt, Germany), Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union; Oldsmar, Fla.), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati; Arlington, Mass.), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, N.J.), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; Lawrenceville, Ga.) 

Midfielders (5): Gianluca Busio (Venezia; Greensboro, N.C.), Benjamin Cremaschi (Inter Miami CF; Key Biscayne, Fla.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Queens, N.Y.), Djordje Mihailovic (Colorado Rapids; Jacksonville, Fla.), Tanner Tessmann (Venezia; Birmingham, Ala.) 

Forwards (5): Paxten Aaronson (FC Utrecht; Medford, NJ), Taylor Booth (FC Utrecht; Eden, Utah), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City SC; Omaha, Neb.), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg; South Riding, Va.), Griffin Yow (KVC Westerlo; Clifton, Va.) 

Alternates (4): Josh Atencio (Midfielder, Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Jacob Davis (Defender, Sporting Kansas City; Rochester, Mich.), Johan Gomez (Forward, Eintracht Braunschweig; Keller, Texas), John Pulskamp (Goalkeeper, Sporting Kansas City; Bakersfield, Calif.)

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