Kevin Paredes and Griffin Yow named to US Olympic men’s soccer team

Kevin Paredes and Griffin Yow, both 21-year-old soccer players from Northern Virginia, began their careers as domestic players for DC United before heading to Europe, where they are headed to the Paris Olympics together.

The wingers were among 18 players named Monday to the U.S. men’s team that will compete in the Summer Games for the first time since 2008. The 16-nation tournament is limited to under-23 players, with three exceptions per team.

Paredes (South Riding) and Yow (Clifton) have been part of the youth national team set-up for some time. But because soccer’s governing body FIFA doesn’t require clubs to release players for the Olympics, Paredes needed the approval of Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga and Belgian club Westerloh to join the U.S. team.

US coach Marko Mitrovic’s requests for several players have been rejected by clubs, including midfielder Aidan Morris (Middlesbrough) and forwards Haji Wright (Coventry City) and Brandon Vazquez (Monterrey), according to people familiar with the situation.

Several age-worthy players such as Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah are not realistic call-ups due to club pre-season demands and their participation in the Copa America with the senior national team this summer.

“It’s been a very difficult process in the last eight to 10 months, talking to the clubs and trying to release all the players,” Mitrovic said. “Yes, there were challenges, but we believe we can represent ourselves in the best possible way and I feel very good about the team going to Paris.”

The U.S. team will report to training camp in Bordeaux, France this week. Group play begins on July 24 against France in Marseille, followed by New Zealand in Marseille on July 27 and Guinea on July 30 in Saint-Etienne. Two will advance to the quarterfinals.

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Since the age restriction was implemented in 1992, the only time the U.S. men have advanced from the team sport was a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

All but three U.S. call-ups have appeared on the senior national team.

Paredes and Yow are among eight European-based players heading to the Olympics. This past season – his second full campaign in Germany as United moved him for $7.35 million in January 2022 – scored three goals in 28 league appearances (15 starts).

He was a candidate for the Copa America squad this summer, but US senior national team coach Greg Berhalter decided to save him for the Olympics.

Yow, who moved to Belgium in July 2022, scored seven goals in 28 league appearances (25 starts) last season.

The other 10 American players are from MLS teams, including selections over three years old: center backs Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) and Myles Robinson (FC Cincinnati) and midfielder Djordje Mihailovic (Colorado Rapids).

Zimmerman, 31, and Robinson, 27, started together in six 2022 World Cup qualifiers, eight times overall. Zimmerman started at the World Cup in Qatar, but Robinson missed the tournament with an Achilles tendon injury. Mihailovic, 25, is enjoying an outstanding MLS season with 10 goals and nine assists in 11 appearances for the senior team.

The list also includes midfielder Benjamin Gremachi, who at 19 was the youngest selection. In his second season in Inter Miami’s first team, Gremachi is mentored by Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.

Goalkeepers: Gabriel Slonina (Chelsea), Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew).

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Guardians: Maximilian Dietz (Greuther F├╝rth), Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati), John Tolkien (New York Red Bulls), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC).

Midfielders: Gianluca Buzio (Venice), Benjamin Cremasi (Inter Miami), Jack McLean (Philadelphia Union), Djordje Mihailovic (Colorado Rapids), Tanner Dessmann (Venice).

Forward: Paxten Aaronson (Utrecht), Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg), Griffin Yow (Westerlo).

change: GK John Bullscomb (Sporting Kansas City), D Jacob Davis (Sporting Kansas City), MF Josh Atencio (Seattle Sounders), F Johan Gomez (Intracht Braunschweig).

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