The road to Paris starts in Phoenix.
This week, the United States Men’s Olympic Team descends on the Southwest to begin preparations for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Phoenix was selected as the location of the training camp as 23 players were called upon.
With the training camp, the path to the Olympics officially starts for the United States.
It is the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the men will be competing in the Olympics. The U23 men are coached by Marko Mitrović. U.S. men’s team qualified after beating Honduras 3-0 in the 2022 CONCAF U-20 Championships.
The Men’s Olympic Soccer tournament only allows for players under the age of 23 to compete. The reason for that is to keep the World Cup as the highest level of international competition for soccer.
So you won’t see Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé, Manchester City’s Erling Haaland or AC Milan’s Christian Pulisic suiting up in Paris. But there still be top talent at the tournament.
The under-23 team is part of United States Soccer’s development system as it allows some of the nation’s young talent the opportunity to face top opposition on a global stage in front of a huge audience.
The U.S. kicks off play this week against Mexico in an international friendly at the Phoenix Rising Stadium on Wednesday.
As part of the friendly matches, Japan also is in town to participate. Japan and Mexico play each other on Saturday. The United States takes on Japan next Tuesday.
Mexico, the reigning bronze medalists, will not be competing in Paris after missing out on qualification. Japan will have a chance to qualify next spring at the Asian Games.
The United States roster is a mixed bag of experienced players. There are players from a total of 19 clubs, including 12 from Major League Soccer.
There are nine players who have appeared for the United States Men’s National Team, with midfielder Gianluca Busio’s 13 senior international appearances leading the way. Eight players have represented the United States in a FIFA Youth World Cup, including three players from this summer’s 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina — defender Caleb Wiley and midfielders Jack McGlynn and Obed Vargas.
The United States will be led by midfielder Paxten Aaronson, the 20-year-old New Jersey native who plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. At last summer’s U-20 CONCAF Championships, Aaronson proved to be the difference maker as he scored the opening goal of the title match and won both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards as the tournament’s top goal-scorer and overall player.
The match against Mexico on Wednesday starts at 7 p.m. Ticket information can be found at phxrisingfc.com/tickets/offers/olympics/.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: U.S. Men’s Olympic soccer team in Phoenix preparing for the 2024 Paris Games