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Galaxy’s Julian Araujo, Ulysses Llanez on USMNT roster for Olympic qualifying

Galaxy defender Julian Araujo has made the USMNT roster for the Olympics qualifying tournament.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Galaxy defender Julian Araujo and midfielder Ulysses Llanez, a former Galaxy academy player, were both named Thursday to the final 20-man U.S. roster for next week’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer tournament in Guadalajara.

The qualifying tournament, originally scheduled for March 2020, was delayed a year because of COVID-19. The Olympic soccer competition for men is a U-23 event, one the U.S. has played in once since 2000.

“We know that qualifying will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we’re ready for,” U.S. coach Jason Kreis said in a statement. “We’ll need all 20 players on this roster to contribute for us to achieve our ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

“Our players are hungry for the opportunity to compete. We’re excited to get started.”

The U.S. opens play March 18 against Costa Rica. It also will face the Dominican Republic (March 21) and Mexico, the 2012 Olympic champion (March 24), in group play. The second group consists of Canada, Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras.

The top two teams in each four-country group will advance to the semifinals, both of which qualify for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Galaxy and Samuel Grandsir have agreed on a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth season, a deal the club is expected to announce Thursday.

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The Galaxy’s Efraín Álvarez did not make Mexico’s roster, but LAFC goalkeeper Tomas Romero was named to El Salvador’s team.

Araujo, 19, is one of 11 players on the qualifying roster who also has played for the senior national team and one of 16 currently playing in MLS. Llanez, 19, who plays for Heerenveen in the Netherlands, is one of four roster players based overseas.

In addition to Araujo (Lompoc) and Llanez (Lynwood), other players with California connections include goalkeepers JT Marcinkowski (Alamo) and David Ochoa (Oxnard) and forward Sebastian Soto of San Diego.

USA's Ulysses Llanez, left, celebrates after scoring  against Costa Rica in a February friendly match in Carson.
U.S. forward Ulysses Llanez, left, celebrates after scoring a goal against Costa Rica in a February friendly match in Carson. The U.S. won 1-0.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

LAFC defender Marco Farfan and Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, who were on the U.S. training camp roster, did not make the final cut and were returned to their clubs. Klinsmann sustained a concussion in practice last week.

The roster that countries use in qualifying is not necessarily the one they will use in the Summer Games. Although the tournament is a U-23 competition, because the Olympics were delayed a year FIFA has ruled that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, are eligible. That would allow the U.S. to call up senior national team regulars such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Tyler Adams and Reggie Cannon, provided they are released for the tournament by the club teams.

France would be able to call up World Cup star Kylian Mbappe, and Brazil could use Gabriel Jesus without requiring one of three over-age exemptions.

Jonathan Bond never got a chance to be a No. 1 goalkeeper during his time with English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion. He hopes to change that this season with the Galaxy.

Roster

Goalkeepers: Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, Alamo, Calif.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)
Defenders: Julian Araujo (Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Midfielders: Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; Lynwood, Calif.), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Jacksonville, Fla.), Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)
Forwards: Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego)


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