Breaking a recent tradition of declining invitations, U.S. Soccer announced on Twitter that both the men’s and women’s programs will feature at the upcoming 2023 Pan American Games, represented by the respective U-19 teams. The competition is set to be held from October 22nd through November 4th in Chile. This is the 19th (XIX) edition of the regional 27-sport event, with the men’s tournament included since the inaugural edition and the women’s added in 1999.
The men’s tournament is a U-22 competition, which allows for the inclusion of three overage players. Entering for the first time since 2007, the United States claimed the gold medal in 1991 and two bronze finishes in 1959 and 1999. The U-19 team, currently led by Marko Mitrović, traveled to Argentina in March for a pair of friendlies against the host nation’s opposing number and Racing Club de Avellaneda.
The United States qualified for the men’s tournament by winning the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, with the Dominican Republic (top Caribbean team), Honduras (top Central American team), and Mexico (top North American team) also claiming spots. In addition to Chile featuring as hosts, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay earned their way following respective first-, second-, and third-place finishes at the 2023 South American U-20 Championship. All matches will be held at the Estadio Sausalito in Viña del Mar.
The women’s tournament is a senior competition, which should present a challenge for the American U-19 side. The United States has entered twice, claiming gold in 1999 and finishing second in 2007. In May, Carrie Kveton was put in charge of the group after serving as Head of Individual Player Development at FC Nordsjaelland.
The United States qualified for the competition by winning the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, with Jamaica (top Caribbean team), Costa Rica (top Central American team), and Canada (top North American team) also booking tickets. In addition to Chile’s hosting spot, Argentina, Paraguay, and Venezuela are representing South America after finishing third, fourth, and fifth at the 2022 Copa América Femenina. Valparaíso’s Estadio Elías Figueroa Brander will host the entirety of the competition.
The tournament comes at a somewhat awkward interval in the soccer calendar, with Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, and NCAA in season. The makeup of both the men’s and women’s teams should be an interesting mix of talent, with the federation making a measured choice to utilize youth squads. The Pan American Games provides an additional opportunity for exposure and experience, which will ideally pay future dividends for the involved players.