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USA qualifies for 2019 Pan American Games men’s soccer tournament

It’s been a while since the USA has played men’s soccer at the Pan American Games.

XV Pan American Games Day 2 - Soccer - USA v Venezuela Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The USA Men’s U-20 National Team won its second consecutive (and second ever) CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship title on November 21.

The team already knew it had qualified for the 2019 Men’s U-20 World Cup before it played the regional U-20 championship final against Mexico, but there was one prize other than a CONCACAF U-20 title on offer to the winner of the tournament’s finale: a spot at the 2019 Pan American Games men’s soccer tournament.

CONCACAF made this year’s regional U-20 tournament its qualifying competition for both the 2019 U-20 World Cup and the 2019 Pan American Games. For the World Cup, the USA, Mexico, Honduras, and Panama are the CONCACAF representatives. For the Pan American Games, the regional U-20 championship qualified the top-ranked Caribbean, Central American, and North American teams respectively. Jamaica and Panama qualified as the best-placed Caribbean and Central American teams, respectively.

But, since two North American teams made the final, the final had to be played to determine which North American team would be carrying tickets to the Pan American Games along with a CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship trophy.

A 2-0 win over Mexico in the final gave the USA the trophy and the tickets.

The Pan American Games men’s soccer tournament is age-restricted: the USA squad will have to be comprised of players born on or after January 1997, with up to three overage players allowed.

The tournament will be held in Lima, Peru, during July and August. The U-20 World Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup will occupying much of US Soccer’s attention in June, so it will be interesting to see what sort of squad is selected for the Pan American Games.

The current CONCACAF contingent - the USA, Panama, and Jamaica - and host nation Peru are the first confirmed qualifiers for the tournament. CONCACAF has one more qualifier to add (one would guess it is likely to be Mexico), and three CONMEBOL qualifiers will emerge from the 2019 South American Men’s U-20 Championship.

The USA hasn’t played in a Pan American Games men’s soccer tournament since 2007, when it was knocked out in the group stage. USMNT has won the tournament once - in 1991.