Although 2023 wasn’t as successful of a season as the Seattle Sounders had hoped in terms of results, it was still valuable in terms of development. Among the players who took the biggest steps forward were Josh Atencio and Jackson Ragen, who both established themselves as productive starters.
The duo was so good that they’ve gotten the attention of the United States men’s national team and are expected to be called into the next training camp in early January, a source confirmed to Sounder at Heart. American Soccer Now first reported on the possibility, even noting that the 25-year-old Ragen could be an overage player on the 2024 Summer Olympics team. Atencio, 21, is also in contention for that team after he was called into the most recent U23 camp, although he didn't play after picking up a stomach bug.
A year after making his MLS debut, Ragen was tied for the team lead with 32 regular-season starts in 2023. American Soccer Analysis rated him as the best passing field player in the league.
Atencio's season was a bit more up and down, but he ended up starting 8 of 9 games down the stretch including all four playoff games. He was among the league leaders in tackles won (2.56) and aerial duels won (2.2) per 90.
Like most USMNT January camps, this one will mostly feature players who are not yet established in the full senior team and is seen as an opportunity "to identify and work with the next generation of players" in the words of USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Also participating in the camp is U23 head coach Marko Mitrovic.
The Summer Olympics mark the first time since 2008 that the United States has participated, having failed to qualify in 2012-2020. As such, the Sounders have never had an active player appear in the Summer Olympics, although Washington natives Chris Henderson (1992) and Kasey Keller (1996, as an overage player) have previously participated.