U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter has called 28 players to an eight-day training camp from Dec.15-23 in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The team will train at the Premier Sports Campus, which recently hosted the 2011 Development Academy Winter Showcase and the Nike International Friendlies.
“At every camp we expect to push the group forward by continuing to evaluate the player pool while imprinting the concepts of how we will play as a team on both sides of the ball,” said Porter. “As we sort through our personnel and start to hone in on the roster, it is equally as important that the players develop a clear understanding of the culture of how we will do things leading up to our first match in Nashville.”
The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team was drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will face Canada, Cuba and El Salvador. The teams will play their group matches from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville. The two finalists from the tournament will qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London next summer. CONCACAF will announce the schedule for the qualifying tournament later today.
This is the second gathering of this age group in preparation for qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games. U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is working with Porter and the rest of the coaching staff in order to structure the program in a similar fashion to the full team, including the approach to style of play, training sessions, and fitness testing.
A total of 12 players on the 28-man roster participated in the training camp last month in Germany. Seventeen are plying their trade in MLS, with the Philadelphia Union contributing five to the camp. MLS Cup finalists Houston Dynamo send a trio of players, including Danny Cruz, who started in the final against the LA Galaxy.
Six players have experience with the full National Team, led by Freddy Adu with 17 caps. Gale Agbossoumonde, Teal Bunbury and Mikkel Diskerud made their national team debut in the same match, with Diskerud setting up Juan Agudelo on the lone goal in the USA’s 1-0 win against South Africa in the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge. Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson got his first appearance in the 1-1 draw against Chile in January of this year, and D.C. United ‘keeper Bill Hamid has been a part of every camp under Klinsmann.
The December camp roster is loaded with players who have been a part of the U.S. Youth National Teams. Six players represented in the U.S. in qualifying for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, with Joseph Gyau recording a goal and Sebastian Lletget two assists. Adu and Bryan Arguez were part of the squad that reached the knockout round of the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, and a total of 10 players appeared in the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
There are 13 alumni of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program, including seven players who played in a FIFA U-17 World Cup: Adu, Agbossoumonde, Jared Jeffrey, Zac MacMath, Jack McInerney, Kofi Sarkodie and Sheanon Williams.
Sarkodie and Zarek Valentin played for Porter when the Akron Zips won the 2010 NCAA Championship, while Bunbury was the starting striker on the Zips team that reached the final in 2009 and finished in second place.
Six players come from clubs in Germany and were part of the previous camp except for newcomer Jann George, who makes his debut with the U.S. National Teams. The forward joins from Nürnberg, the club of U.S. MNT defender Timmy Chandler. Joe Corona makes his second straight appearance in a U.S. camp coming from Club Tijuana in Mexico, while Sebastian Ibeagha and Andrew Wenger are the only two college players on the roster.
U.S. UNDER-23 ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
DEFENDERS (8): Gale Agbossoumonde (Eintracht Frankfurt), Royal-Dominique Fennell (Stuttgarter Kickers), Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA), Andrew Wenger (Duke), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Bryan Arguez (Montreal Impact), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabæk), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS (6): Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Teal Bunbury (Sporting KC), Jann George (Nürnberg), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Wooten (Kaiserslautern)