The qualifying process for the 2013 U20 World Cup is a long way off, but preparation for the U.S. side continues in earnest with another U20 camp currently in progress.
Under head coach Tab Ramos, 26 players are training in Clermont, Florida through March 1, as the former U.S. international continues working fervently to sift through the player pool.
“Every camp is important, you don’t get to see the guys all the time, so it’s important when they come in they do the best they can,” Ramos told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “We’re purely in an identification mode right now, we’re trying to find out what we have, how deep we can do into the player pool and hopefully discover guys who we think can help at this level.”
That excitement doesn’t dilute the importance. With players coming from all over the world, time is short with these camps providing the only opportunity for coaches to analyze the player pool at this age level.
And while there is plenty that Ramos wants to achieve in this latest camp, identification is the highest priority.
“At this point that’s the number one thing,” Ramos said. “You want to identify players, want to put them through sort of what the rigors are of national team training when they come in for camp and whether or not they can handle the training twice a day and having meetings, studying other teams and whatever else.”
One of the ways Ramos and his staff will test this group is with a pair of friendlies against MLS reserve teams. The US drew 2-2 against FC Dallas on Sunday, and will play Montreal on Wednesday. And while the results won’t count for much, a lot of credence will be placed on how the young players handle themselves in these games as Ramos examines players he has at his disposal.
“It’s when you get on the field and you have a little bit of time to think, and make decisions and now you have more options and what you do with the options and which options you choose is going to determine the guys we’re going to keep here,” he said. “They’re real games for us, and it helps us to see what types of players are making what types of decisions when the game time comes.”
U.S. U-20 Men's National Team Roster By Position:
Goalkeepers: Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Jesus Guzman (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Kamil Kaminski (Legia Warszawa; Berlin, Conn.)
Defenders: AJ Cochran (Wisconsin; St. Louis, Mo.), Sean Cunningham (Molde FK; Troy, Mich.), Christian Dean (California; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Mobi Fehr (Unattached; Tokyo, Japan), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (UANL Tigres; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Walker Zimmerman (Furman; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Javan Torre (LA Galaxy Academy; Santa Monica, Calif.)
Midfielders: Seth Casiple (California; Rocklin, Calif.), Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Matthew Dunn (OFK Beograd; Dallas, Texas), Daniel Garcia (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas, Texas), Alejandro Guido (Unattached; Chula Vista, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Daniel Metzger (Maryland; Staten Island, N.Y.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bollingbrook, Ill.)
Forwards: Villyan Bijev (Fortuna Düsseldorf; Fresno, Calif.), Alfred Koroma (Solar Chelsea SC; Southlake, Texas), Sean Okoli (Wake Forest; Federal Way, Wash.), Andrew Oliver (Chicago Fire Academy; Indianapolis, Ind.), Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps; El Paso, Texas)