U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named an 18-player roster that will be traveling to Puebla, Mexico, for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which runs Feb. 18-March 3.
The U.S. is looking to qualify for its 13th FIFA U-20 World Cup, which takes place from June 21-July 13 in Turkey later this year. The top four teams from the CONCACAF U-20 Championship advance to the U-20 World Cup.
The team departed for Toluca, Mexico, today and will head to Puebla next week to prepare for the tournament.
“We are excited and looking forward to the World Cup qualification process with this group of players,” Ramos said. “This is a cohesive, talented and professional roster, and the majority of the players were on hand for our two international friendly matches against Panama in January. Having played those games in Puebla will be helpful for qualifying as the players are now familiar with the environment we will face in the CONCACAF Championship.”
The U.S. is grouped with Costa Rica and Haiti in Group A and opens the tournament against Haiti on Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. CT at Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos BUAP in Puebla. The USA then faces Costa Rica at 5:30 p.m. CT on Feb. 22 at Estadio Olímpico. Should the USA advance to the quarterfinals, its match would take place on Feb. 26. The semifinal stage is set for March 1 and the championship and third-place games on March 3.
2013 CONCACAF Championship Group Pairings:
Group A: Costa Rica, Haiti, United States
Group B: Canada, Cuba, Nicaragua
Group C: Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico
Group D: Curaçao, El Salvador, Mexico
The U.S. U-20 MNT roster features plenty of experience at this age level with Daniel Cuevas, Benji Joya, Mikey Lopez and Boyd Okwuonu sharing the team lead with 19 career U-20 caps. Joya was the lone player to see action in all 10 games in 2012 as the U.S. posted a 4-6-0 international record.
Jose Villarreal is the leading goal scorer among this group with six tallies in only nine U-20 MNT matches, including a recent penalty kick goal during the USA’s Jan. 21 match against Panama.
The U.S. roster features 11 professional players, including five who play domestically for Major League Soccer: Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Lopez (Sporting Kansas City), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew) and Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy).
Fourteen players on the U.S. roster have former ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
With qualifying taking place in Mexico, several U-20 MNT players should feel right at home as Cuevas and Joya ply their trade with Santos Laguna and Juan Pablo Ocegueda at C.D. Guadalajara.
Two additional players are expected to be added to the World Cup qualifying roster, which will be finalized in the coming days.
U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Zackary Steffen (FC DELCO Academy; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (5) : Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (C.D. Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5) : Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City; Mission, Texas), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (5) : Brandon Allen (Georgetown; Old Bridge, N.J.), Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Daniel Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.) Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)