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Caleb Porter Names 19 Players to U23 MNT roster

Published: March 12, 2012
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter has named an initial 19-player roster for training camp that will convene March 13 to begin final preparations for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

A player withdrew from consideration Monday afternoon following confirmation of an injury. Porter will make one addition to the group after obtaining a release from his club.

The official 20-player roster will be finalized March 20, the due date for all participating teams to submit their rosters to CONCACAF. The U.S. will compete in Group A which kicks off March 22 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

“Obviously, our mission is to qualify for the 2012 summer Olympics and this roster is a culmination of a long process to select what we feel is the best team this country has to offer in the U-23 age group,” said Porter. “For the past four training camps we have been comprehensively evaluating the most talented personnel available from an extensive player pool comprised of professional players on clubs in this country and abroad.  We always keep in mind its most important to find the best mix collectively so that we can build a cohesive team capable of accomplishing our goal. I feel very confident in this collection of players and their ability to execute the playing style we believe will best represent their talents and get us to London.”

A total of 13 players on the roster come from MLS clubs, with D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union each contributing a pair. Freddy Adu is the only player with previous experience in qualifying, having scored four goals in three appearances during the 2008 tournament. FC Dallas forward Brek Shea, who has appeared in all 10 of the U.S. Men’s National Team matches under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, was the 2011 U.S. Young Male Athlete of the Year and is coming off a strong season with FC Dallas that included MLS Best XI recognition and a nomination for MLS Most Valuable Player.

Juan Agudelo joins the camp after earning 14 appearances with the senior team last year. Agudelo was the first player to come out of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to earn a cap with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

In total, eight players on the roster have at least one cap with the full team, while Adu, Agudelo and Teal Bunbury have recorded goals. The development of these players throughout this cycle has been done in collaboration with the work of U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, continuing the process of having vertically integrated National Team programs.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for these young players to get valuable experience in international competition and ultimately qualify for the 2012 Olympics," said Klinsmann, who won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. "Playing the Olympic Games is a once in a lifetime chance, and we are fully supporting their efforts to qualify. Some of these players will continue their international careers on the senior team in the future, and these situations allow them the chance to grow individually and experience the ups and downs national teams go through, which is so important for their development."

D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen and San Jose Earthquakes centerback Ike Opara are both coming off their first appearances with the U-23 team, having participated in the February training camp that culminated with the 2-0 victory against Mexico in which Agudelo and Mix Diskerud tallied for the United States.

Six players are plying their trade outside the United States, including midfielder Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Diskerud (Gent), forward Josh Gatt (Molde), forward Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), and midfielder Jared Jeffrey (Mainz). Borussia Dortmund-based striker Terrence Boyd will report March 21 to Nashville, having made his debut for the full team when he came on as a substitute in the USA’s 1-0 victory against Italy.

The U-23 goalkeeping tandem includes D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson. Both played for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the start of the year. Hamid manned the net during a 1-0 victory against Venezuela on Jan. 21 in Glendale, Ariz., as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy alum became the ninth goalkeeper in U.S. history to collect a shutout in his first game. Johnson earned his second international cap when he played in the second half of a 1-0 win against Panama on Jan. 25 in Panama City.

Five players on the roster have U.S. Soccer Development Academy ties: Agudelo, Corona, Hamid, Gatt and defender Zarek Valentin.

The diverse roster includes players hailing from 12 different states reaching from coast to coast, with three coming from California and two each from Maryland and Texas.

CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying begins on March 22, with Group A games being played at LP Field in Nashville and Group B games at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The USA was drawn into Group A with Canada, Cuba and El Salvador, while Group B is composed of Mexico, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.

The semifinal and final matches will be played at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on March 31 and April 2, respectively. Individual tickets are on sale for the games in Nashville and Carson, and series tickets are available for the knockout phase in Kansas City.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)
DEFENDERS (6): Josh Gatt (Molde; Plymouth, Mich.), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas)
 
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