With an important year looming, United States men’s U20 coach Tab Ramos has called 24 players into camp in Sunrise, Florida, to begin preparations for Concacaf World Cup qualifiers in February and March. This will be the first time that the team has gathered since the Concacaf qualifying groups were announced, with the U.S. being drawn into a group with Costa Rica and Haiti.
With the two of the three teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals, advancing to that stage should be a formality. After that though, it can get tricky, as the U.S. found out in 20011. Ramos was an assistant when that group was sent packing by home team Guatemala, in the quarterfinals.
Ramos has selected 11 college players, as well as professional players from around the world, including six from Major League Soccer, Will Trapp just signed with MLS out of Akron University, and two each from Mexico, England and Germany. Defender Juan Pablo Ocegueda, is currently without a club.
Luis Gil leads the MLS contingent. The 19 year old has already been a solid contributor for Real Salt Lake for two seasons, and the heady midfielder may yet live up to the potential that saw Arsenal and Real Madrid on his trail, before Gil signed with MLS.
A trio of L.A. Galaxy players have been selected, with Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal both having seen time this season for the league champions. McBean, who turns 18 tomorrow, saw action in one Galaxy league match this season, while Villarreal, played in 11 league games for Los Angeles. Oscar Sorto recently signed with the Galaxy as a Homegrown product.
The camp will run from December 15 – December 22 in Sunrise, Florida. Ramos recently told USSoccer.com that he would use this camp in part to prepare his team specifcally for Group A opponents Costa Rica and Haiti.
Ramos will be without some players that he would surely like to have on the team for the qualifiers, but since youth matches are not held during official FIFA breaks, many club coaches decline to release their players. All youth team coaches face this dilemma, and like Ramos, have no choice but to adjust.
Will Packwood, who plays for Birmingham in the English Championship and John Anthony Brooks of Hertha Berlin in 2 Bundesliga, are two that Ramos would like to call on if available. Victor Pineda of the Chicago Fire, is one player who will be disappointed not to have made the cut this time out.
If the U.S. advance to the U20 World Cup, which will be held in Turkey from June 21 through July 13, 2013, virtually all players should be available for selection.
U.S. U-20 MNT Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Dakota Edwards (Maryland; Sayville, N.Y.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Unattached; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (Wake Forest; Chevy Chase, Md.), Daniel Metzger (Maryland; Holmdel, N.J.), Marc Pelosi (Liverpool FC; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (7): Brandon Allen (Georgetown; Old Bridge, N.J.), Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Daniel Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), Darius Madison (Virginia; Philadelphia, Pa.), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.), Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)