March 12, 2012
MAKING THE TEAM
Agudelo on Olympic qualifying roster
It should come as no surprise that Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo was named among the 19 players by U.S. Under-23 coach Caleb Porter for the CONCACAF men's Olympic qualifying tournament on Monday.
|Juan Agudelo was one of 19 players named by coach Caleb Porter to the U.S. U-23 team that will try to qualify for the Olympics.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The training camp will begin Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn., the site of Group A, which the Americans will play in the opening round.
A player withdrew from consideration Monday afternoon following confirmation of an injury, so Porter will make one addition to the group after he obtains a release from his club.
The official 20-player roster will be finalized on Tuesday 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," Porter said in a press release. "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."
Thirteen players come from MLS clubs, with D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union each contributing two apiece.
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 coach Jurgen Klinsmann, was the 2011 U.S. Soccer 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 MVP.
Eight players have at least one cap with the full team, while Adu, Agudelo and Teal Bunbury have recorded goals.
"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 while playing for West Germany in the 1988 Summer 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. defender Perry Kitchen and San Jose Earthquakes centerback Ike Opara are coming off their first appearances with the U-23 team, having participated in the February training camp that culminated with the 2-0 win over Mexico in which Agudelo and Mix Diskerud scored 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 to Nashville on March 21, having made his debut for the full team when he came on as a substitute in the United States' historic 1-0 triumph over 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. National Team at the start of the year. Hamid manned the net during a 1-0 win over Venezuela in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 21, as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy alum became the ninth goalkeeper in U.S. history to register 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 in Panama City on Jan. 25.
Qualifying begins on March 22, with Group A games at LP Field in Nashville and Group B games at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The U.S. was drawn into Group A with Canada, Cuba and El Salvador. 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.
The U.S. roster:
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 Villafaņa (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)