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U.S. U-20 MNT Quote Sheet: Head Coach Tab Ramos

On the 21-player roster that has been selected for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup starting June 21:
Tab Ramos: “We’re very happy about the group we selected. Obviously it’s always difficult. Last night (Wednesday) we were up till late selecting the final couple players. It’s always hard to let a player go who’s worked so hard to get here, and we know that we have 35 players who are deserving of going to the World Cup. Unfortunately we have to select 21 that are the right pieces in order for us to compete.”

On the roster selection process:
TR: “Certainly the first two or three spots in all of the positions – say defenders, midfielders and forwards – were fairly easy to select. Then you get into the next batch of players who need to be able to help you in different positions and those are the tough ones to select. I still believe we selected the right ones at this point and we’re very happy with the group we have. I think we are a deep team. I think this is a good group of very talented players, and hopefully most of them will stick around U.S. Soccer for a long time.”

On the ultimate value the team took away from competing in the U-21 Toulon Tournament in France:
TR: “We felt that the Toulon Tournament was falling at the wrong time for us because it made our World Cup preparation too long and had the players away from home for too long before going to the World Cup. But as it turns out, I think it was perfect. It was perfect because we had some injuries to deal with, we had some players we had to make some final decisions on, and we used the tournament just for that. It worked out perfectly, actually. We feel like we’re at a good point now after the Toulon Tournament. Unfortunately the one thing that I think is a little bit negative for us in the end is not winning our last game [against Korea Republic] because that’s a game where we put things together a little bit better than all the other games and a game that we carried. I thought we deserved to be up by a couple goals. Unfortunately we didn’t get that done. When you look at a team, that’s part of the development, too, is learning how to win games. So we’re a little bit disappointed with the last game, but overall as we look at the tournament we got exactly what we wanted out of it.”

On the performance of several players at the tournament, including Wil Trapp, Alonso Hernandez and Kellyn Acosta:
TR: “There are names that people are familiar with who are mainstays on the team and I think some of them did well. Overall, if I had to say, probably Wil Trapp was our most consistent player in the tournament, and he has been playing well for a while now. We’re very happy with the way Wil’s coming along. But I think there were two finds in this tournament in particular. One, because we didn’t know him at all, was Alonso Hernandez. That was a great find for us. And then the other one that we’ve known really well and in U.S. Soccer is someone who has worn the crest for a long period of time, is Kellyn Acosta. Even though he’s a younger player, he proved to us that he can really help us. Those two players are the biggest surprises.”

On the players who have brought in over the past year and a half under Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT tenure:
TR: “This has been a difficult process because we’ve built a team. It’s not like we were passed on a team from U-18 that just came onto here. We started from scratch. We looked at I think 79 players through our process to come up with our final 21. It definitely wasn’t easy. I think every tournament we played over the last year and a half that there were players who did not get released. That, at the same time, helped us because it forced us to look at new players and so we ended up with a pool of roughly 80 players that we got to see. In the end, it was beneficial to us and we were able to select the 21 that we believe are the absolute best guys to have.”

On the significance of the U-20 MNT’s full 35-player provisional roster submitted to FIFA before the World Cup:
TR: “The list of 35 players is really important to us, and that’s why I addressed that with the group. According to the rules, we can change players who get injured up to 24 hours before the World Cup begins, so for the players on the 35-man list that was submitted to FIFA a couple weeks ago, it’s very important for all of them to stay fit and to be prepared to get a call. We’ve already spoken with some players who are not going with us to Portugal (the team’s training base for the next week) who are not on the 21 and we’ve made them aware of the fact that they might get a last-minute call. I think they’ll be prepared because the players are excited to be a part of this group.”