U.S. Under-18 MNT Head Coach Bob Jenkins Talks About First Camp of 2004
CHICAGO - (Friday, January 9, 2004) - As the players head home today, ussoccer.com sat down with U.S. Under-18 Head Coach Bob Jenkins and Under-20 Head Coach Thomas Rongen to talk about the first training camps of 2004. With a total of 30 (15 each) former and current U.S. Under-17 MNT players on the two rosters for the week, Jenkins and Rongen got a good look at the core players that will most likely make up the roster for the U.S. at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships in the Netherlands. The coaches talked about how the camps went, what they got out of it, and commented on what they will be looking towards during the rest of the year.
Jan. 9, 2004
How did the camp go overall?
"The camp was very positive. For a first camp there was a lot of things going on, but I think we accomplished everything we wanted to. For starters, we just wanted to get to know the players, get them to know us and get them to know each other. After that, it was basically trying to establish how we will play when we step on the field. The interesting thing about this camp was that we had four matches, so we really didn’t have much time to train. We had to balance that a bit, and just tried to stay on top of things we felt we needed to work out. The kids responded very well."
What do you think you accomplished with this camp?
"At this point, we feel pretty confident that at our next camp we can step in there and begin where we left off this camp, which I feel is really good. We accomplished what we wanted to and I think we hit a point with the players where they are comfortable with how we are asking them to play. So, now we can start fine tuning it a little bit. In the bigger picture, we’ve been able to establish our goals pretty clearly."
What was the highlight of the camp?
"The highlight of the week was probably the match against the Under-20s. Winning or losing that game wasn’t as important as just being able to play was great for the kids. This camp was unique because there were so many national teams here at the same time. The feeling of belonging to a much bigger picture was really valuable for our players. One day Christian Jimenez went and played with the full Men’s National Team and five of our guys worked with the Under-20s and (head coach) Thomas (Rongen) for a day. It’s very important to our players that they see where their going and also see these older players and get a feel for what makes them who they are."
What stood out for you about the players?
"I think what impressed me over the course of the week was that all these guys were very keen to taking the information they were getting and try to sort it our on the field. That was the big thing for me – the attitude was very positive."
What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2004?
"We want to continue to keep searching for additional players to add to the pool, bring them in and move along. I think our goal will be to identify kids, see how they do in this environment and then concentrate on the two foreign trips we will be taking during the year."
How was training at the National Training Center?
"When you look at the facility itself, it is first rate. It has great fields, locker rooms, training facilities. Then, in addition we have full-time U.S. Soccer staff out here, which is a great support. Another thing that is great is that it is set-up to do just what it did this week – handle multiple teams all at once. The potential for what it opens up and exposes American players to is just something we’ve never had before."