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U-20 MNT Prepares for Pre-Qualifying Training Camp in Florida

CHICAGO (Dec. 28, 2014) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has submitted its 35-player provisional roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and has gathered a group of players for one final camp before heading to Jamaica for the qualifying tournament.

The final camp will take place in Sunrise, Florida, located near Fort Lauderdale, and begins on Sunday, Dec. 28. Ramos will name the final 20-player roster on Monday, Jan. 5.

While there are 21 players in the final camp, all 35 players are available for selection to the final roster.

“I am looking forward to our last camp leading into U-20 World Cup qualifying, and there will be some very difficult selections in what we think is a very competitive, deep and united pool of players,” said Ramos. “They have performed well together over the past 18 months.”

The final camp, which will last until Monday, Jan. 5, when the U.S. leaves for Jamaica, will also set the groundwork for the team’s opening match for U-20 World Cup Qualifying against Guatemala on Friday, Jan. 9, at Independence Park in Kingston.

That match will be followed by Group A games against Panama (Jan. 11) and Aruba (Jan. 14) in Kingston, followed by games against host Jamaica (Jan. 18) and Trinidad & Tobago (Jan. 21) at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. The tournament will qualify four teams to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Here is the roster breakdown:

U.S. U-20 MNT’s 35-Player Provisional Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jeff Caldwell (Virginia), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS (12): Michael Amick (UCLA), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Donovan (N.C. State), Chase Gasper (UCLA), Luis Martir (Chivas Guadalajara), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Tommy Redding (Orlando City), John Requejo (Club Tijuana), Tyler Turner (Orlando City)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana), Corey Baird (Stanford), Russell Canouse (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC), Luis Felipe (Cruzeiro), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union), Joel Soñora (CA Boca Juniors)
FORWARDS (8): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Alex Muyl (Georgetown), Andrija Novakovich (Reading), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Ben Spencer (Indy Eleven), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)

The following 21 players are currently set to join the USA in Sunrise, Florida:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS (7): Conor Donovan (N.C. State), Chase Gasper (UCLA), Luis Martir (Chivas Guadalajara), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), John Requejo (Club Tijuana), Tyler Turner (Orlando City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana), Russell Canouse (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Ben Spencer (Indy Eleven), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)

The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format has changed for 2015 with two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments had featured four groups of three teams. Under the new setup, the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

This year marks the 25th occasion in which the U.S. U-20 MNT is competing in the CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship. The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U-20 Championship title.

Tab Ramos Calls in 10 Players for U.S. U-20 MNT Fitness Camp

CHICAGO (Dec. 2, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will meet for a domestic fitness camp from Dec. 3-10 in Bradenton, Florida.

The group features 10 field players, most who play for Major League Soccer clubs. With a little more than a month before the start of the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica, head coach Tab Ramos sees this stretch as a valuable time to keep his side playing at a high rate with the MLS season nearly in the books.

“It’s finally getting down to that time where we have to focus on the final stages of World Cup qualifying,” Ramos said. “At this point, because the MLS season has ended for a lot of teams, we needed to bring the players who are not continuing to train with their teams and do a fitness camp. Some of the players have been off, and we want to have them catch up a little bit with the guys that we have in Europe.

Following the fitness camp, the U.S. U-20 MNT will conduct a foreign training camp in Honduras later this month starting on Dec. 15, followed by a domestic preparation camp before the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (0): None
DEFENDERS (4): Conor Donovan (North Carolina State; Fuquay Varina, N.C.), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Shaquell Moore (Unattached; Powder Springs, Ga.), Tyler Turner (Orlando City SC; West Haven, Conn.)
MIDFIELDERS (3): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC; Glendora, Calif.), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew; Herndon, Va.)
FORWARDS (3): Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes; Loomis, Calif.)

U.S. U-20 MNT Earns 1-1 Draw Against Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Sept. 9, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team played Argentina to a 1-1 draw to cap off its international trip. Zach Pfeffer scored the lone USA goal in the 61st minute.

Following a scoreless first half, Argentina took a 1-0 lead with a 48th-minute goal from Giovanni Simeone. The U.S. responded 13 minutes later when Gboly Ariyibi dribbled down the right side, crossed to Romain Gall whose shot was saved by Argentina second-half goalkeeper Gaston Gomez. Pfeffer was there for the rebound to tie the score at 1-1.

Argentina out-shot the USA 10-7 and both teams had two shots on goal.

The USA wrapped up its trip with a 2-0-1 record, having posting a 2-0 win against Racing Club Reserves on Sept. 4 and a 3-2 victory against Defensa y Justicia Reserves on Sept. 6.

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Argentina U-20 MNT
Date: Sept. 9, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: AFA; Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: Closed door
Weather: Overcast and windy, 60 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                          0 1 1
ARG                          0 1 1

ARG – Giovanni Simeone (Juan Kaprof)   48th minute
USA – Zach Pfeffer                                     61

Lineups:
USA: 1-Santiago Castaño; 3-John Requejo, 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (18-Conor Donovan, 46), 4-Matt Miazga, 2-Shaq Moore; 6-Russell Canouse, 8-Joel Soñora (16-Luis Felipe, 59), 10-Junior Flores; 11-Bradford Jamieson IV, 9-Romain Gall (13-Gboly Ariyibi, 71), 7-Paul Arriola
Subs Not Used: 17-Chase Gasper, 19-Fernando Arce, 22-Jeff Caldwell
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

ARG: 1-Augusto Batalla (12-Gaston Gomez, 56); 11-Nicolas Tripichio, 15-Rodrgio Moreira, 10-Emanuel Mammana , 9-Pablo Carreras; 16-German Ferreyra, 5-Juan Kaprof, 6-Leondardo Suarez; 2-Ivan Leszczuk, 14-Giovanni Simeone, 7-Manas Tripichio
Head Coach: Humberto Grondona

Stats Summary: USA / ARG
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 2
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 11 / 11
Offside: 5 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
ARG – Rodrigo Moreira (caution)   30th minute
USA – Zach Pfeffer (caution)          63

Two First-Half Goals Propel U-20s to Win Against Racing Club Reserves

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Sept. 4, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team defeated Racing Club Reserves 2-0.

Zach Pfeffer and Romain Gall each tallied a goal in the first half and the defense maintained the clean sheet the rest of the way. Goalkeeper Santiago Castaño needed to make only one save for the shutout.

Pfeffer drew a penalty in the opening minutes with a low cross that hit a Racing defender’s hand. Pfeffer converted the subsequent penalty kick for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.

In the 27th minute, Paul Arriola intercepted the ball in the center circle and slotted the ball ahead to Gall. Gall, on the quick break, shouldered his way past the Racing defense and hit a hard, low shot that found the left corner of the frame for a 2-0 lead.

The USA is in the midst of a 10-day training camp in Buenos Aires. Next up for U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos’ side is a game against the Defensa y Justicia Reserves on Saturday, Sept. 6, followed by a matchup against Argentina’s U-20s on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Racing FC Reserves
Date: Sept. 4, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Racing FC Academy; Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Kickoff: 10 a.m. ET
Attendance: 100
Weather: Cloudy and windy, 62 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        2 0 2
RFC                         0 0 0

USA – Zach Pfeffer (penalty)             11th minute
USA – Romain Gall (Paul Arriola)      27

Lineups:
USA: 1-Santiago Castaño; 3-John Requejo Jr. (18-Chase Gasper, 46), 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (19-Conor Donovan, 62), 4-Matt Miazga, 2-Shaquell Moore (16-Luis Martir, 46); 6-Russell Canouse, 8-Fernando Arce (14-Junior Flores, 46), 10-Joel Soñora (15-Luis Felipe, 67); 11-Zach Pfeffer, 9-Romain Gall, 7-Paul Arriola (13-Bradford Jamieson, 46)
Subs Not Used: 22-Jeff Caldwell
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

Stats Summary: USA / RFC
Shots: 7 / 6
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 5 / 13
Offside: 1 / 1

U.S. U-20 MNT’s Zach Pfeffer Benefits from ‘Unorthodox Path’ Abroad

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team forward Zach Pfeffer has quite the resume at a young age. From signing with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union at age 15 to spending a year with Hoffenheim in Germany, the 19-year-old Pfeffer has already had a busy professional career.

Pfeffer, like many other athletes, played multiple sports as a youth. But since he was 3 years old, he naturally gravitated toward soccer and has dedicated his time to following the dream of playing the sport at the highest level.

“For whatever reason – I don’t know the exact reason – but soccer was my favorite sport to play,” said Pfeffer, who recently scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. U-20 MNT during a 2-1 victory against Chile at the 2014 National Training Center Invitational. “It was my passion. I took that, ran with it, trained as much as possible, watched and studied the game as much as possible, and just tried to be the best player that I could be. I’ve always had that goal, that mindset to be a professional player since I was very young. I’ve tried to focus in on that goal and work hard for it.”

The goal to become a professional player came to fruition just before his 16th birthday when he signed a professional contract with the Union. Pfeffer has played with the first team on numerous occasions, appearing in eight MLS games to date and multiple friendlies.

“I’ve been in that professional environment now for about four years,” said Pfeffer, who also has ties to the Development Academy’s FC DELCO. “It’s a little bit unorthodox of a path for a typical American player. I’ve been able to grow and mature and be a part of the Union for the last four years and I think that’s helped me to grow and progress as a player.”

Pfeffer was away from the Union organization for one year as he was loaned to German club Hoffenheim, where he played mostly with the U-19s. He also made appearances with the U-23s (the reserve team) and took part in multiple training sessions with the first team. U.S. U-20 MNT teammate Russell Canouse was is part of the Hoffenheim club, providing Pfeffer with some familiarity.

It was a valuable time for Pfeffer as both a player and a person.

“It was a great experience,” Pfeffer said. “I was by myself in a foreign country for the first time for an extended period of time; it wasn’t just a few weeks, it was for a whole year. I was forced to learn the language as well. All of those things really make you grow up and make you learn more about yourself. You have to become independent and really mature quickly.”

Being exposed to the German style has contributed to his improvement as a player. It has helped to round out his game and apply it as he plays for the U.S. U-20 MNT and in MLS.

“I think as a soccer player it’s always good to be exposed to different styles of play and different cultures,” Pfeffer said. “You want to be as well-rounded of a player as you can be. I’m just trying to mix everything that I’ve learned from the German style of play with what I’ve learned growing up here in the U.S. and what I’m learning now playing in MLS.”

Playing in the Youth National Team system since his early teenage years, Pfeffer sees familiar faces every time he comes to camp with the U-20s. He has played with or against keeper Zack Steffen and Canouse since he was 13 in a club setting or within the U.S. National Team system.

With his long history with the U.S. MNT and impressive club and professional career thus far, Pfeffer is hoping to add the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup to his list.

“I’m very excited,” Pfeffer said. “I’ve been representing the National Team since U-14. This is just the next step and the next part of the progression through the National Team system . It’s obviously very exciting to be able to represent your country. Hopefully I’ll be able to be a part of that and qualify for the World Cup.”

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