CARSON, Calif. (Jan. 10, 2012) â€“ Head Coach Caleb Porter has added three players to the U-23 Menâ€™s National Team roster for its ongoing training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Goalkeepers Matt Lampson of the Columbus Crew and Brian Perk of the LA Galaxy, as well as Stuttgarter Kickers defender Royal-Dominique Fennell, have been added to the squad.
Goalkeeper David Bingham and defender Gale Agbossoumonde, named in Porterâ€™s initial 22-man squad, will not attend the U-23 Menâ€™s National Team camp due to injury.
Fennell has been a part of each of the previous two U-23 MNT camps, while both Lampson and Perk earn their first invite under Porter.
The U-23s will conduct the first 11 days of camp training at The Home Depot Center, before traveling on Jan. 18 to Costa Rica, where they will play two matches against local club teams.
The January camp marks the third gathering of this group as the team prepares for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in March. Tickets for the March 22-26 qualifiers at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., are on sale through ussoccer.com.
The U.S. Under-23 Menâ€™s National Team was drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will open group play against Cuba on March 22 at 8 p.m. CT. The USA will face Canada on March 24 at 6 p.m. CT, and then close out group action against El Salvador on March 26 at 8 p.m. CT. All of the Group A matches will be played as doubleheaders at LP Field in Nashville.
Brian Perk: “Thank you. It felt great. It was good to get a bit of revenge after losing to them last year, but I was just happy to be able to play that well for the team.”
ussoccer.com: With both you and Michael Stephens being selected for the U-20 national team, how will UCLA adjust with you guys gone?
BP: “Well, it’ll be an adjustment for them, for sure. Michael and I are two of the team’s leaders, especially vocally, on the field. I think our absence will definitely be noted, but they’ve got some great players who will fill in just fine. I think they’ll be good.”
ussoccer.com: As not just a regular student-athlete, but also one who spends time during the year away with the national team, how do you balance academics alongside all your playing time?
BP: “We run on the quarter system, so our classes haven’t started yet. They’ll actually begin during the time we’re in Egypt, but it’s not too bad. You just need to talk to your professors, e-mail them, explain to them your situation. All of them understand, especially when they know what it’s for. Even while you’re away, remember you’re only there to play soccer. There’s nothing else you should be doing off the field besides resting and preparing, so I take that time to do any reading or work that needs to be done. It’s not as difficult as some people might think it is.”
ussoccer.com: You mentioned the leadership that you bring to the Bruins. You played in the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada, earning the win for the U.S. against Uruguay. What experience can you bring from that and how will you use it to help this team, especially the players who haven’t been there before?
BP: “I learned a lot at that tournament, but not everything can transfer over. The biggest thing I got from it and that I’ll try to convey to these guys, is that we can beat anybody. We were one of the highest scoring teams in that tournament, and while that was partly because of some very special players, it still showed me that as a country, we do have the ability to play with the world’s best. Whether that’s Brazil, or Germany, or whoever, I believe we can compete with and beat those teams.”
ussoccer.com: What’s different about this team compared to 2007?
BP: “There’s a lot that’s different. That team had a few great players, like Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, and they’re obviously not playing with us this time around. It was a great team in terms of skill, but I’m not sure it was the best team. Everyone got along, but it wasn’t like we were all great friends. I feel like this team has more camaraderie, we all really enjoy each other’s company and like getting together to play. I’ve lived with some of these guys, I think we’re all friends, and I think that shows when we play. We all want to do well for each other.”
ussoccer.com: You traveled to Egypt earlier this summer with the team to play a couple of friendlies against the host nation as well as learn a bit about what you can expect when you arrive for the World Cup. What was that like?
BP: “In terms of expectations, I didn’t really have any. All you ever hear about Egypt is the pyramids, so beyond that I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a great trip though, I felt like we played well against Egypt. That trip really did a lot for me, and a few of the other guys too, just to get us focused, knowing that we’ve got a job at hand when we return.”
ussoccer.com: We know that you’ve been compared to Oliver Kahn quite a bit because of your looks, but you’ve also said Michael Ballack is a player you like to watch. With those things in mind, how excited are you to play Germany in the first match of the tournament?
BP: “I’m really looking forward to it. Yeah, I like German soccer, my family heritage is German. It’s also one of the few major teams I’ve never played against. I’m definitely excited for it, I hope we play well.”
ussoccer.com: As a California native, but someone who spent time in Residency in Bradenton, Fla., we figured you’d know: Who has the better beaches?
BP: “My heart’s in California, so I think I’ve got to stick with that. The sand was nice, and the water is warmer in Florida…but the beaches are nicer over here.”
On tonight’s game:
“Even though we only needed a tie tonight, we wanted to be aggressive. We did a very good job in the first half of playing together and scoring the two goals. We built some momentum and the red cards put us in a position to defend at the end of the game. We played three tough games put ourselves in a position to get to Egypt, which we did. We were able to determine our own fate in this game and I couldn’t be happier with this team as they showed a lot of character through some adversity tonight.”
On wanting to win the championship:
“Our first goal was to get to Egypt and we’ve accomplished that. Now we’re going to focus on finishing this tournament well.”
On whether the suspensions will hurt his team:
“I haven’t really thought about that quite frankly. We have a team that’s 20 deep and we feel that our reserves, like Tony Taylor today, are perfectly capable.”
On whether his team only created two good chances during the game:
“I’m not sure to be honest, but if that’s true than we’re shooting at 100 percent and that’s not bad. In the end, I think the game was fairly evenly played and we played a good opponent. We didn’t give up many chances to El Salvador so, however many chances we had we came out with the win.”
U.S. goalkeeper BRIAN PERK
On the game:
“It was a total team performance. I can’t say enough about my defense, I have to give them all the credit. We got through it together and I’m just really proud of all the guys. We’re ecstatic about going to Egypt.”
U.S. forward PERI MAROSEVIC
On the game:
“It was a pretty hectic game but I thought it was an amazing performance by everyone. Everybody put in the work, played with heart and represented our country well. This is just the beginning for us but it’s a good start.”
U.S. defender KYLE DAVIES
On defending with nine men:
“We worked really hard. We were down to nine men but everybody fought hard and we did well. It’s a good day and the bottom line is that we’re going to Egypt.”
On how the team played:
“I thought we played well as a team, and I have to give a lot of credit to Kyle Davies who just did so well in the back tonight, as did Gale [Agbossoumonde]. We came out, worked hard and got two goals. Everyone put their heart into it and now we’re going to Egypt.”
U.S. midfielder JARED JEFFREY
On how the team came together:
“The game was really tough but it really was just all of us working together. We’re going to Egypt now and we got there by playing as a team.”
Player based in each of three different European countries (Michael Bradley - Netherlands, Gabe Ferrari - Italy, Johann Smith - England)
Players with senior national team caps (Freddy Adu and Bradley)
Goals scored by Andre Akpan in four games to lead the U.S. in 2007
Players who have played in Under-17 World Championships in 2003 (Adu, Szetela) or 2005 (Altidore, Arguez, Igwe, Perk, Sarkodie, Sturgis and Anthony Wallace)
Different club teams represented from Major League Soccer and Europe