CHICAGO (Aug. 28, 2015) – U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog has called 24 players to England for a final preparation camp before the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in October.
The camp will run in Manchester, England, from Aug. 30-Sept. 8 and will feature friendlies against England on Sept. 3 at Deepdale Stadium in Preston, and Qatar on Sept. 8 at Gigg Lane in Bury. Fans can follow the action live via Twitter through @ussoccer.
"These are two important games here because they are our last before the Olympic Qualifying tournament,” Herzog said. “We have a strong group of players that we believe in, and now we are able to look as some of the guys who did very well with our U-20 team. This is really the last chance for all of the players to make an impression before we select the final roster for qualifying.”
The U-23’s were last in Europe in June, where they competed in the prestigious Toulon Tournament. With group stage wins against Netherlands and Qatar, the team advanced to the tournament’s third-place playoff, where it defeated England and matched its best ever finish in the tournament. The U-23’s are 5-3-0 in 2015, having also logged wins against Bosnia in March and Mexico in April.
The 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship will be played across the United States from Oct. 1-13. The U.S. was drawn into Group A and opens with a pair of games at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, against Canada on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. CT and Cuba on Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. CT. The U.S. will conclude group play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Oct. 6 against Panama at 7:30 p.m. MT. [TICKETS]
Roster By Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (MK Dons; Maple Grove, Minn.), Ethan Horvath (Molde; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downington, Pa.).
DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact; Woodbury, Minn.), Boyd Okwuonu (Real Salt Lake; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Apollon Limassol; Boulder, Colo.), William Packwood (Unattached; Concord, Mass.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif).
MIDFIELDERS (8): Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield; Arlington, Va.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Tex.), Benji Joya (Club Necaxa; San Jose, Calif.), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; Milwaukee, Wisc.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio), Gedion Zelalem (Rangers; Bethesda, Md.).
FORWARDS (5): Alonso Hernandez (C.D. Juarez; El Paso, Texas), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Mönchengladbach; North Hollywood, Calif.), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht; Beaverton, Ore.), Maki Tall (Scion; Washington, D.C.).
- Seven players from the USA’s 2015 U-20 World Cup team that advanced to the quarterfinals in New Zealand now join the U-23 group: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Matt Miazga, Rubio Rubin, Zack Steffen, Maki Tall and Gedion Zelalem.
- Five players from this roster have scored goals for the U-23’s in 2015: Alonso Hernandez, Benji Joya, Jerome Kiesewetter, William Packwood and Mario Rodriguez.
- Three from this roster scored goals with the U-20’s in 2015: Hyndman, Rubin and Tall.
- Shane O’Neill was a force for the squad on the backline in the Toulon Tournament, and earned honors as the Third-Best player in the tournament.
- Hernandez and Joya both scored penalties in the third-place playoff of the Toulon Tournament. Hernandez’s strike was the first score of the game and Joya’s proved to be the game-winner.
- Rodriguez returns to the mix after missing the Toulon Tournament. The strong striker plays at Borussia Mönchengladbach, the same club as Men’s National Team defender Fabian Johnson. The North Hollywood-native has scored twice in as many games in 2015.
- Luis Gil also returns to the U-23’s after missing the Toulon Tournament. Gil wore the captain’s armband in each of the first three games of 2015, where he leads the team with four assists.
- Goalkeeper Cody Cropper (MK Dons), defender Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur) and midfielder Hyndman (Fulham) won’t have far to travel for this camp, coming over from their nearby English club teams.
- Eighteen-year-old Gedion Zelalem, who recently completed a loan move from Arsenal to Rangers, made his U.S. debut for the U-20’s in this summer’s World Cup.
- The roster is a diverse mix with the players coming from club teams of various leagues around the world. Nine players from this roster represent MLS clubs, three come from German club teams, four from English teams, two from Mexico, and a single player each from leagues in Cyprus, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, and Switzerland.
- Twelve players from this roster have ties to the Development Academy: Ethan Horvath (Real Colorado), Emerson Hyndman (FC Dallas), Benji Joya (De Anza Force), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Minnesota Thunder Academy), Boyd Okwuonu (FC Dallas), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy & Pateadores), Zack Steffen (Continental FC DELCO), Wil Trapp (Crew SC Academy).
FC Dallas Academy alum Emerson Hyndman was named U-20 MNT Captain for the 2015 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. Hyndman is one of six U-20 players that appeared in all six matches for the U-20 MNT at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica in January, where he scored once and led the team with three assists. The 19-year-old has also earned a cap with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, debuting on September 3, 2014 as a second-half sub in the USA’s 1-0 win against the Czech Republic. He also played a friendly with the U.S. U-23 MNT on October 14, 2014 when he started against Brazil in Brasilia.
Aron Johannsson and his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar entered the weekend tied with Feyenoord for the Eredivisie’s third-place position and the Europa League spot that goes along with it. Johansson was clearly set on AZ taking that position as he scored a pair of goals, including a full bicycle. Johannsson also added an assist in AZ Alkmaar’s 4-1 win over Excelsior. With Feyenoord losing, AZ are officially in the Europa League for next season.
Zach Pfeffer (Continental FC Delco) scored a huge stoppage-time game winner for the Philadelphia Union in its match with D.C. United on Sunday night, finishing a sliding left footed shot in the box to end the Union’s four-game losing streak.
New York Red Bulls Academy product Juan Agudelo scored the opening goal in New England Revolution’s 1-1 draw with Toronto FC. Agudelo’s goal came on a diving header that was set up by FC Dallas alum London Woodberry, who was credited with the assist. Woodberry was named to the MLS Team of the Week.
Lonestar SC Academy product Khiry Shelton sent in the game-tying goal for New York City FC in its game with the Chicago Fire. NYC played much of the game with 10-men after a first-half red card, but were able to rally from a two-score deficit to save the point. The goal was Shelton’s first of his MLS career.
Pateadores alum Luis Gil assisted on Real Salt Lake’s only goal in their 4-1 defeat to Montreal Impact. Gil has been quite the all-around assist man this year, having also recorded four with the U.S. U-23 MNT.Will Bruin (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri Alum) was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his double for the Houston Dynamo against the Portland Timbers. Bruin’s brace helped the team to a 2-1 victory.
They say experience is the teacher of all things, and that could prove to be a key factor for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team as it approaches the final weeks of preparation leading up to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
U.S. head coach Tab Ramos is at the forefront of that experience. Not only did he play in both a U-20 and senior team World Cup – three in fact – but Ramos is also entering his second World Cup as head coach of the U20s.
“Having been in a World Cup before is a great experience,” Ramos said. “Going to my second World Cup (as a coach), it’s easier for me to focus on the team and not on everything that surrounds the team.”
Ramos isn’t alone in experience with this group – and this tournament. Also returning from the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey are assistant coaches Javier Perez and Russell Payne, as well as goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielder Kellyn Acosta. While neither player played in Turkey, the experience they gained as being part of the group was invaluable.
“Looking back at 2013, I didn’t get to play, but I was there learning, and taking it all in,” Acosta said. “I was able to look at how polished pros like Will Trapp and Luis Gil led and handled the group; how mature they were about what they did.
“Going into this World Cup, with what I was able to observe two years ago, I think I can help the guys that maybe haven’t been in such a big stage before be more prepared so they can play and just be focused on the game and not be distracted by all the other things that come with the World Cup.”
Acosta was the captain for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship team in Jamaica, however he injured his knee in the second game and was forced to miss the remainder of the tournament.
“I was very disappointed, because I wanted to be able to help the team,” said Acosta. “But I was very proud of the team. They had four great games and they grinded it out and got us through. And I thought Russ (Canouse) did a great job in pulling the team together.”
That the team could qualify without Acosta – who is now fully healthy and playing regularly with his team, FC Dallas - is another reminder of the depth that the U-20 age group has.
“The difference from 2013 was fairly big,” Ramos said of selecting the final roster. “We didn’t have as many options for the 2013 roster. This is a roster with a number of options to select different types of players. It’s a very competitive group and one with many more players who are playing in the first division.”
Acosta said the competition for positions is a good thing for the team.
“No spot is guaranteed,” Acosta said. “I’ve been fortunate to get minutes with my team, but not going to those camps had me on my toes. Anyone can come in and play well. I feel like these last two camps mattered a lot.”
And that they did.
Desevio Payne and Maki Tall are two examples of players who had previously not been part of a U.S. Youth Team who impressed Ramos in camps in England and Austria and made the World Cup roster.
Marco Delgado, Jordan Allen, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Joel Soñora are players with previous YNT experience who did not participate in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship but made the final roster through their play at the recent camps.
The group will get together starting next week in Carson, California, leaving two weeks to prepare for the World Cup opener against Myanmar on May 30.
“The goal at this point is to win our first game,” Ramos said. “So we are completely committed to seeing what Myanmar is about and being completely prepared to win that game.
From California the team will travel to Australia for a few days before departing for New Zealand.
“We have to act like it’s game mode,” Acosta said of the team’s approach from here on out. “No opponent is going to be easy, so any game we play in the next few weeks we have to treat it like it’s a World Cup game.”
Acosta has been a leader on the team for a while now, and while he accepts the role, he also stresses the importance of everyone being able to contribute.
“I’ve taken the role over the past year, and I’m ready to take the role again. But I think every guy needs to be vocal for us to be a good team. As a group collectively, we need everyone pulling together.”
Having been there before, and knowing this team, Acosta is anxious to get to New Zealand.
“I can’t really express how excited I am to go out and show the world what we got and prove to everyone why we should be a force to be reckoned with.”
Photos from the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team 3-0 victory over its counterpart from Mexico at the StubHub Center in Carson, California on April 22, 2015. Los Angeles-area native Mario Rodriguez started the scoring for the U.S. in the second half. Fellow California Christian Dean followed up with his first international goal for the USA before Stanford University sophomore Jordan Morris capped off the night with his second goal against Mexico in as many games. Morris also scored the winning goal for the senior MNT in its 2-0 win against Mexico the week before. Additionally, U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper turned in a fine performance, stopping all seven shots on goal he faced to earn his first shutout of the year for the U-23s.
The U-23 MNT will next be in action come the end of May when the team travels to France for the international Toulon Tournament. The USA will face France (May 27), the Netherlands (May 29), Costa Rica (May 31) and Qatar (June 2) during group play of the competition as it continues preparation for Olympic Qualifying, which kicks off this fall and will take place throughout the United States.
Under-20s: Heading into the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Gil has two goals and an assist in five games. Both goals came during the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. He tallied a penalty kick during the USA's opening 2-1 win against Haiti on feb. 18, 2013, adn scored the first goal of the tea's 4-2 victory against Canada on Feb. 26 in the all-important quarterfinals to clinch a spot in the U-20 World Cup. Gil was named to the 2013 CONCACAF Championship All-Tournament Team. In 2012, Gil tallied a goal and an assist in three games with two starts. He became part of the U-20 picture in 2011, scoring a goal in two matches. Earlier in 2013, Gil played the full 90 minutes in a match against Panama. He debuted with the U-20s on Jan. 22, 2010, with a 90-minute effort in the first game of the Copa Chivas tournament against Pachuca in Guadalajara, scoring the USA’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss … Under-18s: In 2010, Gil played for the U-18s at the Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal from May 21-31 and captained the team during a May 27 loss to Norway. Also at the tournament, Gil set up the game’s lone goal during a 1-0 win against Romania on May 28 … Under-17s: Gil scored five goals in 32 appearances for the U.S. U-17 MNT after joining the Residency Program for the spring of 2008. In 2009, Gil tallied four goals and an assist in 18 games and was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year. Gil had an assist and played in the USA’s four games at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and was the youngest member of the U.S. squad at the tournament. His four goals ranked second-best on the U-17 MNT in 2009. During the group stage, Gil played the full 90 minutes in wins against Malawi and United Arab Emirates and a 2-1 loss to Spain, and his performance in Nigeria garnered attention from European clubs such as Arsenal and Real Madrid.
Gil is in the midst of his fourth season with Major League Soccer's real Salt Lake in 2013. Before joining the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team, Gil had logged 13 starts and 14 games, 1,016 minutes, two goals and an assist. In 2012, his third season with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, Gil set career highs in games started (19), games played (19) and assists (3) while also contributed a goal. In 2011, Gil started in 14 of his 25 regular-season games and scored two goals. He made his RSL debut on March 26, 2011, against the LA Galaxy as a second half sub during a 4-1 win. Though Gil did not play in a regular-season match for RSL in 2010, he did play in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match and in CONCACAF Champions League action. Salt Lake acquired Gil from the Kansas City Wizards in February of 2010.
Date of Birth
Nov 14, 1993
Garden Grove, Calif.
Real Salt Lake