The player pool will be narrowed down to 18 roster spots and three alternate spots on April 7, just prior to the U.S. squad heading down to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for a week-long training camp from April 10-17 in preparation for the tournament.
"This is a very strong squad that I have to choose from heading into camp in April," said Charles, who led the Under-23's to a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan Am Games and on overall 7-4-6 record last year. "In these days of MLS and players competing abroad, we're able to pull together an experienced bunch of professionals to form the best young team that this country has to offer."
This year's qualifying will mark the first time the U.S. Under-23 MNT has entered a competition of this magnitude with a roster made predominantly of professional players, previously having to rely on current collegiate players and recent graduates to field a team.
In a testament to the strength of the MLS, almost 80 percent of the players (19 of 25) hail from the five-year-old domestic Division I league, including U.S. Men's National Team midfielder and MLS Cup '99 MVP Ben Olsen (D.C. United--MLS), forwards Chris Albright (D.C. United--MLS) and Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire--MLS), goalkeeper Adin Brown (Colorado Rapids--MLS) and defenders Brian Dunseth (New England Revolution--MLS) and Chad McCarty (Tampa Bay Mutiny--MLS).
Leading the list of players from across the pond is another U.S. Men's National Team midfielder, John O'Brien (Ajax--Holland), who along with a pair of German-based players--John Thorrington (Bayer Leverkusen--Germany) and defender Steve Cherundolo (Hannover '96--Germany)--are expected to be major contributors to Team USA.
As they were for the '99 Pan Am Games, former U-17 superstars Landon Donovan (Bayer Leverkusen--Germany) and DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire--MLS), who won the Gold and Silver Balls respectively as the tournament's two most valuable players after leading the U.S. band of teenagers to a fourth place finish at the FIFA Youth U-17 World Championship in New Zealand last November, have again been called in for duty.
As for the teams that will join the USA in Hershey, Pa., 12 CONCACAF teams have been divided into three groups of four (A, B and C) and will try to earn one of five spots in the final qualifying round. The United States, as part of Group C, receives a bye into the final round of qualification as the host federation.
Group A play begins today and runs through Saturday (March 25), while Groups B and C will complete round-robin play by April 9. The top team in each group and the runners-up from Groups B and C advancing to the final round of qualification to be held April 21-30, 2000.
|Semifinal Round--Qualifying--Different Venues (March 21-April 9, 2000)|
|Date||Group||Teams||Host City, Country|
|March 21-25||A||Canada, Guatemala, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad & Tobago||Port-of-Spain, T & T|
|April 4-8||B||Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras||Guadalajara, Mexico|
|April 5-9||C||(United States), Panama, Bermuda, Cuba||Panama City, Panama|
March 21 -- Canada vs. Guatemala -- 4 p.m. / Trinidad & Tobago vs. Netherlands Antilles -- 9 p.m.
March 23 -- Canada vs. Netherlands Antilles -- 6 p.m. / Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala -- 8 p.m.
March 25 -- Guatemala vs. Netherlands Antilles -- 6 p.m. / Trinidad & Tobago vs. Canada -- 8 p.m.
April 4 -- Jamaica vs. Costa Rica -- 6 p.m. / Mexico vs. Honduras -- 8:30 p.m.
April 6 -- Costa Rica vs. Honduras -- 6 p.m. / Mexico vs. Jamaica -- 8:30 p.m.
April 8 -- Jamaica vs. Honduras -- 6 p.m. / Mexico vs. Costa Rica -- 8:30 p.m.
April 5 -- Panama vs. Bermuda -- 8 p.m.
April 7 -- Cuba vs. Bermuda -- 8 p.m.
April 9 -- Panama vs. Cuba -- 8 p.m.
|Final Round--Qualifying--Hershey, Pa., USA|
(April 21-30, 2000)
|Group #1||USA, Group A first place, Group B second place|
|Group #2||Group C first place, Group B first place, Group A second place|
|April 21||TBD vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||5:30 p.m.|
|April 21||United States vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||8:00 p.m.|
|April 23||TBD vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||1:00 p.m.|
|April 23||TBD vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||3:30 p.m.|
|April 25||TBD vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||5:30 p.m.|
|April 25||United States vs. TBD||Hersheypark Stadium||8:00 p.m.|
|April 28||Group #1 1st vs. Group #2 2nd*||Hersheypark Stadium||5:30 p.m.|
|April 28||Group #2 1st vs. Group #1 2nd*||Hersheypark Stadium||8:00 p.m.|
|April 30||Third-place (Semifinal losers)||Hersheypark Stadium||1:00 p.m.|
|April 30||Championship (Semifinal winners)*||Hersheypark Stadium||3:30 p.m.|
|* Both finalists (Semifinal winners) advance to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.|
|2000 U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team Player Pool|
CONCACAF 2000 Olympics Qualifying Tournament
April 21-30, 2000 - Hershey, Pa.
|Albright, Chris||F||01/14/79||6'1"||185||Philadelphia, Pa.||D.C. United - MLS|
|Beasley, DaMarcus||M||05/24/82||5'7"||135||Fort Wayne, Ind.||Chicago Fire- MLS|
|Brown, Adin||GK||05/27/78||6'4"||200||Pleasant Hill, Calif.||Colorado Rapids - MLS|
|Brown, Chris||F||03/10/77||5'11"||165||Portland, Ore.||Kansas City Wizards - MLS|
|Califf, Danny||D||03/17/80||6'1"||185||Orange, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy - MLS|
|Casey, Conor||F||07/25/81||6'1"||170||Gilpin, Colo.||University of Portland|
|Cherundolo, Steve||D||02/19/79||5'6"||145||San Diego, Calif.||Hannover 96 - Germany|
|Chulis, Matt||D||08/29/77||5'10"||155||Central Islip, N.Y.||Columbus Crew - MLS|
|Corrales, Ramiro||D||03/29/77||6'1"||170||Salinas, Calif.||NY/NJ MetroStars - MLS|
|Denton, Eric||D||02/08/78||5'9"||160||Manteca, Calif.||D.C. United - MLS|
|DiGiamarino, Joey||M||04/06/77||5'11"||160||Corona, Calif.||Colorado Rapids - MLS|
|Donovan, Landon||F||03/04/82||5'8"||140||Redlands, Calif.||Bayer Leverkusen - Germany|
|Dunseth, Brian||D||03/02/77||6'0"||170||Upland, Calif.||New England Revolution - MLS|
|Howard, Tim||GK||03/06/79||6'1"||195||N. Brunswick, N.J.||NY/NJ MetroStars - MLS|
|Kirk, Andy||GK||10/03/77||6'0"||175||Milwaukee, Wis.||Tampa Bay Mutiny - MLS|
|McCarty, Chad||D||10/05/77||5'11"||175||Clovis, Calif.||Tampa Bay Mutiny - MLS|
|O'Brien, John||M||08/29/77||5'9"||150||Playa del Rey, Calif.||Ajax - Holland|
|Olsen, Ben||M||05/03/77||5'8"||140||Middletown, Pa.||D.C. United - MLS|
|Parra, Carlos||M||02/03/77||6'1"||175||West Haven, Conn.||New England Revolution - MLS|
|Thorrington, John||M||10/17/79||5'8"||150||Palos Verde, Calif.||Bayer Leverkusen - Germany|
|Vagenas, Peter||M||02/06/78||5'8"||160||Pasadena, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy - MLS|
|Victorine, Sasha||M||02/02/78||6'2"||180||Carmichael, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy - MLS|
|Whitfield, Evan||D||06/23/77||5'11"||160||Glendale, Ariz.||Chicago Fire - MLS|
|Winters, Brian||M||12/31/77||5'10"||172||Tacoma, Wash.||---|
|Wolff, Josh||F||02/25/77||5'10"||160||Stone Mountain, Ga.||Chicago Fire - MLS|