US SoccerUS Soccer
Thomas Rongen

Rongen Finalizes Roster for CONCACAF Under-20 Championship

• Roster Features 16 Professional Players, Including Eight from Major League Soccer
• Ten Development Academy Alumni to Join U.S. Team
• U.S. Kicks Off CONCACAF U-20 Championship Against Suriname on March 29 at 8 p.m. ET, Live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3
• Four CONCACAF Semifinalists Advance to FIFA U-20 World Cup

CHICAGO (March 16, 2011) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen has finalized a 20-player roster ahead of the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The group will travel to Dallas on March 20 for a week of training before departing for Guatemala City, Guatemala, on March 25 to begin its quest to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group B of the CONCACAF tournament and will face Suriname on March 29 at 8 p.m. ET and Panama on April 2 at 6 p.m. ET at Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores. Both games will be televised on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.

At the 12-team regional event, the top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament quarterfinals, and the four quarterfinal winners will seal a berth to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, set for July 29-Aug. 20 across eight cities in Colombia. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for an eighth-consecutive time, having qualified for 13 U-20 World Cups since the tournament began in 1977.

“As a staff, we’ve done our due diligence during the last year and a half,” said Rongen. “I can’t speak enough about all the players that we’ve looked at who have put in a tremendous amount of work and energy in each and every camp. That made this selection probably tougher than any other cycle and that’s a good thing. It means we’ve gotten deeper in every position and that we’ve got a great talent pool.” 

The group features a pair of FIFA U-20 World Cup veterans in defender Gale Agbossoumonde and midfielder Dillon Powers. Additionally, midfielder Amobi Okugo helped the U.S. qualify for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup but was not part of the team that traveled to Egypt. The trio leads the team in international U-20 caps, with Agbossoumonde earning 26 in his career and Okugo and Powers each making 13 appearances.

Okugo is one of eight representatives of Major League Soccer, and will be joined by Philadelphia Union teammate Zac MacMath, who has established himself as the top goalkeeper in this age group. The Union are the only MLS team with two players on the roster.

Joining MacMath are fellow MLS rookies Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Zarek Valentin (Chivas USA), who were all selected in the top four of this year’s SuperDraft. Defender Korey Veeder is also an MLS rookie, allocated to the Columbus Crew in a special lottery. FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls will be represented by Home Grown signees Moises Hernandez and Sacir Hot, who are also beginning their first year in the league.

Hernandez, Hot and Valentin are three of the 10 players who are alumni of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a group that also includes three of the four college players on the roster.

Powers, who played for Texas-based Andromeda before Notre Dame, was named the Academy’s U-17/18 Player of the Year for the 2008-09 season. UCLA’s Kelyn Rowe was part of the Crossfire Premier team that played in two-straight Finals Week championship matches in 2009 and 2010, while Duke’s Sebastien Ibeagha hails from the Houston Dynamo Academy. Rowe’s UCLA teammate Eder Arreola grew up playing for Pateadores before the inception of the Academy, and makes it four college players on the roster.

Agbossouomonde (IMG Academy), Conor Doyle (Dallas Texans), Moises Orozco (Real So Cal) and Veeder (Clearwater Chargers) signed professional contracts straight from their Academy teams, and have since established themselves at the U-20 level.

Eight players will join the team from professional leagues spanning five other countries. Cody Cropper (Ipswich Town), Doyle (Derby County) and Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United) will all travel to Dallas from England and Hoffenheim’s Joe Gyau and 1860 Munich’s Bobby Wood will join the team from Germany. Agbossoumonde from Sweden’s Djurgardens, Greg Garza from Estoril Praia in Portugal and Orozco from Mexico’s UANL Tigres round out the foreign-based contingent.

The Americans have never won the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, but the tournament format returned in 2009 after 13 years without crowning a champion. With 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances, the U.S. has qualified more than any other CONCACAF nation.

At the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship held in Trinidad & Tobago, the U.S. opened with a 3-0 win against Jamaica and a 0-0 draw with Honduras. Needing a win or a tie against El Salvador to secure a place at the World Cup, Brek Shea and Tony Taylor scored first-half goals en route to a 2-0 victory that sent the U.S. to Egypt and into the CONCACAF semifinals.

A scoreless semifinal against host Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain set up a dramatic penalty shootout. U.S. goalkeeper Brian Perk stopped two shots to send the U.S. to the championship match, where they would fall 3-0 to Costa Rica.

U.S. Under-20 MNT Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Cody Cropper (Ipswich Town; Athens, Ga.)
DEFENDERS (8): Gale Agbossoumonde (Djurgårdens IF; Syracuse, N.Y.), Greg Garza (G.D. Estoril Praia; Grapevine, Texas), Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Sacir Hot (New York Red Bulls; Fair Lawn, N.J.), Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke; Missouri City, Texas), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Zarek Valentin (Chivas USA; Lancaster, Pa.), Korey Veeder (Columbus Crew; St. Petersburg, Fla.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United; San Francisco, Calif.), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Moises Orozco (UANL Tigres; Oxnard, Calif.), Dillon Powers (Notre Dame; Plano, Texas), Kelyn Rowe (UCLA; Newport Beach, Calif.)
FORWARDS (5): Eder Arreola (UCLA; Chino Hills, Calif.), Conor Doyle (Derby County FC; McKinney, Texas), Joe Gyau (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; El Paso, Texas),
Bobby Wood (TSV 1860 München; Irvine, Calif.)