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Rongen Names 26-Player Roster for U-20 MNT Florida Camp

CHICAGO (Dec. 8, 2006) – United States Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen named the 26 players that will participate in the team’s upcoming training camp from Dec. 12-23 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The 12-day camp will be the final time the Under-20s will be together before Rongen names his final 20-player roster for the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament, which will take place from Jan. 17-21 in Panama City, Panama.

Of the 26 players named to camp, 14 are in college, eight are professional players in Major League Soccer and two are part of U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program. Despite a number of European professionals in the player pool, none were brought in by Thomas due to their club commitments and will probably not be with the U-20s until they leave for qualifying in January.

“We won’t have our entire player pool with us for this camp, but we are brining in guys who will definitely be fighting for some of the final undecided spots on our qualifying roster,” said Rongen, who will name his final qualifying roster before the end of the year. “I’m looking forward to an extremely productive and intense camp that will, in the end, allow us to make the ultimate decisions on who will be helping us attempt to qualify for the 2007 World Cup.”  

The eight professional players represent five MLS teams, with the Columbus Crew, FC Dallas and Los Angeles Galaxy each providing two players. Danny Szetela and Tim Ward were called in from Columbus, along with Dax McCarty and Blake Wagner from Dallas, and Quavas Kirk and Nathan Sturgis from the L.A. Galaxy.

The two remaining MLS players – Freddy Adu (D.C. United) and Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls) – are two of the youngest in the league, and also on the Under-20 roster, but both have made impressive impacts for club and country. Adu is the most experienced player on the team with appearances a the past two FIFA U-20 World Cups, while Altidore burst onto the scene with a handful of goals at the end of the season for the Red Bulls.   

Eight of the 14 players from the college ranks were part of U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., including defender Julian Valentin (Wake Forest) who was named a NCAA Division I Second Team All-Americans. Two other players on the roster were named All-Americans as Sal Zizzo (UCLA) was also named to the Second Team and goalkeeper Chris Seitz (Maryland) was named to the Third Team.

Rongen will announce the final 20-player qualifying roster before the team returns to Bradenton on Dec. 30 for an eight-day camp. Once again there is a chance the European-based players will be unavailable, but Rongen will not invite in any additional players to fill any vacant spots. The players will head home for three days and then regroup on Dec. 10 in Fort Lauderdale where they will train before heading to Panama for the qualifying tournament on Dec. 14.

The U.S. is in Group A of the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament with Guatemala, Haiti and the host Panama. The top two teams in the group will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, which will take place from June 30-July 22 across six cities – Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Burnaby and Victoria. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for their sixth straight FIFA World Cup (formerly FIFA World Youth Championship),

The other two of the four CONCACAF berths (not including Canada which gets an automatic berth as host) will come from Group B, which will occur a month later from Feb. 21-25 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, located on the west coast of Mexico. Competing with the hosts will be Costa Rica, St. Kitts & Nevis and the winner between a two-game series between Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.