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U-23 MNT Set for Wednesday's Match vs. Japan's U-22 Men's National Team

U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team 
Training Camp Update from Kumamoto, Japan 
February 13, 2007

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team is now just one day away from kicking off the journey towards qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, with a match vs. the Japan U-22 Men’s National Team comprising the first leg of the tour. The team held a one-hour training session at the 33,000 seat KKWing Stadium in Kumamoto, site of tomorrow night’s contest. More than 40 journalists witnessed the session and questioned U.S. head coach Bob Bradley in a post-practice press conference. Kickoff for the Kirin Challenge Cup is set for 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET). A full match report will be available on on Wednesday. The U.S. will take on JFL side Rosso Kumamoto on Friday (Feb. 23) in the same stadium. The series of matches are the first for the U-23's since 2004, and marks the debut of head coach Bob Bradley. From the initial roster of 23 players that began training camp on Feb. 10 in Carson, six returned to their clubs before Bradley's squad traveled to Japan. In addition to Tally Hall (Esjberg FB), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo) and Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), who all had only been scheduled to participate in camp, Bradley released Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Nico Colaluca (Colorado Rapids) and Will John (Kansas City Wizards). Sal Zizzo, a UCLA product who played on the U-20 MNT that qualified for the 2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup, has been added to the travel roster.

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Travel Roster by Position
Feb. 16-23, 2007 – Kumamoto, Japan

GOALKEEPERS (2): Justin Hughes (Colorado Rapids), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Sean Franklin (Cal State Northridge University), Hunter Freeman (Colorado Rapids), Michael Harrington (Kansas City Wizards), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Nathan Sturgis (Los Angeles Galaxy), Rob Valentino (University of San Francisco), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Arturo Alvarez (FC Dallas), Quavas Kirk (Los Angeles Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Peter Lowry (Santa Clara University), Ryan Solle (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (4): Adam Cristman (New England Revolution), Jacob Peterson (Colorado Rapids), Jamie Watson (Real Salt Lake), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

PODCAST – SEITZ STEPPING UP: For goalkeeper Chris Seitz, 2007 has already been a whirlwind tour just two months into the year. In January he helped the USA qualify for the 2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup, surrendering just one goal in three matches (from a penalty kick, no less) during the tournament in Panama. Just prior to departing for Panama, the University of Maryland product learned he was selected by Real Salt Lake as the fourth overall pick in the MLS Super Draft. After winning the national championship his freshman year, Seitz departed after a two-year college career to jump to the professional ranks. Now in his first camp with the U-23 national team, Seitz looked back on his two-year odyssey while projecting ahead to his goals for 2007.

’C’ FOR SACHA: Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has been handed the captain’s armband for Wednesday night’s match against Japan. A member of the USA’s squad that competed in the 2005 World Youth Cup, the 22-year old is coming off a month-long training stint with the full team and has raised his profile with the newly constituted U-23 group. Kljestan spoke about his new found leadership role with (listen).

ADELAIDE REMEMBERED: The U.S. and Japan have some serious history in the Olympics going back to the quarterfinal round of the 2000 games in Sydney. Matched up in the quarterfinals – the first time the U.S. had advanced to the knockout phase – Japan twice took the lead and twice the Americans battled back. Goals from Josh Wolff and a last-minute penalty conversion by Peter Vagenas sent the game into overtime and then penalties. Sasha Victorine potted the game winner after Vagenas, Jeff Agoos, Landon Donovan and Wolff had all converted their chances, and then-Roma striker Hidetoshi Nakata saw his shot ring off the post. The U.S. went on to finish fourth in the tournament after falling to Spain in the semifinals.

JAMIE'S JOURNAL - PART NI: A 20-plus hour journey awaited the U-23 squad for the trip to Japan, and Real Salt Lake midfielder Jamie Watson chronicled it all in his latest journal from Japan. A celebrity sighting, a failed food mission and a lost piece of hardware were all part of the adventure for the group as they continued their preparations for the two-match tour. Follow along as Jamie chronicles the first training camp of the new U-23 MNT with Jamie's Journal.

ABOUT JAPAN: With just one week remaining until they kick off their Olympic qualifying campaign, the Japanese U-22 Men’s National Team is hoping to follow the example of the younger teams, who earned a tremendous amount of acclaim in 2006. The U-16s captured the AFC U-17 championship in September to clinch a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007, and the U-19 team made it through to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, their seventh consecutive finals appearance. Under new head coach Yasuharu Sorimachi, who is also a member of the senior team staff, the group is committed to playing the “Japanese style of football” and advancing to their third Olympic games, having reached the 2000 quarterfinals in Sydney but failing to get out of their group in Athens 2004. The team finished second in their group in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, defeating Pakistan and Syria.