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Final U.S. Under-20 MNT Camp of 2004 in Full Swing at The Home Depot Center

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team kicked off their final training camp of 2004 on Sunday (Dec. 12) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.  While just the second camp for head coach Sigi Schmid after being named to lead the team in late October, the 12 days will be crucial as Schmid prepares to whittle the 30 players invited in this camp down to 18 for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament from Jan. 12-16, which will also be at The Home Depot Center. The team has conducted four training sessions in the first three days, doubling up with two practices on Monday and one on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The coaching staff pushed the players in the first sessions as they looked to get the players back to form after the majority of professionals and collegiate players have been away from the daily training for the past couple weeks.

While Greg Dalby and Adam Christman arrived late Monday night after finishing their college exams before Christmas break, Jay Denny was unable to make the overseas trip from England due to a last minute club commitment. Denny, who’s a consistent starter with Stoke City’s reserve team, was included in the first team’s traveling roster for its match away against Brighton. Denny was also on the bench for the first team’s 1-0 victory at home against Coventry City on Sunday (Dec. 12), but didn’t see any action. As a replacement for Denny, California native Robbie Rogers arrived this morning. Rogers spent a couple semesters in U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program during the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003 before returning back to California and playing with Orange County Blue Star in the Premier Development League. Rogers also has looked into playing in Europe, having a trial with Bayern Munich in 2003 and just getting back from a two-month trial with PSV in Holland.
U-20 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Quentin Westberg (ESTAC Troyes); Justin Hughes (UNC), Andrew Kartunen (Stanford); DEFENDERS (10): Greg Dalby (Notre Dame), Hunter Freeman (Virginia), Kiel McClung (UCLA), Mike Ordonez (Dartmouth), Patrick Phelan (Wake Forest), Steve Purdy (California), Karl Schilling (Connecticut), Nathan Sturgis (Clemson), Tim Ward (St. Louis), Marvell Wynne (UCLA); MIDFIELDERS (9): Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Nico Colaluca (Virginia), Robbie Rogers (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Benny Fielhaber (UCLA), Patrick Ianni (UCLA), Sacha Kljestan (Seton Hall), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew), Michael Videira (Duke); FORWARDS (8): Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Ely Allen (Washington), Chad Barrett (UCLA), Adam Christman (Virginia), Charlie Davies (Boston College), Will John (St. Louis), Randi Patterson (UNC-Greensboro), Jacob Peterson (Indiana).

With the final U.S. U-20 18-player roster for the qualifying tournament being chosen out of the 30 players currently in camp, the training sessions have predictably intense during this week.  The first few days of training have not disappointed and you can expect the high intensity to carry over to the four games the Under-20s will play during 12-day camp. The 30 players will be split into two teams (White and Blue) for games against the Canadian Under-20 Men’s National Team, Necaxa and another team still to be determined. On Saturday, Dec. 18 the White team will go up against Canada in the morning, while the Blue team will face off against Mexican first-division club team Necaxa in the afternoon. Then, on Monday, Dec. 20 the Blue team will take on Canada in the morning with the White team facing a team still to be determined later in the afternoon. Before the four matches, there will be an intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday, Dec. 16.
U.S. Under-20 MNT Match Schedule
Date         Opponent        Venue               Time (PT)
Dec. 18     Canada U-20   HDC – Field 1    10 a.m.
Dec. 18     TBD               HDC – Field 1     3:30 p.m.
Dec. 20     Canada U-20  HDC – Field 1      10 a.m.
Dec. 20     Necaxa          HDC – Field 1      3:30 p.m.

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team found out their final opponent in Group A of the 2005 CONCACAF Under-20 Final Round Qualifying Tournament last week as Trinidad & Tobago advanced after eliminating Cuba 6-5 on aggregate in the Second Round Caribbean Zone Series 1. After winning the first-leg 3-2 at the Estadio Pedro Marrero in La Habana, Cuba, on Nov. 26, T&T drew with Cuba 3-3 on Dec. 10 in the second-leg at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. Trinidad & Tobago will join Costa Rica, Panama and the USA as they compete in Group A at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from Jan. 12-16, 2005. The six-game round-robin tournament will consist of three doubleheaders with each team playing on January 12, 14, and 16. The U.S. U-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, play the second match on each day and open against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, Jan. 12 before facing Panama on Friday, Jan. 14. The U-20s wrap up the tournament against Costa Rica on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The top two finishers in Carson will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands from June 10-July 2, 2005.
U-20 CONCACAF Final Round Schedule
Date        Match-up                            Kickoff (PT)
Jan. 12    Costa Rica vs. Panama        5:30 p.m.
Jan. 12    USA vs. T&T                      8 p.m.
Jan. 14    T&T vs. Costa Rica             5:30 p.m.
Jan. 14    USA vs. Panama                 8 p.m.
Jan. 16    Panama vs. T&T                 12 p.m.
Jan. 16    USA vs. Costa Rica            2:30 p.m.


Tickets for the Under-20 world championship qualifying tournament go on sale nationally this Friday (Dec. 17) at 10 a.m. PT. Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $10 to $24 are available online at, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), by calling 213-480-3232 (Los Angeles), 714-740-2000 (Orange County) or 619-220-8497 (San Diego), and at the Home Depot Center ticket office. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.

Having been hired in late October, Sigi Schmid has only had about two months to start his selection process for the 18 players he will select for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team at the CONCACAF U-20 Qualifying Tournament, which will be at The Home Depot Center from January 12-16, 2005. With less than a month to go and 30 players currently in camp – the U-20s final camp before he chooses his final roster – Schmid sat down with and talked about what challenges he’s faced with the limited time available to choose his squad, how the players are looking in camp and what he’s hoping to get out of this final week to help him make his decision.

Head coach Sigi Schmid has the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team together for the last time in 2004, one month before they open CONCACAF qualifying for the FIFA Youth World Championship 2005 on January 12 at The Home Depot Center. A total of 30 players have reported to camp. Both the player pool and coaching staff includes some recognizable faces, including recent MLS rookies Freddy Adu and Danny Szetela on the playing field, and former MLS and U.S. stars Marcelo Balboa and Peter Vermes in the coaching box. Check out a photo gallery of these faces and more while they train at the National Training Center by visiting


The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s two new assistants for this camp know a little bit about international soccer. About 195 combined caps worth. Along with Schmid and first assistant Dave Dir, former U.S. MNT players Marcelo Balboa and Peter Vermes have joined the coaching staff for the camp, bringing wealth of knowledge for the U-20 players to tap into. One of the most noticeable players to ever don a U.S. jersey with his distinctive long black hair, Balboa played over 10,000 minutes during his 13-year career (1988-2000), notching 13 goals and four assists. The stellar defender, who was also known for his spectacular bicycle kick goals, was the first U.S. MNT player to make 100 international appearances and is one of only three American players to ever compete in three World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998). Vermes had a unique experience during his eight-year career with the MNT (1988-1994, 1997), playing as both a forward and then later as a defender. A versatile player, Vermes was a starter for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team in Seoul, the 1989 bronze-medal winning U.S. National Indoor Team and the 1990 U.S. World Cup Team in Italy. He was also one of the first Americans to go abroad to play, becoming the first American to play in the Hungarian First Division when he joined Raba Eto in 1989. He also played for FC Volendam of the Dutch First Division in 1990 and played with U.S. teammate Tab Ramos at Figueres of the Spanish second division in 1991.


Out of the 23 college players invited into camp, a total of 17 colleges from seven conferences are represented. The Pacific-10 Conference leads the way with eight players, followed by the Atlantic Coast Conference with seven, the Big East with four and Conference USA with two. The three remaining – Big Ten Conference, Ivy League and Southern Conference – each have one representative.

While 23 college players are in camp, only sophomore forward Jacob Peterson is a member of Indiana University, the 2004 Men’s Division I champion. While Peterson admits his team was fortunate to hold off a talented UC-Santa Barbara team in regulation before pulling out a penalty kick win, he admits he’ll “take the win” which gave Indiana their second straight title and seventh overall. Peterson, an integral piece to Indiana’s title defense, scored his team’s lone goal in regulation, opening the scoring in the 27th minute with a nice volley off a long pass from teammate Jed Zayner to loft the ball over the goalkeeper from just outside the 18-yard penalty area. Unfortunately for Peterson, by coming straight into Under-20 camp on Sunday night he was unable to continue the celebration as it moved from California to Indiana when the team took its flight home late that night.


With 30 players in camp, including a few who are either in their first camp or haven’t been in with the U-20s in awhile, there were some unfamiliar faces for the staff and even the players for the first couple days. Without going to the extent of having the players all wear name tags, the coaching staff has continued a mealtime ritual they started in the November Florida camp of having two players introduce themselves to the rest of the contingent in camp. The players usually stand up and say their name, where they’re from, what college or club they play for and add a little bit of about things they like to do in their spare time. While the players were also apt to talk about their siblings, things have changed a bit as their teammates would jump on the chance to rib any of the guys that said they had a sister. 

A number of the college players were happy to leave school and come into camp with the Under-20s because it meant they were done with finals and wouldn’t have to worry about doing any homework during the Christmas break. Think again. Schmid surprised the players on Sunday night during the first team meeting, handing out notebooks and pens to each player and explaining the research they would have to do over the next couple days. The players were broken up into groups of three or four and given the assignment of researching a particular CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament. Each group was given a year (the tournament is held every two years) from 1987-2003, and was required to find out the results for each U.S. game and if they advanced. They were also required to name three player on the U.S. team that they knew and three that they did not know. After each team presented their findings on Tuesday, Schmid used the exercise to show the players what similar trends each team that qualified had in common to give the players a sense of what they would need to accomplish to give them the best chance of qualifying in January. He also used the names of former U-20 players to push the point home that just because you make the U-20 qualifying team doesn’t guarantee you success at the next level, while also rattling off names of players who did not make certain qualifying teams, such as Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Lewis and Greg Vanney, who still went on to make the full MNT.
Having the afternoon off on Wednesday was probably a good thing for the Under-20 players and staff as most probably needed a bit of a nap after a big lunch at the Alpine Village, a German restaurant not far from the team hotel that is home to the largest and longest running Oktoberfest in Southern California. The players enjoyed from a large selection of dishes, including prime rib, salmon, chicken cordon blue, and bratwurst. The team was also supplied with a delicious desert of apple strudel a la mode. With enough food to last them until a late dinner the only thing missing was a bit of German music and a guy in lederhosen dancing by the table.