Former MLS Coach Returns to U.S. Soccer For Second Term With U-20 MNT;
Rongen Will Hold First 23-Player Camp This Week in Sunrise, Fla.
CHICAGO (March 7, 2006) – Thomas Rongen has been named the head coach of the United States Under-20 Men’s National Team. Rongen has selected 23 eligible players (born after Jan. 1, 1987) for the team’s first training camp this week as the team begins preparations to qualify for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The hiring marks Rongen’s second stint as the U.S. U-20 MNT head coach as he previously held the position from 2002-04, coaching the team during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. Rongen led the U.S. through an impressive run to the quarterfinals and an eventual fifth place finish on the world stage, setting numerous first-time milestones along the way.
“I’m excited to return to U.S. Soccer as the Under-20 Men’s head coach,” said Rongen. “My previous experience was very rewarding as we put together a fantastic run during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship. I am looking forward to building on that experience and to having the chance to continue the growth of U.S. Soccer.”
The initial camp from March 7-13, will take place in Sunrise, Fla., and consists of mainly college players, with Josmer Altidore (MetroStars) being the only professional player on the roster. Out of the 23 players, eight are still in high school, including four players that are currently in U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency Program.
Rongen, 49, has coached for seven years in Major League Soccer, spending time with the Tampa Bay Mutiny (1996), New England Revolution (1997-98), D.C. United (1999-2001) and Chivas USA (2005). After earning the inaugural MLS Coach of the Year honors in 1996 by guiding the Mutiny to a MLS-best 20-12 record and the Eastern Conference regular season title, Rongen took over the New England Revolution, where he coached for two years. He then replaced current Men’s National Team Manager Bruce Arena at D.C. United prior to the 1999 season, guiding the team to the MLS Cup for their third title in four years.
Rongen has been part of soccer in this country for more than 20 years as a player and a coach. His professional playing career started with famed Dutch club Ajax in the 1970s, before moving to the United States and the NASL in 1979.
During the ’03 WYC with Rongen at the helm, the U.S. opened the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Paraguay before falling, 2-1, to Germany and then rebounding with a 2-0 victory over South Korea to win their group for the first time at any World Youth Championship. The U.S. then toppled Ivory Coast, 2-0, in the Round of 16 before coming just seconds away from an appearance in the semifinals until a second-half stoppage time goal and a golden goal penalty kick sunk their championship aspirations in a 2-1 loss to Argentina.
Along with winning their group for the first time ever, the U.S. set numerous accomplishments at UAE ’03, including advancing to the quarterfinals of a WYC for just the second time and first time since the tournament increased to 24 teams in 1997, winning the most matches by any U.S. team in any FIFA Men’s World Championship (three) and tying the record for the most goals scored in any FIFA Men’s World Championship (nine).
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