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U-23 MNT Camp Rolls On as Team Prepares for Japan Trip


U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team Training Camp Update
Carson, Calif.
February 13, 2007

GETTING ACQUAINTED: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team strides into day three of its first-ever training camp under new head coach Bob Bradley, hitting the field at The Home Depot Center on Tuesday morning for the first of two training sessions. There is precious little time for the group to get work in on this side of the Pacific, with a departure date for Japan on Friday quickly approaching. The U-23's will take on the Japan U-22 Men’s National Team on Feb. 21, and then face a J-League team two days later.

SAME SET-UP AS THE BIG BOYS: One thing that is quickly evident is that Bob Bradley intends to have a uniform approach to both the senior team and the U-23's. Besides the change in (most) faces, the camp has mirrored the work of the MNT during the previous month, including two-a-day sessions, all meals together as a group, regeneration activities in the gym, and even scrimmage opponents (more on that later). While the players are different, the philosophy in terms of hard work, focus and pride in playing for the national team is clearly going to be a consistent theme.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: The coaching staff for the start of the U-23 camp in Carson may be unique in modern U.S. Soccer history, utilizing the head coaches of the four main levels of the national teams programs on the men's side. Bradley, coach of the full team and the U-23's, is joined by U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen and U-17 head coach John Hackworth. With the roster made up of so many players who are either current members of the U-20's or graduates of the Residency Program, the coaches are able to share histories, provide different viewpoints, and relate experiences with a vast majority of the group. Hackworth is set to leave tonight for Kingston, Jamaica as the U-17's conduct a four-day training camp in the city in which they will attempt to qualify for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in early May. Rongen will remain with Bradley and assistant coach Peter Nowak for the Japan trip.

WELL GROOMED: If the goal of the youth national team programs is to produce players that will continue to rise through the ranks in the international game, a look at the roster for the U-23 camp reveals that the system is getting it right. Consider:

• 20 of the 23 players on the camp roster have previous youth national team experience
• Nine players were members of the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton
• Of those nine, six were named to a FIFA U-17 World Cup roster
• 19 players have experience with the U-20 MNT
• Nine of those players were named to a FIFA U-20 World Cup roster
• Five more helped the U.S. qualify for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada

TWO BETTER THAN UCLA: Second half goals by Real Salt Lake striker Jamie Watson and University of San Francisco defender Rob Valentino gave the U-23's a 2-0 victory in a scrimmage against UCLA on Monday. The U-23's used 22 players over 90 minutes, making a full lineup change at halftime. After a well-contested first half, Watson broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when he nodded home a cross from Quavas Kirk. Just six minutes from time, Valentino got his head on a finely placed corner to double the lead.

EARLY DISMISSALS: At least three players on the roster will be given passes to leave camp before the group departs for Japan. Wake Forest defender Julian Valentin will return to school to continue his studies, while goalkeeper Tally Hall will join his new club, Danish Superligaen side Esjberg FB. Justin Hughes, a goalkeeper selected by the Colorado Rapids in the 2007 MLS Super Draft, arrives into Carson tonight to take his place. Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden has also been given permission to leave early.

PHOTO SHOP: ussoccer.com's crack photography staff doesn't take a break, quickly changing hats from the January camps to provide you images of different faces from the same location. Check back early and often in the sights and sounds section of ussoccer.com to see the latest pics of the U-23's in Carson.

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