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Caleb Porter

Porter Sees Strong Progression in U-23 MNT Group Following January Camp


U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter is gathering his team together for a camp starting on Feb. 19 and a match against Mexico at FC Dallas Stadium on Feb. 29. Porter is solidifying the group that will represent the USA at the 2012 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament starting in late March. Porter said the U-23s have quite a bit to build on following their January camp.

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team is gearing up for one of its final training camps in preparation for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in late March. Certainly this marks an important stretch as U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter determines who will represent his roster for qualifying.

Porter’s team will meet Feb. 19 in Frisco, Texas, and the U-23s will host Mexico on Feb. 29 at FC Dallas Stadium (9 p.m. CT kickoff).

Following the team’s lengthy January camp, which featured two games against the U.S. Men’s National Team and a trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, to face Saprissa and Alajuelense, Porter felt the team showed some strong progression. The U-23s played the U.S. MNT to a 1-1 draw, and the trip ended on a high note with a 1-0 win against Alajuelense on Jan. 24.

“I thought we dominated a very good team in Alajuelense, and the majority of them were first-team guys,” Porter said. “They really didn’t have that many chances. I thought we broke their spirit with just the way we played. We were aggressive, and that’s the way that we want to be.”

That victory included a Tony Taylor goal in the 41st minute assisted by Dilly Duka, and goalkeeper Zac MacMath made three saves to earn the clean sheet. The U-23s had a 12-4 shots advantage against Alajuelense.

“The guys that started the game I thought did a nice job of getting control of the game early,” Porter said. “We were a little bit more ruthless and had more killer instinct in the final third, and Tony scored a great goal. We had others we could have finished, as well. I also thought the guys off the bench did a nice job.

“It was a good end to a great trip,” Porter said. “We have a lot to really build on with this group.”

Porter had 18 days to work with the U-23 players in January. This upcoming camp is much more constricted with 11 working days on the docket as the group phase of qualifying runs from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., draws closer (tickets on sale through ussoccer.com).

“This will be the last real camp where we look at guys and really start to prepare for qualifying,” Porter said. “We’re playing against Mexico, and that will be a great test. We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing. We’ll train for the things that we want to see take shape in the game and continue to build our team together – individually and collectively. We’ll figure out where our depth lies in each position and continue to just bond together as a team so that when we go into qualifying, we’ve got great unity and a cohesive team that understands tactically how we’re going to play.

“The guys are really starting to grasp this style of play that we’ve begun to imprint on them,” Porter said. “It was good to see that take shape in the previous camp.”

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