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FIFA U-20 World Cup a Chance for Redemption

For several members of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup represents another chance. Many have been part of the U.S. Soccer national team programs for various cycles, but only three have ever been part of a youth World Cup, and only two have played in one. Nine others came close and are now getting their opportunity on the world stage.

Jeff Caldwell, Joel Sonora, Conor Donovan, Rubio Rubin, John Requejo and Shaq Moore were all on the 2013 team that was upset by Honduras at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship and missed out of that U-17 World Cup. Bradford Jamieson IV was left off that roster altogether after spending four semesters in Residency.

“Obviously that was a tough moment, not only for me but the rest of the team who experienced that,” said Moore, who was captain of the 2013 U-17 World Cup qualifying team. “I think having another chance – not even here at the World Cup, but at Qualifying in January with this group - was a big hurdle that I crossed to finally qualify for a World Cup.”

It wasn’t easy qualifying this time around, either. After tying the first and losing the second match, the U-20s won the final four matches in Jamaica – all by shutout – in order to qualify for New Zealand. One player who had to sit out was Sonora, who was injured weeks before. Thankful that the group qualified, he’s now looking forward for his chance at redemption.

“It was a big disappointment at the time because we were all expecting to qualify,” said Sonora of the 2013 team. “We didn’t see it as too difficult, and maybe we let our guard down. It was a very hard hit to take because it was the first time a U-17 team didn’t qualify for a World Cup. We were crushed. So we’re excited that we’ve now given ourselves another chance to show what we can do and what this group of players and this team is about in New Zealand.”

Two years earlier, Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola were the youngest members of the 2011 U-17 FIFA World Cup team in Mexico that bowed out in the Round of 16 with a loss to Germany. Acosta played in all four matches and Arriola in three. During that cycle, Marky Delgado did not make the qualifying roster, and while Jordan Allen was on the team that qualified, he was left off the final World Cup squad.

“There was disappointment, but at the time I hadn’t been playing well, so it was kind of expected,” Allen said. “I made sure once that happened, that the next time I had a chance to make a World Cup team I would have been doing everything I could to be in good form and put myself in the right position. So I’m happy that I’ve been able to do that this time.”

Allen and Delgado were also returning from injuries in January and not fit to go to Jamaica. But Allen seemed to be a longer shot. He suffered a knee injury last year that kept him out the picture for months. The Real Salt Lake forward made his first appearance with the U-20s in a camp in Austria in April, and got the call that he made the World Cup team a few weeks later.

“This means a lot,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work in - being out of close to 10 months with my knee injury. As soon as I got healthy I circled when the World Cup was going to be and I made sure that by that time I was getting close to my best form. I put a lot of work in, and luckily it worked out.”

Arriola doesn’t take the opportunity to play in a second youth World Cup for granted.

“I know it’s unique, and I know I’m very blessed to be able to do this again,” he said. “Obviously when I started the cycle, this was my goal – to have us qualify for the World Cup and to make the team. But you never know what can happen, so I’m thankful to be here and looking to do whatever I can to help us win.”

Zack Steffen is the other player on this roster to have been on a World Cup team. The Freiburg goalkeeper, along with Acosta, returns from the 2013 U-20 World Cup team, although neither played in the tournament.

It’s obviously not easy making it to a World Cup, and it’s with that in mind that this group relishes the experience in New Zealand.

“We’ve had a very sour taste in our mouth,” Moore said. “We’ve just wanted to work hard and give ourselves another shot. We wanted to get rid of that taste and we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re excited to be here now, but we also want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Russell Canouse Pulls Out of U-20 MNT World Cup Squad with Injury; Replaced by Conor Donovan

CHICAGO (May 25, 2015) – U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos has replaced midfielder Russell Canouse, who was injured in training earlier in the week, on the USA’s FIFA U-20 World Cup roster by Conor Donovan. Canouse sustained a right ankle injury while the team was training in Australia and will require additional time to recover. Donovan was named as an alternate and has been with the team since the pre-World Cup camp began on May 11 in Carson, California.

“Today was a very tough decision to make,” said Ramos. “Obviously Russell led our team to qualification in the last four matches in Jamaica, so I think that we lose a player that’s very important on the field, but also off the field. So it’s a big loss for us.

“At the same time, we were prepared by having Conor be here the whole time. Conor has been working hard with us, he’s adapted and he has been with the team for a while. So we were ready with a replacement and we’re excited to have Conor on board, who also brings a lot on the field and off the field.”

Canouse, who plays at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Germany, captained the USA in the final four matches of the 2015 U-20 CONCACAF Championship in January in Jamaica, helping the team post four consecutive shutouts en route to earning a berth at the World Cup in New Zealand.

Donovan was also a member of the U-20 World Cup qualifying team in January, appearing in two matches, including a start in the team’s 8-0 victory over Aruba. The 19-year-old was selected by Orlando City SC with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft after one season at North Carolina State.

Donovan joined the U.S. Residency Program in 2011 and was a member of the U-17 team that participated at the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. He played in the Development Academy in 2013-14, competing for Capital Area RailHawks Academy – CASL’s U-18 squad. He previously played for North Carolina Alliance.

Since the U-20 Championship, Donovan has appeared in friendlies against England, Qatar and Croatia. He scored the tying goal against Qatar on April 21 in Salzburg, Austria.

The U.S. arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday and will make its way to Whangarei on Tuesday. The team opens Group A play against Myanmar at 12 a.m. ET on May 30 in Whangarei, followed by matches with New Zealand on June 2 and Ukraine on June 5, both of which will be played in Auckland. All of the U.S.’s group matches will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and NBC Universo.

U-20 MNT React to Win vs. Australia

Head Coach Tab Ramos, and players Joel Soñora, Maki Tall, and Tommy Thompson react to the USA's 2-1 win over Australia.

U-20 MNT Defeats Australia in World Cup Tuneup

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA (May 19, 2015) - The Under-20 Men’s National Team defeated Australia’s Under-20 team 2-1 Tuesday evening at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, Australia. After conceding a goal just 15 minutes into the match, the USA used second-half goals from Joel Soñora and Maki Tall to defeat the hosts in a pre-World Cup tuneup.

Australia took the lead when right-winger Awer Mabil played a ball into the area that midfielder Stefan Mauk was able to re-direct to the near post.

U.S. forward Tommy Thompson came the closest to leveling, only to have two attempts hit woodwork, once in the first half when a 20-yard shot hit the left post, and then early in the second half when his header off a Shaq Moore cross hit the right post.

The USA’s tying goal came minutes after both teams subbed in a combined five players at the hour mark. Thompson set up Joel Soñora who looked up from 25 yards and curled a shot to the far right post for his first goal with this age group.

The tie lasted all of 45 seconds as U.S. forward Maki Tall picked a ball off an Australian defender and put it away to give the USA the 2-1 lead.

The U.S. will play Serbia next week in a closed door match that will serve as the final test before the start of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

The U.S. was drawn into Group A with host New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar. The team opens group play against Myanmar at 12 a.m. ET on May 30 in Whangarei, followed by matches with New Zealand on June 2 and Ukraine on June 5, both of which will be played in Auckland. All of the U.S.’s group matches will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and NBC Universo.

-U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team vs. Australia U-20 Men’s National Team
Date: May 19, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, Australia
Kickoff: 6 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET)
Attendance: 600
Weather: 60 degrees, cloudy 

Scoring Summary:      1    2    F
USA                              0    2    2
AUS                              1    0    1 

AUS - Stefan Mauk (Awer Mabil)                     15th minute
USA – Joel Soñora (Tommy Thompson)           60
USA – Maki Tall (unassisted)                            61

USA: 1-Zack Steffen, 2-Shaquell Moore (15-Kellyn Acosta, 59), 4-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5-Matt Miazga, 6-Desavio Payne (17-John Requejo, 74), 3-Marco Delgado, 7-Joel Soñora, 8-Emerson Hyndman (capt.), 11-Paul Arriola (18-Gedion Zelalem, 59), 9-Maki Tall, 10-Tommy Thompson,
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Jeff Caldwell, 22-Thomas Olsen
Head coach: Tab Ramos

AUS: 12-Jordan Holmes, 4-Scott Galloway (c) (3-Daniel Alessi, 83), 6-Liam Rose (9-George Blackwood, 73), 8-Liam Youlley (11-Alusine Fofanah, 59), 13-Brandon Borrello (17-Steve Kuzmanovski, 73), 14-Jaushua Sotirio (15-Adam Berry, 73), 16-Awer Mabil (7-Shannon Brady, 59), 19-Stefan Mauk, 20-Thomas Deng, 22-Riley Woodcock (21-Alex Gersbach, 59), 23-Jonathan Aspropotamitis
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Tom Glover, 2-Shayne D’Cunha, 12-Jordan Holmes, 18-Tom Heward-Belle,
Head coach: Paul Okon

Stats Summary: USA / AUS
Shots: 13 / 7
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 8
Offside: 0 / 0

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Chris Young
Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher
Assistant Referee 2: James Cleal
Fourth Official: Trent Nash

U-20 MNT Readies for Pre-World Cup Test vs. Australia

The U.S. U-20 MNT take on Australia before heading to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Ramos Names Emerson Hyndman U-20 World Cup Captain

Tab Ramos on why he chose Emerson Hyndman to captain the U.S. U-20 side for the World Cup.

Emerson Hyndman Named U-20 MNT Captain for World Cup

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos on Saturday evening announced to the team midfielder Emerson Hyndman will serve as captain at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

“We’ve been discussing with the staff trying to figure out who was going to be a good leader for us on the field and off the field,” Ramos said. “We’re very fortunate with this group that we definitely have three or four guys who could have taken that role, but we felt that Emerson was the right person to lead the way for the group. Obviously he’s a good player, and at the same time I think he’s very professional on the field and off the field and I think the type of person at U.S. Soccer we’d like to have as a leader.”

Hyndman is one of six players who appeared in all six matches for the U-20 MNT at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica in January, where he scored once and led the team with three assists.

“It’s obviously an honor to be captain of a World Cup team,” Hyndman said. “I’m looking to bring all the same qualities from qualifying and really just help everyone on the team.”

The 19-year-old has also earned a cap with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, debuting on September 3, 2014 as a second-half sub in the USA’s 1-0 win against the Czech Republic. He also played a friendly with the U.S. U-23 MNT on October 14, 2014 when he started against Brazil in Brasilia.

“(Ramos) just told me that he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on me, and he wanted me to be more of a leader,” Hyndman said. “I feel like I can do that, so I’m up to the task.”

A former Development Academy player with the Dallas Texans and the FC Dallas Academy, Hyndman signed a professional contract with Fulham in April 2013. He made his professional debut for the Cottagers on Aug. 9, 2014, going the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Ipswich Town in Championship play and made 11 first-team appearances for Fulham during the 2014-2015 season.

U-20 MNT Continues World Cup Prep in Sydney

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team capped the California portion of their three-leg pre-World Cup camp on Thursday with a light regeneration session at StubHub Center in Carson. A few hours later, the group embarked on a 15-hour flight to Sydney, Australia, where it will train for six days before heading to New Zealand for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

“I think the guys have shown their excitement for what’s to come in New Zealand,” said forward Tommy Thompson of the camp. “Everyone’s been sharp, and everyone appears ready. Now we’re looking forward to our scrimmage against Australia and to continue to build on what we started in LA.”

Fifteen players participated in the first leg in Carson, including Cameron Carter-Vickers, who arrived from England in time for Thursday’s training. Kellyn Acosta, Eric Palmer-Brown, Rubio Rubin, Jordan Allen, Bradford Jamieson and Gedion Zelalem will join the group over the next few days in Australia.

“Although we don’t have those players, I think it’s for a good reason - it’s because they’re all playing, and they’re playing important roles within their clubs,” said U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos. “That’s a good thing. It’s a sign of our players getting better and our pool of players being more and more competitive.”

The team conducted five sessions in Los Angeles, including a scrimmage against a local club in which they didn’t keep score. As important as the trainings were, Ramos said the time also served another purpose.

“Team-building happens not just on the field and not just with tactics,” Ramos said. “Team-building is everything else that happens outside the field, too. Although we don’t have a full roster yet, I think what we did in the three days in LA has been very important for our team because we’re starting to build a camaraderie amongst the players which I think is going to be very important leading into the tough part of the competition.”

The team arrived in Sydney early Saturday morning, skipping over Friday with the 17-hour time change and had a light session in the afternoon to try to quickly acclimate. On Tuesday the U.S. plays a friendly against Australia at Central Coast Stadium, however the focus remains the World Cup opener on May 30.

“Right now although we’re going to play Australia and then follow that up with a game against Serbia in New Zealand. But our main focus continues to be Myanmar,” Ramos said. “That’s all we think about, that’s what the players will be watching over the next couple days.” 

It didn’t take long for the message to be accepted by the team. 

“It’s a World Cup, and we know we can’t take any game lightly,” said midfielder Emerson Hyndman. “But right now we’re only looking at the first game against Myanmar and we’re not looking past it.”

The team was given video of Myanmar matches to watch on the flight to Australia. 

“We’re putting more resources and time into Myanmar and learning about Myanmar than we did for playing Spain in the last World Cup,” Ramos said, who also coached the U-20 MNT at the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey. “Only because when you play a team like Spain or France or even Ghana, they play a style you’re somewhat familiar with, so you know their soccer culture, you know a lot more about them to begin with. In this case, we really had to learn from scratch. I think we’re putting a lot of time into that, and we feel comfortable that we’re moving in a good direction to be prepared for that game.” 

The preparation will continue picking up steam as the final six players join the squad, which Ramos says everyone is looking forward to.

“I think we’ve selected an excellent group of players but also an excellent group of people,” Ramos said. “They are all ready to go. They are all waiting for their teammates to come. And the guys who are not here can’t wait to get here. I think all around we have a good group of people and sometimes for a team that’s more important than anything else.”


Tab Ramos Finalizes 21-Player Roster for 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup

CHICAGO (May 13, 2015) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named the 21-player roster that will represent the United States at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, which runs from May 30-June 20.

"I’m very excited about this particular group,” said Ramos. “It was very difficult making the final decision because there were quite a few players who deserved to go to the World Cup. Unfortunately, in the end I can only select a certain number, and I’m very happy with the selections that we made.”

The roster will be submitted by May 15 in accordance with FIFA rules.

The group departs May 14 for training in Australia, where the remaining players will join the camp prior to arrival in New Zealand.

The U.S. was drawn into Group A with host New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar. The team opens group play against Myanmar at 12 a.m. ET on May 30 in Whangarei, followed by matches with New Zealand on June 2 and Ukraine on June 5, both of which will be played in Auckland. All of the U.S.’s group matches will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and NBC Universo.

Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jeff Caldwell (University of Virginia; Todd, N.C.), Thomas Olsen (University of San Diego; Las Vegas, Nev.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downingtown, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (6): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Shaquell Moore (Valencia Huracan; Powder Springs, Ga.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen; Greenwood, S.C.), John Requejo (Club Tijuana; Carpinteria, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Russell Canouse (Hoffenheim; Lancaster, Pa.), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC; Glendora, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Texas), Joel Soñora (Boca Juniors; Buenos Aires, Argentina), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal; Montgomery County, Md.)
FORWARDS (5): Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake; Rochester, N.Y.), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht; Beaverton, Ore.), Maki Tall (Red Star; Washington, D.C.), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes; Loomis, Calif.)

The U-20 MNT capped off its World Cup Qualifying run at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with four-straight wins. After opening the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Guatemala followed by a 1-0 loss to Panama, the team went on to defeat Aruba, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago to earn a playoff match with El Salvador. The U-20s were victorious against El Salvador and the 2-0 win secured the team a spot in the 2015 U-20 FIFA World Cup.

The U-20 MNT has played three international friendlies since the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. On March 29, the team fell 2-1 to England’s U-21s in England. A month later, the team drew 2-2 with Qatar’s U-20s on April 21 during a European training camp that concluded with a 1-0 win over Croatia on April 25 in Austria. Eleven players that were a part of the roster for the Austria camp appear on this roster.

The U-20 World Cup showcases some of the world’s best young talent. The USA’s roster at last summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup featured nine players had previously played in a U-20 World Cup: Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Mix Diskerud, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando and DeAndre Yedlin.

The USA’s best finish at the U-20 World Cup came in Saudi Arabia in 1989, where the team finished in fourth place. In 2013, the USA was drawn into a group with Spain, eventual third-place finisher Ghana, and eventual 2013 U-20 World Cup champion France. While the U.S. played France to a draw, it was unable to advance past the group stage.

Roster Notes:

  • On this roster, nine players come from European clubs, seven players from MLS, two from Liga MX, one from Argentina and two are playing at the collegiate level in the United States.
  • Ten players from this roster were on the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship roster.
  • Eleven players from this roster were part of the U-20s most recent camp in Austria.
  • Fourteen players have ties to the Development Academy: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas Academy), Jordan Allen (Empire Revolution and Real Salt Lake AZ), Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC), Jeff Caldwell (NC Fusion), Russell Canouse (PA Classics and New York Red Bulls Academy), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA Academy), Emerson Hyndman (FC Dallas Academy), Bradford Jamieson IV (Chivas USA Academy and LA Galaxy Academy), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls Academy), Shaquell Moore (FC Dallas Academy and IMG Academy), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC Academy), John Requejo (Real So Cal), Zack Steffen (Continental FC DELCO), Tommy Thompson (California Development Academy).
  • Gedion Zelalem has been cleared by FIFA to represent U.S. Soccer in international competition and is included in the squad.
  • Tab Ramos becomes the third coach to lead a U-20 team in multiple World Cups (2013, 2015), following Sigi Schmid (1999, 2005) and Thomas Rongen (2003, 2007, 2009).
  • Kellyn Acosta and Zack Steffen were also on the roster for the U-20 World Cup in 2013, becoming the 8th and 9th player to appear on rosters for two U-20 World Cups/Youth Championships (Adu, Convey, Szetela, Keller, Sturgis, Arguez, Perk). 
  • John Requejo and Tommy Thompson are the most experienced players on the roster having both earned 16 career caps with the U-20 MNT.
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers was born on Dec. 31, 1997, making him the youngest player on the roster at 17 years old.
  • Requejo and Carter-Vickers are the only two players that started and played all 90 minutes of all six of the U.S.’s 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship matches.
  • Rubio Rubin earned a cap with the U.S. MNT this year during its match against Denmark. Rubin has three career caps with the senior team.
  • Emerson Hyndman is the roster’s leading assist man and has recorded three in six appearances in 2015.
  • Paul Arriola scored the second goal of the U.S.’s 2-0 victory over El Salvador in the CONCACAF playoff match that clinched the team’s spot in the World Cup.
  • Arriola and Requejo are teammates with Liga MX’s Club Tijuana.
  • Shaq Moore was named to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship All-Tournament Team.
  • Acosta and Hyndman played together in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons at FC Dallas Academy.

Tab Ramos Elaborates on U-20 MNT World Cup Roster Selection

Opening Remarks:
“So first of all, welcome to everyone on the call. Thank you for being on. Obviously this is a culmination of a very strong year-and-a-half cycle in which we were able to see many talented players. I believe this is a good age group. Obviously we’re right at the end of it here and it’s been very difficult to make the final selections. When you go into making the final selections you want to start with selecting the very best players you have and then end the selection process with players that fit in a number of different ways, not only by coming in in different positions but also by helping the team in every other way. I’m very happy with the selections that we’ve made. I think this is a strong group and a group in which more than ever before we have players who are playing first-division and are getting a lot of minutes and I think from a physical standpoint this is probably a group that will be able to handle this better than groups we have in the past. I’m very excited about this group and looking forward to the challenges that we have ahead of us, which will be difficult.”

On whether he thinks Gedion Zelalem will be cleared in time for the tournament and if not who he will use in the last spot:
“The answer to that is that we’re leaving a little window here over the next few days in case something can be worked out. I don’t know the specifics of the paperwork obviously. We’ve seen Gedion play a little bit and we believe that he can help the team, so if we have a few more days available I think we might as well leave that window open in case that happens. If it doesn’t happen, we have Zach Pfeffer ready to go. I’ve already spoken to him and told him the situation and this is kind of where we are, so we are prepared to make that call as well.”

On if he sees this roster as being inexperienced defensively:
“I really don’t actually. I think defensively we have a number of different combinations that we can use. Matt Miazga is playing 90 minutes every week for New York Red Bulls. Desevio Payne has already debuted in the first division with FC Gronigen. You have the option of John Requejo who’s playing every week, although he’s playing with the U-20s in Tijuana he has also played in the cup with Tijuana’s first team. Shaq Moore is unattached right now but he has been training in Spain and playing games in Spain, so I feel comfortable about that. There’s also the ability of using Kellyn Acosta as an outside back, who has been playing and starting for FC Dallas the last few games. Cameron Carter-Vickers is our youngest player and yet he plays like a veteran, so I have no concerns there at all. I think we’re in good shape. I don’t think we’re an inexperienced defense by any means.”

On the process of players going from the U-20s to the U-23s to the senior team and how that path of progression is beneficial to players:
“One of the things we’ve been talking about over these last few years since Jurgen Klinsmann has taken over our program is the fact that we know that the integration of our National Teams is very important to us. So I think that the participation of a player with the U-20s and at the U-20 World Cup and being in U-20 camps prepares them to go to the first team a little bit better, not just because of the international experience and the international games and being able to play against players all over the world, but I think that the way we train, the way we prepare teams, the way we scout, those are all things that are very similar to what our first team does. So I feel that when a player leaves our U-20s and steps into the first team that they’re pretty well prepared for what they’re going to find. I think that’s a big help for us.”

On how Marco Delgado worked his way into the group after missing the qualifying games:
“Well Marky got hurt right before the qualifiers. We’ve always considered him a very good player and one who can help us a lot. He has been in good form as of late. He played 90 minutes last night in a Canadian Cup game. He played 90 minutes in both games for us in our camp in Europe a few weeks back. He’s in good form right now and it’s a good moment for him.”

On what areas he is focusing on improving following the qualifying games and on how the selection of new players will fit into that:
“Yeah it’s a good question because in qualifying I have to say that I was very happy with the way that we played defensively. The team did very well in terms of limiting the opportunities of other teams. We were solid at the end of the tournament and I felt that we were probably the best team there. Defensively we didn’t give up much at all and we ended up with four shutouts in a row. I’m pretty confident that on that side of the field we’re going to do well. Where the changes have come that you see is going forward. Obviously we didn’t have Rubio Rubin there. We didn’t have the option to have Maki Tall there. Jordan Allen was injured and now he’s in great form. Bradford Jameison IV is in much better form now. He plays and starts for the LA Galaxy every game. There are a lot more options now and I feel confident in this team with what we can do on the other side of the ball because although at qualifiers we created chances and we had more shots that any team in qualifying we didn’t convert, and I think we need to be a lot more clinical and be able to put our chances away in the World Cup because certainly there’s not going to be as many chances as there were in qualifying.”

On if he has named a captain, and on Reading FC not releasing Andrija Novakovich:
“I have not named a captain yet. I’m going to do that with the team next week, so I’ll have to keep that to myself at this point until the team knows next week. As far as the release, I can tell you that Reading has done a great job with us over the years and in working with national teams and they’re very supportive of U.S. Soccer and our players coming up. An example is with Bobby Convey and the past and Danny Williams recently, so they do release their players. They just strongly felt that with Andrija this has been a very difficult year for him with the physicality of the Championship and being on their team. They consider him a very important part of next year’s group and their preseason which starts in June, and they felt like at this point he’s going to need the rest. I can’t argue with that. As the U-20 MNT head coach above and beyond anything else obviously results are very important - but also what’s important is that we advance players to our first team. So if that’s what’s best for Andrija at this point and that’s what everybody feels is best for him then I support that as well and hopefully we have Andrija ready, whether it’s for the Olympics or the senior team, down the road.”

On the strengths and weaknesses of Shaq Moore, where he’s been training, and what he’ll bring to the team:
“Shaq Moore is training with team Huracán, which is in the third division in Spain. I’ve spoken with their club director quite a few times because I wanted to make sure he was getting playing time. When Shaq comes with us he’s always physically in great shape. He brings a lot to the table for us in terms of covering space and getting up and down the line and making plays. He’s one that fits into the team really well. As far as strengths and weaknesses I can say he’s a player that’s very tactically knowledgeable, like I said he gets up and down the line well. I think in terms of weaknesses, he can obviously improve with the ball on his feet. He’s a young player and he has time for that. I’ve been a fan of Shaq. As you know he’s played most of our games, and I think he’ll bring a lot to the table here as well.”

On what formation he expects the team will bring to New Zealand and on whether an addition of Gedion Zelalem would change the game plan:
“The thought right now is to be playing in a 4-4-2, so whether that becomes a 4-4-2 in a diamond or it becomes two with two more advanced or if that becomes more of a 4-4-1-1 I think we’ll see over the next week and a half. I think the important part at this point is that we have our best guys on the field. I think we have a pretty well compensated roster with players that can make a difference from all kinds of positions, so that will be it. I think Gedion would certainly add to the group, but it won’t necessarily change the way we play. I think that he will fit right in with what we do if he is the player who comes, and if he’s not the player who comes we know that Zach Pfeffer can do that as well.”

On Matt Miazga:
“Matt has advanced and done really well. I was discussing before in a previous interview that in September and October of last year we started to have doubts about his play, and in December we brought him in. He had not been playing last year. Last year he wasn’t getting a lot of minutes with the Red Bulls. In December, we put him through a fitness camp with us in Florida for all the MLS players that were not playing and then we took him to Honduras to play two games, in which he did well. Then we took him to qualifying where as a starter he did well throughout. I thought as the tournament went on he got better and better, and I think that benefitted Matt going into the Red Bulls preseason. He had already played eight 90-minute games when he went into the preseason and I think that helped him a lot and it showed early in the preseason. Not to take anything away from Jesse and everything they do with the Red Bulls, they’re doing a great job, but I think Matt had a great base to start and I think now that he’s playing 90 minutes with the Red Bulls it shows how much improvement he’s making. As far as his confidence in play, it’s like any player: the more confidence the coach has in you, the more confidence you have in yourself, and I think Matt is reflecting that on the field now and continuing to get better and better. I’m very excited where Matt is right now, but more excited for down the road for our program.”

On if he’s confident that he’ll be able to retain the players that have been released, or if teams might change their minds:
“For the most part that never happens. When a team releases a player they rarely change their mind.The ones who could potentially change their minds at this point are MLS clubs, and MLS clubs are very supportive of what we do in our program so that’s not going to happen.

On how much Romain Gall’s knee injury factored into him being left off the roster:
“A lot actually, because we’ve been fortunate enough with the National Team now that as far as our attacking options we can select whatever players are in best form in that particular moment.  This is a message that we’ve given our youth players all along. Fortunately for us we’ve got a lot of players that are getting a lot of minutes and players who are doing well. Unfortunately Romain was out for a while and ame into our last camp and he’s not in great form. Although he scored a goal and we were happy with what we saw, it was just a matter of selecting one player or another and I think when we looked at our roster and what we needed with what we had, we had to go in another direction. This is not to say that Romain is not going to be in great form in another month or month in a half, and will hopefully break into the Crew’s first team and be great and make our Olympic team down the road. Hopefully that’s the case.  At the moment he was not in his best form and we had to make another selection.”

On Desevio Payne:
“So earlier when we were discussing all of the different ways we pick our teams and follow our players because it’s very difficult since we have players all over the world, our process begins with a depth chart that comes from the U-18 National Team of 60 to 70 players and that includes the best players in every position. We follow those. At the same time we follow players that are constantly moving to Europe and start to play, and then we follow some tips and leadsabout American players that are playing oversees and we track them as well. Desevio was one of those that just popped up a couple of months ago as someone that had broken into the lineup of a first team. I called him  to see what his interest would be in playing for the National Team and he was really excited about it, and that let us know that it would definitely be a player that we would follow through with. He came into the camp very excited to show what he could do, did very well to be honest, and I think he’s someone that we just happened to find at the end who’s doing very well and a good player who’s going to make our team better.”

On if this is the deepest team that there’s ever been for the U.S. U-20 level and on what the expectations should be going forward:
“The answer to your first question is I’m not sure because I don’t have all of the stats in front of me, but it’s probably the most professional team in the last two or three cycles. As far as the expectations, were always hoping that were getting better so we expect that. Our expectations for ourselves are always higher and higher so it’s normal that others people’s expectations are higher as well. In the end, you always depend on results,and sometimes results come your way and sometime they don’t. But I think there’s no reason not to have higher expectations higher that we’ve had in the past. We welcome that. Just like we welcomed going to qualifying, where I mentioned to the team we were going to the CONCACAF Tournament and our main goal is not to qualify for the World Cup but to be CONCACAF Champions because no other U-20 team had done that before. Unfortunately we didn’t accomplish our goal. In this case obviously we’re going to the World Cup and we hope to win every game, but in order to do that we have to win the first game and that’s a difficult challenge but we’ll get through it one at a time.”

On how Tommy Thompson fits in the 4-4-2 formation:
“Tommy Thompson can fit into a number of different positions. If you’ve seen him play in the midfield he finds space all over the field, so he can play wide on either side of a 4-4-2 and he could also play in front in either of the two forward positions as a more advanced or as a secondary forward.”

On if he sees Tommy Thompson coming on in the starting XI or off the bench?
“Over the next few weeks I think that will sort itself out. I’m hoping that every player that is coming in is thinking that they’re going to be in the starting XI and we want to keep it like that. We want to keep it competitive and keep the team as competitive as possible until then. Every player I’ve selected I’m hoping tcan compete for a spot at this point.”

On tactical formations:
“A 4-3-3 is a great system. If I had to select that would probably be my favorite one. But the system always depends on the players that you have. You need to have two very good wingers who are good one-on-one wide to be able to play a 4-3-3 system, and at the same time you need to have a No.  6 who can cover a lot of ground by himself in the middle of the field. It’s not an easy system to play; it depends on the players sometimes. By no means am I scratching that as something that we won’t do in this World Cup based on our opponents. There will be situations in which we will go into a 4-3-3 because that we will be better for us. In terms of development, I like to see the younger teams play in a 4-3-3 because it’s very position specific and it’s very easy to describe a position to a player and it’s very easy for a player to advance and get better in any one particular position. I like it. The 4-3-3 is a great system to play.”

On the reasons why Cristian Roldan did not make the squad:
“I think he was in a very competitive group of players that I had to select from. Roldan came into a group of Emerson Hyndman, Joel Sonora, Junior Flores, Zach Pfeffer and those types of guys who are a little bit more creative in the midfield and can hold possession.  I had a very tough choice. I think the selection process was very difficult in that particular position because we had a lot of options. Could Roldan potentially do the job for us in the World Cup? Absolutely yes. He’s a good player. So is Junior Flores. These are all good players, but in the end I couldn’t select too many players that play the same position. Those guys were left on the outside looking in, but it’s by a very small margin. These are all very good players we’re talking about.”

On Erik Palmer-Brown being one of the younger players on the team and what he did to earn his spot on the roster:
“He played really well in the last game we had against Croatia. We gave him the 90 minutes and he came in and really showed that defensively he can lock things up. I don’t want to take too much just from friendlies leading up, but I don’t think we gave a shot on goal to Croatia the whole game. That’s very positive, and that was Carter-Vickers and Palmer Brown playing central defense. They’re both 97-born players so they’re both next-cycle eligible. They did a pretty good job together. I liked what I saw. At this point that’s all I needed to see because I know the type of player that he is. I think at the same time this tournament will be a great experience for him leading into the next U-20 cycle.”


Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
July 21, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Denmark Under-20 Men 0-1 L Scroggy Road; Limavady, Northern Ireland 400 --
July 23, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Turkey Under-20 Men 1-0 W Ballymena Showgrounds; Northern Ireland 600 Pineda
July 26, 2012 U-20 MNT vs Chile Under-20 Men 3-4 L Riada Stadium; Ballymena, Northern Ireland 200 Zimmerman, Joya, Pineda