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19 Players Named to Roster for U-23 MNT Camp from Aug. 3-7 in Bahamas

CHICAGO (Aug. 1, 2014) – A 19-player U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team roster has been named for a five-day camp from Aug. 3-7 at Nassau, Bahamas. The camp will also feature a game against the Bahamas Senior National Team on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium.

Additional players might be added pending the approved release from their clubs. (Note: Alonso Hernandez's release from his club team came after Friday's original announcement.)

This camp is part of the USA’s continuing effort to focus early on the qualification process for the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro. In April, the USA started this phase in earnest with an Under-21 MNT camp at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center.

“The chance to get this group of players together and get ahead of the curve in preparation for Olympic Qualifying in two years’ time is huge,” said U.S. Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. “We began with the U-21 camp in April, and now it’s critical that we have as many camps and games as possible so we can build a deep pool of talent that can qualify for Brazil. The Olympics are an important opportunity for young players, and we have to capitalize on it. We also want to give a big thanks to the Bahamas Football Association for hosting us.”

U.S. Men’s National Team staff assistant coaches Tab Ramos and Andi Herzog and goalkeeper coach Chris Woods, as well as U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team head coach Javier Perez, are overseeing the camp.

The roster features nine players that Ramos coached at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey: goalkeepers Cody Cropper and Zack Steffen, defenders Juan Pablo Ocegueda and Oscar Sorto, midfielders Luis Gil and Benji Joya and forwards Daniel Cuevas, Alonso Hernandez and Victor Pineda.

Leon midfielder Dennis Flores and San Jose Earthquakes defender Ramon Martin del Campo are participating in their first U.S. Soccer Youth National Team camp.

Thirteen players have previous ties to U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy.

In the U-21 MNT camp earlier this year, Joya scored two goals, including a game-winner in second-half stoppage time, to lead the USA to a 2-1 victory against Tijuana on April 23. Nine players on the current U-23 roster were part of that U-21 camp: Cuevas, Christian Dean, Gil, Marlon Hairston, Joya, Jordan Morris, Ocegueda, Pineda, Sorto,

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team
Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Cody Cropper (Southampton; Maple Grove, Minn.), Zack Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): AJ Cochran (Houston Dynamo; St. Louis, Mo.), Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Ramon Martin del Campo (San Jose Earthquakes; Chula Vista, Calif.), Bryan Gallego (Arizona United; Kinnelon, N.J.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Alebrijes de Oaxaca; Riverside, Calif.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Dennis Flores (León; Pasadena, Calif.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; Jackson, Miss.), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire; San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (CF Lobos BUAP; Sacramento, Calif.), Alonso Hernandez (Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Alfred Koroma Shams (Internacional; Southlake, Texas), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Indy Eleven; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; El Paso, Texas)

Q&A with U.S. U-21 MNT Defender Shane O’Neill

U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team defender Shane O’Neill had moved his way up the Colorado Rapids Academy system primarily as a forward and midfielder. Since his time with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team under head coach Tab Ramos, O’Neill has been primarily at center back for club and country. O’Neill took some time during the recent U-21 MNT camp to chat with ussoccer.com about the position switch and his hopes of joining the U.S. squad for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

ussoccer.com: Had you ever played on the back line before joining the U.S. U-20 MNT for the previous cycle?
Shane O’Neill: “No, not before Tab put me back there with the U-20s over in Spain for the Marbella Cup [in October of 2012]. It was a bit of an adjustment, but it’s kind of worked out for me so far. Ever since then, it’s been my thing playing center back. Obviously it was a bit of a change. I still think I can offer something in the midfield if somebody wants me to play there, but so far it’s been good. Tab’s put a lot of faith in me. It was good moving back there during the whole U-20 cycle.”

ussoccer.com: So this switch was made in your first U-20 call-up?
SO: “Yes, right away when I came in, Tab kind of told me that he sees me playing center back for this group. He brought me in as a center back even though I hadn’t really played there that much, and he probably saw something in my game that suggested that I could play back there.”

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