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U-23 MNT to Face Brazil U-23s on Oct. 13 in Brasilia

CHICAGO (Sept. 29, 2014) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will convene in Brasilia for a mid-October camp from Oct. 10-12highlighted by a match against Brazil’s U-23 national team on Monday, Oct. 13.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the invitation from the Brazilian Federation to play against their U-23 National Team,” said U.S. Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. “We have emphasized the need for this group to be together as much as possible, and to play against one of the best teams in the world will be a great benchmark for our players. They also get a chance to play in Brasilia, which is one of the host venues for the 2016 Olympics, and for many it will be a first taste of what the environment would be like for the tournament. We couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”

The U-23 MNT roster for this international camp will be named in the coming days. The coaching staff for this trip, which coincides with the Senior National Team matches against Ecuador and Honduras, will include U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director and U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos, U-18 MNT head coach Javier Perez and MNT scout Matthias Hamann. Rob Vartughian will be the goalkeeper coach during the trip.

The camp serves as part of the preparation process for Olympic qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The USA last held a U-23 camp from Aug. 3-7 in Nassau, Bahamas that included a 5-1 victory against the Bahamas first team on Aug. 6.

The Younger Yanks Are Coming

ussoccer.com: Having reviewed the win against the Czech Republic, what are your lasting impressions of the performance?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “There are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. We asked this younger generation - the group that here and there was not a big part of the World Cup in Brazil - to step it up and make statements. I think that young group made a very, very strong statement. We asked players such as Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Jozy Altidore and others to take the responsibilities into their hands and guide that young team in Prague, and that’s what they did. Winning in Prague against a Czech team that barely missed out on qualifying for the World Cup is a strong statement. So overall, it was a very positive trip. We learned a lot, and this group deserves to come along.”

ussoccer.com: There seemed to be an increased aggressiveness in the midfield. What were your instructions to those guys?
JK: “With every young group that comes through the system, you want them to step it up physically year by year. You want them to take over responsibilities, you want them to grow, to be louder on the field, but also to send out signals physically. It’s a physical sport, and in many cases it’s about one-on-one battles on the field and winning those battles. That’s what Mix, Michael Orozco, Joe Corona, John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Ale Bedoya did. They stepped up and showed they can compete physically. That’s what we wanted to see, so for that reason they deserve a compliment.”

ussoccer.com: The team also seemed to show a commitment to playing out of the bac, particularly with the distribution by Brad Guzan. Did you ask them to stick with that plan and not be afraid to take risks? Is that something you plan to preach moving forward?
JK: “It’s definitely a huge step for us to play out of the back, to find defenders and open up the game right away and not to play long balls all the time. Pretty much every long ball is a turn over. In the first half with Brad Guzan delivering those balls into Diskerud, into the fullbacks, into the centerbacks, that looked really nice. Obviously for Nick Rimando, he’s used to doing that. He’s almost like a field player and he’s very comfortable playing out of the back. We told them not to worry about making mistakes. Here and there it might happen, but we want this game to be developed from the back into the midfield and then into the forwards and not to be forced always to play long balls. This is something we are going to encourage more and more going forward. We want to keep the ball. We want to build out of the back. We want them to have the confidence to do that and not worry about mistakes. I think it was a big step forward, and we will emphasize that going into the October games as well.”

ussoccer.com: While Jozy didn’t have many scoring chances, he seemed to show improved hold up play. What were your impressions?
JK: “It was huge for us to have Jozy Altidore back in our lineup. This was the biggest bummer for us in the World Cup, to lose Jozy in the first game. I think we could have made a huge step in the World Cup, especially facing a team like Belgium in the Round of 16, if Jozy had been on the field.  I asked him to guide this young group. He’s still a young guy himself - he’s 24 years old but he already has 70 caps. We made him the captain and told him to guide these guys and he enjoyed that. He battled the whole game. He won most of his one-on-one battles, he provided great assists. He connected with Joe Gyau to the right and Julian green to the left, and connected to the midfield. It was a very strong performance by Jozy, even if he didn’t score. This is what we want to see from him. Sooner or later, I told him you are going to score your goals in the Premier League and continue to score goals for the National Team.”

U.S. U-23s Post 5-1 Victory Against Bahamas First Team

NASSAU, Bahamas (Aug. 6, 2014) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated the Bahamas first team 5-1 at the Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium as the USA continues its early preparation work toward qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

It was a well-rounded offensive effort as five different players scored for the USA: Alfred Koroma Shams, Jordan Morris, Luis Gil, Dennis Flores and Omar Salgado. Morris’ 58th-minute goal proved to be the game-winner.

The USA opened the scoring late in the second half when Benji Joya crashed inside the box along the end line, eluded his defender and slotted the ball across the box to Koroma Shams for a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute.

The Bahamas’ Jonathan Patrick found the equalizer in the 55th minute, but the USA responded just three minutes later. On a Gil free kick to the middle of the box, Daniel Metzger redirected to the right side of the box and Morris headed toward the far left side of the frame for a 2-0 lead.

Gil’s 63rd-minute free kick curled toward the top right corner of the net, where Bahamas goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly partially deflected it but could not parry it away from the frame as the USA pushed its lead to 3-1.

In the final two minutes of regulation, Flores and Salgado scored back-to-back goals to complete the rout.

- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-23 MNT vs. Bahamas National Team
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014
Competition: International Friendly – Tier 2
Venue: Thomas A Robinson Stadium; Nassau, Bahamas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: 3,000
Weather: 82 degrees, hot and humid

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 4 5
BAH                        0 1 1

USA – Alfred Koroma Shams (Benji Joya)           43rd minute
BAH – Jonathan Patrick                                       55
USA – Jordan Morris (Daniel Metzger)                58
USA – Luis Gil                                                        63
USA – Dennis Flores (Omar Salgado)                   89
USA – Omar Salgado                                             90

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 5-AJ Cochran (Christian Dean, 63), 4-Will Packwood (Ramon Martin del Campo, 46), 2-Oscar Sorto; 19-Daniel Metzger (Bryan Gallego, 75), 8-Benji Joya, 10-Luis Gil (capt.) (Victor Pineda, 73), 17-Alfred Koroma Shams (7-Dennis Flores, 46); 18-Alonso Hernandez (15-Daniel Cuevas, 60), 11-Jordan Morris (9-Omar Salgado, 75)
Subs not used: 12-Santiago Castano

BAH: 1-Dwayne Whylly (12-Valen Bodie, 90); 3-Ambry Moss, 5-Duane Beneby, 4-Dwayne Forbes (17-Devaughn Williamson, 76), 2-Gavin Christie; 6-Justin Sealey (22-Johnathan Patrick, 13) (13-Valdere Murphy, 74), 8-Chris Larson (14-Perry Brooks, 65), 7-Dylan Pritchard, 10-Leslie St. Fleur; 9-Terry Delancy (20-Dylan Lightbourne, 64), 11-Cameron Hepple (16-Donovan Williamson, 90)
Subs not used: 15-Michael Holowesko, 18-Jackner Louis, 19-Timmy Munnings, 21-Lamar Cancino

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Daniel Metzger (caution)    2nd minute
BAH – Gavin Christie (caution)      57
BAH – Dwayne Forbes (caution)   61
USA – Christian Dean (caution)     70

U-23 MNT vs. Bahamas: Highlights and Reaction - Aug. 6, 2014

Five different players found the back of the net for the U.S. U-23 MNT in a 5-1 win over Bahamas.

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)

Joya’s Brace Leads U.S. U-21 MNT Past Tijuana

CARSON, Calif. (April 23, 2014) – The U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team capped off its training camp with a 2-1 victory against Tijuana at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center.

Benji Joya scored two second-half goals to lead the USA to the victory. Joya, who is in the midst of his rookie season with Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, captained the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team during the final two matches of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship en route to last year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

Amando Moreno, who recently featured for the U.S. U-20 MNT during the USA’s runner-up run at the 2014 Dallas Cup, scored the lone goal for Tijuana.

The U.S. U-21 MNT camp served as the initial preparations for forming the U.S. U-23 MNT that will compete during Olympic Qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

- U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-21 MNT v. Club Tijuana Reserves
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Competition:
Friendly
Venue:
US Soccer National Training Center; Carson, CA
Kickoff:
5:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. ET)
Attendance:
200
Weather:
72 degrees

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

USA - Benji Joya (Stevie Rodriguez)                56
TIJ - Amando Moreno                                        81
USA - Benji Joya                                                90 + 2 

Lineups:

Stats Summary: USA / TIJ
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 15 / 17
Offside: 3 / 0

Misconduct Summary:             

Scoring Summary:
USA – Stevie Rodriguez plays the ball back to Benji Joya who is crashing in from the center. At about 20 yards out, he takes a shot from just outside the box that curls low just beyond the goalkeeper’s reach.
TIJ – Moreno chests the cross down, side steps a defender and shoots high above McIntosh’s hands.
USA – Joya dribbles from just outside center of the box, buries a shot high right side.

Klinsmann Attends U-21 MNT Camp

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann attends U-21 Men’s National Team camp in Carson, Calif. as the cycle begins for young players who will attempt to help the USA qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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.”

Luis Gil and Wil Trapp Ruled Out of U.S. U-21 MNT Camp Due to Minor Injuries

CHICAGO (April 21, 2014) – Midfielders Luis Gil (hamstring) of Real Salt Lake and Wil Trapp (groin) of the Columbus Crew will not attend U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team camp as they recover from minor injuries suffered with their respective clubs.

Gil dressed for Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win on Saturday against the Portland Timbers but did not see in-game action, while Trapp played a full 90 minutes during the Crew’s 1-1 draw against D.C. United.

The U-21 MNT roster is now set for 19 players for the camp, which started Sunday and runs through Thursday, April 24, at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif. U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos is overseeing the five-day camp that includes a core group of players who will make up the majority of the U-23 MNT that will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U-23 MNT will begin programming in 2015.

The camp also consists of an international friendly match against Club Tijuana on Wednesday.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Kempin (Oklahoma City Energy; Leawood, Kan.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; Jackson, Miss.), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire; San Jose, Calif.), Collin Martin (D.C. United; Chevy Chase, Md.), Esteban Rodriguez (Club Tijuana; Bell Gardens, Calif.)
FORWARDS (7): Daniel Cuevas (CF Lobos BUAP; Sacramento, Calif.), Danny Garcia (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Sean Okoli (Seattle Sounders FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Jose Villarreal (Cruz Azul; Inglewood, Calif.)

Tab Ramos Q&A: U-21 MNT Pool is ‘Prepared for Next Level’

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos will lead a U.S. U-21 MNT camp from April 20-24 at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif. The camp serves as the starting point for solidifying a roster that will represent the U.S. U-23 MNT for the 2016 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and potentially the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Ramos spoke to ussoccer.com about the camp and getting an early start on this cycle:

ussoccer.com: The 2016 Summer Olympics is still a ways away, but take us through the start of this particular U-21 camp and the process of how this age group will represent the USA during Olympic Qualifying down the road.
Tab Ramos: “I wish I could give you a perfect answer in terms of the time frame and what the planning is going forward exactly all the way through the Olympics. The fact is, we knew that we made some mistakes going into the last Olympics because we didn’t get the group together earlier, so we wanted to make sure that this time we started to gather the team.

"In terms of our programming and in terms of where we’re going from here, we’re very excited to bring some of our best young players together for this initial U-21 camp. We’re hoping that we can have another two or three camps between now and the end of the year. This camp is purely to have the team together so that we begin moving in the right direction. When the time is right, we can put a group that has kept playing together and is familiar with each other in front of a permanent coach.”

ussoccer.com: Some of the U.S. MNT staff will assist in this process. How important was it to have the first-team staff in place to help lead this camp?
TR: “One of the things that is important for us that we wanted to do is get the Olympic-aged players, which is the ’93s this year - and it happens to be an Under-21 - we wanted to get them involved as close as possible with the first-team staff. [U.S. MNT head coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann] thought that it would be a good idea for me, Andi Herzog and Kasey Keller to be involved with this group early to give them a good sense of connection between where they are and where the first team is. We wanted to make sure that we put the most professional people possible in front of them who are involved with U.S. Soccer.”

ussoccer.com: How was it determined that you would be leading this first U-21 camp?
TR: “I have other jobs within U.S. Soccer – the U-20s being a very important responsibility, being the Youth Technical Director, where I travel a lot with that. But, when Jurgen asked me if I could help him with this group and putting it together, of course I wanted to do it. Anything I could do with U.S. Soccer to help. This, after all, is the age group that I coached into the U-20 World Cup last year, so I think I’m probably the right person in terms of guiding them right now before whoever the permanent coach is going to be.”

ussoccer.com: Approximately half of this roster went through either the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship or the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. How invaluable was that international experience toward progressing for this eventual Olympic Qualifying group?
TR: “It was very important, all the experiences that we had with the Under-20 National Team. That’s one of the things that I always speak with U.S. Soccer about. We, as coaches, have the responsibility of qualifying and of winning games and all those things, but at the same time we have the responsibility of giving our players good experiences for their development.

"In terms of experiences and development in our past U-20 cycle, we were able to have the team play against European teams in Europe. We played domestic games against Caribbean teams and against South American teams. We traveled to South America and played games there. And then we played in the U-20 World Cup in probably one of the toughest groups the World Cup has ever had. Our players have had great experiences, and I think they should be prepared for the next level.”

ussoccer.com: What do you think are some of the greatest strengths of this pool of players you have in camp?
TR: “I think one of the biggest strengths that this group has is the fact that when they come together they are a group that is able to possess the ball really well. They’re not afraid to have the ball against any opponent, and when you take that fear away – the fear of playing against some of the biggest teams in the world – I think that American players tend to come through in that environment. I think with that [2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup] team, if we had to do it all over again, we would probably do a lot of things the same. I do believe that, had we gotten a couple breaks in the World Cup, this team would have gone really far.”

The Younger Yanks Are Coming

ussoccer.com: Having reviewed the win against the Czech Republic, what are your lasting impressions of the performance?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “There are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. We asked this younger generation - the group that here and there was not a big part of the World Cup in Brazil - to step it up and make statements. I think that young group made a very, very strong statement. We asked players such as Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Jozy Altidore and others to take the responsibilities into their hands and guide that young team in Prague, and that’s what they did. Winning in Prague against a Czech team that barely missed out on qualifying for the World Cup is a strong statement. So overall, it was a very positive trip. We learned a lot, and this group deserves to come along.”

ussoccer.com: There seemed to be an increased aggressiveness in the midfield. What were your instructions to those guys?
JK: “With every young group that comes through the system, you want them to step it up physically year by year. You want them to take over responsibilities, you want them to grow, to be louder on the field, but also to send out signals physically. It’s a physical sport, and in many cases it’s about one-on-one battles on the field and winning those battles. That’s what Mix, Michael Orozco, Joe Corona, John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Ale Bedoya did. They stepped up and showed they can compete physically. That’s what we wanted to see, so for that reason they deserve a compliment.”

ussoccer.com: The team also seemed to show a commitment to playing out of the bac, particularly with the distribution by Brad Guzan. Did you ask them to stick with that plan and not be afraid to take risks? Is that something you plan to preach moving forward?
JK: “It’s definitely a huge step for us to play out of the back, to find defenders and open up the game right away and not to play long balls all the time. Pretty much every long ball is a turn over. In the first half with Brad Guzan delivering those balls into Diskerud, into the fullbacks, into the centerbacks, that looked really nice. Obviously for Nick Rimando, he’s used to doing that. He’s almost like a field player and he’s very comfortable playing out of the back. We told them not to worry about making mistakes. Here and there it might happen, but we want this game to be developed from the back into the midfield and then into the forwards and not to be forced always to play long balls. This is something we are going to encourage more and more going forward. We want to keep the ball. We want to build out of the back. We want them to have the confidence to do that and not worry about mistakes. I think it was a big step forward, and we will emphasize that going into the October games as well.”

ussoccer.com: While Jozy didn’t have many scoring chances, he seemed to show improved hold up play. What were your impressions?
JK: “It was huge for us to have Jozy Altidore back in our lineup. This was the biggest bummer for us in the World Cup, to lose Jozy in the first game. I think we could have made a huge step in the World Cup, especially facing a team like Belgium in the Round of 16, if Jozy had been on the field.  I asked him to guide this young group. He’s still a young guy himself - he’s 24 years old but he already has 70 caps. We made him the captain and told him to guide these guys and he enjoyed that. He battled the whole game. He won most of his one-on-one battles, he provided great assists. He connected with Joe Gyau to the right and Julian green to the left, and connected to the midfield. It was a very strong performance by Jozy, even if he didn’t score. This is what we want to see from him. Sooner or later, I told him you are going to score your goals in the Premier League and continue to score goals for the National Team.”

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.”

U-23 MNT to Face Brazil U-23s on Oct. 13 in Brasilia

CHICAGO (Sept. 29, 2014) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will convene in Brasilia for a mid-October camp from Oct. 10-12highlighted by a match against Brazil’s U-23 national team on Monday, Oct. 13.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the invitation from the Brazilian Federation to play against their U-23 National Team,” said U.S. Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. “We have emphasized the need for this group to be together as much as possible, and to play against one of the best teams in the world will be a great benchmark for our players. They also get a chance to play in Brasilia, which is one of the host venues for the 2016 Olympics, and for many it will be a first taste of what the environment would be like for the tournament. We couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”

The U-23 MNT roster for this international camp will be named in the coming days. The coaching staff for this trip, which coincides with the Senior National Team matches against Ecuador and Honduras, will include U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director and U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos, U-18 MNT head coach Javier Perez and MNT scout Matthias Hamann. Rob Vartughian will be the goalkeeper coach during the trip.

The camp serves as part of the preparation process for Olympic qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The USA last held a U-23 camp from Aug. 3-7 in Nassau, Bahamas that included a 5-1 victory against the Bahamas first team on Aug. 6.

U.S. U-23s Post 5-1 Victory Against Bahamas First Team

NASSAU, Bahamas (Aug. 6, 2014) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated the Bahamas first team 5-1 at the Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium as the USA continues its early preparation work toward qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

It was a well-rounded offensive effort as five different players scored for the USA: Alfred Koroma Shams, Jordan Morris, Luis Gil, Dennis Flores and Omar Salgado. Morris’ 58th-minute goal proved to be the game-winner.

The USA opened the scoring late in the second half when Benji Joya crashed inside the box along the end line, eluded his defender and slotted the ball across the box to Koroma Shams for a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute.

The Bahamas’ Jonathan Patrick found the equalizer in the 55th minute, but the USA responded just three minutes later. On a Gil free kick to the middle of the box, Daniel Metzger redirected to the right side of the box and Morris headed toward the far left side of the frame for a 2-0 lead.

Gil’s 63rd-minute free kick curled toward the top right corner of the net, where Bahamas goalkeeper Dwayne Whylly partially deflected it but could not parry it away from the frame as the USA pushed its lead to 3-1.

In the final two minutes of regulation, Flores and Salgado scored back-to-back goals to complete the rout.

- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-23 MNT vs. Bahamas National Team
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014
Competition: International Friendly – Tier 2
Venue: Thomas A Robinson Stadium; Nassau, Bahamas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: 3,000
Weather: 82 degrees, hot and humid

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 4 5
BAH                        0 1 1

USA – Alfred Koroma Shams (Benji Joya)           43rd minute
BAH – Jonathan Patrick                                       55
USA – Jordan Morris (Daniel Metzger)                58
USA – Luis Gil                                                        63
USA – Dennis Flores (Omar Salgado)                   89
USA – Omar Salgado                                             90

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 5-AJ Cochran (Christian Dean, 63), 4-Will Packwood (Ramon Martin del Campo, 46), 2-Oscar Sorto; 19-Daniel Metzger (Bryan Gallego, 75), 8-Benji Joya, 10-Luis Gil (capt.) (Victor Pineda, 73), 17-Alfred Koroma Shams (7-Dennis Flores, 46); 18-Alonso Hernandez (15-Daniel Cuevas, 60), 11-Jordan Morris (9-Omar Salgado, 75)
Subs not used: 12-Santiago Castano

BAH: 1-Dwayne Whylly (12-Valen Bodie, 90); 3-Ambry Moss, 5-Duane Beneby, 4-Dwayne Forbes (17-Devaughn Williamson, 76), 2-Gavin Christie; 6-Justin Sealey (22-Johnathan Patrick, 13) (13-Valdere Murphy, 74), 8-Chris Larson (14-Perry Brooks, 65), 7-Dylan Pritchard, 10-Leslie St. Fleur; 9-Terry Delancy (20-Dylan Lightbourne, 64), 11-Cameron Hepple (16-Donovan Williamson, 90)
Subs not used: 15-Michael Holowesko, 18-Jackner Louis, 19-Timmy Munnings, 21-Lamar Cancino

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Daniel Metzger (caution)    2nd minute
BAH – Gavin Christie (caution)      57
BAH – Dwayne Forbes (caution)   61
USA – Christian Dean (caution)     70

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)

Joya’s Brace Leads U.S. U-21 MNT Past Tijuana

CARSON, Calif. (April 23, 2014) – The U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team capped off its training camp with a 2-1 victory against Tijuana at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center.

Benji Joya scored two second-half goals to lead the USA to the victory. Joya, who is in the midst of his rookie season with Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, captained the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team during the final two matches of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship en route to last year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

Amando Moreno, who recently featured for the U.S. U-20 MNT during the USA’s runner-up run at the 2014 Dallas Cup, scored the lone goal for Tijuana.

The U.S. U-21 MNT camp served as the initial preparations for forming the U.S. U-23 MNT that will compete during Olympic Qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

- U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-21 MNT v. Club Tijuana Reserves
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Competition:
Friendly
Venue:
US Soccer National Training Center; Carson, CA
Kickoff:
5:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. ET)
Attendance:
200
Weather:
72 degrees

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

USA - Benji Joya (Stevie Rodriguez)                56
TIJ - Amando Moreno                                        81
USA - Benji Joya                                                90 + 2 

Lineups:

Stats Summary: USA / TIJ
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 15 / 17
Offside: 3 / 0

Misconduct Summary:             

Scoring Summary:
USA – Stevie Rodriguez plays the ball back to Benji Joya who is crashing in from the center. At about 20 yards out, he takes a shot from just outside the box that curls low just beyond the goalkeeper’s reach.
TIJ – Moreno chests the cross down, side steps a defender and shoots high above McIntosh’s hands.
USA – Joya dribbles from just outside center of the box, buries a shot high right side.

Luis Gil and Wil Trapp Ruled Out of U.S. U-21 MNT Camp Due to Minor Injuries

CHICAGO (April 21, 2014) – Midfielders Luis Gil (hamstring) of Real Salt Lake and Wil Trapp (groin) of the Columbus Crew will not attend U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team camp as they recover from minor injuries suffered with their respective clubs.

Gil dressed for Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 win on Saturday against the Portland Timbers but did not see in-game action, while Trapp played a full 90 minutes during the Crew’s 1-1 draw against D.C. United.

The U-21 MNT roster is now set for 19 players for the camp, which started Sunday and runs through Thursday, April 24, at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif. U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos is overseeing the five-day camp that includes a core group of players who will make up the majority of the U-23 MNT that will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U-23 MNT will begin programming in 2015.

The camp also consists of an international friendly match against Club Tijuana on Wednesday.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Kempin (Oklahoma City Energy; Leawood, Kan.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; Jackson, Miss.), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire; San Jose, Calif.), Collin Martin (D.C. United; Chevy Chase, Md.), Esteban Rodriguez (Club Tijuana; Bell Gardens, Calif.)
FORWARDS (7): Daniel Cuevas (CF Lobos BUAP; Sacramento, Calif.), Danny Garcia (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Sean Okoli (Seattle Sounders FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Jose Villarreal (Cruz Azul; Inglewood, Calif.)

Tab Ramos Q&A: U-21 MNT Pool is ‘Prepared for Next Level’

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos will lead a U.S. U-21 MNT camp from April 20-24 at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif. The camp serves as the starting point for solidifying a roster that will represent the U.S. U-23 MNT for the 2016 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and potentially the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Ramos spoke to ussoccer.com about the camp and getting an early start on this cycle:

ussoccer.com: The 2016 Summer Olympics is still a ways away, but take us through the start of this particular U-21 camp and the process of how this age group will represent the USA during Olympic Qualifying down the road.
Tab Ramos: “I wish I could give you a perfect answer in terms of the time frame and what the planning is going forward exactly all the way through the Olympics. The fact is, we knew that we made some mistakes going into the last Olympics because we didn’t get the group together earlier, so we wanted to make sure that this time we started to gather the team.

"In terms of our programming and in terms of where we’re going from here, we’re very excited to bring some of our best young players together for this initial U-21 camp. We’re hoping that we can have another two or three camps between now and the end of the year. This camp is purely to have the team together so that we begin moving in the right direction. When the time is right, we can put a group that has kept playing together and is familiar with each other in front of a permanent coach.”

ussoccer.com: Some of the U.S. MNT staff will assist in this process. How important was it to have the first-team staff in place to help lead this camp?
TR: “One of the things that is important for us that we wanted to do is get the Olympic-aged players, which is the ’93s this year - and it happens to be an Under-21 - we wanted to get them involved as close as possible with the first-team staff. [U.S. MNT head coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann] thought that it would be a good idea for me, Andi Herzog and Kasey Keller to be involved with this group early to give them a good sense of connection between where they are and where the first team is. We wanted to make sure that we put the most professional people possible in front of them who are involved with U.S. Soccer.”

ussoccer.com: How was it determined that you would be leading this first U-21 camp?
TR: “I have other jobs within U.S. Soccer – the U-20s being a very important responsibility, being the Youth Technical Director, where I travel a lot with that. But, when Jurgen asked me if I could help him with this group and putting it together, of course I wanted to do it. Anything I could do with U.S. Soccer to help. This, after all, is the age group that I coached into the U-20 World Cup last year, so I think I’m probably the right person in terms of guiding them right now before whoever the permanent coach is going to be.”

ussoccer.com: Approximately half of this roster went through either the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship or the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. How invaluable was that international experience toward progressing for this eventual Olympic Qualifying group?
TR: “It was very important, all the experiences that we had with the Under-20 National Team. That’s one of the things that I always speak with U.S. Soccer about. We, as coaches, have the responsibility of qualifying and of winning games and all those things, but at the same time we have the responsibility of giving our players good experiences for their development.

"In terms of experiences and development in our past U-20 cycle, we were able to have the team play against European teams in Europe. We played domestic games against Caribbean teams and against South American teams. We traveled to South America and played games there. And then we played in the U-20 World Cup in probably one of the toughest groups the World Cup has ever had. Our players have had great experiences, and I think they should be prepared for the next level.”

ussoccer.com: What do you think are some of the greatest strengths of this pool of players you have in camp?
TR: “I think one of the biggest strengths that this group has is the fact that when they come together they are a group that is able to possess the ball really well. They’re not afraid to have the ball against any opponent, and when you take that fear away – the fear of playing against some of the biggest teams in the world – I think that American players tend to come through in that environment. I think with that [2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup] team, if we had to do it all over again, we would probably do a lot of things the same. I do believe that, had we gotten a couple breaks in the World Cup, this team would have gone really far.”

21 Players Called into Camp for U.S. Under-21 Men's National Team Training Camp

CHICAGO (April 18, 2014) – Twenty-one players received a call-up to the U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team training camp, which will take place from April 20-24 at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif.

The U-21 MNT camp was set up to form a core group of players that will make up the majority of the Under-23 Men’s National Team that will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U-23 MNT will begin programming in 2015.

“We’re excited to bring some of our best young players together for this initial U-21 camp,” said current U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos, who will oversee the five-day camp. “We’re hoping that we can have another two or three camps between now and the end of the year. This camp is purely to have the team together so that we begin moving in the right direction. When the time is right, we can put a group that has kept playing together and is familiar with each other in front of the permanent coach.”

The camp roster is composed entirely of North American-based players, 19 of whom play professionally. Major League Soccer leads the way among professional leagues represented with 13 players from nine different clubs receiving a call-up. Liga MX (four players form three clubs), Ascenso MX (one player) and USL PRO (one player) supply the remaining six professional players.

Goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh of Santa Clara and Jordan Morris of Stanford are the only two non-professional players to receive a call-up.

Despite the wide range of locales from which the players are coming to join the camp, all have represented the U.S. on previous occasions, with 20 of the 21 players having received a call-up to the U-20 National Team in their Youth National Team career. Eleven of those 20 players were teammates on the U.S. team that qualified for last summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

The camp will consist of three days of training before culminating with a friendly against Club Tijuana on Wednesday evening.

Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Kempin (Oklahoma City Energy; Leawood, Kan.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; Jackson, Miss.), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire; San Jose, Calif.), Collin Martin (D.C. United; Chevy Chase, Md.), Esteban Rodriguez (Club Tijuana; Bell Gardens, Calif.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (7): Daniel Cuevas (CF Lobos BUAP; Sacramento, Calif.), Danny Garcia (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Sean Okoli (Seattle Sounders FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Jose Villarreal (Cruz Azul; Inglewood, Calif.)

National Team Staff
Technical Director:                 Juergen Klinsmann     Newport Beach, Calif.
Youth Technical Director:       Tab Ramos                 Colts Neck, N.J.

Assistant Coach:                     Andreas Herzog          Vienna, Austria          
Goalkeeper Coach:                Kasey Keller                Seattle, Wash.

Fitness Coach:                        Brian O’Donnell           Scottsdale, Ariz.
Athletic Trainer:                       Rick Guter                  Los Angeles, Calif.

Press Officer:                         Michael Kammarman Los Angeles, Calif.
Videographer:                         Troy Bardy                  Los Angeles, Calif.

Equipment Coordinator:          Mike Zawlocki             Sacramento, Calif.
Team Coordinator:                  Zach Crusse               Los Angeles, Calif.

Voting for 2012 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards Begins Nov. 5

Fans Can Vote in Five Categories on U.S. Soccer’s Facebook Page; Athletes of the Year to be Named Later in November

CHICAGO (Nov. 2, 2012) – U.S. Soccer has announced the schedule for voting in the 2012 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards. Fans can vote for finalists in each of the five categories starting Monday, Nov. 5, on U.S. Soccer’s Facebook page.

The 11th annual Best of U.S. Soccer series features a new category promoted each day throughout the week. Fans will be able to view photos and videos of the nominees while discussing some of the best moments in 2012.

The week kicks off with the “Best Save” and a showdown between two National Team goalkeepers: Hope Solo and Tim Howard. In the “Best Performance: Team” category on Tuesday, two big wins from the U.S. Men’s National Team (against Italy and Mexico) will face off with some classic performances from the Women’s National Team from the 2012 Olympics and the U-20 Women’s National Team’s memorable run to win the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.

On Wednesday, the “Best Goal Celebration” highlights the unique and fun celebrations behind some of the biggest goals of 2012 and on Thursday “Best Performance: Player” showcases some of the best individual efforts from the year, including Howard’s big game in Mexico and three WNT performances en route to winning the gold medal at Wembley.

The week concludes on Friday with “Best Goal,” where five goals from 2012 will go head-to-head, with Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach vying for the most votes from fans.

Voting for the 2012 Athletes of the Year awards will be conducted later in November, with fans able to vote on Facebook. Online votes for the Athlete of the Year awards are equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes. As in years past, the other 50 percent will be represented by votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from national team coaches to the National Board of Directors).

The U.S. Soccer Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, while the Young Male and Young Female awards were added in 1998.

2012 Best of U.S. Soccer Categories
Best Goal
Best Goal Celebration
Best Performance: Player
Best Performance: Team
Best Save

U.S. U-23 MNT Eliminated from Olympic Qualifying after Late El Salvador Equalizer

  • 95th-Minute Stoppage Time Goal Condemns USA to Third Place in Group A

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 26, 2012) – The U-23 Men’s National Team will miss out on the 2012 London Olympics after being eliminated from CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in heartbreaking fashion following a 3-3 tie with El Salvador on Monday night at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

A whirlwind game that saw the U.S. take an early lead, fall behind by a goal and then bravely fight back to regain the lead, ended in incredibly dramatic fashion when a goal in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time gave El Salvador the unlikely tie.

With only four points from three Group A games, the U.S. finished in third place and missed out on the opportunity to play in the all-important semifinals that will qualify two CONCACAF teams to the Olympics. This was the second time the U.S. has missed out on the Olympics since 1976, after having failed to qualify for the 2004 Games in Athens. (The U.S. qualified in 1980, but did not compete due to a boycott of the Moscow games.) 

“It’s a painful moment. The players are devastated. To put in as much as they put in that game, the amount of heart they put in, to play the way they played in that second half to come from behind and score two goals, to be seconds away from getting the No. 1 seed, it’s unimaginable,” said U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter. “I told them in the locker room is that this won’t define their careers. As low as this moment is for them and as painful as it is, they’ve got big days ahead – a lot of those guys that were out on that field. That’s the future of our country. It’s sad that I’m not going to get a chance to be in the trenches with those guys anymore. They did everything I asked. They made some mistakes that cost us the game. The guys have long careers ahead of them. I’m proud of those guys and I know they’re going to do great things in the future. I’m sorry for our fans, sorry for U.S. Soccer that we didn’t get the job done. But there’s nothing to be ashamed about.” (POST-GAME QUOTES)

The USA got the perfect start to its must-win game in Nashville, with forward Terrence Boyd putting the U-23s in front after just 59 seconds. Forward Brek Shea took the ball past his man on the end line before whipping a cross to the near post where Boyd finished superbly with his left foot. The big forward’s first touch of the game could not have been more precise, reaching behind him to hit a full volley into the roof of the net from six yards out.

Boyd was the danger man throughout the first half and in the 10th minute he nearly doubled the lead from another Shea cross. Just seconds later Boyd was through on goal after a mistake in the defense, but the El Salvador goalkeeper did well to come off his line and smother the chance.

The U.S. continued to have the better of the exchanges in the opening stanza, but El Salvador stunned the U-23s with two quick-fire goals in the 35th and 38th minutes. Isidro Gutierrez delivered an in-swinging corner into the box where Lester Blanco was first to the ball, heading past Bill Hamid at the near post. Minutes later El Salvador had the lead, with Andres Flores latching on to a far post pass form Jaime Alas to finish from eight yards out.

Shortly thereafter Hamid was substituted, having sustained an ankle injury in the 31st minute from which he was unable to recover. Sean Johnson was thrust into the game for his first action of the tournament, and first U-23 appearance since playing the second half in the USA’s 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 29, 2012, in Frisco, Texas.

The U.S. was back on the front foot after that blip, and nearly grabbed the tying goal before halftime. Forward Freddy Adu slid a right-footed shot just right of the goal in the 40th minute and tested Cuellar with a stinging left-footed curler moments later.

At halftime the USA remained down a goal, knowing two more would be required to have any shot at advancing to the semifinals.

The U.S. came out firing from the start of the second half, throwing numbers forward in search of scoring chances. In the 57th minute they nearly found a vital goal, with Adu turning his man on the edge of the box before forcing Cuellar into another good save.

Five minutes later, the USA pulled back the first goal. Johnson’s booming punt was flicked on superbly by Boyd, before Adu slotted a perfect return pass to the onrushing forward. Boyd did the rest, with a delicate finish over the goalkeeper from 12 yards out to make it 2-2 in the 65th minute.

The USA grabbed its third goal shortly thereafter, with midfielder Joe Corona heading home an Adu cross to the far post. The goal was Corona’s fourth of the tournament and looked like it would be the vital strike to send the USA into the semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.

The U.S. defended well as the final whistle approach, with Johnson making a series of impressive saves and the backline doing everything possible to clear its lines at each opportunity.

In the 79th minute, El Salvador’s Alexander Larin should have been shown a red card for a despicable punch to Terrence Boyd’s nose. The forward was down and bleeding, forced to leave the field and change his jersey while being cleaned up.

Even so it looked like the U.S. would hold on for the win until the final moment of the game, when El Salvador’s Alas curled a left-footed shot from 20 yards. The ball took a wicked short hop, and Johnson could not keep it out despite getting a big piece.

The goal set off rapturous celebrations for the El Salvador team while U.S. players were despondent on the pitch, with the final whistle blowing shortly thereafter to eliminate the USA from CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying and a chance to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

-U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team vs. El Salvador
Date: March 26, 2012
Competition: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying - Group A
Venue: LP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 7,889
Weather: 65 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 2 3
SLV                         2 1 3

USA – Terrence Boyd (Brek Shea)        1st minute
SLV – Lester Blanco (Isidro Gutierrez)   35
SLV - Andres Flores (Jaime Alas)          37
USA - Terrence Boyd (Freddy Adu)       65
USA - Joe Corona (Freddy Adu)           68
SLV - Jaime Alas                                90+4

Lineups:
USA: 1-Bill Hamid (18-Sean Johnson, 39); 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara, 4-Perry Kitchen,13-Jorge Villafaña; 16-Amobi Okugo, 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona (20-Michael Stephens, 88); 7-Freddy Adu (capt.) (14-Joe Gyau, 90+3), 15-Terrence Boyd, 11-Brek Shea
Subs not used: 5-Zarek Valentin, 6-Jared Jeffrey, 12-Teal Bunbury, 17-Tony Taylor, 19-Sheanon Williams
Head coach: Caleb Porter


SLV: 18-Yimy Cuellar; 5-Alexander Mendoza, 4-Xavier Garcia (capt.), 2-Milton Molina, 13-Alexander Larin; 9-Isidro Gutierrez, 8-Diego Chavarria (19-Darwin Ceren, 73), 16-Richard Menjivar, 10-Jaime Alas; 20-Andres Flores, 17-Lester Blanco (14-Herbert Sosa, 87)
Subs not used: 1-Diego Cuellar, 3-Marlon Martinez, 6-Elman Rivas, 7-Dustin Corea, 12-Edwin Sanchez, 15-Jorge Moran
Head coach: Mauricio Alfaro


Stats Summary: USA / SLV
Shots 9 / 10
Shots on Goal 5 / 5
Saves 2 / 2
Corner Kicks 4 / 5
Fouls 15 / 14
Offsides 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
SLV – Diego Chavarria (caution)     5th minute
SLV – Lester Blanco (caution)          7
USA - Amobi Okugo (caution)         7
USA - Jorge Villafaña (caution)       72
USA - Freddy Adu (caution)            74
SLV - Alexander Mendoza (caution) 87
USA - Terrence Boyd (caution)       90

Officials:
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Rangel (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Neil (TRI)
Fourth Official: Hector Gonzalez (HON)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Terrence Boyd 

Post-Match Quotes: U.S. U-23 MNT 3, El Salvador 3

Post-Match Quote Sheet:
U.S. 3, El Salvador 3
2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
March 26, 2012
U.S. U-23 Head Coach CALEB PORTER

Overall thoughts on the match:
“It’s a painful moment. The players are devastated. To put in as much as they put in that game, the amount of heart they put in, to play the way they played in that second half to come from behind and score two goals, to be seconds away from getting the No. 1 seed, it’s unimaginable. I told them in the locker room is that this won’t define their careers. As low as this moment is for them and as painful as it is, they’ve got big days ahead – a lot of those guys that were out on that field. That’s the future of our country. It’s sad that I’m not going to get a chance to be in the trenches with those guys anymore. They did everything I asked. They made some mistakes that cost us the game. The guys have long careers ahead of them. I’m proud of those guys and I know they’re going to do great things in the future. I’m sorry for our fans, sorry for U.S. Soccer that we didn’t get the job done. But there’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

On what he said to goalkeeper Sean Johnson:
“I just hugged him. Cried with him. What do you do? He’s feeling like he’s let everybody down, let his teammates down – he feels that way, and I told him he didn’t [let them down]. The kid’s got a big future, and he was very good in the game, and he’ll move forward from this. It’s going to be hard for some time, but these guys are young players, talented players. Are they perfect? No. They’re still learning, still growing, still maturing. But there will be some bright moments in these players’ careers. A good majority of them will be wearing the crest. And in some ways this will shape their character in a way that will help them achieve greater things in the future.”

On whether he has experienced an emotional swing like Monday:
“No. I’ve never felt anything like this in my life. That’s honest. I can tell you something different but as attached as I’ve gotten to those guys in four months, to see them not achieve – it’s not about me, and I’ve said that all along. I’ve told them that all along. It’s about them. I’m here to help them continue to evolve as professionals and help them achieve successful results and get to London. For me it’s painful that they have to suffer like this given what they gave in the second half. It’s unbearable. I’ll move on from this, as well. It’s going to take some time. In some ways I’m still in complete, utter shock. It was seconds away.”

On the team’s preparation for El Salvador:
“Our team was ready to play. You saw that from the opening whistle. It’s a good El Salvador team, though. They’ve got very talented young players on that team. I credit them, as well. They battled back. They wanted this bad, too.”

On the U-23 MNT as a whole:
“This was a tight team. Ask any of them. Very tight team, great spirit and chemistry in this group, and that showed in that second half. Were we perfect? Were they perfect? No. We all made mistakes. But they also played some pretty darn good football. They also showed a lot of the things that we’re known for in this country – the heart they showed, the passion they showed, the grit. They did everything that they needed to win the game. In my opinion they deserved better.”

U.S. captain FREDDY ADU
On mising a chance of qualifying for the London Olympics:
“I’m real disappointed. This is the lowest I’ve ever felt as a pro athlete. This is going to be hard to get over, but at the end of the day, things like this happen. You know, sometimes they make you stronger. For me, I never want to feel this way, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to never feel this way again.”

U.S. forward TERRENCE BOYD
On the team’s play following the loss to El Salvador:
“For us, it’s a nightmare right now because we’re the team that had the most quality in CONCACAF, in my opinion. It’s just a bad day for us, but we have to keep going. I’m proud of my team, and for the first time I really felt what it’s like to fight for your country.”

“It was an amazing game for the fans, I think. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for the Olympics. Life goes on, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of these guys at the World Cup in Brazil.”

On El Salvador’s last goal:
“This is soccer. At the end, it’s just a game, but it hurts. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do, and sometimes it’s the worst sport ever. It just hurts. For us, it’s like the world just ended. We lost as a team, and it’s just sad really. Life goes on.”

U.S. defender PERRY KITCHEN
On the final moments of the match:
“We knew what we had to do. We needed three points, and we had it. It was there. And in 90 seconds, we lost it, so it’s tough to swallow. It’s a cruel game, and the coaches told us to keep our heads up because we’re a really strong team. We were a family, and it hurts. But all of us have bright futures. We’re trying to keep our heads up. It’s going to hurt for a while.”

On the U.S. U-23 MNT team:
“We became a family over the four months. He loves all of his players, and it’s tough for him to see us go down like this. He knows how hard we’ve worked and how hard we’ll continue to work. He told us to stay in touch and that he appreciates all the work that we’ve put in for him.”

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U23 MNT vs El Salvador Reaction March 26 2012

U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Caleb Porter talks about the team's tie against El Salvador that eliminated them from CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.
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