ussoccer.com: With this being the first camp of a new cycle, how did you go about selecting this roster?
Tab Ramos: “With all of our youth national teams we’re pretty much integrated, so we’re familiar with the players that we all get coming up, so in this case I’m familiar with this particular group. I think in this camp I’m giving an opportunity to the full depth chart that [U-18 MNT head coach] Javier Perez passed along. This is something that would get done throughout the cycle anyway, so we’re giving a bunch of players an opportunity here to make an impression in the beginning, and I’m excited to be starting a new cycle that will hopefully end in the World Cup in South Korea in 2017.”
ussoccer.com: What is the goal for the team in this tournament?
TR: “The goal at this point is to see the competitiveness of the players. I can consider the last couple of cycles and start comparing what the players in those cycles were like in comparison to these. We can also start to make decisions about the quality and development of some of the players that we have. We’re taking 23 players in this camp, and the main reason for that is that we have back-to-back games. We play Serbia on Sept. 3 and we play France on Sept. 4, so those will be two completely different lineups and everybody will be able to get on the field and show themselves and show themselves against excellent competition. I’m very excited about that and about giving these players an opportunity.”
ussoccer.com: What was attractive about playing this first tournament in Europe against teams like France and Serbia?
TR: “The thing about the European players at this particular age is that already when they’re turning 18, and they’re all turning 18 this year just like our guys, most of them are already on a pretty good professional path. Our guys can see the example of the professionalism of the European teams and how they handle themselves and how hard they play on every single play and in every opportunity that the ball is near them.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us. I know that Javier has done a great job with this group when he had them with the U-18’s, so they’ve already had two years of very good competition and now we need to build on that in this age group because inevitably when you move up it gets harder and harder.”
ussoccer.com: Erik Palmer-Brown was with the U-20’s this summer in the World Cup. How will his experience change his role now that he’s back?
TR: “Erik is a great player and he’s one with a lot of potential moving forward and one whose role is definitely going to change in this group compared to his role in the last one. He needs to not only be a good player and help the team, but now he needs to put the team on his shoulders a little bit and his responsibility is a lot bigger. I think it’s a great opportunity for him, and I’m looking forward to seeing him flourish over the next few years and also seeing how he responds to the added responsibility, because it’s definitely not easy.”