Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
U.S. Soccer have scheduled their first official Under-23 U.S. Men’s National Team training camp ahead of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics qualification.
Eighteen players have been called up for the five-day U-23 camp in the Bahamas, schedule to take place from Aug. 3-7 in Nassau, Bahamas. The camp includes a match against the Bahamas National Team on Aug. 6.
“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,” U.S. Soccer technical director Jurgen Klinsmann said. “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.”
Headlining the squad are Southampton goalkeeper Cody Cropper, Birmingham City defender Will Packwood, Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil, and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Omar Salgado. According to the U.S. Soccer press release, more players could be added to the squad “pending the approved release from their clubs.” (UPDATE: Monterrey forward Alonso Hernandez was added to the roster after the release was posted this afternoon.)
Nine of the players in this U-23 camp squad played under USMNT assistant coach Tab Ramos at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup. Ramos, USMNT assistant coaches Andreas Herzog and Chris Woods, and U-18 MNT head coach Javier Perez will oversee the camp.
The squad includes two players who are receiving their first ever U.S. youth national team call-ups – Club Leon midfielder Dennis Flores and San Jose Earthquakes U-23 defender Ramon Martin del Campo.
The camp also represents Salgado’s first USYNT call up since injuring his foot in June 2012 while with the U.S. U-20s.
The squad is a little bit light due to the timing of the camp, which runs through the MLS Homegrown match as part of the MLS All Star Game festivities. Players such as Shane O’Neill, Wil Trapp, and DeAndre Yedlin were all included on the homegrown squad roster for the game on Monday in Portland, Ore.
Here’s a closer look at the U-23 USMNT training camp roster:
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.), Alfred Koroma Shams (Internacional; Southlake, Texas), Alonso Hernandez (Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Indy Eleven; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; El Paso, Texas)
What do you think of this roster? What are your expectations for the training camp? Are there any surprises for you in the squad? Which players do you believe can make the 18-man Olympic squad in 2016?
Share your thoughts below.