CHICAGO (July 14, 2012) – In preparation for the upcoming 2012 Paralympic Games, the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team is spending nearly one month at its final domestic training camp from July 15-Aug. 13 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
In advance of the Paralympic Games, which run Aug. 22-Sept. 10 in London, head coach Jay Hoffman selected a 16-man roster for the training camp, including midfielder Josh McKinney, who reached the 100-cap milestone with the team in May, and newcomer Rene Renteria, who has scored four goals in his last four international appearances for the U.S.
“We’re just trying to continue what we started the last month and work on a couple other things like keeping the ball,” McKinney said. “Almost all those other teams (at the Paralympics) have professional players so we’re going to be defending a lot and we’re going to have to work on our counterattacks.”
The U.S. was drawn into Group B at the Paralympic Games along with Ukraine, Great Britain and Brazil. The U.S. opens the eight-team tournament against Ukraine on Sept. 1 (1 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET), followed by matches against Brazil on Sept. 3 (9 a.m. local / 4 a.m. ET) and host nation Great Britain on Sept. 5 (4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET). All matches will be played at Riverbank Arena in London.
Group A consists of Russia, Argentina, Netherlands and Iran.
“Putting the roster together for the Games is never easy. There are a lot of factors that go into the final decisions,” Hoffman said. “Having played Brazil and Great Britain, two of our group competitors and our participation in the tournament in Ukraine has given us insight into the qualities of all the teams who we will see at the 2012 Paralympic Games.”
An eighth-place finish at the CPISRA Football 7-a-side World Championships in June of 2011 allowed the U.S. team to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Paralympic soccer is played seven-a-side on a smaller field and with smaller goals than non-disabled soccer. Each team plays with seven men using the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) rules which have been slightly modified to accommodate the disabilities of the athletes.
To be eligible for Paralympic soccer, athletes must be ambulatory and have a diagnosis of non-progressive brain damage that is associated with motor control dysfunction such as Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury or stroke. More information about eligibility and the classification of athletes is available at the CPISRA website.
Paralympic Games Training Camp Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (1): Keith Johnson (Houston, Texas)
DEFENDERS (4): Chris Ahrens (Baldwinsville, N.Y.); Bryce Boarman (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Chad Jones (Virginia Beach, Va.); Gavin Sibayan (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Adam Ballou (Virginia Beach, Va.); Tyler Bennett (Wadsworth, Ohio); Josh McKinney (Cary, N.C.); Marthell Vazquez (Long Beach, Calif.); Jerreme Wade (Chesapeake, Va.), Nick Creasey (Richmond, Va.); Moises Morales (San Diego, Calif.)
FORWARDS (4): Alex Hendricks (Columbus, Ohio); Rene Renteria (San Fernando, Calif.), Dylan Brown (Clovis, Calif.); Charlie Howard (Washington, D.C.)