The tournament, being held Feb. 18-March 3 in Puebla, Mexico, will determine the CONCACAF region’s four participants at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos spoke with ussoccer.com about the goals of this camp and beginning to focus on the qualifying tournament in Mexico.
What is the purpose of this camp?
Tab Ramos: “As we get closer to qualifying, I think these last couple camps are basically to get a better look at all the best guys we’ve seen so far and continue to build a group that’s going to be the final group to lead us into qualifying.”
This is the team’s first camp since learning its qualifying opponents. Will you begin to prepare for the tournament specifically at this camp?
TR: “Already the first day of this camp, when we come in we’re going to start focusing on letting the players know what Haiti looks like, what they do, what Costa Rica looks like and what they do. We will start now, three months out, with preparations for those two games.”
How does this camp become a turning point where you go from training players and building them up, to focusing on a tournament?
TR: “This is much better because this is really our second camp. We began in Marbella (Spain). We had that camp and it was the first time we brought in most of our best players and started to build the group that’s going to go into qualifying. I think this is a continuation of that. I’m really happy with the way the Marbella camp ended and hopefully we begin this camp the same way we ended the last one.”
Will you be looking at any new players during this camp?
TR: “There’s a possibility. We have four injuries right now to our forward line so we are possibly looking at one new player in this camp.”
There are only a few more camps left before CONCACAF qualifying starts. How will you maximize that time with this team?
TR: “There are a number of things we’re trying to get accomplished in this camp. Number one is building a group. When you build a group, it’s not just on the field, it’s off the field, too, so, building a whole group that’s going to lead our way into qualifiers. The second challenge for us is, fortunately, we’ve been able to get a trip in to Puebla (Mexico) in January. In the four or five days that we’re in Puebla, we’re going to be living sort of the same way that we live during the qualifiers so that we have no surprises when we get there a month later into qualifying. There are a number of things to get accomplished. The third thing is to try to find opponents that play similar styles to the opponents that we have in qualifying.”