CHICAGO (Mar. 22, 2015) – U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog has called 18 players to Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina, for the U-23’s first training camp of 2015 as the team begins its qualifying preparations for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The team will train from March 23-26 and then face Bosnia’s U-23 National Team on Friday, March 27, in Tuzla, before travelling to face Denmark on Tuesday, March 31.
“We are about six months away from the Olympic qualifying tournament, and I think, for every single player, it’s a great chance and for every one of us on the staff a great opportunity. It starts right now with the first game in Bosnia,” said Herzog. “Every player has to show me that he wants to be part of this group, and that they understand how special it is to represent your country. We have an opportunity to build something special, and I hope everyone is as excited as I am.”
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The roster is laden with experience, as eight of the 18 players have were a part of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team (Luis Gil, Alonso Hernandez, Benji Joya, Juan Pablo Ocegueda, Shane O’Neill, Mario Rodriguez, Oscar Sorto, Wil Trapp). Gil, Trapp and Jordan Morris have also been capped at the senior team level.
This squad includes eight players that played a part in the U-23’s 5-1 win against the Bahamas last August, including Gil, Koroma Shams and Morris, who each scored in that match. Last time out in October, the U-23 squad fell 3-0 to Brazil in a friendly match that was part of a larger training camp held in Brasilia.
Herzog has served as a Senior Men’s National Team assistant coach since 2011. This camp will be his first as head coach of the U-23 team. Herzog’s assistants include John Hackworth, who serves as head coach of the U-15 Boys’ National Team, MNT scout Matthias Hamann, and goalkeeper coach Memo Valencia.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Charlie Horton (Cardiff City; Cleveland, Ohio), Tyler Miller (Zweibrücken; Woodbury, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Alebrijes de Oaxaca; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Ariel Lassiter (LA Galaxy II; Temecula, Calif.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6): Alonso Hernandez (Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Alfred Koroma Shams (Southlake Carol, Texas), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Mönchengladbach; North Hollywood, Calif.), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC; Leander, Texas)
- In the last four Olympic cycles, nearly half of the players that appeared in qualifying or in the final tournament went on to appear for the Senior Team. The breakdown by cycle: 2000 (14), 2004 (13), 2008 (13), 2012 (9)
- Major League Soccer contributes the most players, sending seven total to Europe. In addition, USL Pro and the NCAA send a pair each. The breakdown by country: United States (11), Germany (3), Mexico (3), England (2)
- Luis Gil, Jordan Morris and Wil Trapp have all earnedone cap with the senior MNT since the 2014 FIFA World Cup
- Eight of the 18 players called for U-23 camp were part of Tab Ramos’ 2013 U-20 World Cup squad: Gil, Alonso Hernandez, Benji Joya, Juan Pablo Ocegueda, Shane O’Neill, Mario Rodriguez, Oscar Sorto, and Trapp. The U-20 MNT played eventual tournament champion France to a 1-1 draw and also faced Spain and Ghana in group play. During the tournament in Turkey, Gil scored against Spain and O’Neill against Ghana. Gil started all three matches of the tournament while O’Neil started the final two
- Eight players were also in attendance at last year’s U-23 October camp: Christian Dean, Alonso Hernandez, Charlie Horton, Morris, Juan Pablo Ocegueda, Will Packwood, Mario Rodriguez, and Oscar Sorto
- Seven of 18 players hail from the state of California, an additional three from Texas and two from Ohio