21 TICKETS TO COLOMBIA, JANUARY CAMP

UCLA freshman Kelyn Rowe gets another chance to impress with the U20's
UCLA freshman Kelyn Rowe gets another chance to impress with the U20's

Thomas Rongen released his 25-man roster for the U20 January training camp. The camp goes from Jan. 2-13 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Fourteen players return from the December camp, including UCLA freshman Kelyn Rowe and hat trick hero Joe Gyau. Juan Agudelo will be with the U20’s until January 6 when he will join the full national team in Southern California.

Here is the roster by positions:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Ipswich Town; Athens, Ga.), Zac MacMath (Maryland; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Brian Sylvestre (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; Hollywood, Fla.)

DEFENDERS (9): Gale Agbossoumonde (GD Estoril Praia; Syracuse, N.Y.), Greg Garza (GD Estoril Praia; Grapevine, Texas), Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Sacir Hot (Boston College; Fair Lawn, N.J.), Sebastian Ibeagha (Duke; Missouri City, Texas), Perry Kitchen (Akron; Indianapaolis, Ind.), Zarek Valentin (Akron; Lancaster, Pa.), Korey Veeder (Out of Contract; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Ethan White (D.C. United; Kensington, Md.)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Fabian Huerzeler (Bayern Munich; Munich, Germany), Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United; San Francisco, Calif.), Alex Molano (Dinamo Zagreb; Grapevine, Texas), Moises Orozco (Tigres; Oxnard, Calif.), Dillon Powers (Notre Dame; Plano, Texas), Kelyn Rowe (UCLA; Newport Beach, Calif.), Conor Shanosky (D.C. United; Sterling, Va.), Alex Zahavi (Maccabi Haifa; Los Angeles, Calif.)

FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Conor Doyle (Derby County; McKinney, Texas), Omar Salgado (unattached; El Paso, Texas), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich; Irvine, Calif.)

The Midfield Battle:

I think Rongen will use this camp to thin out the midfield. At the moment, the midfield is the deepest group. There are probably 12-15 players realistically challenging for 6-9 spots. It’s a tough job to narrow it down, but one that I’m sure Rongen is glad to have.

Rongen plays a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 formation. This opens the door for winger/forward types to make a case for themselves. Rongen also needs to find out who he is going to play at the attacking center mid role. I would guess that Amobi Okugo has a firm hold on the defensive mid role.

Three players to watch in this group are Fabian Huerzeler, Alex Zahavi, and Sebstain Lletget. This is Rongen’s first chance to get a look at Bayern Munich player Fabian Huerzeler. The attacking midfielder is highly regarded but we’ll see if he lives up to the hype. Another exciting player coming into the group with high expectations is Alex Zahavi. Zahavi recorded a goal and assist in the U20’s games against Colombia and Mexico at the end of November. Lletget is a highly regarded playmaker that jumped onto the scene with the US U17’s. He’s been hampered by injuries recently but Rongen believes that Lletget will be a key player for the U20’s.

Joe Gyau and Kelyn Rowe return after solid play in the December camp. Both players did themselves a favor in the 5-0 win against Canada. Moises Orozco returns to the mix after missing the December camp.

Share your thoughts on this group.

YOUNG ROSTER FOR JANUARY TRAINING CAMP

Brek Shea is looking to earn his second cap against Chile
Brek Shea is looking to earn his second cap against Chile

US Soccer announced the roster for the January training camp. The camp begins on January 4 in Southern California, and concludes with a friendly match against Chile on January 22 at the Home Depot Center.

Here is the 24 man roster:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Dominic Cervi (Celtic), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (9): A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles Galaxy), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Ryan Miller (Halmstads BK), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Anthony Wallace (Colorado Rapids), Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Eric Alexander (FC Dallas), Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Dax McCarty (D.C. United), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Justin Braun (Chivas USA), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Here are my thoughts:

Who the ‘F’ is Ryan Miller?

I know you asked yourself that question when you saw his name.  Lucky for you I’m here to explain these things. Miller, an Illinois native, is a midfield/defender that plays with Halmstad in the Swedish Allsvenskan league. He played his college ball at Notre Dame before joining the Columbus Crew in 2008. After two unsuccessful seasons in MLS, one with the Crew and the other with DC United, Miller went on trial in Europe and wound up in the Swedish league. The 26 year old probably needs to impress at this camp if he wants a call back in the future.

Youth Movement

The group is young, with an average age of 23.  The most experienced player on the team is 23 year old Alejandro Bedoya with 6 caps. First year professionals such as Eric Alexander (Age 22), Zach Loyd (23), and Sean Johnson (21) are coming off strong rookie campaigns. The trio was probably brought in to get a feel for the system and the staff,  but we might see at least one of them on game day. This experience should boost their development.

Its nice to see youngsters Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, and Mikkel “Mix” Diskerud in the camp. The three attackers earned their first cap against South Africa last month.  Mix and Agudelo combined for the winning goal that night.

This is the first step in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, so it isn’t surprising that Bob Bradley took chances on some young players.

MLS Success = USMNT Opportunity

Strikers Chris Wondolowski, MLS Golden Boot winner, and Justin Braun had breakout seasons with their MLS clubs.  Both are fairly young and the race for a forward spot is wide open at the moment.

MLS Cup Champions Colorado Rapids are represented by four players: Marvel Wynne, Matt Pickens, Jeff Larentowicz, and Anthony Wallace.  All four were pivotal figures in the teams MLS Cup run. I see Wynne and Wallace with the most opportunity in this camp. Wynne, typically deployed as a right back, might see time as a central defender against Chile. The young defender has excelled for the Rapids in his first season playing centrally. Wallace is young, athletic, and has a good left foot. He is also a very smart defender that can contribute to the attack. I think the left back spot is his for the taking.

The 2014 center backs?

Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Brek Shea are turning heads with their defensive play. Ream (23) is a very refined defender who had a rookie of the year caliber season in 2010. He earned his first cap last month against South Africa and impressed with his calm and composed demeanor on the ball. Omar Gonzalez (22), 2009 R0okie of the Year, is one of the best defenders in MLS. His towering 6’5 build makes him an ideal candidate to inherit the center back role. Brek Shea (20) has played everything from forward to center back. The young FC Dallas midfielder astounded observers with his play at center back during the Generation Adidas tour in Spain. It is also suggested that Sir Alex Ferguson commented that Shea’s best position would likely be as a central defender.  Shea’s 6’4 build is suited for that position and we could see Bradley groom Shea with that goal in mind.

Let me know your thoughts on this roster.