Tuesday, February 28, 2012

US U-23 Preview

U-23 Roster Gives Coach Caleb Porter and US Fans Hope For Olympics
Before CONCACAF qualifying starts for the 2012 Olympics on March 22, the US Under-23 team will play an International Friendly against the Under-23 Mexico team on Wednesday at 9 p.m. at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, TX.

7 things about Alfredo Morales
US U-23 coach Caleb Porter has had his team at a training camp in Frisco, TX since Feb. 19th.  Porter stressed the importance of the match in getting his side ready for Olympic qualification, “I think Mexico is going to be about as close to a qualifying atmosphere as we can possibly get. We’re going to have, for the most part, our entire group together for the first time.”

The US roster features a healthy mix of experienced players with international club credentials and unproven young talent.  Senior players making the move from the USMNT to the U-23 squad include Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), and goalies Bill Hamid (D.C. United) and Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire).

Ike Opara
The versatile Morales is listed as a defender by US Soccer and both his inclusion and the return of Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes) will sure up a defense that has become very deep over the past few years.  Opara, plagued by injury, only has played 19 games over his first two seasons for the Earthquakes, and last wore a US jersey at the 2009 U-20 World Cup.  His height and athleticism makes him a very desirable option for Porter as a centerback.
West Ham midfielder, Sebastian Lletget
USMNT injuries to Jose Torres and Tim Chandler have called Brek Shea away from the U-23 team to play with the USMNT against Italy.  Talented midfielder Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United) recently filled the roster spot with the U-23 squad.

On Feb. 23 the US U-23 team beat FC Dallas 2-1 in a scrimmage.  Brek Shea scored the winning goal for the US against his club team.  Ike Opara also scored for the US. 
Full scrimmage coverage

It is very hard to find weaknesses in this squad which will probably employ a 4-3-3 in attack while possibly morphing into a 4-5-1 depending on whether Porter will want to press Mexico or sit behind the ball.

The game against Mexico will conclude the Under-23 training camp.  CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying begins on March 22, with Group A games being played at LP Field in Nashville and Group B games at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The USA was drawn into Group A with Canada, Cuba and El Salvador, while Group B is composed of Mexico, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.

Full Roster
GK: Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)
DEF: Greg Garza (Club Tijuana; Grapevine, Texas), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin; Berlin, Germany), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge VillafaƱa (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.)
MID: Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew; Montville, N.J.), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United; San Francisco, Calif), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)
FWD: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim: Silver Spring, Md.), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union; Alpharetta, Ga.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia; Jacksonville, Fla.)

Jon Korn & Christian Araos
ONE GOAL Contributors

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