New York City FC rookie Khiry Shelton, Columbus midfielder Will Trapp, and Real Salt Lake's Luis Gil are some of the more prominent names called into Andi Herzog's U-23 national team camp
THE UNITED STATES UNDER-23 TEAM
March 22, 2015
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opens its first camp of 2015 this week, and head coach Andi Herzog has selected 18 players who will take part in a pair of friendlies against Bosnia and Denmark.
With CONCACAF moving up the dates of Olympic qualifying to October—previously it had taken place in March during the Olympic year—there is an increasing urgency surrounding this team. Here's the squad.
: Charlie Horton (Cardiff City; Cleveland, Ohio), Tyler Miller (Zweibrücken; Woodbury, N.J.)
: Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Alebrijes de Oaxaca; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Will Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.)
: Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire; San Jose, Calif.), Ariel Lassiter (LA Galaxy II; Temecula, Calif.), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
: 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)
The team’s core is here: Luis Gil, Wil Trapp, and Shane O’Neill all played key roles for the U-20 team in 2013 and all were called up to the recent January camp for the full nation team.
Beyond this group, there are several players who are emerging that should contend for roster spots if they impress at camp and progress at their clubs.
Juan Ocegueda is a regular starter in the second tier of Mexico and left backs are not easy to come by so he is an intriguing player in this camp. Khiry Shelton has impressed early with New York City FC and is on the rise. Similarly, Jerome Kiesewetter recently made his Bundesliga debut with Stuttgart and that will keep him on the radar.
Will Packwood has not played much this season but his recent loan to Cheltenham Town will keep him in contention for the Olympics.
Jordan Morris remains a mystery. Jurgen Klinsmann likes his potential but the lack of games in college from now through the summer opens the door for someone to overtake him.
After a year mostly in the abyss, Jose Villarreal has returned to MLS in fine form and is playing well for the Los Angeles Galaxy. His absence is most likely due to the fact that Bradford Jamieson was taken by the U-20 team and Gyasi Zardes was selected for the senior side so Herzog did not want to take yet another Galaxy contributor.
Cameron Porter’s injury over the weekend came at a bad time for not only Montreal and their Champions League run, but also for the U.S. U-23 team. This is an age group where if a player makes an impact with his first team, he can get onto this team quickly.
This is a very difficult period for Herzog to get a look at his best-possible team. The current U-20 team should send several players to the U-23 team after World Cup in June. Rubio Rubin, Emerson Hyndman, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Cameron Carter-Vickers are the most likely candidates but there could be more.
On the senior team, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green, and Cody Cropper are also age-eligible to play for the U-23s and those discussions could become more realistic as Olympic qualifying approaches and the urge to avoid the disappointment of 2012 intensifies.
Klinsmann also announced today that it is possible for players on the full national teams to move down to the U-23 team in coming months.
“When you talk about developing players, you always want to prioritize things,” Klinsmann said. “You say, 'OK, if this player goes with this team, what would he get out of it, and what could he gain?’ I think there are certain younger players that can gain the most right now if they’re with me.
"I’m talking about a Julian Green, a John Brooks, a Deandre Yedlin, a Rubio Rubin, but also knowing that if they’re not breaking in right away with me, here’s the next group where he could show what he has.
"Definitely the closer we get toward the individual competitions, meaning for Tab now the U-20 World Cup, his group will get now more prioritized because we want to have a really strong team going to New Zealand, and the same with the qualifiers for the U-23 team. We are still in the early process for the year, so early March games give us a little more air to say, ‘I’ll bring some youngsters with me first, and then we move them on to the Olympic team and Tab’s U-20s’, but I think it’s important for our players to see that we have a plan for them, that we’re looking at their club situation and that we understand the up-and-downs and their struggles, and they know we are here to help them.”
“We are still in the early process for the year,” he added. “So early March games give us a little more air to say ‘I’ll bring some youngsters with me first, and then we move them on to the Olympic team and Tab’s U-20s’, but I think it’s important for our players to see that we have a plan for them, that we’re looking at their club situation and that we understand the up-and-downs and their struggles, and they know we are here to help them.”
What do you think of this roster, as well as the other two? Tell us in the Comments section below.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.