February 18, 2013
RAMOS IS READY
U.S. coach has U.S. primed for its CONCACAF U-20 opener vs. Haiti on Monday
Former MetroStars and U.S. international midfielder and U.S. coach Tab Ramos wants the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team to accomplish what the 2011 side failed to do: reach the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
|Brandon Allen (10), celebrating scoring the winning goal at the Big East semifinals, is a Red Bulls Academy player on the U.S. U-20 team.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The four semifinalist will qualify for the FIFA tournament.
The Americans will take on Haiti in the opening of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship at Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos BUAP in Puebla, Mexico in a Group A encounter on Monday night (FOX Soccer, 6:30 p.m. ET).
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.
"I believe we're as ready as we can be," Ramos said. "We've had eight camps already [in the past year] and in this particular group we have guys who have all been here [in Mexico] before, We have players who are prepared and we've had a couple of great weeks of training. We are training in great facilities, playing in an excellent stadium, the temperature should be OK, so there are really no excuses for us but to do the best we can and try to get to this first game."
Ramos expects several players to step up during the competition, including Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal, Mario Rodriguez, Caleb Stanko and Cody Cropper.
Villarreal, forward, is the leading goal scorer with four tallies in six U-20 matches heading into the tournament, including a recent penalty kick during the USA's against Panama on Jan. 21. Cropper, a goalkeeper, enters the tournament with nine international appearances for the U-20 team.
"It is very important for us that the guys who have been associated with this particular age group - guys like Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal, Mario Rodriguez, Caleb Stanko who's a leader on the team and Cody Cropper who has been here before - are really up to task when game time comes and that they're the ones who lead the way for us to get to the next round," he said.
Haiti is a technical side.
"They move a lot without the ball and they're very honest workers on the ball and without it," Ramos said. "I truly believe that Haiti's going to be able to compete well. I think that they would have the same goals we have, which is to get out of this group. The start of the tournament is a very tough matchup for us. And the key is going to be in us trying to keep the ball away from their two central midfielders. They keep the ball well and they distribute for the whole team. If we can win our matchup in the middle of the field, we're going to be in good shape."
The U.S. will meet Costa Rica in its other group stage match on Friday at 6:30 p.m. (FOX Soccer).
The other groups:
Group B: Canada, Cuba, Nicaragua
Group C: Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico
Group D: Curaçao, El Salvador, Mexico
The quarterfinals are set for Feb. 26, 27 and 28. The semifinals are scheduled for March 1 and the third-place and championship matches will be on March 3.
The U.S. roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Cody Cropper (Southampton; Maple Grove, Minn.), 12-Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), 22-Zack Steffen (FC DELCO Academy; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (6): 18-Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (C.D. Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), 2-Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), 5-Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), 4-Caleb Stanko (Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), 14-Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 10-Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), 8-Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), 15-Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City; Mission, Texas), 16-Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6): 19-Brandon Allen (Georgetown; Old Bridge, N.J.), 20-Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), 17-Danny Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), 11-Jerome Kiesewetter (Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), 9-Mario Rodriguez (Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.) 7-Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)