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Nowak loads up U-23s with MLS players
by Paul Kennedy, November 29th, 2007 7AM



U.S. under-23 national team coach Peter Nowak called in 22 players for a training camp at the Home Depot Center in preparation for games in China Dec. 13 and 16 against the Chinese U-23s.

Of the 22 players, all but Furman University defender Jon Leathers and U.S. U-17 resident keeper Zac MacMath are playing professionally in MLS or Europe.

Three U-23 players of note are playing in major European leagues and were not called up: Freddy Adu (Portugal's Benfica), Michael Bradley (Dutch club Heerenveen) and Jonathan Spector (England's West Ham United).

Seven players on the squad made their debut at the senior international level in 2007, including European-based Charlie Davies (Hammarby) and Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96).

The MLS contingent is led by 2007 Rookie of the Year Maurice Edu, a standout in the senior national team's recent wins over Switzerland and South Africa. Midfielder Stuart Holden is the only U-23 to have played in the recent MLS Cup final, having come on as a substitute for champion Houston late in its 2-1 win over New England.

Every Olympic-eligible player who played a 1,000 or more minutes in the 2007 MLS season was called up except Chicago Fire striker Chad Barrett.

Seven players were part of the USA's quarterfinal run in the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada this past summer. Four players - Jozy Altidore, Robbie Rogers, Nathan Sturgis and Zizzo - started all five matches, while goalkeeper Chris Seitz also stood out for the U-20s in Canada.

The U.S. is gearing up for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying to be played March 11-23 at three U.S. venues.

Seven out of the eight participating teams having been finalized. The USA, Canada and Mexico qualified automatically. Guatemala and Honduras advanced from the Central American Zone's qualifying tournament, and Cuba and Haiti are through from the Caribbean Zone. Panama and Costa Rica will play a two-game home-and-away playoff series later this month, with the winner becoming the eighth team in the final round tournament.

GOALKEEPERS: Zac MacMath (U.S. U-17 residency), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Jon Leathers (Furman University), Mike Randolph (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Arturo Alvarez (FC Dallas), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Michael Harrington (Kansas City Wizards), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS: Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Adam Cristman (New England Revolution), Charlie Davies (Hammarby, Sweden), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96, Germany)


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