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Road to Rio begins for Tab Ramos' group
by Paul Kennedy, April 18th, 2014 5:10PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, mexico, mls, olympics, u.s. under-20 men's national team


[USA UNDER-21 MEN] The road to Rio begins for the U.S. men's Olympic team begins with a four-day camp at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif., that begins on Sunday. The core of group invited into the camp by U.S. under-20 men's national team head coach Tab Ramos consists of players he had with the team that went to the 2013 Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.

The group includes five players who have started in MLS this season, including three fixtures in their team's starting lineups: Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew). The squad also includes five players based in Mexico. They have all played this season with the first or second division teams in Liga MX or Copa MX play. Only goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara) and forward Jordan Morris (Stanford) do not currently hold professional contracts.

Notable players from the U-20 group of a year ago who will not be in Carson include DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders), the only player from the group to play for the USA in the April 2 World Cup tune-up against Mexico, and Eric Miller, who is starting for the Montreal Impact, Caleb Stanko, who is on the fringe of the first team at German club Freiburg, and Cody Cropper, the backup goalie at Southampton.

Other age-eligible players for U-23 qualifying include Hertha Berlin's John Brooks, who declined to play at the U-20 World Cup as he had not yet  chosen between Germany and the USA, Birmingham City's Will Packwood and Liverpool U-21 Marc Pelosi, who both were injured and unable to go to the U-20 World Cup.

“We’re excited to bring some of our best young players together for this initial U-21 camp,” Ramos said in a statement. “We’re hoping that we can have another two or three camps between now and the end of the year. This camp is purely to have the team together so that we begin moving in the right direction. When the time is right, we can put a group that has kept playing together and is familiar with each other in front of the permanent coach.”

The camp will consist of three days of training, followed by a friendly against Club Tijuana on Wednesday. Because there are no MLS games on Easter Sunday, no players will miss MLS action. No players were called up from New York or Houston, which meet Wednesday night.

Olympic qualifying at the under-23 level will likely take place in the late winter of 2016.

U.S. U-21 Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Kempin (OKC Energy FC), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara Univ.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres/MEX), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Guido (Tijuana/MEX), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids), Benji Joya (Chicago Fire), Collin Martin (Richmond Kickers), Esteban Rodriguez (Tijuana/MEX), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (7): Daniel Cuevas (Lobos BUAP/MEX), Danny Garcia (FC Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy II), Jordan Morris (Stanford Univ.), Sean Okoli (Seattle Sounders), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), Jose Villarreal (Cruz Azul Hidalgo/MEX).

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