By Ridge Mahoney
Sometime before Christmas, U.S. Soccer will announce the hiring of Juergen Klinsmann
as its national team coach and thus will conclude months of anticlimax.
Much federation business has been on hold while President Sunil Gulati
and Klinsmann have negotiated, bargained and dickered, but not preparations for the men's under-20 team, which
plays its CONCACAF qualifiers next month.
The 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup will be staged in six Canadian cities starting June 30.
Coach Thomas Rongen
has invited 26 players to a
preliminary camp that opens next Tuesday (Dec. 12) at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Many of the U.S. U-20s playing in Europe won't be available for the camp, so the roster will consist of
college players as well as MLS products.
Those players will train until Dec. 23, after which Rongen will select his roster of 20 players for the qualifying tournament to be staged in
Panama starting Jan. 17. The team will train in Florida for eight days and play three games before taking a short break and reconvening in Fort Lauderdale for a few more days of training prior
to departure for Panama on Jan. 14.
The USA plays Panama, Guatemala and Haiti in Group A. The top two finishers advance to the U-20 World Cup.
Rongen is in Florida this week
watching the Nike Friendlies, which match up U-16, U-17 and U-18 club teams as well as the U-15 and U-17 U.S. national teams split into two squads each. His list of 26 players for the preliminary
camp will be released this week. Click here
for U-20 national team pool roster.