Thursday, December 8, 2011
L.A.'s Stephens, Chivas' Villafana with U23s
By Scott French
American preparations for Olympic qualifying in March continue next week in Florida, and the roster U.S. under-23 national team coach Caleb Porter has selected includes one player each from the Galaxy and Chivas USA.
The Galaxy player we know: Michael Stephens, a second-year midfielder from UCLA who plays a prominent role off the bench for the MLS Cup champs.
The Chivas player, not so much: Jorge Villafana, a name unknown in soccer circles. It's winger Jorge Flores, who has legally changed his last name, something the club expects to announce Thursday. Villafana is his mother's last name.
Former Chivas defender Zarek Valentin, now with the Montreal Impact, and UCLA product Amobi Okugo, a midfielder with the Philadelphia Union, also are on the list.
The camp, which runs Dec. 15-23 in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., is the second gathering of players under the new regime. Porter, head coach at the University of Akron, was hired in October to run the Olympic program.
The Americans meet Canada, Cuba and El Salvador in group play of CONCACAF's qualifiers for next year's London Games. The finalists in the eight-nation competition advance to the Olympics.
“At every camp we expect to push the group forward by continuing to evaluate the player pool while imprinting the concepts of how we will play as a team on both sides of the ball,” Porter said in a U.S. Soccer release. “As we sort through our personnel and start to hone in on the roster, it is equally as important that the players develop a clear understanding of the culture of how we will do things leading up to our first [qualifying] match in Nashville.”
Porter's camp roster features 17 MLS players, eight from Europe (six from Germany), one from Mexico (Tijuana's Joe Corona) and two collegians, both from Duke. The biggest name on the roster is Freddy Adu's, and five others -- Gale Agbossoumonde, Teal Bunbury, Mikkel Diskerud, Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid -- also have been with the full national team.
Valentin, Bunbury and Houston defender Kofi Sarkodie played for Porter at Akron.
The full roster:
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
Gale Agbossoumonde (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)
Royal-Dominique Fennell (Stuttgarter Kickers/Germany)
Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke University)
Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo)
Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact)
Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA)
Andrew Wenger (Duke University)
Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)
Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union)
Bryan Arguez (Montreal Impact)
Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico)
Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo)
Mikkel Diskerud (Stabęk/Norway)
Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew)
Jared Jeffrey (FSV Mainz 05/Germany)
Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United/England)
Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union)
Michael Stephens (Galaxy)
Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo)
Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City)
Jann George (FC Nuremberg/Germany)
Joe Gyau (1899 Hoffenheim/Germany)
Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union)
Andrew Wooten (Kaiserslautern/Germany)