26 April 2012
Tab Ramos and the U-20 MNT closed camp in Portland, Ore. with a win against the University of Washington on a single goal from US midfielder, Victor Pineda, in the 89th minute. The three day camp from April 9-16, included a match against University of Portland and the US squad consisted of a mix of professional and collegiate players.
The evaluation process will continue for Ramos, as the U-20s look to begin a South American trip in May which will include three matches. The four camps under Ramos’ leadership have primarily acted as an opportunity for players and coaches to familiarize themselves with the new "Klinsmann" set up. But also, the camp allowed Ramos and his staff to evaluate the diverse talent pool available for selection.
Some notable names absent at the April camp were Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Villyan Bijev (Liverpool FC), William Packwood (Birmingham City), Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin) and Cody Cropper (Ipswich Town) due to club commitments.
Although the players missing from the April camp are most likely going to figure into Ramos’ plans for the future, an effort was made to begin the process to narrow down the talent pool toward 2013. Additionally, 8 players from the April camp play professionally and 10 players are in college, while 6 players are currently involved with an Academy club.
“We’ve had three camps this year and taken advantage of the opportunity to cast a wide net in evaluating the player pool,” said Ramos before this last camp.
“This is the last time we plan on calling in a large number of new players. From here on out, we’re really going to really focus in the players we have identified who we think will be competing for spots on this team moving forward,” Ramos added.
CONCACAF qualifying for the U-20 World Cup will likely begin in early 2013 and will be held in Puebla, Mexico. The dates will run from February 18th through March 2nd at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc and the Estadio Universitario Lobos BUAP.
The tournament will qualify four teams for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey 2013.
The players selected to each of the last few camps may give us an indication of what the US U-20 MNT roster will look like during the 2013 World Cup. As with the U-23 team, it would appear that players who are involved in a professional setting will be preferred due to their obvious experience.
However, given the recent disappointment of the U-23s, Ramos may be more inclined to choose a player performing at the highest level rather than an out of form professional player. It is clear that players who play professionally, will need to see playing time with their clubs if they are to see the national team field, which has been Klinsmann's mantra since he took the reigns of the US program .
This line of thinking adds nothing to the ‘Pro vs. College’ argument, but simply emphasizes that if you are going to play at the international level, you need to perform and earn playing time first and foremost at the club level. Perhaps sitting on the bench will no longer be rewarded.