BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, March 20, 2014
U.S. Soccer will be attempting to bridge the gap between the U-20 national team and the Olympic team with the creation of a U-21 national team.
The opening camp of the U-21 team will start next month in Los Angeles. It will run from April 20-24. Multiple sources confirmed the camp to YA. While unconfirmed at this point, it is expected that Martin Vazquez will lead the camp.
Under the current structure of U.S. Soccer, full-time youth national teams end at the U-20 level. The U-23 team exists only around the Olympics. The U-21 team is a way to keep the players who are age-eligible for the Olympics playing in the national team set up. The players eligible now for the U-21 team will likely be players who are too old for the current U-20s but eligible for the U-23 team that will attempt to qualify and play in 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
At this point, it is unclear how regularly the team will meet or what types of competition it will play before Olympic qualifying in 2016.
Players who are age-eligible and are likely to be involved this Olympic cycle are Luis Gil, Benji Joya, DeAndre Yedlin, Shane O'Neill, Omar Salgado, and Wil Trapp in MLS. In Mexico, Alonso Hernandez, Juan Ocegueda, Alejandro Guido, Daniel Cuevas, and Dennis Flores could potentially play a role. In Europe, Will Packwood, John Brooks, Marc Pelosi, Duane Holmes, Caleb Stanko, and Cody Cropper are all candidates to make the team in Rio in two years.
Liga Mx club Tigres already announced on its twitter feed that Juan Ocegueda would take part in the April U-21 camp.