BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, July 6, 2010
As US U20 coach Thomas Rongen looks to determine what his core group of players is for the 2011 cycle, Santos forward Adrian Ruelas is making a case to be a part of that group following a strong camp in San Jose.
Ruelas said that his first U20 camp with the US has gone well but tactics and team philosophy have not been a major part.
"Since this is a really short camp - only a week-long camp - we haven't really got into focusing, tactics and special training," Ruelas told YA from San Jose. "Since we have friendlies every other day, there are easier practices. We work on finishing and put a lot of emphasis on concentration. Practices have been good. They're not strong physical-wise because we have games, but they're good."
While this current camp has been more focused on games as opposed to training, Ruelas and his US teammates have not received much instruction in terms of how to play in the friendlies. It is simply been a matter of the players getting to know each other and the coaches evaluating the talent at hand.
"They don't really ask for a lot," Ruelas said on the coaching during the friendlies. "It's a new group for them and they are just scouting things. This group has never been together so we are just getting to know each other. All they ask from us is concentration and to benefit the team. They don't ask for anything specific, just to do what you know and be accurate - little stuff that will help out the team."
Rongen has said that he wanted to use this camp to evaluate many players who are based in South and Central America. Attending this camp are many Mexican-Americans including eight who currently play for Mexican clubs.
Ruelas does not necessarily feel it is easier to make his US debut with so many other Mexican-Americans but instead looks forward to being integrated with the core group that includes fellow forward Jack McInerney, Juan Agudelo and Tristian Bowen.
"I wouldn't say it's easier," Ruelas said of being in camp with many other Mexican-based players. "It also helps you look at what other players from your situations are in. It helps you look at your level and you kind of compare. It's not a bad group, but we should expect better competition in upcoming camps. I am looking forward to seeing the base players."
By taking part in this US camp, it marks a change in direction for Ruelas who had previously represented Mexico at the youth national team levels. He is still very new to the US system so it is difficult for him to compare it with the Mexican style, but so far he greatly prefers the US coaching.
"With Mexico, I've been to more than a year and half of camps and this is my first one here so I can't really compare," the Fontana, California native analyzed. "But I can tell you for every player, every coach, the treatment could be different. For me, and maybe for other players, the staff, I don't really like it. I think they treat me better over here. With the US, they treat me like I can have more confidence."
While Ruelas is happier in the US U20 system in comparison with the Mexican team, the decision to switch was difficult.
"I can actually say it was tough," Ruelas admitted. "First of all, this is where I grew up and I always wanted to see what it was like to be in a camp for the US. Now that I had a decision to make, I didn't really hesitate because I wanted to know how it was. I wanted to experience it."
Ruelas also feels strongly that the player chemistry among the group is strong and the tight-knit nature of the team helps with the performance on the field.
"As a player, not only on the field, outside of on the field, how they treat you and how the group interacts," Ruelas described. "I think that's all important for the players. If you feel good, if you feel comfortable with the players and the team, you are most likely going to do better on the field."
Ruelas plays as a tall and strong forward but with sound technical ability and he is looking forward to fitting his game into the emerging American style that seems to fit his personal skill set well.
"Any soccer player or anyone involved with soccer knows that US soccer is very physical," Ruelas said frankly. "It's a lot of running. Over time you're going to get better technical-wise, in all aspects. Long term, you can look at MLS as a bigger step. Having a lot of good players and competing with the big teams."
Playing in Mexico at Santos, Ruelas is part of a large group of young Americans that play all over the world. This current cycle has seen players called in who play or have played in England, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine and Germany.
This wide variety of players is something Ruelas feels can be a source of strength for US Soccer, particularly with the growing soccer influence of the massive Mexican-American population within the US.
"For this country, it's a little bit of everything," Ruelas concluded. "So that benefits the country because it gives you the flavor of every single country. In this part of the country there are a lot of Hispanics and there is a lot of talent among them. It's better to have a lot of competition. Eventually, with time, players are going to get a lot better. It's going to be a hard decision to pick out a 23 man group for the roster."