MATHEW WAGNER - Tuesday, February 14, 2012
After making his move from Vardar Academy in Michigan to Freiburg, Caleb Stanko wanted to train with Freiburg's Under-23 team regularly and earn a starting spot on the U-19 team.
So far in the 2011-2012 season, Stanko has managed to start nine games out of 12 for the U-19 team, while playing in two friendlies for the U-23 team.
Despite having made headway on his goals for the season, Stanko is not quite satisfied with his performance.
"Everything has been going alright but I am not where I would like to be in terms of development," he said. "This has given me more drive to put in more time before and after trainings on my own."
His performance has been noticed by Tab Ramos and the US U-20 team, however.
In November, Stanko, 18, participated in the U-23 camp held in Duisberg, Germany, and in early January, he was one of 36 players who participated in the U-20 camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Stanko said that his time in Germany made him appreciate more the idea of playing for his country.
"I think every soccer player wants to be able to represent his country, whether that be for a small country who has never qualified for a World Cup or a power house like Brazil or Germany," Stanko said. "So it felt great to be able to put on the US Jersey."
Stanko has been impressed by the coaching style of Ramos, who coached in both camps Stanko participated.
"I think Tab is a great coach with a lot of experience and has done a good job of getting to know the players at the camps," he said. "I think that Tab has done a great job so far in terms of coaching. He is coaching the way that Jürgen Klinsmann would like the other US National teams to play."
As for his fellow players, Stanko described the mixture of playing styles that each player brings from his own club experience.
He said this mixture is trying to fit into one system and style of play that the coaches want.
"That being said, this could potentially be a huge advantage against the other teams, meaning each player is playing under the one system established by the US staff but bringing his style to the team," Stanko said.
"I really can't say on how far we could go or what we could accomplish as a team as of now. We will have to see how we come together as a team and the level of competition we are playing against."
Stanko brings his versatility to the US U-20.
This season alone with the Freiburg Under-19 team, Stanko started at center back before moving to forward and central midfielder. In his two camps with the US U-23 and U-20 teams, he has also found himself deployed as the holding midfielder.
"I actually continued that same way (constantly switching positions) with Freiburg for the first half of the season," Stanko said. "For the U-20s I have been playing holding mid which is, in my opinion, my best position."
Now, Stanko returns to Freiburg, hoping to improve himself going forward and to help his club team meet its goals.
"One of my goals is to definitely become more consistent in my play," he said. "I think one of the areas I am weaker in is in my consistency in passing and decision making. My other goal is for our team to win the league and the DFB Pokal."