including Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers -- into a two-week training camp from January 6-20 at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.
The camp is part of the team's preparation for the final round of the 2008 CONCACAF Men's Under-23 Championship to be held from March 11-23, 2008, in Los Angeles, Tampa and Nashville. The U.S. will play their three games of the group stage in Tampa against Cuba on March 11, Panama on March 13 and Honduras on March 15. The eight-team tournament will send its two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
"With Olympic qualifying only two months way, this camp gives us a great opportunity to continue the work we began last month in China," said Nowak. "There is a tremendous amount of competition for spots on the roster, and we will continue to evaluate players as we focus on developing a team that can qualify for the Olympic Games."
Five players on the roster will be returning to familiar surroundings, as Rogers, Eric Avila, Dax McCarty, Julian Valentin and Preston Zimmerman were all a part of U.S. Soccer's Residency Program.
Eight players in camp were part of the team that earned two draws against China during a December tour of the 2008 Olympic host country. Goalkeeper Chris Seitz was between the pipes for both friendlies, earning a shutout in the first, while Rogers, Patrick Ianni and Stuart Holden each tallied a goal in the 3-3 tie on December 16. Rounding out the group who traveled to China is defender Mike Randolph, midfielders Arturo Alvarez and McCarty and forwards Robbie Findley and Charlie Davies.
Of the 15 professional players on the roster, nine play in Major League Soccer while six ply their trade in Europe. Rogers, 20, tallied three goals and one assist for the Crew in 2007, his first MLS campaign after spending six months with Heerenveen of the Dutch First Division. Germany's Bundesliga sends three representatives in 1860 Munich's Steve Purdy, Vfl Wolfburg's Kamani Hill and Hamburg SV's Zimmerman. Greg Dalby plays for SC Charleroi in Belgium, Davies represents Hammarby IF (Sweden) and in England, Johann Smith plays for the Bolton Wanderers.
Valentin, one of eight defenders making the trip to Florida, was part of the Wake Forest squad who took home the 2007 NCAA Championship (listen) and will be joined by fellow Demon Decon defender Pat Phelan. A third NCAA Champion will also be with the team, as Avila hoisted the College Cup with UC Santa Barbara in 2006.
There are a total of nine collegiate players on the roster, with Boston College sending a pair of juniors in Alejandro Bedoya and goalkeeper Chris Brown. Billy Chiles (Towson), Sean Franklin (Cal State Northridge), Stephen King (Maryland) and UCLA's Chance Myers round out the collegiate contingent.
Following the two weeks of training, the Under-23s will reconvene for a week-long camp before gathering in March for the Olympic Qualifying tournament.
The U.S., which plays in the late game in each of the three doubleheaders at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (tickets), playing Cuba on March 11 at 8 p.m. ET, Panama on March 13 at 8 p.m. ET and finish the round-robin tournament against Guatemala on Saturday, March 15 at 7 p.m. ET.
Group B, which will begin on March 12, features Canada, Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico, and will be played at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
After group play, the top two teams will advance to the semifinals which will be played on March 20 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. LP Field will also be the location for the third-place game and championship match on Sunday, March 23. The two finalists will advance to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Under-23 Men's National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake), Chris Brown (Boston College), Billy Chiles (Towson University)
DEFENDERS (8): Sean Franklin (Cal State Northridge), Steve Purdy (1860 Munich), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Greg Dalby (SC Charleroi), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Pat Phelan (Wake Forest), Mike Randolph (Galaxy), Chance Myers (UCLA)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Stuart Holden (Houston), Johann Smith (Darlington), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Stephen King (Maryland), Alejandro Bedoya (Boston College), Eric Avila (UC Santa Barbara), Arturo Alvarez (FC Dallas), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (5): Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Charlie Davies (Hammarby), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg)