WASHINGTON – The US Under-23 men’s national team will begin training camp in Germany on Monday, the first of several to help new head coach Caleb Porter determine who he will be bringing to next summer’s Olympic Games in London.
To D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen, it’s no surprise that Perry Kitchen and Ethan White are two of the 31 players called in.
“I don’t see why both of them [shouldn’t be] on the team,” Olsen said of their Olympic chances. “The experience Ethan got this year was fantastic. Perry’s had a very good year. His consistency at his age was pretty impressive, playing the most minutes.”
Kitchen – the third overall pick in the 2011 SuperDraft – lead the team in starts (31) and minutes played (2,726) while spending time at right back, center back, and in defensive midfield. White, meanwhile, made 21 starts in his first year out of Maryland.
Kitchen is a familiar player to the US coaching staff, playing at the Bradenton youth academy and a member of U-17 and U-20 teams, but while White has been in and out of US youth teams over the past few years, the chances of making a national team roster at any level weren’t at the forefront of his mind when he made the decision to turn pro.
“I was really focusing on DC and making sure I stepped on the field here,” White told MLSsoccer.com. “Whatever came with that I was going to take on – I guess one thing leads to another.”
Porter will delegate his duties to US coaches Tab Ramos and Claudio Reyna for this camp due to his collegiate coaching duties, but the trip to Germany marks the first step on the path towards a coveted place on the Olympic team. And with 31 players to look at, the competition should be stiff.
“It was good to seem some of the guys from the U-17s, U-20s coming back,” White said. “Some of the few guys staying with the ranks, but they’re bringing in some German-based guys that I’ve heard of and I don’t know.”
If all goes well, White and Kitchen could follow in Olsen’s Olympian footsteps, the head coach having played in the 2000 Games in Sydney.
“Going through that process, it’s an unbelievable thing,” Olsen said. “The Olympics were one of the greatest things for my career, and I hope for them to both be on the team.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.