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U.S. under-20 men

Adu looks to regain glory, lead Americans to world tourney.

Freddy Adu
Freddy Adu has experienced some difficult times recently, but was named captain of the United States under-20 men for their attempt to qualify for this summer's world championships.
-- Real Salt Lake web site photo --
(Tuesday, January 16, 2006) -- Freddy Adu's road to redemption begins in Panama City today.

Following his trade from D.C. United to Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer and an apparently unimpressive training stint with English Premier League power Manchester United, Adu will be on center stage for the United States under-20 men who begin their effort to qualify for this summer's world championship tournament in Canada.

The top two teams from CONCACAF Group A advance to the Under-20 World Cup championship event which will be played June 30-July 22 in six Canadian cities. The Americans will attempt to advance to their sixth straight U-20 world championships.

The U.S. under-20s face Haiti today in Group A at 6:30 p.m. (ET), play Guatemala Friday at 6:30 p.m. Friday and meet Panama Sunday at 6 p.m. with all three matches televised by GolTV from Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City, Panama. The first two matches will be broadcast live, while the Panama game will be televised on a one-hour delay.

"We're expecting it to be a tough game, but it's something we're very excited for because we've been waiting for it for a very long time," U.S. striker Julian Valentin said of tonight's match against Haiti. "We've been working very hard so that we can come out on top at the end of the day."

Two more teams from CONCACAF, the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, advance to Canada 2007 from Group B, which will be competed from February 21-25 between host Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Jamaica.

Though Adu, 17, might have been somewhat humbled by recent events, he remains the player with the highest profile on the 20-man American roster and possibly the biggest name in the entire tournament.

Adu, who represented the U.S. in the 2003 under-17 world championship, will make his third appearance in the former World Youth Championships which will be now be referred to as the Under-20 World Cup.

Adu "has become our vocal leader and he also shows the way with the way he plays on the pitch and in training," U.S. coach Thomas Rongen told "He is a unique player with a unique set of experiences and skills. He takes his job as captain very seriously and he is an important bridge from the coaching staff to the squad."

With Adu named by Rongen as captain, the U.S. will have the most professional experience of any team it has sent to the U-20 world tournament. Six players played in MLS last year while another three were with clubs in Europe.

Three more team members were drafted from college into MLS this month -- goalkeeper Chris Seitz (Maryland to Real Salt Lake), defender Anthony Wallace (South Florida to FC Dallas), midfielder Amaechi Igwe (Santa Clara to New England Revolution) -- as was midfielder Brian Arguez, a high schooler, to D.C. United.

"The depth and quality of this team is well above previous cycles in the U.S.," said Rongen, who also led the Americans to the 2003 under-20 world championships. "We are deeper in terms of quality and professional players to choose from, but that means we are also running into troubles getting players released."

One notable absence because of these complications is midfielder Michael Bradley, son of interim U.S. men's coach Bob Bradley. Michael Bradley has become a starter for SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands' top league and the club would not release him, though it allowed midfielder Robbie Rogers to go to Panama.

"It's a big loss, but we have enough quality to continue on and put in a good performance in the qualifiers," Rongen said of Bradley.

U.S. roster for the Under-20 World Cup with players' names' followed with team and hometown in parentheses. Teams are identified either by college, or Major League Soccer or foreign affiliation:

Goalkeepers: Brian Perk (UCLA, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake, MLS; San Luis Obispo, Calif.).

Defenders: Ofori Sarkodi (Indiana University; Huber Heights, Ohio), Nathan Sturgis (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS; Redondo Beach, Calif.), Anthony Wallace (FC Dallas, MLS; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew, MLS; Waukesha, Wisc.)

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake, MLS; Potomac, Md.), Brian Arguez (D.C. United, MLS; Miami, Fla.), Tony Beltran (UCLA; Claremont, Calif.), Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution, MLS; Belmont, Calif.), Robby Rogers (SC Heerenven, Netherlands; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Danny Szetala (Columbus Crew, MLS; Clifton, N.J.), Jonathan Villanueva (University of Virginia; Grand Prairie, Texas)

Forwards: Andre Akpan (Harvard University, Grand Prairie, Texas). Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls, Boca Raton, Fla.), Quavas Kirk (Los Angeles Galaxy, Long Beach, Calif.). Johann Smith (Bolton Wanderers, England; Bloomfield, Conn.), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest University; Lancaster, Pa.), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV, Germany; Pasco, Wash.), Sal Zizzo (UCLA; San Diego).

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