When the USSF announces the call ups for the approaching November FIFA date later this week, the most important roster it releases may not be Jurgen Klinsmann's senior squad for matches in France and Slovenia. Flying under the radar of those alluring full team fixtures, but likely more influential in the long-term future of U.S. soccer, is the pending Olympic and U-20 camp in Duisburg, Germany, to kick off preparations for qualifying for the London games.
The USSF is still putting the finishing touches on the list, but about 35 young Americans will meet for a week at the camp, announced concurrently with the U-23 and U-20 coaching hires. Though new Olympic team coach Caleb Porter, still busy at his college job with Akron, won't be in Germany, his U-20 counterpart Tab Ramos and USSF youth technical director Claudio Reyna will. They'll lead much of America's next generation through training sessions meant primarily to get a good look at the Olympic pool, and make some decisions on which players can help the team through a shotgun qualifying tournament and on to the Olympic Games.
Here are a few major questions going into camp:
What's the significance of this camp?
This is a major undertaking in several respects. With players from the U-23 age group -- generally too old for youth teams but often too inexperienced to play a role for the full national team -- the camp represents a unique chance to get some young talent integrated into the U.S. soccer program. Players will come from a diverse range of places including MLS clubs, teams across Europe and possibly elsewhere, so this is also a rare opportunity for the coaches to evaluate a wide-spread group of players that they rarely get to see together for extended periods of time.