Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ATH: New U.S. Soccer Team Players

From U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association

Getting To Know The Young US Prospects
WASHINGTON DC (October 16, 2007) USSoccerPlayers10/16/2007 10:14 AM

Bob Bradley’s 23-man roster for Wednesday’s exhibition game against Switzerland at the St. Jakob Stadium in Basel contains a few surprise names, many of which may be unfamiliar to US soccer fans.

In mostly avoiding the call-up of players on Major League Soccer teams still involved in the race for honors, the coach picked out some American youngsters plying their trade in Denmark, the German third division or, most obscure of all, in Utah. Here are four pen portraits of US players as yet uncapped at senior level.

Steve Purdy. Central defender Purdy, 22, joined 1860 Munich of the German second division at the start of 2007 after four years playing for the California University Bears, where he was a Second Team NSCAA All-American in his final year. He has played ten times for the US U20 team, but was not on the U23 roster that traveled to Japan earlier this year.

Since the start of the 2007-08 season in August he has held down a starting spot in Munich’s reserve team, which plays in the country’s Third Division (South). In Germany, reserve teams are often used to nurture young players and give them game time in a pro league. Reserve team attendances are generally poor, and Purdy has been playing in front of around 1000 fans when Munich have played at home.

His performances have been good enough to keep him in the team for ten of the side’s 11 games. He was dropped to the bench one week for a 1-0 home loss against Ludwigshafen, but immediately regained his place for the following game. He has played through all ten games that he’s started, but faces tough competition within the club before he’s called up to join his American teammates Greg Berhalter and Josh Wolff in the 1860 first XI.

The 1860 reserves are in 13th place of the 18-team division, with a 4-6-1 record.

Preston Zimmerman. A product of the Bradenton Residency Program, the 18-year-old striker from Pasco, Washington, skipped the college system to sign for SV Hamburg of the German Bundesliga last year, and this season has been scoring regularly for the club’s reserve team in the Third Division (North).

Hamburg were impressed by Zimmerman at the 2005 U17 World Cup in Peru, where he scored a single goal, but displayed a determination, industry and physical presence that augured well for his adaptation to the German game. Although at 17 he was too young to sign for Hamburg due to FIFA rules, he signed a contract in January 2006 that became valid upon his 18th birthday in November of that year, and in the meantime played for the team anyway. Details on how this was allowed are vague.

Zimmerman, who is of German descent, has also played for the U20 National Team, and was called into the squad for this year’s World Cup in Canada as a late replacement for Johann Smith. Although he saw no playing time at the tournament, he’s been in good form for Hamburg Reserves this season, scoring five goals in nine starts.

Tally Hall. To West Coast college soccer fans, goalkeeper Talmon Henry Hall is a familiar name now playing for an unfamiliar club. Name your collegiate soccer award, and Hall was likely considered for it while at San Diego State. Los Angeles certainly noticed, drafting him in the fourth round, but probably not surprised that a player with his pedigree was still unpicked so late considering the rumors that were linking him to Europe.

Indeed, after three years of college soccer it was Denmark, not MLS that beckoned, with Hall opting for Esbjerg forenede Boldklubber, aka Esbjerg fB. The five-time Danish League champions last lifted the title six years before Hall was born. Esbjerg, the fifth largest city in Denmark, is on the west coast, about three hours from Copenhagen. With a little over 100,000 people, the club’s Blue Water Arena seats 5,282, plus standing areas.

Hall has yet to play a SAS Ligaen game, serving as a backup to Lars Winde.

Robbie Findley. An odd selection considering Findley was called into camp for Trinidad & Tobago’s Under-23 National Team and was not part of the United States youth soccer teams. Findley was a strong regional player for Oregon State in college, not breaking into the national awards picture, but honored by the Pac-10 Conference.

Drafted by Los Angeles in 2007, Findley played all of three months for the club before being traded to Real Salt Lake as part of the Chris Klein deal. He has played well for an underperforming team, scoring six goals in 16 games, and two in nine games for the Galaxy.

As bizarre as it sounds for a player traded early in his rookie season, not only has Findley earned himself a National Team camp invite, he’s also an outside candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year.

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