From U.S. Soccer & Sporting Kansas City Reports
CHICAGO, Dec. 22, 2011 - Former James Madison soccer standout CJ Sapong has been invited to the U.S. National Team's January training camp.
Sapong, the 2011 Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, makes his debut on a National Team roster.
The Sporting Kansas City forward is one of three from his MLS team to be invited to the training camp. Forward Teal Bunbury and midfielder Graham Zusi were also named to the 20-player roster.
"January camps are a good introduction for players to work their way into the National Team, so it's a prime opportunity for guys like CJ Sapong and Graham Zusi, while Teal Bunbury continues to establish himself in the player pool," said Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes.
The three players from Sporting Kansas City are tied for the most chosen from any club, following the team's first-place finish in the Eastern Conference during the 2011 MLS season.
Sapong and Zusi, named Breakout Player of the Year by MLSSoccer.com, are two of only three players on the roster to receive their first selection. Sapong and Bunbury are two of four forwards selected by U.S. Men's National Team Manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
"I'm very excited and thankful for this opportunity," said Sapong, who led all rookies with five goals and five assists last season. "I've worked really hard for this and look forward to working even harder to take my game to the next level."
U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected the 20 players for the training camp roster. The camp is scheduled for Jan. 3-26 in the United States and Panama. The U.S. will host Venezuela on Jan. 21 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Four days later, the U.S. faces Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Fans can follow both games live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
The players and staff will report to Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 3 to begin training. The team will move to U.S. Soccer's National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to continue training from Jan. 13-20, and then return to Arizona to finalize preparations for Venezuela.
"This is a very important opportunity for these players," said Klinsmann. "They are the next in line behind the established players, and this is a chance to prove themselves. We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the National Team. Ultimately, it will create more depth for us, which you need at this level. I'm very curious and excited to see this group."
The annual camp held in January for players in their offseason is a largely domestic-based group that includes 18 players who ply their trade in the United States. More than half the players have two caps or less for the full National Team, and five will be seeking their first appearance.
Sapong (Manassas, Va./Forest Park H.S.) who played for JMU from 2007-10, was voted the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after leading the CAA and ranking among the leading NCAA Division I players in scoring with 33 points. In 2010 he shared the CAA lead in goals (12) and game-winning goals (4) and also topped the conference with nine assists. Sapong finished his JMU career ranked fifth all-time in points (95), seventh in goals (37) and fourth in game-winning goals (12).
He is the first JMU men's soccer player to win All-CAA First Team honors for four seasons.
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U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION - Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), CJ Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)