Qualifying for the London Olympics begins in just over a month, and the United States is getting ready. U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter is hosting a training camp starting next week for his squad, and he named the roster today. It includes two very familiar names for D.C. United fans, as Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen each found their way onto the list as expected.
Hamid is the favorite to be the starter for the Olympic team this summer, but he'll have to compete with Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire. That competition will be in full throttle this week in Lakewood Ranch, FL. Hamid seems to have the edge based on his international experience backing up Tim Howard and earning his first cap with the full national team last month. It's his job to lose, but Hamid will have to convince Porter that he's more capable than Johnson, and also that it would be unnecessary for Porter to use one of his three overage player exemptions on a goalkeeper, as the U.S. has done in the past.
As for Kitchen, I'm curious to see if the 19-year old will be used as a defender (as he's listed on the roster) or as a defensive midfielder (where he played for Porter at Akron and will play for D.C. this season). The smart money might be on Kitchen lining up in the back since Porter has invited only six defenders to camp this month. Conversely, the team has seven forwards. Kitchen has been an important member of the U.S. National team at every level leading up to now, and I don't expect that to change with the U-23s.
The American and Mexican U-23 teams will meet on Feb. 29 in Dallas as preparation for Olympic qualifying in what will be the biggest test for this roster so far.
One other name that you might recognize was left off of Porter's list though. Some think that 21-year old United defender Ethan White might be in the mix to earn a spot on the Olympic team Was he omitted because of his health, as he works his way back from a PCL tear, or has he not yet impressed Porter enough to get a look? It's hard to say. With United's new found depth at center back, losing White during Olympic qualifying would be far less painful than losing Kitchen or Hamid.