Galaxy’s Sorto, Villarreal among 9 Californians named to U-23 team

Jose Villarreal, Diego Chara

Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal, left, and Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara battle for the ball during an MLS soccer game in Portland on March 15.

(Don Ryan / Associated Press)

The Galaxy’s Oscar Sorto and Jose Villarreal head a California-heavy 20-man roster called up by Coach Andreas Herzog for Wednesday’s U-23 soccer exhibition with Mexico at the StubHub Center. The 8 p.m. game is to be televised live on UniMas and Univision Deportes.

The U-23 team is pointing toward this fall’s Olympic qualifying tournament, and Wednesday’s game will be an important test of its progress. The U.S. failed to make it the 2012 London Games, going out in the group stage of the qualifier. Mexico went on to win its first Olympic title.

“This is a huge rivalry,” said Herzog, an assistant with the senior national team who was named head coach of the Olympic team in January. “For these players it’s a huge opportunity and we want to see them make the most of it.”

Nine of the players Herzog summoned to his first domestic training camp as U-23 coach come from California.


In addition to Villarreal, a forward from Inglewood, and Sorto, a defender from Los Angeles, the team also includes North Hollywood forward Mario Rodriguez, who plays in the youth program for Germany’s Borussia Monchengladbach; Riverside’s Juan Pablo Ocegueda, a defender for Oaxaca of Mexico’s Ascenso MX; and Luis Gil of Garden Grove, a midfielder for Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer.

Gil and Stanford’s Jordan Morris, a forward, are the only players on the roster who have also earned a cap with the senior national team. Last week, Morris, 20, scored the first U.S. goal in a 2-0 win over Mexico, making him the only collegian to score for the senior national team in the last 22 years.

The roster (with club affiliations and hometowns)

Goalkeepers (2): Cody Cropper (Southampton; Maple Grove, Minn.), Jon Kempin (San Antonio Scorpions; Leawood, Kan.)


Defenders (8): Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps; East Palo Alto), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Alebrijes de Oaxaca; Riverside), Boyd Okwuonu (Real Salt Lake; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (Galaxy; Los Angeles), Sam Strong (UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas; Lawrenceville, Ga.)

Midfielders (5): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove), Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose), Daniel Metzger (New York Red Bulls II; Holmdel, N.J.)

Forwards (5): Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Alfred Koroma Shams (Unattached; Southlake Carol, Texas), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.), Mario Rodriguez (Borussia Mönchengladbach; North Hollywood), Jose Villarreal (Galaxy; Inglewood)

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