Feb. 23, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF men's soccer goalkeeper Sean Johnson (Lilburn, Ga.) is one of 20 players chosen to play for the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team as they compete for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship from March 6-15 in Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen announced Monday afternoon.
Johnson has been training with the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team since mid-December when he was selected to participate in an eight-day training camp. He was also one of 19 players who traveled with the squad to Trinidad and Tobago in January, and his play earned over the past few months landed him a spot as one of three keepers on the current 20-man roster. UCLA's Brian Perk and Josh Lambo of FC Dallas are the other two goalkeepers.
"Our staff and players here at UCF are extremely proud of Sean's efforts and excited for the opportunity that is in front of him," said head coach Bryan Cunningham. "He has worked hard since coming to UCF to improve his overall game, and this honor is a validation of that work ethic. Sean is a strong player and an impressive person, and I know while playing for the U.S. Under-20 National Team he will be an outstanding representative of our program, the university and the country both on and off the field."
A total of eight teams will compete in the CONCACAF event, which is being held in a championship format for the first time since 1996. The U.S. was drawn into Group A for the tournament along with El Salvador, Jamaica and either Honduras or St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Group B includes Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which will take place from Sept. 24-Oct. 16 in Egypt. The top two teams will also move on to the semifinals of the regional championship, which will be played on March 13 at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad. The third-place match and final will be played on March 15 at the same location.
"We've put a lot of preparation into the CONCACAF Championship and we feel we've chosen the best possible players who will help us qualify for Egypt," said Rongen. "We have 20 players who have shown dedication to the difficult task of qualifying and have proven themselves during the past two years through training camps and international games."
The 20-man roster will come together on Tuesday for five days of training in Bradenton, Fla., before traveling on March 2 to Bacolet, Tobago, site of the USA's three group games. The squad will have four more days of preparation in Tobago before the opening game of the tournament against Jamaica at 6 p.m. eastern time on Friday, March 6, at Dwight Yorke Stadium.
Johnson and his teammates will then face either Honduras or St. Vincent & the Grenadines on March 8 at 5 p.m. ET and round out group play against El Salvador on Tuesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. ET. The U.S. will learn its second opponent when Honduras and St. Vincent & the Grenadines square off in a playoff game on March 2.
In two seasons with the Knights, Johnson has played in each of the team's 37 games and racked up 191 saves, good for fifth place on the program's all-time list. His 108 saves in 2008 are tied for the third-highest single-season total in UCF history and are the most by a Knight keeper since 1986. Johnson had a goals against average of 1.30.
Johnson, a sophomore who started every game in goal for UCF in 2008, also played on the international level this past summer while competing for the Jamaican National Team.
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