Two surprising news stories today: Chivas USA midfielder Jorge Villafaña has received an invitation to the U.S. Men's National Team U23 training camp coming up this month in Florida. The camp is intended to give U23 coach Caleb Porter an opportunity to train and try out potential players for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in March, and hopefully the 2012 Olympics in London.
Hang on a second: Who is Jorge Villafana?
The club just sent out a news release that Jorge Flores has legally changed his name. According to the release, he changed "his last name in honor of his mother who raised him as a single parent." So lest you fear there were some shenanigans behind the name change, a la Carlos Tevez (who legally changed his name in order to facilitate a transfer back in the day), this one seems pretty legit. I just hope you didn't buy anybody a customized FLORES jersey as a holiday gift, because it's outdated now.I have to say, I'm surprised about the selection of Villafaña. Unlike former Chivas defender Zarek Valentin, he hasn't been on the youth national team radar for years. Even more surprising is the fact that he was effectively benched to finish off the 2011 season for Chivas. Before that, he was a regular starter on the left wing through the first two-thirds of the season, and while his inconsistency still emerged, enjoyed an improved season. Finally, he played the entire season in midfield, but he's been called up to the camp as a defender. I really hope he shines and impresses Porter enough to get a shot at the Olympic Tournament. After all, he's Sueño - it would make an amazing story. But we'll have to see what happens during the camp in handicapping his chances with the U23s, and it will at least give him an opportunity to train with many top young American players during the MLS offseason.
Here's the full 28 man roster for the training camp (scheduled to run December 15-23):
Defenders: Gale Agbossoumonde (Eintracht Frankfurt), Royal-Dominique Fennell (Stuttgarter Kickers), Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke University), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA), Andrew Wenger (Duke University), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)
Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Bryan Arguez (Montreal Impact), Joe Corona (Tijuana Xolos), Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabæk), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)
Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Jann George (Nürnberg), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Wooten (Kaiserslautern)
And here's the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament schedule. Mark your calendars! The Group B games will be held at the Home Depot Center, so if you would like to see some international soccer in a tournament format, check it out!
March 22 (in Nashville, Tennessee): El Salvador vs. Canada; United States vs. Cuba
March 23 (in Carson, California): Honduras vs. Panama; Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
March 24 (in Nashville): Cuba vs. El Salvador; United States vs. Canada
March 25 (in Carson): Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago; Mexico vs. Honduras
March 26 (in Nashville): Canada vs. Cuba; United States vs. El Salvador
March 27 (in Carson): Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago; Mexico vs. Panama
March 31 (in Kansas City, Kansas): Semifinals (Top 2 from each group advance to this stage)
April 2 (in Kansas City): Final (Both finalists qualify for 2012 Olympics in London)
What do you think? Leave a comment below!