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Gatt joins initial US group for Olympic qualifiers


Molde defender Josh Gatt was among 19 players picked Monday for the initial U.S. roster for men's Olympic soccer qualifying this month, joined by Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, New York forward Juan Agudelo and Philadelphia midfielder Freddy Adu.

Gatt, who plays right back for his club, missed last month's training camp and exhibition game against Mexico because of an ankle injury.

Columbus midfielder Dilly Duka withdrew after injuring a hamstring in his team's Major League Soccer opener last weekend. Four other players weren't included who were picked for the February training camp: defenders Greg Garza and Alfredo Morales, and forwards Jack McInerney and Tony Taylor.

Carolina Railhawks defender Gale Agbossoumonde is sidelined by a toe injury. West Ham midfielder Sebastian Lletget was not included.

Clubs are not obligated by FIFA to release players for men's Olympic qualifying, which is limited to players under 23.

Twenty-man rosters must be finalized by March 20.

"This roster is a culmination of a long process to select what we feel is the best team this country has to offer in the U-23 age group," coach Caleb Porter said. "For the past four training camps we have been comprehensively evaluating the most talented personnel available from an extensive player pool comprised of professional players on clubs in this country and abroad. We always keep in mind its most important to find the best mix collectively so that we can build a cohesive team capable of accomplishing our goal. I feel very confident in this collection of players and their ability to execute the playing style we believe will best represent their talents and get us to London."

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The U.S. starts Olympic qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region against Cuba (March 22), then plays Canada (March 24) and El Salvador (March 26), with all three games at Nashville, Tenn.

The other group includes Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago, and is based in Carson, Calif. The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals on March 31 at Kansas City, Kan., and the semifinal winners qualify for the London Olympics.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for these young players to get valuable experience in international competition and ultimately qualify for the 2012 Olympics," U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Playing the Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and we are fully supporting their efforts to qualify. Some of these players will continue their international careers on the senior team in the future, and these situations allow them the chance to grow individually and experience the ups and downs national teams go through."

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C.), Sean Johnson (Chicago)

Defenders: Josh Gatt (Molde, Norway), Perry Kitchen (D.C.), Ike Opara (San Jose), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston), Zarek Valentin (Montreal), Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA)

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Mix Diskerud (Ghent, Belgium), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz, Germany), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia), Michael Stephens (Los Angeles)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim, Germany), Brek Shea (Dallas).