Final 12-player roster selected for U.S. Paralympic national team
It will be a relatively youthful roster when the 12-man U.S. Paralympic national team takes part in the 2012 Paralympic games Aug. 29-Sept. 9 in London.
The roster includes midfielder Josh McKinney, who reached the 100-cap milestone with the team in May, 23-year-old forward Rene Renteria, who has scored four goals in his last four international appearances for the U.S., plus a trio of 20-year-olds in midfielders Adam Ballou and Tyler Bennett and defender Chad Jones. Alex Hendricks, at age 16, is the youngest player on the roster.The team will leave for London on Aug. 22 and train for a week before their first match.
The average age of the 12-player roster is 24 years old.
The U.S. was drawn into Group B at the Paralympic Games along with Ukraine, Great Britain and Brazil. The U.S. opens the eight-team tournament against Ukraine on Sept. 1 (1 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET), followed by matches against Brazil on Sept. 3 (9 a.m. local / 4 a.m. ET) and host nation Great Britain on Sept. 5 (4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET). All matches will be played at Riverbank Arena in London.
Group A consists of Russia, Argentina, Netherlands and Iran.
“We feel this roster will give us the best opportunity for group qualification into the top four,” said U.S. coach Jay Hoffman, who is also the director of coaching for Virginia Rush. “Over the past few years we have been able to elevate this program in both personnel and more extensive support and programming.”
The roster features three players from the south Hampton Roads area, including Chad Jones and Adam Ballou of Virginia Beach, and Jerreme Wade of Chesapeake.
The team is currently participating in a nearly one-month long training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as part of its preparation for the upcoming Paralympic Games.
“We know what to expect coming into the Games. We know what we have to do to compete,” McKinney said. “The coaching staff has done a good job of scouting Brazil and Great Britain so we have a good understanding of what we need to do.”
Listed as alternates on the U.S. Paralympic roster are forward Dylan Brown (Clovis, Calif.), midfielder Nick Creasey (Richmond, Va.), forward Charlie Howard (Washington, D.C.) and midfielder Moises Morales (San Diego, Calif.).
An eighth-place finish at the CPISRA Football 7-a-side World Championships in June 2011 allowed the U.S. team to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Paralympic soccer is played seven-a-side on a smaller field and with smaller goals than non-disabled soccer. Each team plays with seven men using the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) rules, which have been slightly modified to accommodate the disabilities of the athletes.
To be eligible for Paralympic soccer, athletes must be ambulatory and have a diagnosis of non-progressive brain damage that is associated with motor control dysfunction such as Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury or stroke. More information about eligibility and the classification of athletes is available at the CPISRA website.
U.S. Paralympic Games Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS: Keith Johnson (Houston, Texas); Alex Hendricks (Columbus, Ohio)
DEFENDERS: Chris Ahrens (Baldwinsville, N.Y.); Bryce Boarman (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Chad Jones (Virginia Beach, Va.); Gavin Sibayan (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS: Adam Ballou (Virginia Beach, Va.); Tyler Bennett (Wadsworth, Ohio); Josh McKinney (Cary, N.C.); Marthell Vazquez (Long Beach, Calif.); Jerreme Wade (Chesapeake, Va.)
FORWARDS: Rene Renteria (San Fernando, Calif.)