Chivas USA's Zamora ready for US Under-20 duty

Teen MF will represent USA in tough Netherlands tournament

 

Chivas USA co-captains Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein may have jetted off to Princeton, N.J., to begin preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Sunday, but they’re not the only members of the Red-and-White who are representing the US this week.

Eighteen-year-old midfielder Cesar Zamora has been named by head coach Thomas Rongen to the US Under-20 Men’s National Team roster for the Cor Groenewegen Tournament in the Netherlands, which will take place from May 22 to 24.

“Getting onto the National Team is always a plus for any player,” said Zamora. “I feel thankful for the coach to be calling me up again. I’m super excited to represent my club and my country. I’m looking forward to it.”

Zamora made his debut with the U-20s last year when he played with the squad at the Copa Ciudad de Rosario in Argentina in August. He has since become one of the veteran voices of the young squad.

“I’m trying to be a leader,” said Zamora. “Hopefully one day I could captain the team. I’m aiming for that and we’ll see what happens.”

The U-20s, who have been in the Netherlands since last Friday, will start their trip with two friendlies, facing Senegal on May 18 and South Korea on May 20.

The tournament proper will be played in an abbreviated format, with each contest lasting just 40 minutes. The US will face Japan, Brazil’s Atlético Mineiro and South Africa on May 22, and Dutch clubs FC Utrecht and Heerenveen on May 24. The semifinals and final will then be played later that day.

“It’s good competition,” said Zamora. “Any national team nowadays is a hard team to play against. We’re playing against teams like South Africa and Senegal, which are some of the top squads.”

Zamora most often serves as a holding midfielder with the U-20s, a position he feels comfortable playing.

“I think I’ve played pretty well as a holding midfielder,” said Zamora. “But wherever the coach needs me, I’ll respond with a good attitude.”

The young Sylmar, Calif., native is joined on the U-20 squad by Chivas USA Youth Academy product Bryan de la Fuente. The two came up in the Chivas academy together before Zamora was signed to the Goats’ first team in Mat of last year.

“Bryan is a good friend,” said Zamora. “On the field, it’s good to have somebody you’ve played with for a couple of years. It gives you that confidence boost.”

Zamora and de la Fuente are not the first players from Chivas USA to feature on the US U-20s. The two were joined by Red-and-White academy members Ian Hines-Ike and Ruben Gonzalez at the Dallas Cup this past April, while first-team members Jorge Flores and Gerson Mayen served as an important part of the squad that competed in the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt last October.

“The Chivas Youth Academy has always produced good players,” said Zamora. “The youth staff has been doing a great job. There’s a lot of talent there.”