Jan. 14, 2008
BRADENTON, Fla. - Former UC Santa Barbara midfielder Eric Avila was recently selected to train with the United States Under-23 team by head coach Peter Nowak.
Avila, who signed a professional contract with Generation adidas last week and is projected to be a first or second round pick in Friday's MLS SuperDraft, was one of nine collegiate players invited to the national team's camp at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. The U-23s are currently training for the final round of the CONCACAF Championship, which will be held in Carson, Calif., Tampa, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn., March 11-23. The tournament's two finalists will qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The U.S. joins Cuba, Honduras, and Panama in Group A and will play March 11-15 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Canada, Guatemala, Haiti, and Mexico comprise the Group B draw and those four squads will compete at the Home Depot Center in Carson. The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals in Nashville on March 20. The CONCACAF championship game will be played on March 23.
Prior to his arrival in Santa Barbara, Avila spent his final two years of high school at the Edison Academy in Bradenton to train with the U.S. Under-17 National Team as a member of the National Residency Program. The San Diego native earned nine international caps with the U-17s and appeared in a total of 15 matches, which was more than any other player from the 1987 boys class.
Returning to Florida, Avila rejoins several of his former teammates on the Under-23 squad. The roster also features 15 players that play professionally in the MLS or in Europe.