CARSON, Calif. (Friday, January 6, 2012) – LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens has been called up to the U.S. Under-23 National Team by head coach Caleb Porter, U.S. Soccer announced today. This will be the second straight U-23 camp that Stephens will be a part of, having also trained with the team in Florida for a week late last month. Starting on Sunday, January 8, Stephens and the rest of Porter’s 22-man squad will train at The Home Depot Center for 11 days before traveling to Costa Rica on January 18, where they will play two matches against local club teams as they continue to prepare for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Entering his third season with the Galaxy after being selected by the club in the first round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Stephens has appeared in 50 regular season games for the club, scoring once and adding nine assists. In 2011, the 22-year-old Illinois-native appeared in 33 games for the Galaxy in all competitions, including two games in the MLS Cup Playoffs as he won his first MLS Cup. A four-year star at UCLA, Stephens represented the U.S. at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt and has also played for his country at the U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 levels prior to joining the Galaxy in January 2010. He is one of 11 MLS players included on the 22-man roster.
The U.S. has been drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will face Canada, Cuba and El Salvador in the group stage of the competition. Those four teams will play their group matches from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville with the top two teams advancing to the tournament semifinals. The two tournament finalists will qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London next summer.
Stephens and the rest of the LA Galaxy will open preseason ahead of the 2012 MLS season later this month. They will return to competitive action on Wednesday, March 7 when they take on Toronto FC in the first leg of their 2011/12 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal, which will be played at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They will open the 2012 MLS season three days later on Saturday, March 10 when they host Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center in MLS First Kick 2012, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. That game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and tickets are on sale now as part of season ticket packages as well as three and six-game plans. For more information about this game or to purchase tickets, please visit the club’s official website at www.lagalaxy.com.