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Two IMG Alums Named to top U-21 National Soccer Spotlight

With USA making it past pool play in the most recent FIFA World Cup, the Men's USA National Team is constantly looking to find new talent to continue to increase USA's ability to compete successfully at the international level. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle recently reported Zarek Valentin and Gale Abossoumonde (both IMG Academy soccer program Alums) as two of the top under 21 possible future candidates for the Men's USA National Team.

Jeff Carlisle: 10 to watch under 21

Zarek Valentin IMG Academy soccer program Alumni

6. Zarek Valentin, defender, Montreal Impact

Valentin's biggest asset is his versatility, and not in a Derek Zoolander kind of way. He spent much of his rookie season with Chivas USA at right back, and when he was exposed in the expansion draft, Montreal snapped him up. But he played center back in college and could feature there again for the Olympic team, where his composure on the ball will come in handy.

"His positioning is very good and he works well with the other backs on the line," said Ellinger. "He's a good one-on-one defender, and he plays that long diagonal ball that a lot of teams like to use these days."

10. Gale Agbossoumonde, defender, Eintracht Frankfurt

There's no question that "Boss" has the talent. At 6-foot-2, Agbossoumonde has all the physical tools. His skill on the ball is considerable as well.

"Agbossoumonde has a soft touch for a defender," said Hackworth. "And he's good about playing out of back. He can be very sharp with his passing."

The only question is whether his skills will become dulled by lack of use. After seemingly going on an endless tour of Europe in search of a club, Agbossoumonde finally landed with the reserve team of Bundesliga second-division side Eintracht Frankfurt. But even at that level, playing time has been hard to come by, with the defender securing just one five-minute stint so far this season. As a consequence, Agbossoumonde could end up back stateside, with published reports hinting at a move to the second-tier Carolina RailHawks. The defender already has one cap for the national team, but he'll need to establish himself with a club -- any club -- for his rise to continue.

The USA Men's National Team, is set to embark on an attempt to qualify for its seventh straight World Cup under recently hired head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. With reaching the round of 16 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, USA soccer is back on the horizon of competing competitively and perhaps back in discussion to reach the FIFA semi-finals or better in 2014. 2012 brings the first full year under new head coach Klinsmann and the ability for his philosophy to be implemented with the team.

USsoccer.com Jurgen Klinsmann Philosophy:

CHALLENGE TO CHANGE

The coaching staff plans to provide a holistic approach to improving the team's performance, and not just focusing on the x's and o's. Delving into areas like nutrition, personal education, and psychological and mental training, Klinsmann knows that a big part of the success will come down to the willingness of the players to embrace change.

With this type of philosophy it's not a surprise to see two of IMG Academy soccer program Academy alums mentioned as possible prospects for USA's National Team. Zarek Valentin and Gale Agbossoumonde are bringing a lot of attention their way as they currently play for the Montreal Impact and Eintracht Frankfurt (respectively).

Here at IMG Academy we highlight areas of training with a very versatile approach similar to Coach Klinsmann's type of philosophy in how we train our athletes. IMG Academy soccer program not only brings choice soccer coaches to teach the X's and the O's, IMG Academy also provides our athletes with physical conditioning, nutrition, mental training, communications training, vision training all while providing quality education, working on THE TOTAL ATHLETE. IMG is currently represented on the USA National Team with names like Freddy Adu and DaMarcus Beasley and could soon be joined by fellow IMG alums Zarek Valentin and Gale Agbossoumonde. Make sure to keep an eye on Valentin and Agbossoumonde as these two players continue to mature and sharpen their game, as they could soon aid USA Men's National Team in working our way to the top.

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