Sporting Kansas City midfielder Mikey Lopez was named to the United States Under-20 Men's National Team roster on Thursday for the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, U.S. Soccer announced. The 12-team regional championship will be held in Puebla, Mexico from Feb. 18 - March 2 with the top four teams qualifying for the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
"We're very happy for Mikey, it's well deserved and I'm sure he's going to have a real impact with the U-20's," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. "This opportunity will provide an invaluable experince for him and we look forward to seeing his growth post his national team duties when he rejoins our team in Kansas City. We wish him and the team the best of luck in qualifying."
Lopez, 19, was selected by Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft last month out of the University of North Carolina. The Generation adidas signing appeared in all three of the team's pre-season matches in Tucson, Ariz. and he will re-join the club at the conclusion of tournament for the United States Under-20 Men's National Team.
"I am really excited to go play in the qualifiers and represent the United States," Lopez said. "Hopefully, we can qualify for the World Cup this coming summer. I know this experience will only translate into good things for my debut with Sporting Kansas City.”
Among the 18 players selected by head coach Tab Ramos, Lopez is one of five midfielders and one of five MLS players. He has made 19 appearances at the U-20 level, most recently playing in a pair of international friendlies against Panama in January. He has also appeared in international competitions including the 2012 Northern Ireland Milk Cup in July and the 2012 Marbella Cup in Spain in October.
In his two-year collegiate career at North Carolina, Lopez appeared in 46 games with five goals and five assists. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2011 after helping the Tar Heels secure their second-ever NCAA national championship, and was named an NSCAA All-American this season.
The United States Under-20 Men's National Team will compete in Group A for the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and will open the tournament on Feb. 18 against Haiti before taking on Costa Rica on Feb 22. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals, with all four quarterfinal winners securing a berth to the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.