VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC centre back Christian Dean was one of 21 players who took part in last week’s United States U-21 men’s national team camp in Carson, California.
One of the goals of the camp was to start assembling a core of players that will make up the U-23 men’s national team that will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The camp lasted four days, culminating in a friendly with Club Tijuana. Dean, Whitecaps FC’s first round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, played the whole match at centre back as the U.S. came away with a 2-1 win over the Mexican outfit.
Whitecapsfc.com caught up with Dean to chat about his experience at the camp.
What was your reaction when you learned you had been called-up?
I was excited, more than anything. I was just happy to get another chance to play for my country.
What was your experience like at the camp?
It was fun. It was nice to play with a lot of the boys who I’ve played with before, growing up and playing against. Playing with players like Benji Joya and Victor Pineda, who I’ve played against and with for a very long time. It was just another fun experience for me.
Did anything surprise you about the camp?
It was just a lot shorter than most of the other camps. It was only a four-day camp, actually really three days because the last day was more of a recovery session. It was a fast camp, but everything else was pretty normal.
You guys came away with a 2-1 win over Club Tijuana. How did you feel the team performed?
I think we played really well, especially since we were just kind of thrown together. We had a bunch of new players who hadn’t played together. Coming from the 20s, there were a few of us who had played together at times, but there were a bunch of new players in the mix. So we just had to find a way to figure out how each other play in the two days leading up to the game. It was different, but I think we did well.
Were you given any feedback about your play?
They just thought I did a pretty good job. We didn’t really get to talk much after, because all the players and coaches had to go back to their club teams. But I think they liked me.
Is there a particular style the coaching staff wanted the team to play?
They wanted us to play out of the back, kind of like how we play here. It was a very similar style, so it was easier to get into the swing of things.
Is that the message Jurgen Klinsmann was preaching as well?
Yeah, he was there for one of our training days and then for the gameday. He’s one of the best players ever, and he loves to play out of the back so he wants to have us play that way as well. He’s very, very set on that. I had actually met him before, because his son is actually going to Cal. He committed to Cal a couple of weeks ago and I’ve coached his son at some of the Cal camps, so it was nice.
What was it like having Klinsmann there?
It was a great experience. Having the full men’s national team coach come out to our camp means a lot. It shows that us that he cares about our future and how we’re building the team towards the Olympics.
How excited are you at the prospect of playing in the 2016 Olympics?
I’m insanely excited. I think everybody dreams of playing for their country at a big tournament. And this would be my first one if I get the chance to go. That’s just very exciting to me.
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