Mark McKenzie and Justin McMaster are in Bradenton, Florida this week for the first training camp of the calendar year for the United States U18 team.
The Philadelphia Union Academy and Bethlehem Steel FC duo were among 28 players called into the camp by U18 head coach Omid Namazi. McMaster is one of eight forwards on the roster, while McKenzie is one of ten defenders called up.
It’s the first call-up for both players since a domestic training camp in Florida last January. The camp runs through January 30 and will include friendlies against the U.S. U17 team in residency at IMG Academy.
“The purpose of this camp is to identify new talent and expand our pool of players,” Namazi said in a news release. “For this camp, we have invited back some of the core players that we’ve identified through the last year. More than half of the players are either newer players we are inviting back to see how they’ve developed since our player identification camp last January, or brand new players who have never been invited to a previous Youth National Team camp.”
The U18 team will reconvene for a domestic camp again in March to prepare for the Slovakia Cup in April.
McKenzie, a native of Bear, Del., has eight appearances this season for the U18s, playing primarily as a central defender while McMaster, who joined the Union Academy from Jamaica in 2014, has three goals in eight appearances.
Both spent time playing as amateurs for Steel FC in their inaugural season with McMaster playing 260 minutes in eight appearances and McKenzie playing 111 minutes in two appearances.