Los Angeles Galaxy forwards Alan Gordon and Gyasi Zardes were among five players with ties to Southern California who were part of the 23-player roster announced today for the U.S. men’s national soccer team’s first qualifying game for the 2018 World Cup.
Defender Michael Orozco, who was born in Orange, midfielder Miguel Ibarra and forward Bobby Wood are also part of the team that will face St. Vincent and the Grenadines next Friday in St. Louis. Ibarra is a former UC Irvine and Lancaster High School standout who has played three games with the national team, including starting the Feb. 8 exhibition against Panama at StubHub Center. He joined Mexico’s Club Leon earlier this year
“I first saw Miguel in his senior year of high school,” said Angelo Cutrono, the head coach at Taft Junior College. “He was playing for a PDL team, the Lancaster Rattlers, and they were playing (Cal State) Fullerton as part of (Fullerton’s) spring season. Miguel, he was dominant in that game. He was blowing past players and hit a couple of absolute 20-25 yard bombs, upper 90. After that game, I figured there’s no way I had a chance to get him because surely this kid must have Division I offers. And if he doesn’t then Fullerton is going to be all over him.”
Cutrono said he expected the bigger schools to snap Ibarra up, but that didn’t happen. So he lucked out and recruited the Lancaster prep player.
Ibarra played college soccer at a junior college, Taft College between 2008 and 2009, and then at UC Irvine between 2010 and 2011. During his time at Taft, Ibarra was named as Central Valley Conference MVP and at Irvine was named as Named Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year and All-Big West First Team in 2011. During his time at college, Ibarra played with USL Premier Development League club Lancaster Rattlers between 2008 and 2010,and later with Orange County Blue Star in 2011. Now in addition to playing for the U.S. national tema, Ibarra is a member of Mexico’s Club León; he signed on June 10.
Wood played for the Irvine Strikers club team and now plays for the second-division German team FC Union Berlin. Wood scored in overtime to tie the inaugural CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl Oct. 10 that the U.S. lost to Mexico 3-2.