Jon Kempin has been hoping for another shot with one of the U.S. men’s soccer youth national teams, but he didn’t expect to come so soon.
Still, Kempin, a Blue Valley North graduate and the first Homegrown Player in Sporting Kansas City history, is thrilled to be heading to Mexico from Jan. 14-22 for the U.S. under-20 camp.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it,” said Kempin, who is in Florida training with a personal goalkeeper coach this week.
He is set to return to Kansas City on Sunday and was expecting a little downtime before Sporting KC’s preseason gets underway.
Instead, he’ll be back on the road Monday.
“I’ve been working really hard this offseason, not necessarily for the national team, but so I could come in as fit as possible for Sporting as well,” Kempin said. “This comes at a really good time. I feel as fit as I ever have before, so I think it’s going to be a good camp for me.”
Kempin broke his right ankle during training last June after making his debut with the Sporting KC senior team in a 3-2 win against Orlando City in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He missed more than two months, then aggravated the injury during the fall.
The U.S. youth side will play Panama in friendlies Jan. 19 and 21 in preparation for the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which is scheduled for Feb. 18-March 3 in Puebla, Mexico.
The top four teams from CONCACAF’s tourney will qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup later this year in Turkey.
Meanwhile, former Sporting Academy goalkeeper Jacole Turner, who played at Lee’s Summit North, signed with Atletico Madrid’s C team, which plays in Spain’s fourth division.
“It’s great that he was able to do that,” Sporting Academy’s Director of Coaching Jon Parry said. “He did it on his own accord and it takes a lot of guts to do that for a kid his age. Hopefully, it works out.”
Turner had trained with Sporting KC, but there wasn’t room on a roster that already includes captain Jimmy Nielsen, who is the reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year, veteran backup Eric Kronberg and Kempin.
“I’m happy for him,” Kempin said. “Obviously, Europe is a goal for a lot of guys. Hopefully, it will be a good place for him to develop. Atletico Madrid has developed some good keepers.”