Chivas defender, UCLA stars off to U-20 qualifying

Chivas USA's top draft pick, three current or former UCLA stars and rising prospects from Irvine and Oxnard are part of U.S. under-20 national team coach Thomas Rongen's roster for the region's qualifiers for this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Rookie Zarek Valentin, Chivas' top pick (at No. 4 overall) in January's draft and an projected backline starter, is one of seven Major League Soccer players headed to Guatemala for the March 28-April 10 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which will send 12 nations to the July 29-Aug. 20 World Cup in Colombia.

The team gathers Sunday in Dallas, so Valentin will depart after Chivas' opener Saturday night at Home Depot Center against Sporting Club Kansas City and likely will be unavailable for three games: March 26 at home against MLS champ Colorado, April 2 at Toronto FC and April 9 at home vs. Columbus.

UCLA's contingent: All-American Kelyn Rowe, a freshman midfielder, and junior forward Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS), plus former Bruins standout Amobi Okugo, a Philadelphia Union midfielder.

Also chosen: Oxnard's Moises Orozco (Oxnard HS), a playmaking midfielder in UANL Tigres' system in Mexico, and Irvine's Bobby Wood, a forward promoted to German second-division club 1860 Munich's top team this winter.

Other MLS players, all first-years, on the roster are Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath, FC Dallas defender Moises Hernandez, New York defender Sacir Hot, D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen, Columbus defender Korey Veeder and Vancouver forward Omar Salgado.

Other foreign-based pros are Ipswich Town (England) goalkeeper Cody Cropper, Djurgardens IF (Sweden) defender Gale Agbossoumonde, Estoril Praia (Portugal) defender Greg Garza, West Ham United (England) midfielder Sebastian Lletget, Derby County (England) forward Conor Doyle and 1899 Hoffenheim (Germany) forward Joe Gyau.

Rongen, Chivas USA's first head coach, will guide the U.S. through Group B play against Suriname on March 29 and Panama on April 2. Quarterfinal winners will qualify for the World Cup.