November marks the first meeting for the new U20 cycle. Coach Tab Ramos successfully led the last group into the World Cup where his talented and experienced squad matched off against some of the better sides in the World. Ramos and his staff will select over 20 of the brightest U20 players in the US pool for a camp later next month in Italy. This camp will help Ramos identify some of the top players in one of the deepest U20 pools in US history.
In hindsight it was clear Ramos was building his 2013 World Cup team from the first camp that he had in early 2012. Nearly half of the roster that would end up joining Ramos in Turkey for the World Cup participated in his initial camp including ’93 Eric Miller, ’93 Juan Pablo Ocegueda, ’94 DeAndre Yedlin, ’93 Daniel Cuevas, ’93 Benji Joya, ’93 Daniel Garcia, ’93 Luis Gil, ’93 Caleb Stanko, ’93 Jose Villarreal, ’93 Wil Trapp. ’93 usynt Walker Zimmerman and ’93 Mexico U20 player Uvaldo Luna where also present at this camp. Zimmerman was thought to be an automatic starter for Ramos if not for his injury prior to Turkey. Luna wavered between the US and Mexico throughout the cycle, ultimately siding with El Tri, and starting most of there matches in qualifying and during the group stage of the World Cup.
The 2013 U20 World Cup squad marked a drastic change from previous US squads. The 2013 U20’s boasted more players in a professional environment than ever before, and despite going 0-2-1, played some of the more attractive and lively football I have ever seen from a US U20 squad. This should not only be attributed to Ramos but also the progress these players are making toward becoming a professional at their respective clubs on a daily basis.
The 2015 U20 group will likely exceed their 2013 counterparts in almost exclusively being composed of players in professional environments. A number of the players in the pool are currently applying their trade in Europe, Mexico or within the MLS. Many of these players are key figures at their club and should make-up one of most talented US U20 squads in history.
OWTY contributors @usaprospects, @klinsmannschaft & @jreskilson breakdown some of the player pool for the 2015 U20 World Cup cycle.
*Before we begin we feel it important to talk about ’95 usynt Julian Green. Green is very much on the radar of US Soccer despite his inclusion with the Germany’s U19 program. While we here at OWTY are confident after talking with members of Green’s camp that he will choose to represent the US, we feel it unlikely he will be a member of the U20 squad. We believe he is more likely to see full US National Team duty in 2015, rather than time with Ramos and the U20s. Having said that Green is a player committed to the process and understands National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s focus on bringing each player up through the system, and very well would accept a call into these camps.
In Addition to Green, New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez is a lock for this squad if he can gain his US Citizenship in time. Fagundez just received his Green Card so the clock has started for the talented forward.*
@usaprospects 21 to UAE
– Ethan Horvath (FK Molde) – 1995 – Horvath making strides already in Norway. His 6’3” frame and supreme shot stopping skills make him an easy choice as US U20 #1 in this cycle.
– Zach Steffan (University of Maryland) – 1995 -Steffan is one of the few players in this pool with World Cup experience. Steffan is a beast in the net and has the quickest reflexes of all keepers in this cycle. Steffan will push Horvath for the #1 jersey.
– Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls) – 1995 – In the past coaches usually bring along a younger #3 keeper but Castano is too talented to leave off. Castano’s getting lots of games with USSDA New York Red Bulls U18s.
– Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls) – 1995 – Miazga is as near of a lock as there is in this cycle. He’s 6’3” and training against Henry, Cahill and Espindola on a daily basis will accelerate his development.
– Tommy Redding (USSDA Chicago Magic PSG) – 1997 – Rarely does a field player two years younger see action on a squad, however I believe Redding is one of the finest defenders the US has produced in the last 10 years, and will not only be included in the squad but could start come 2015. Redding already plays with the Magic U18s and has a number of interest German clubs after his signature. I doubt he’ll be applying his trade state-side come 2015.
– Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas) – 1995 -Acosta joins Steffan and Arriola as the only players on this roster with youth World Cup experience. Not only is Acosta one of the more experienced players on this roster, but his ability to play multiple position on the field makes him a lock moving forward. Acosta is possible captain material.
– Shaquell Moore (USSDA IMG Academy) – 1996 – Moore has long been a favorite for every US youth international coach. Staff’s rave about his ability to read the game, skill and athleticism, as well as his drive to get better. Like Redding I would be shocked if Moore was playing anywhere outside Germany in 2015, multiple clubs have expressed interest.
– John Requejo Jr. (USSDA Real So Cal & UCLA) -1996 – Requejo Jr. is an experienced left back who can also slot into the midfield if needed. Requejo Jr. is tremendous going forward on the left but Ramos will likely be drawn to his composure on the ball and ability to play in his system.
– Nicolas Gaitan (OFI Crete) – 1995 – Gaitan spent a few season’s playing in Argentina with Boca Juniors, thus had to miss a number of camps for his age group. However, his recent move to new American outpost OFI Crete signals to me that Gaitan is not only ready to rejoin the pool but should be looked to as a leader of this group. Gaitan is a natural defensive midfielder, yet I see Ramos utilizing the New York native much the same way he converted Caleb Stanko and Shane O’Neill as central defenders. Like Acosta, Gaitan’s versatility is a huge factor in his inclusion.
– Russell Canouse (TSG Hoffenheim U19) – 1995 – Canouse will be the heart and soul of this squad. It is tough to find a player in any US pool that is more committed to the badge than Canouse. In addition to his commitment, Canouse is well respected by this entire group and seems to be a pivotal member on an off the field. He’s excelled in Germany in the center of the pitch, and will free up the creative players on the roster to fully express themselves.
– Zach Pfeffer (TSG Hoffenheim U19) – 1995 – Pfeffer is a skilled attacker who can play both as a striker as well as serve as a creative presence out on the flank. He has been involved in a professional environment for a number of years and his progress has been very evident.
– Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund U19) – 1996 – Flores is one of the brightest talents in the US pool regardless of age. His immediate move from Bradenton to Dortmund is a measure of just how highly the German super-club rate him. Flores has seen time with the Dortmund U19, U23 and full team in friendlies. He is unable to officially represent them until his 18th birthday. Flores burst onto the seen as a 15 year old with the U17 National Team, however seemed to fall out of favor with Coach Richie Williams and was questionably kept out of vital U17 qualifiers. A move that still has a number of US Soccer fans wondering. This cycle under Ramos’ should be different. Tab encourages creativity and attacking flair, two qualities Flores possess moreso than any other player on this roster.
– Romain Gall (FC Lorient U19) – 1995 – The French based midfielder was a key member of Javier Perez’ U18 squads playing the #10 role a number of times. Gall is technically superior and has vision to create. Gall plays very similar to 2013 U20 star man Luis Gil in that he is tidy with the ball and yet is not afraid to put in work all around the midfield.
– Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC U18) – 1996 – Hyndman has long been one of the jewels in US youth soccer. He’s been a fixture of Fulham’s U18 Championship winning side over the last two seasons and was spectacular for the US according to reports at the recent U18 tournament in France. He can play a number of roles in the midfield but will likely see time as a box-to-box player in front of Canouse and behind the more creative Flores.
– Kristian Scott (Swansea City U21) – Scott’s move from Stoke to Swansea City did not receive much publicity nor has his play over the last few months, but do not let this fool you. Scott has been a huge revelation for the Swans U21 squad this season. He is has remarked that the opportunity to play under Michael Laudrup and play attractive, free-flowing football as Swansea does it what attracted him to the club. Laudrup’s style is something I think Ramos’ is attempting to replicate at this level, and Scott will be seen as a huge asset having played in this type of system on daily basis.
– Herbert Robinson (Santos Laguna U20) – 1996 – Robinson is a player I found playing in the Santos youth system with strong ties to the US. While there is still some work to be done in regards to his citizenship I have been told he is working toward securing it. Robinson has told OWTY that he would be very interested in joining up with the US internationally. Robinson is a key member of the Santos U20 squad playing against players 3 years his elder. I seen very little of Robinson but can say he is an interesting mix of physicality and technical ability.
– Ben Specer (FK Molde) – 1995 – The 6’5” striker from Southern California has loads of potential. His move to Molde should improve his stock similarly to former ’91 usynt Josh Gatt. Unlike Gatt, who is a tricky speedster, Spencer is an imposing target man with a nose for the goal. I see Spencer leading the attack for the U20s. In 2013 Ramos played without a player who could hold the ball up. Some argued the inclusion of ’94 usynt Jack McBean would have improved the offensive flow of the team. In 2015 Ramos will have the services Spencer who is not only good at holding play up but can also score goals in bunches.
– Andrija Novakovich (USSDA Chicago Magic PSG & Marquette University) – 1996 – You would be hard pressed to find a player who has burst onto the international scene as quickly as Novakovich has. Novakovich is a shining example of the positive aspect the USSDA has had on the US youth team. His stellar play for Chicago Magic PSG these last two seasons has propelled him to new levels internationally. Novakovich is an excellent student and committed to Marquette but chances to play in Europe will likely be coming sooner than later.
– Rubio Rubin (FC Utercht) -1996 – When people ask me about Rubin I often refer to him as the Golden Boy of American soccer. Rubin is not as flashy with the ball as Flores, as technical as Hyndman, as quick as Arriola or as clinical as Pfeffer but not a game goes by where he does not impress. He’s possess a mind for the game well beyond his age. Rubin was another player who saw his stock rise immensely playing for the U18s last month in France. Rubin can be deployed on either flank and in a pinch can slot into the midfield.
– Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana Xolos) – 1995 – Arriola’s move to Tijuana was one that confused some in soccer circles. Rumors were that the Galaxy were very close to offering the ’95 usynt a HG contract despite only being apart of their Academy for one season. Arriola instead took his talents south of border and has not looked back. Arriola is arguably the most successful US player in the pool having become an integral part of the Xolos first team since arriving. Arriola is a quick wing forward who has confidence for days. He was a member of the 2011 US U17 team along with Acosta and will likely serve as one of the team leaders.
– Marco Delgado (Chivas USA) – 1995 – The talented winger from Chivas USA has been a key figure in the U18’s over the last few years. Delagdo has started in 13 matches for Chivas USA and has been an increasing offensive presence. Delgado’s game very much suits the system that Ramos’ employs, so it is no stretch to envision Delgado rampaging up and down the flanks for the US in 2015.
@Klinsmannschaft’s 21 to UAE
GK: Zach Steffan (University of Maryland), Jeff Caldwell (USSDA North Carolina Fusion & University of Virginia*), JT Marcinkowski (USSDA San Jose Earthquakes & Georgetown)
D: Jordan Allen (University of Virginia), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Trevor Haberkorn (Furman University), John Requejo Jr. (USSDA Real So Cal & UCLA*), Shaquell Moore (USSDA IMG Academy), Michael Amick (UCLA), Suli Dainkeh (University of Maryland)
M: Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC U18), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund U19), Joel Sonora (Boca Juniors U19), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Russell Canouse (TSG Hoffenheim U19)
F: Andrija Novakovich (USSDA Chicago Magic PSG & Marquette University), Rubio Rubin (FC Utercht), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana Xolos), Caleb Calvert (Chivas USA), Romain Gall (FC Lorient U19)
@jreskilson 21 to UAE
GK: Ethan Horvath (FK Molde), JT Marcinkowski (USSDA San Jose Earthquakes & Georgetown), Zach Steffan (University of Maryland)
D: Michael Amick (UCLA), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Shaq Moore (USSDA IMG Academy), Tommy Redding (USSDA Chicago Magic PSG), John Requejo Jr. (USSDA Real So Cal & UCLA)
M: Romain Gall (FC Lorient U19), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund U19), Brooks Lennon (USSDA Real Salt Lake), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA), Russell Canouse (TSG Hoffenheim U19), Zach Pfeffer (TSG Hoffenheim U19), Christian Roldan (University of Washington), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham FC U18)
F: Andrija Novakovich (USSDA Chicago Magic PSG & Marquette University), Rubio Rubin (FC Utercht), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana Xolos), Tommy Thompson (Indiana University), Ben Spencer (FK Molde)
Others in pool:
– Amando Moreno – F – 1995 – New York Red Bulls
– Mukwelle Akale – M – 1997 – USSDA Minnesota Thunder
– Tyler Turner – D – 1996 – USSDA IMG Academy
– Shawn Kauter – M – 1996 – Hertha Berlin II
– Ricardo Lopez-Espin – F – 1995 – USSDA Shattuck-St. Mary’s & Creighton
– Dylan Greenberg – D – 1995 – USSDA Albertson SC & UConn
– Lynden Gooch – M – 1995 – Sunderland AFC U18
– Patrick Tshiani – M – 1995 – Standard Liege U19
– Kainoa Bailey – F – 1995 – Bayer Leverkusen U23
– Erik Palmer-Brown – D – 1997 – Sporting Kansas City
– Abuchi Obinwa – M – 1997 – USSDA Chicago Magic PSG
– Djair Parfitt-Williams – F – 1996 – West Ham U18
– Lucas Stauffer – M – 1995 – Vejle Boldklub U19 & Creighton
– Alan Winn – F – 1996 – USSDA Solar Chelsa & North Carolina
– Piakai Henkel – M – 1996 – Fagiano Okayama
– Alex Muyl – F – 1995 – Georgetown University
– Benji Lopez – M – 1995 – Real Salt Lake
– Ahinga Selemani – F – 1996 – USSDA Crew Wolves Academy & UCSB
– Conor Donovan – D – 1996 – USSDA Capital Area RailHawks Academy & NC State
– Corey Baird – M – 1996 – USSDA Real Salt Lake & Stanford
– Kyle Scott – M – 1997 – Chelsea FC
– Adonis Amaya – M – 1996 – USSDA Los Angeles Galaxy & UCSB
– Eric Lickert – M – 1995 – SC Freiburg U19
– Brian Illoski – M – 1995 – UCLA
– Kosta Koukladas – F – 1995 – Rot Weiss Essen U19
– Andy Lopez – M – USSDA Sporting Kansas City & North Carolina
– Elo Ozumba – F – USSDA Houston Dynamo & Northwestern
– Jake Rozhansky – M – 1996 – USSDA Bethesda-Olney & University of Virginia