U-20 team analysis
Looking ahead to Poland, how could the U.S. U-20 team look in 2019?
This U-20 team looked very promising en route to its second straight CONCACAF title. The competition will now be tough to make the World Cup team next year. ASN's Brian Sciaretta looks at how the team might come together.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedLAST WEEK, the United States U-20 team qualified for the World Cup next May in Poland. For the second straight cycle the team won CONCACAF and that will give the team momentum heading into its World Cup preparations in 2019.
November 28, 2018
November 28, 2018
But the team’s success this past month will set up intense competition to make the roster that Ramos will take to Poland. It is not going to be an easy team to make. While the competition was not great at CONCACAF this year, the U.S. team still dominated the games they had to. The best measuring stick was against Mexico in the final and that game was never in doubt.
A lot was made of the players who were not with the U.S. U-20 team in Florida. Of course the three best players of this age group in Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah were with the senior national team. Then there were others who were injured or tied up with clubs both domestic and abroad in Richard Ledezma, Jonathan Amon, Chris Durkin, or Andrew Carleton.
But Ramos is in an interesting spot because the fact that he only used three of his six roster changes after the first stage suggests he likes the chemistry of this team. It will take a lot for players who were not on this team in Florida to force their way onto the team in Poland. Some will certainly do so, but it is a high bar to reach.
With that said, here is how the roster could look next year in Poland (with the assumption that Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah will remain with the senior U.S. team).
Goalkeepers1) Brady Scott
2) David Ochoa
3) CJ Dos Santos
In the mix: Trey Muse
The skinny: There probably won’t be much by way of changes in the top three goalkeepers for this team between now and May. This is the most settled area of the team.
Defenders4) Sergino Dest
5) Jaylin Lindsey
6) Mark McKenzie
7) Chris Richards
8) Sam Rogers
9) Matthew Real
10) Chris Gloster
In the mix: Julian Araujo, Manny Perez, Edwin Lara, James Sands
The skinny: Central defense depth is one of the real weaknesses of this team. Richards and McKenzie have a lot of potential together but after them, it is very unsettled. Julian Araujo is talented but very young, so Ramos might opt for Sam Rogers with Matt Real and Lindsey also capable of filling in the middle. Dest, Lindsey, Real, and Gloster seem safe bets at fullbacks.
11) Chris Durkin
12) Brandon Servania
13) Alex Mendez
14) Richard Ledezma
15) Ulysses Llanez
16) Paxton Pomykal
17) Jonathan Amon
18) Andrew Carleton
In the mix: Nick Taitague, Frankie Amaya, Thomas Roberts, Anthony Fontana, Juan Pablo Torres, Isaac Angking, George Acosta.
The Skinny: If Chris Durkin can play games for DC United to start the 2019 season, he has a great chance to make the team. Mendez, Servania, Llanez, and Pomykal all played well in the run to the CONCACAF title and should be favorites to make the team.
Amon and Carleton were two of the big names not in Florida this past month but both are talented enough to have a strong chance at making it.
There are some other names to keep an eye on. Juan Pablo Torres and Frankie Amaya played a lot for the team in the CONCACAF title run. It will be hard to replace them. Thomas Roberts is young but is still one of the best 2001-born players. Nick Taitague is highly regarded but cannot seem to stay healthy for any meaningful stretch.
19) Ayo Akinola
20) Sebastian Soto
21) Justin Rennicks
In the mix: Konrad de la Fuente, Jesus Ferreira
The skinny: Akinola, Rennicks, and Soto were part of the team in Florida and will likely continue to be high in the pecking order heading to Russia. Soto did not have great games against Costa Rica or Honduras but it is only a matter of time before he figures it out. Akinola has weaknesses in his game but can produce at this level. Justin Rennicks is probably going to turn professional next year and he looked very interesting at times the past month.
Konrad de la Fuente is certainly one to keep an eye on. He’s playing in the youth system of Barcelona and it is certainly easy to see him making the team, despite also being eligible for the 2021 U-20 team as well.
Jesus Ferreira is a mystery regarding his American citizenship. If it happens inside of the next few months, a call-up from Ramos is possible and he has the talent make a push for the final roster as well.
Even without Adams, Sargent, and Weah, this team has the potential to make a run next year in Poland. With a favorable draw and some breaks along the way, it can equal the last two teams that finished at the quarterfinals. At that point, anything can happen and a run to the semifinals is not out of the question.
But as with every U.S. U-20 team in the past, there are always players who emerge late inside of the final months to make a World Cup roster. This team will be tough to make but it will be interesting to see how players perform in the months ahead to make a case for their ticket to Poland.