Curb Your Enthusiasm: US Youth National Teams, Prospect Hype, and Youth Development Thread [The DA is DEAD updates]

Jimy Hendrix

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I think the best midfield to assemble out of those players might well have been Tessman/Dotson/Yueill and I don't think we saw it once.
 

Titans Bastard

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This was a failure.

Unlike previous Olympic failures, this is not a canary in the coal mine for the program. There are at least a couple dozen U23s who would be an improvement over some of the players on this roster, who were not available. And probably a few more who were.

But still, when the US program puts a team on the field, the expectations should be high. Qualifying for the Olympics was a realistic goal even with the significant limitations on U23 player availability. I think youth national team results matter because a culture of winning and high expectations matters. For the Olympics specifically, it's also a huge platform that you can use to reach casual fans.

How many USMNT fans got pulled in because of a big tournament? Failing to qualify for the Olympics is the loss of a platform to grow the fanbase, and it's a signal to casual fans who don't understand the nuances of FIFA player release rules that the USMNT still isn't to be taken entirely seriously.

Jason Kreis' roster was disjointed, particularly in the midfield, and the teams he put on the field lacked ideas and creativity. Although the pool was limited, there were still several midfielders who would have complemented the defense-heavy group he brought to the tournament. I'd like to see the USSF take youth national teams more seriously. YNT coaching jobs shouldn't be sinecures for guys who can no longer keep up with MLS. Give these jobs to lesser-known managers who are on their way up, and who haven't gotten their big break yet.
 

67YAZ

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With a little perspective, hats off to Honduras who executed a game plan just about perfectly. And they finally broke through after coming this close to qualification the three previous cycles. Hopefully they can show the world what CONCACAF is all about on the big stage...erm, wait, maybe not, you know, CONCACAF-style, but...

As for Kriess, not a big fan of the attitude displayed in the quotes below. These are young guys. They need accountability within the squad and to be defended in the press. Culture really matters, especially when the team has so little time together. The high expectations TB points out are vitally important, but so to is running a program where young players know they’re cared for, supported, and accountable.

 

Jimy Hendrix

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I don’t know if we could get real up and comers for these sorts of positions, as they’re generally chasing club work. I looked at some U21 Euro qualifying coaches as a point of comparison and it’s hacks all the way down.

I think it’s a combination of three things we can improve.

1. Keep improving the player pool to lessen the chances of assembling such an island of misfit toys roster (we’re well on our way there happily).

2. Raise the standard of coaching in this country such that if we can’t pull diamonds from the rough for youth teams usually as I expect, we can at least get a higher class of hack. I think we’re behind on this one as compared to the first item.

3. More continuity at this level. One thing I did notice about my comparison set of Euro U21 hacks is that they tended to have been in the job for four or five years. None of this parachuting in 3/4ths of the way through the cycle as complained about by TB earlier in the thread. You’d hope that having more time with the pool in the cycle would prevent some of those more egregious roster construction issues.
 

Titans Bastard

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FC Dallas signs another academy kid, Collin Smith '03. He came up as a winger, but has been experimenting with RB, and the club notably describes him as a right back in their release. I'd expect him to spend the year with North Texas SC in USL League One, although Bryan Reynolds showed us that you never know when a conversion project will really take off.

https://www.fcdallas.com/post/2021/04/28/fc-dallas-signs-academy-product-collin-smith


Meanwhile, fellow FCD academy graduate Justin Che '03 is getting some nice press in Germany for his performances on loan with Bayern Munich II. We'll see if he comes back to Dallas this summer or is sold without playing a game for the club, Chris Richards-style. Che has a German passport and, judging by a recent interview, is capable of speaking whatever the German equivalent of "Spanglish" is. Germglish? Engman?

In terms of FCD '03s who are actually going to play for FCD this year, I remain bullish on center forward Ricardo Pepi.
 

Titans Bastard

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I've been enthused with the number of young players who have played important roles in MLS last year continuing into this year. There will always be ebbs and flows, but the signs continue to be that the recent wave of talent is not a fluke. Some standouts at each position that I'm keeping an eye on:

GK

For half of last season, Matt Turner (!) was the youngest American starting GK in MLS even though he's 26. That's changed a bit since then. J.T. Marcinkowski '97 took over in San Jose last year and has retained the position. He looks like he'll be a solid, steady keeper but I'm not sure he's on a NT trajectory. This year, the highly entertaining David Ochoa '01 has won the job at RSL. He's very young for a starting GK and has promise — and, of course, his shithousery is already elite and has world-class potential. John Pulskamp '01 started the first few games for KC and as far as I can tell did fine, though Tim Melia is healthy now so Pulskamp will head to the bench.

I see Steffen and Turner as our top two keepers and I don't think any young keeper anywhere is going to shake up the pecking order in the 2022 WC cycle.

RB

With Dest, Yedlin, Cannon, and now Reynolds abroad, right back is a crowded position.

Aaron Herrera '97 (RSL) is a solid performer who has consistently improved. He recently got his first cap in an MLS-only camp, but it's hard to see him breaking through the guys ahead of him. Julian Araujo '01(LA Galaxy) has put in MOTM performances in the past couple of weeks and could be taking off after holding his own last year. Unlike Dest+Reynolds, Araujo is more of a defense-first RB. He's just a tough defender who wins duels and has a bite to his game. Offensively he's not terrible but he's never going to be an elite attacking RB. It's a shame he's only 5'9" because if he were even a few inches taller he could be a great CB prospect. Even so, although he's been capped by the USMNT he'd be getting more attention if not for our other RBs.

CB

Honestly, there are a lot of guys I could list who I think are pretty solid but not especially promising USMNT prospects.

Miles Robinson '97 (Atlanta) is the sort of player who needs to raise his game a notch this season or else he'll start looking more like a quality career MLSer who falls short of NT quality. The same could be said of Justen Glad '97 (RSL) and a variety of others.

It feels like our best young CBs are mostly in Europe now in the form of Chris Richards and Mark McKenzie. Justin Che '03 (Dallas) has reportedly impressed with Bayern II and could be moving there permanently.

LB

The eternal question. Antonee Robinson is really the only option abroad, other than using Dest on the left.

Sam Vines '99 (Colorado) has shown he has a solid floor for club and country, but hasn't been tested against a particularly good international opponent yet.

George Bello '02 (Atlanta) is an exciting prospect, but his poor off-the-ball defending is holding him back from bigger things at the moment. He ball-watches and loses his mark far too easily.

#6

"Who will be Tyler Adams' backup?" is a source of consternation, especially given how injury-prone Adams is.

James Sands '00 (NYCFC) is an extremely boring but effective player. He's defensively tough and his positioning and reads are very good for a young midfielder. His passing is very conservative and in the last few weeks he's been deployed as a CB in a three-man back line.

Aidan Morris '01 (Columbus) tore his ACL, very disappointing after such a strong performance in MLS Cup.

Jackson Yueill '97 (San Jose) - we know him pretty well at this point. He's not a traditional #6 but is still probably the backup to Adams as of now.

Leon Flach '01 (Philadelphia) - a bargain buy from St. Pauli this spring. He's a German-American who can play the 6, the 8, or LB. He's impressed at both midfield positions so far this year, but the 6 appears to be his long-term role.

#8

Eryk Williamson
'97 (Portland) - continues to improve, does a bit of everything, and you have to wonder if he'll get a shot soon. He was foolishly snubbed at the U23 level in favor of clearly worse players like Andres Perea and Johnny Cardoso, but he's absolutely at a similar level to Kellyn Acosta, Luca de la Torre, and others in contention for depth spots at this position.

Tanner Tessmann '01 (Dallas) - I'm not really sure how he's done this year so far, but he has a lot of potential as a skilled big man. Dallas has been dysfunctional in general this season so far.

Frankie Amaya '00 (NYRB) - the club gave up a lot of resources to acquire him, and he should be a good fit for their style of play. I'm excited to see what he can do outside of the quagmire of FC Cincinnati.

Hassani Dotson '97 (Minnesota) - solid player who was one of the better CMs of a disappointing group with the U23s. I don't see a likely NT future here though.

Moses Nyeman '03 (DC) - big-time prospect who has been starting for DCU. Small, technically sound, creative. Still has some work to do defensively but I think he'll wind up being solid there for a little guy. Nyeman is a Liberian national who is supposedly very close to US citizenship.

Keaton Parks '97 (NYCFC) - some people like Parks more than I do, but I don't see a USMNT future. He's an unusual player, very smooth on the ball for a huge guy.

Andres Perea '00 (Orlando) - filed a one-time switch to play for the US U23s, I'm listing him because he's another guy who some people really like but who I don't love.

Paxton Pomykal '99 (Dallas) - big-time prospect who can't stay healthy, but he's back on limited minutes for the moment. If he ever gets back to full health it's not a stretch to imagine him as the #3 CM on our depth chart...at least.

#10 (such as it is...in the modern game a lot of these guys will be an offensively-minded 8 or used out wide)

Cole Bassett
'01 (Colorado) - puts up good numbers for the Rapids. I've seen him be more of a finisher / box-arriver than a facilitator at this position, but he's still at an age where he's adding pieces to his game. He's been the subject of some loose transfer rumors.

Gianluca Busio '02 (KC) - maybe the most polarizing prospect we have right now. Always good technically, Busio at times has had minimal influence on the game. This season, he's been very active, has been better at finding the ball, and has beefed up his defensive game. His long-term position is in doubt, as he has been used all over the midfield and even as a false 9 (not recommended).

Caden Clark '03 (NYRB) - another highly-touted 2003 who has scored a lot of great goals in his short career. It's been reported that Clark will move to RB Leipzig after the season. Given what he's already done at age 17, I'm excited for this one.

Wing

With Pulisic/Reyna/Weah/Aaronson/Morris/Arriola in the depth chart we don't have a desperate need for wingers. Which is good, because most of our young MLS wingers are 20-somethings who will probably fall short of USMNT quality or younger guys who aren't ready yet.

Djordje Mihailovic '98 (Montreal) - has been good so far as a sort of pinched-in possession winger, but he has a tough road ahead to get into the NT regularly.

Jonathan Lewis '97 (Colorado) - he has great moments, but they are only moments. He can be electric at times but there is a reason why he's rarely been a full-time starter, I guess. He also struggled with the U23s.

Efra Alvarez '02 (LA Galaxy) - seems likely to play for Mexico at this point. I'm not too bothered about it given other prospects. A lot of the Kleiban kids have some really good skills on the ball but are pretty remedial in fitness, work rate, defense and/or athleticism, which is no small thing.

Kevin Paredes '03 (DC) - I've been really impressed with him so far, after he played a fair amount last year. He just returned from injury but was looking silky last weekend. I'd like to see more.

Forward

We have some good prospects even with a lot of our best young forwards now abroad (Sargent, Dike, et al).

Jesus Ferreira '00 (Dallas) - A talented player, but one who requires a particular fit. He was bad in 2020, and I think in large part it's because he was asked to do things he's not that good at. Ultimately, he'd be so much better off in the 1990s when everyone was playing a 4-4-2. He's a second forward in a world filled with 4-2-3-1s and 4-3-3s that don't use the role he's best at.

Cade Cowell '03 (San Jose) - Just a ridiculous player: he's 17 but physically looks a decade older. He's just bullying grown men. I've been a Cowell skeptic because I'm not sold on his soccer IQ and his touch, but I'll say that 2021 has been a bad year for Cowell skeptics so far.

Ayo Akinola '00 (Toronto) - Speedy forward who makes good runs and gets in behind the defense. Dual national who could potentially wind up with Canada, depending on where he feels opportunity is better. He's provisionally tied to the US though.

Ricardo Pepi '03 (Dallas) - Yet another high upside '03. Pepi's rate stats are amazing, but he's still coming off the bench. Dallas signed Franco Jara to be the CF and are paying him a fortune. The word seems to be that FCD's owner really wanted Jara, so speculation is that Luchi Gonzalez feels compelled to give Jara a really long leash even though Pepi is ready.

Jeremy Ebobisse '97 (Portland) - I like him but the US forward situation is getting crowded and I don't think there's room for him.
 

Titans Bastard

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Thank you for this! Perfect reference for those nights when I throw a random MLS match on.
And that's just the players who are already playing a fair amount. New ones pop up all the time — for example Brian Gutierrez '03 made his first start last week and is making his second career start today for Chicago, playing as an attacking midfielder. (I need to note this before @67YAZ sees that I didn't include Gutierrez the first time.)
 

67YAZ

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And that's just the players who are already playing a fair amount. New ones pop up all the time — for example Brian Gutierrez '03 made his first start last week and is making his second career start today for Chicago, playing as an attacking midfielder. (I need to note this before @67YAZ sees that I didn't include Gutierrez the first time.)
I was going to let it slide. Given the depth the depth the USMNT has in attacking mids and wings these days, Gutierrez is still a long ways from being ready. Two starts so far, but only going 60 each time. The technique is there and he looks more comfortable taking on defenders than he is in build up play right now. But he makes nice runs and finds space pretty consistently.

My hope is that Wicky can find a starting XI that actually works, and Gutierrez can be the go-to late-game attacking sub.

Edit: one other thought on BGuti - he’s not a physical monster that bullied the youth ranks. He’s listed at 5’10” and 139lbs! Doesn’t look he has to shave, either. He’s climbing the ranks based on his skill, which is is most promising. More strength will come, and hopefully some more pace along with it.
 
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Titans Bastard

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This kid is a winger who has been playing LWB for DC lately. These are monster defensive numbers. He got name-checked by Berhalter in an interview last week, and was on the Gold Cup preliminary roster. I think he's among the top five 2003s right now, which has a realistic shot to be the deepest birth year for US men's prospects ever.

View: https://twitter.com/BrianSciaretta/status/1411473836638359558
 

ninjacornelius

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This kid is a winger who has been playing LWB for DC lately. These are monster defensive numbers. He got name-checked by Berhalter in an interview last week, and was on the Gold Cup preliminary roster. I think he's among the top five 2003s right now, which has a realistic shot to be the deepest birth year for US men's prospects ever.

View: https://twitter.com/BrianSciaretta/status/1411473836638359558
Holy smokes. Toronto is in shambles right now but those numbers don’t lie. US soccer prospect Twitter is gaga for this kid and it looks like he’s living up to the hype.
 

67YAZ

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We’ve gone from being a goalkeeper factory to a fullback mint. I guess that makes DeAndre Yedlin the patron saint of this generation.
 

rguilmar

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This kid is a winger who has been playing LWB for DC lately. These are monster defensive numbers. He got name-checked by Berhalter in an interview last week, and was on the Gold Cup preliminary roster. I think he's among the top five 2003s right now, which has a realistic shot to be the deepest birth year for US men's prospects ever.

View: https://twitter.com/BrianSciaretta/status/1411473836638359558
I haven't seen this game but saw him in the past. The eye test matches the stats. I love how aggressive he is both attacking and defending. He's gonna be a good one. Did I hear he is a dual national? It would suck to keep trotting Sam Vines out there and have Paredes go elsewhere.
 

Titans Bastard

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I haven't seen this game but saw him in the past. The eye test matches the stats. I love how aggressive he is both attacking and defending. He's gonna be a good one. Did I hear he is a dual national? It would suck to keep trotting Sam Vines out there and have Paredes go elsewhere.
Paredes is eligible for the Dominican Republic. Not a major concern.

Paredes has only just recently starting playing LWB, has never played LB in a four-back formation, and missed the first part of the season with injury. Throwing him in the Gold Cup feels like rushing things to me.

I think some of these very young guys could definitely beat out Vines sooner or later, but I think it's the right move to have him in the GC. He is the more realistic candidate to contribute to WCQ this fall, and we need more data to see where he stands in relation to Antonee Robinson.
 

rguilmar

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Paredes is eligible for the Dominican Republic. Not a major concern.

Paredes has only just recently starting playing LWB, has never played LB in a four-back formation, and missed the first part of the season with injury. Throwing him in the Gold Cup feels like rushing things to me.

I think some of these very young guys could definitely beat out Vines sooner or later, but I think it's the right move to have him in the GC. He is the more realistic candidate to contribute to WCQ this fall, and we need more data to see where he stands in relation to Antonee Robinson.
That is a very rational and well-reasoned response. I admit to a severe dislike for some of the Gold Cup selections, specifically the Lewis and Yueill ones. This spills over possibly unfairly and irrationally to players I just feel like we know enough about, including Vines, Lletget, Acosta, and Roldan.
 

Titans Bastard

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That is a very rational and well-reasoned response. I admit to a severe dislike for some of the Gold Cup selections, specifically the Lewis and Yueill ones. This spills over possibly unfairly and irrationally to players I just feel like we know enough about, including Vines, Lletget, Acosta, and Roldan.
Lletget, Acosta, and Roldan are known quantities which, rightly or wrongly, is why they on the roster. But I think Vines is in a different bucket. Vines got his first cap in our last game before the pandemic hit, so it feels like he's been around for a while, but he actually only has three caps overall. IIRC, he played pretty well in all three of them, but they came in low-stakes friendlies against very weak opposition: the Jan camp version of Costa Rica, and the 6-0 and 7-0 demolitions of El Salvador and T&T.

The Gold Cup is not exactly the pinnacle of the sport, but it will be a bigger test for Vines than anything he's faced before for the USMNT. He didn't especially distinguish himself in Olympic qualifiers, but I'm willing to give him and others a bit of a mulligan on an individual level because of Kreis' overall botch job of a tenure.

I'd also add that Bello is on the roster too, so the LB selection questions aren't purely Vines vs. Paredes.
 

Titans Bastard

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MLS Next, the successor youth league to the defunct USSF Development Academy, wrapped up its first season. The champions don't always mean much, but we've got Chicago, Orlando, a team from South Florida, and RSL.

View: https://twitter.com/TheSoccerWire/status/1412420566989082633


I wish their website were better. The DA site was clunky, but at least it had a lot of details. It's harder to get rosters/stats/basic info.
 

Titans Bastard

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Big news here. Qualifying for the 2023 U20 World Cup will be next summer, and it will double as qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. Despite the fact that this is coming up quick for the US, who have not had an active YNT program below the U23 since before the pandemic, this is very good news. The qualifying tournament will take place at the optimal time of year for the US to field its strongest possible team, and the upcoming U20 cycle (2003s+2004s) will be stronger than the COVID-cancelled last U20 cycle (2001s+2002s) who would otherwise have played a role in U23 qualifying.

View: https://twitter.com/BrianSciaretta/status/1438596257774284802
 

Titans Bastard

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Lastly: the 2015 cycle (95s+96s), 2017 cycle (97s+98s), and the 2019 cycle (99s+00s) all made the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.

The 2004s seem like they will be relatively weaker than the birth years around them, but the 2003s might be our strongest class ever.
 

rguilmar

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Longtime former MLSer and Costa Rican international Gonzalo Segares is the U17 manager.

As someone who played for the Fire for many years, I suppose he's settled in Chicago and thus fits the USSF's residency requirement for YNT managers. Potentially interesting choice, but who really knows.

View: https://twitter.com/USYNT/status/1450230556826996738
Shocked he's not still playing for Costa Rica. He's only 39!

I thought he had some role previously in the US U15 team. I could be wrong though as happens often enough with me around these parts.
 

Titans Bastard

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Shocked he's not still playing for Costa Rica. He's only 39!

I thought he had some role previously in the US U15 team. I could be wrong though as happens often enough with me around these parts.
He was named the U15 coach in early 2020 but never really did anything because of the pandemic.
 

rguilmar

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It looks like there will be a U-20 tournament in November including the US, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. This is coming from FMF and not confirmed by USSF. The US should be able to field a pretty strong squad for this even without the likes of Pepi and Gomez.
 

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36-man U17 camp has been announced for early November. These players are '06s. We've got a goalkeeper from the noted talent hotbed of Dunstable, MA.

View: https://twitter.com/usynt/status/1453445769017667587?s=21



GOALKEEPERS (4): Ryan Carney (New England Revolution; Dunstable, Mass.), Fernando Delgado (Real Salt Lake; Glendale, Ariz.), Julian Eyestone (FC Dallas, Dallas, Texas), Nicholas Holliday (North Carolina FC; Chapel Hill, N.C.)

DEFENDERS (10): Brian Alanis (Houston Dynamo FC; Houston, Texas), John Andrus (Philadelphia Union; Fallston, Md.), Riley Delgado (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Aaron Deppe (Chicago Fire FC; Coopersville, Mich.), Christian Diaz (Los Angeles Football Club; San Bernadino, Calif.), Tyler Hall (Inter Miami CF; Miramar, Fla.), Gershon Henry (Real Salt Lake; Portage, Mich.), Christian Metelitasa (De Anza Force SC; San Mateo, Calif.), Javen Romero (Los Angeles Football Club; Los Angeles, Calif.), Oscar Verhoeven (San Jose Earthquakes; Pleasant Hill, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Edgar Bazan (Sporting Kansas City; Overland Park, Kan.), Adrian Gill (FC Barcelona/ESP; Denver, Colo.), Aaron Heard (St. Louis City FC; Fairfax, Va.), Cruz Medina (San Jose Earthquakes; San Francisco, Calif.), Edwyn Mendoza (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.), Luis Moreno (Houston Dynamo FC; Houston, Texas), Tamir Ratovitz (Los Angeles Football Club; Los Angeles, Calif.), Matthew Schenfeld (FC Cincinnati; Louisville, Ky.), David Vazquez (Total Futbol Academy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Jude Wellings (Real Salt Lake; Birmingham, Mich.), Milo Wray (Portland Timbers; Portland, Ore.)

FORWARDS (11): Moises Arciniega (Barca Residency Academy; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Fidel Barajas (San Jose Earthquakes; Sacramento, Calif.), Micah Burton (Austin FC; Mounds View, Minn.), Bajung Darboe (Philadelphia Union; Sun Prairie, Wisc.), Andre Gitau (Houston Dynamo FC; Richmond, Texas), Michael Luande (Seattle Sounders FC; Puyalluo, Wash.), Christopher Olney Jr. (Philadelphia Union; Hillsborough, N.J.), Diego Rocio (Philadelphia Union; Escondido, Calif.), Paolo Rudisill (LA Galaxy; Irvine, Calif.), Zion Vaughn (Real Salt Lake AZ; Chandler, Ariz.), Luke Zielinski (Philadelphia Union; Weston, Conn.)
 

rguilmar

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36-man U17 camp has been announced for early November. These players are '06s. We've got a goalkeeper from the noted talent hotbed of Dunstable, MA.
Back when I was an assistant high school coach I was sent to scout Westford Academy (I think) for an upcoming tournament game. They were playing Groton-Dunstable. I gotta tell you, those kids from Groton-Dunstable could ball out. They built from the back, they had some real technical skill, and had some actual tactics. They really played the game well. This back when the game was some combination of athletic, kick and run, park the bus, disciplined, tactic-less soccer. The team I coached was mostly kids from Brazil with some kids from El Salvador sprinkled in, and Groton-Dunstable looked refreshingly like us (style-wise). It was not something that was taught just at the high school level, clearly learned from a much earlier age. Long story short, it seemed like they were doing something right up there in terms of coaching kids. Of course, that was 10-15 years ago, so who knows?

Regarding the roster, it's nice to see several newer MLS academies producing early results along with some of the lesser thought of academies like the Revs. Also, I don't recall San Jose producing a lot of players, so I'm guessing this is the result of renewed effort in their academy. I could be reading too much into it though. Obviously U-17 is young and a lot can change as kids develop,
 

Titans Bastard

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I also always make note of the place of origin of players on YNT rosters, but it's unclear to me exactly how even the level of scouting has been across the country. I noted similar things (re: NorCal / Earthquakes) but I'd wait for the cycle to play out before crystallizing any conclusions.
 

Titans Bastard

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The roster for the upcoming U20 camp has been leaked. Malick Sanogo, an Ivorian-American striker, posted it to social media. Sanogo has been called into a few German YNT friendly camps, but there are doubts that he has German citizenship at this time, so he'd be unable to play in official games for them if true.

GK Alex Borto '03 (Fulham)
GK Gabriel Slonina '04 (Chicago)
RB Kayden Pierre '03 (KC)
RB/CB Justin Che '03 (Dallas)
CB Kobi Henry '04 (Orange County SC)
CB Jalen Neal '03 (LA Galaxy)
CB Casey Walls '03 (SJ)
LB Jacob Greene '03 (DC)
LB Caleb Wiley '04 (Atlanta academy)
CM Daniel Edelman '03 (NYRB II)
CM Jeremy Garay '03 (DC)
CM Danny Leyva '03 (Seattle)
CM Jack McGlynn '03 (Philadelphia)
CM Rokas Pukstas '04 (Hajduk Split)
AM Paxten Aaronson '03 (Philadelphia)
AM Caden Clark '03 (NYRB)
AM Cade Cowell '03 (SJ)
AM Brian Gutierrez '03 (Chicago)
AM Diego Luna '03 (El Paso Locomotive)
AM Dante Sealy '03 (PSV Eindhoven)
AM Quinn Sullivan '04 (Philadelphia)
FW Missael Rodriguez '03 (Chicago)
FW Malick Sanogo '04 (Union Berlin)



The 2003s are very strong. The 2004s are probably much less so. This group of players is promising and contains some reasonably well accomplished players relative to the fact that the U20 WC isn't until the summer of 2023.

Gabriel Slonina took over the starting job in Chicago a few months ago and is the youngest GK ever to play in MLS.

Justin Che has played a fair bit for Dallas and has interest from Bayern Munich, where he spent time on loan with their reserve team. It's unclear whether he'll be a fullback or a center back long term.

The CBs in this cohort appear to be weak so far. We have to hope for a breakout next season in MLS.

Wiley is the only player in camp not on a pro contract, but he's played so much for Atlanta United 2 in USL that it feels inevitable. He's very young (late December '04).

At CM we have a lot of decent 8s and few good 6s. Daniel Edelman will likely get a crack at making his case at DM. McGlynn and Leyva have accumulated a respectable number of minutes in MLS this year for young players.

AM is where this roster really shines. Clark and Cowell have started a ton of games in MLS. Aaronson the Younger has made real inroads into Philly's lineup lately. Sullivan has earned Curtin's trust as a sub, too. Gutierrez has gotten a little run for Chicago. Sealy is playing and scoring for Jong PSV. Diego Luna is an intriguing case: he signed with El Paso and has 9g/5a this year in USL, a very respectable haul, and he has good highlights. Dude might need to take fitness a bit more seriously: he was listed at 5'8", 188 when he signed this past spring.

Sanogo has scored a boatload of goals in various German youth Bundesligas, but you just never know. Rodriguez recently signed a pro deal, and is untested at the pro level.


Some big players who aren't here for various reasons:

GK Jeff Dewsnup '04
LB Jonathan Gomez '03
CM Moses Nyeman '03
AM Kevin Paredes '03
FW Ricardo Pepi '03
 

67YAZ

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As the Fire’s season has become a total clown show, it’s exciting to see 3 of their homegrown a in the U20 side.

Gaga Slonina (yes, that’s his preferred nickname, get used to the lame jokes) showed well enough at the end of this season to enter the winter as Chicago’s presumptive #1. The buzz is that he’s mature and professional beyond his years. If he can stay on his developmental trajectory, he’ll have a huge career.

BGuti (yes, these Fire nicknames are bad) was pretty nondescript in 515 minutes this season at age 18. He showed nice technique when given space and an eagerness to take on defenders 1v1, but he’s still so physically under-developed that he’s easily muscled off the ball. Getting into camp with guys in his age group should help his development after a year of getting pushed around by older dudes.

Super excited that Missael Rodriguez (no doubt going to dubbed the Missle soon enough) cracked this squad. He had a fantastic U19 season leading the Fire’s MLS Next side to the league championship. He’s also a Chicago kid.

Rodriguez’s running mate, Sergio Oregel Jr, an 05, also just signed a homegrown deal with the Fire. Oregel is currently an 8/10 hybrid player who loves to dribble upfield. It’s too soon to know where he’ll ultimately end up, but keep an eye out for him in the next cycle.
 

Titans Bastard

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Do we have a coaching staff yet?
They hired Mikey Varas today, who was one of Luchi’s assistants with Dallas.

Even hardcore youth watchers don’t know much about him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing - you aren’t going to get guys on the radar for MLS head coaching jobs, and I’d rather go after no-name up and coming coaches than retreads. Of course, there’s no guarantee of success with Varas.
 

rguilmar

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Last minute but the US U-20s kick off against Brazil in a few minutes in the Revelations Cup on TUDN
 

67YAZ

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A 0-4 pasting. Yikes. Chalk this one up to coaching instability and little time to play together.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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A 0-4 pasting. Yikes. Chalk this one up to coaching instability and little time to play together.
Given the opposition, no camps and no coach, it would be insane to expect anything else. I would assume the most we could expect from this tournament will be cool moments and green shoots.
 

Titans Bastard

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The roster for the second U17 camp of the cycle was announced yesterday.

https://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2022/01/us-u17-mynt-begins-2022-with-26-player-training-camp-in-bradenton-fla

GOALKEEPERS (3): Fernando Delgado (Real Salt Lake; Glendale, Ariz.), Nicholas Holliday (North Carolina FC; Chapel Hill, N.C.), Diego Kochen (FC Barcelona/ESP; Miramar, Fla.)

DEFENDERS (8):
Brian Alanis (Houston Dynamo FC; Houston, Texas), Jayson Castillo (Seattle Sounders FC; Prescott, Wash.), Riley Dalgado (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Christian Diaz (LAFC; San Bernardino, Calif.), Tyler Hall (Inter Miami CF; Miramar, Fla.), Stuart Hawkins (Seattle Sounders FC; Fox Island, Wash.), Gershon Henry (Real Salt Lake; Portage, Mich.), Oscar Verhoeven (San Jose Earthquakes; Pleasant Hill, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (7):
Edgar Bazan (Sporting Kansas City; Overland Park, Kan.), Brian Carmona Romero (Charlotte FC; Concord, N.C.), Cruz Medina (San Jose Earthquakes; San Francisco, Calif.), Edwyn Mendoza (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.), Luis Moreno (Houston Dynamo FC; Houston, Texas), Pedro Soma (UE Cornella/ESP; Coconut Creek, Fla.), Jude Wellings (Real Salt Lake; Birmingham, Mich.)

FORWARDS (8):
Fidel Barajas (San Jose Earthquakes; Sacramento, Calif.), Micah Burton (Austin FC; Mounds View, Minn.), Bajung Darboe (Philadelphia Union; Sun Prairie, Wisc.), Andre Gitau (Houston Dynamo FC; Richmond, Texas), Christopher Olyney Jr. (Philadelphia Union; Hillsborough, N.J.), Ruben Ramos Jr. (LA Galaxy; La Puente, Calif.), Ezekiel Soto (Houston Dynamo FC; Menifee, Calif.), Luke Zielinski (Philadelphia Union; Weston, Conn.)

These players are mostly '06s with a few '07s. I've heard mostly positive things about this age cohort, but I have no personal opinions about any of these players and there's a long way to go. We'll see.


---

There have also been a lot of academy signings in MLS, including some extremely young ones. Most of the younger guys are nowhere near MLS-ready, but clubs like to sign players young so they don't walk on frees when they turn 18. Furthermore, the new MLS Next Pro division 3 professional league that is launching in the spring has certain roster rules that incentives more academy signings. Clubs can only use five unsigned academy players in a game at any given time, so signing some academy kids to pro deals frees up "academy" slots on the field for other players.


RSL did the "announce one guy per day for a whole week" thing that the Chicago Fire did a few years ago.

- GK Gavin Beavers '05
- CB Jaziel Orozco '04
- CM Jude Wellings '06
- CM Julio Benitez '05
- FW Axel Kei '07

Axel Kei only just turned 14 at the end of December is the youngest MLS player ever signed, beating Freddy Adu's mark by a fair margin. Although his game is reportedly raw, there is a reason why RSL is aggressively pushing him up instead of just having him play with a U15 squad: at age 14 he's already 6'4", 183.

The hardcore prospect people really like Wellings.

Elsewhere:
- Ted Ku-DiPietro '02 (D.C. United), an all-purpose midfielder who had a very good year in USL last year that boosted his stock.
- Tega Ikoba '03 (Portland), another titanic center forward (6'4", 198)
- Niko Tsakiris '05 (San Jose), a central midfielder who is the son of Shaun Tsakiris, a coach with fairly extensive past experience with the youth national teams (he's no longer with the federation, a casualty of the dumb "coaches need to live in Chicago" rule).
 

Titans Bastard

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I've been derelict in my duties here, but the CONCACAF U20 championship kicks off today. It's a particularly important version of this tournament because not only does it serve as qualifiers for the 2023 U20 World Cup, it also serves as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics.

This tournament is for players born in 2003 or later, although the Olympics themselves (U23) will be players born in 2001 or later (plus a few overagers). We have not qualified for the Olympics since 2008.

The U20 team is managed by Mikey Varas, a guy who comes from FC Dallas' youth system. The YNT program really withered on the vine during COVID and with the USSF beset by numerous financial and legal problems. However, they've finally begun staffing up and more and more of the old programs are running again (not just "tournament" age groups like U20 and U17). This U20 team has not had a tremendous amount of time together, however, and numerous top players in MLS and especially abroad have not been released. Top U20s who aren't here include Ricardo Pepi, Kevin Paredes, Gaga Slonina, Justin Che, and Brian Gutierrez. Jonathan Gomez is wishy-washy between the US and Mexico and isn't in either squad.


The US group is pretty easy: Canada, Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis — the top three teams advance. It's the knockout phase where the chips will be done. Winning our QF means the qualifying for the U20 WC and winning our SF means qualifying for the Olympics.

Here's the lineup for the first game against St. Kitts and Nevis, at 4pm ET. I think it's on TUDN in Spanish, and on YouTube in English.

View: https://twitter.com/USYNT/status/1538235130774536201
 

67YAZ

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Hoping they rotate the keepers and we get a few starts for Chris Brady. He’ll be starting in Chicago sooner rather than later.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Hoping they rotate the keepers and we get a few starts for Chris Brady. He’ll be starting in Chicago sooner rather than later.
From what I heard on a preview thing, health/match fitness is basically the only reason they're not starting him already