The USSF announced rosters for both the U20
national teams yesterday.
Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; Addison, Illinois)
Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Mauricio Cuevas (Club Brugge/BEL; Los Angeles, Calif.), Marcus Ferkranus (Los Angeles Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.), Jonathan Gomez (Real Sociedad/ESP; Keller, Texas), Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Apopka, Fla.), Thomas Williams (Orlando City SC; Titusville, Fla.), Joshua Wynder (Louisville City FC; Louisville, Ken.)
Alejandro Alvarado Jr. (Vizela/POR; Los Angeles, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Stillwater, Oklahoma), Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska), Owen Wolff (Austin FC; Austin, Texas)
Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; Medford, N.J.), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; South Riding, Va.), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Darren Yapi (Colorado Rapids; Denver, Colo.)
This is the last camp before the U-20 World Cup begins in mid-May. Because MLS is in full-swing, there are some players who were not released, most notably:
GK Chris Brady (Chicago), CB Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), LB Caleb Wiley (Atlanta), CM Daniel Edelman (NYRB), AM Cade Cowell (San Jose), AM Brian Gutierrez (Chicago). Perhaps there were other non-releases but these are the guys I'm pretty sure would be here if they were available.
Anyway, the fact that Slonina and Paredes were released for this camp is a strong indication they will also be released for the WC. I was unsure with Paredes in particular, since he is featuring regularly off the bench for Wolfsburg now.
The only player who is a complete newbie to the U20s is Darren Yapi, who looks like he's going to be the center forward for this team. Yapi is a late '04, only six weeks too old for the next U20 World Cup. He's begun the 2023 season starting games for the Rapids and while he hasn't scored yet, he's been unlucky not to do so and he's looked pretty good. It's been a real struggle to find a useful non-Pepi center forward in this age group.
I think that these two GKs plus Brady will be the trio for the WC (if Brady is released). Cuevas and Halliday are fighting for the starting RB spot but both will probably make the squad. Ferkranus/Williams/Wynder are fighting for two CB spots since Neal is a lock. Gomez will likely make the squad but is competing with Caleb Wiley for the starting job at LB.
At CM, things are very competitive. Edelman (not present) and McGlynn are locks. Pukstas wasn't very good in qualifying as a backup 6 because he's not actually a 6, but he's broken into Hajduk Split's starting lineup recently. Obed Vargas is playing up a cycle and was a breakout last season and is just returning from injury. Owen Wolff starts most games for Austin and has recently broken into the U20s after not making the qualifying roster. Alvarado looked tidy in qualifying but has been doing nothing for a small Portuguese club, rarely making the bunch. Niko Tsakiris (San Jose) made qualifying and looked intriguing as another '05 playing up a cycle, but he has an adductor injury and I'm not sure he'll be ready to go. Noel Buck '05 (New England) and Ben Cremaschi '05 (Miami) are also options but are probably ones for next cycle as well.
Paredes should really raise the ceiling of our attack, which looked quite potent in qualifying to begin with. Cowell will be in the squad at the WC. I'm not sure where Gutierrez will fit in, since he's rarely actually with the U20s because Chicago never releases him. Sullivan and Aaronson are good players. We have a lot of options.
Here's the U19 squad:
Gavin Beavers (Real Salt Lake; Las Vegas, Nev.), Charles DeMarco (BW Gottschee; New York, N.Y.)
Reed Baker-Whiting (Seattle Sounders FC; Seattle, Wash.), Tyler Bindon (Los Angeles FC; Redondo Beach, Calif.), Alexander Freeman (Orlando City SC; Plantation, Fla.), Drew Murray (Oakland Roots; San Jose, Calif.), Nolan Norris (FC Dallas; Celina, Texas), Walter Portales (Club America/MEX; Los Angeles, Calif.), Fritz Volmar (St. Louis CITY SC; St. Louis, Mo.)
Favian Loyola (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Bryan Moyado (Los Angeles FC; La Puente, Calif.), Sergio Oregel Jr. (Chicago Fire FC; Chicago, Ill.), Miguel Perez (St. Louis CITY SC; St. Louis, Mo.), Paulo Rudisill (LA Galaxy; Irvine, Calif.), Marcel Ruszel (Torino/ITA; Barrington, IL)
Zach Booth (Leicester City/ENG; Eden, Utah), Kristian Fletcher (DC United; Bethesda, Md.), Rodrigo Neri (Atletico Madrid/ESP; Madrid, Spain), Korede Osundina (Orange County SC; Redmond, Wash.), Marcos Zambrano (Benfica/POR; Gladwyne, Pa.)
This is a mix of 04s, 05s, and one 06. The U19s don't have any competitive tournaments, but are a way to keep players involved. The U20s are primarily 03s and 04s, with a few 05s sprinkled in. The U19s focus on 04s who aren't at the U20 NT level yet but who are a year younger than the majority of the U20s, as well as 05s who are too old for the U17s and who will form the foundation for the next U20 cycle at the 2025 U20 WC.
Most of these guys are currently toiling in youth teams or the reserves somewhere. Miguel Perez '05 was a relatively obscure player who St. Louis signed to a homegrown contract, and he's come out of the gate receiving playing time this season and has held his own. Kristian Fletcher '05 comes off the bench for DC United. Reed Baker-Whiting '05 has gotten appearances for Seattle, but that stopped for the time being as he converts from a midfielder to a right back. Osundina '04 plays fairly regularly in USL.