U-20 analysis

Analysis: Varas calls 26 to January U-20 camp in Florida

Mikey Varas has now had time to settle into his job as the U.S. U-20 head coach and on Monday he announced his roster for a camp that will run from January 24 through February 2 at IMG Academy in Florida. ASN's Brian Sciaretta offers up his thoughts on the roster and the team. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 24, 2022
1:30 AM

UNITED STATES U-20 national team head coach Mikey Varas today announced his roster for the team’s camp that will run from January 24 through February 2 at IMG in Florida. The roster contains 26 players and it will be the second camp under Varas who was hired in November.

The U.S. team are set for a number of games against MLS opponents who are currently in preseason. Unlike the first camp of the cycle in November at the Revelations Cup, this will be the first time Varas has had to prepare ahead of a camp as he was hired only one day before the team travelled to Mexico.

Here is the roster along with some thoughts.





GOALKEEPERS (3): Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), KyMani Dade (LA Galaxy; Ontario, Calif.), Anthony Ramos (Real SC/POR; Torrance, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (8): Noah Allen (Inter Miami CF; Miramar, Fla.), Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Mauricio Cuevas (Club Brugge/BEL; Los Angeles, Calif.), Marcus Ferkranus (LA Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.), Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Kobi Henry (Orange County SC; Lake Forest, Calif.), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.), Thomas Williams (Orlando City SC; Titusville, Fla.)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; Medford, N.J.), Javier Casas Jr. (Chicago Fire FC.; Addison, Ill.), Caden Clark (RB Leipzig/GER; Wayzata, Minn.), Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls; Warren, N.J.), Kristian Fletcher (Unattached; Bethesda, Md.), Diego Luna (El Paso Locomotive; Redwood, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.), Jayvin Van Deventer (Sporting Kansas City; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska)

FORWARDS (6): Esmir Bajraktarevic (New England Revolution; Appleton, Wisc.), Patrick Bohui (Vejle Boldklub/DEN; Philadelphia, Pa.), Brian Gutierrez (Chicago Fire FC; Chicago, Ill.), Malick Sanogo (1. FC Union Berlin/GER; Berlin, Germany), Dante Sealy (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Frisco, Texas), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.)


The midfield core is intact


This roster contains what is essentially the top core of the team. The Philadelphia Union trio of Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan are here and should have both talent and chemistry. Caden Clark’s club situation is not known yet but he will be a big part of the team and is here. Dan Edelman is one of the top homegrown signings of the offseason and the NY Red Bull defensive midfielder will also be here.

The development of these players into creating a midfield that can control the game is critical and a top priority for this camp.


Notable absences 

There are several players not on this roster who should be part of the team moving forward.

Gabriel Slonina: The Chicago Fire goalkeeper is currently with the full national team as a backup. He should be with the U.S. U-20 team for the important games ahead.

Chris Brady: Also a talented Chicago Fire goalkeeper, Brady is in the mix with the U-20 team and was scheduled to be on this roster initially. He has had reported interest from abroad.

Kevin Paredes: The DC United winger is one of the most talented 2003-born American players along with Ricardo Pepi. He was forced to withdraw from the full national team’s December camp with an injury.

Cade Cowell: The San Jose winger made his debut with the full national team as a substitute in the win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also expected to be a big part of this team moving forward.

Jonathan Gomez: The left back recently completed a move from Louisville to Real Sociedad in Spain where he will start with the reserve team. He also made his debut with the full national team in December and should be in the running to start for this team.

Moses Nyeman: The DC United midfielder was called to train with the full national team ahead of the Gold Cup and is seen as solid prospect with the club. Can he find a spot in this midfield?


Central defense auditions


Aside from building midfielder cohesion, the big test for this camp is to develop central defense depth and chemistry. This U-20 team has some very talented players but is thin in central defense. Unfortunately, that is the position where U.S. youth national teams need to be strong to succeed. Historically that has held true as the 2015 team had Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter Vickers, and Erik Palmer-Brown. In 2017, Carter Vickers and Palmer-Brown were joined by Justen Glad. Then in 2019, Chris Richards, Mark McKenzie, and Abubakar Keita anchored the team.

This team does not have nearly the depth or top prospects at this position. Kobi Henry performed well at the Revelations Cup but Varas is going to need to work hard in this position if this team is going to be able to compete well in CONCACAF and beyond.

If Varas can emerge from this camp with a positive feeling about central defense, it will have been a very successful camp.


2005-birth year emerges

Despite it being very, very early in the 2023 U-20 cycle, we are already seeing players from the 2005 birth year emerge with this group. That is very young and these players area all playing up and are eligible for the 2025 U-20 cycle as well.

Kristian Fletcher has been called up to this squad and the Bethesda Acaemy product has been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund after also trialing at Manchester United and Bayern Munich. He is a very talented midfielder but is still exceptionally young. He will be tested against older players who already have professional experience in the midfield.

Esmir Bajraktarevic is also a talented attacker with the New England Revolution II. With attackers like Paredes and Cowell not in camp and Ricardo Pepi with the first team, there is an opportunity for younger players to shine. While he is pegged for the 2025 U-20 team, this gives Bajraktarevic the chance to impress with an older group.

Obed Vargas was with the U-20 team in November at the Revelations Cup and became the first 2005-born players to appear under Varas this cycle. The Alaska native did enough to show Varas that he is capable of competing at the U-20 level while playing up a cycle – which is a positive message for the midfielder who will also look to break into the Seattle Sounders side this season.

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