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Youth National Teams

Thoughts on the massive U.S. youth summit

U.S. Soccer will kickoff 2018 next week with a massive youth national team summit in Florida that will run from January 2-11. In total, 153 players over five different national teams will take part in an effort to identify talent as the various youth national teams kickoff their cycles. ASN's Brian Sciaretta gives his thoughts 
BY Posted
December 30, 2017
4:00 AM
ON FRIDAY US SOCCER ANNOUNCED a series of rosters for a massive youth national team summit in Lakewood, Florida that will encompass the U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19, and U-20 national teams as a new cycle gets underway. In total, 153 players will take part.

First, here are my specific thoughts on the rosters followed by the rosters themselves.

Mega camp is a great idea

The first takeaway, obviously, is that this camp is a great idea. Having 153 of the top American teenagers (excluding those injured or on the full national team), makes for a great scouting opportunity. It was not long ago when there was just the U-20 and U-17 teams getting emphasis with the U-18 team occasionally having a camp.

Now there is heavy emphasis on the U-16, U-18, and U-19 teams and it keeps more players involved in the system. It expands the overall youth player pool and that is absolutely critical for many reasons, one being that it provides for easier scouting and an opportunity for coaches to compare notes. Now as a new cycle kicks off for the various national teams, coaches like Tab Ramos and John Hackworth will be able to evaluate a huge number of player and allow for a strong start for their cycles.

Will there continue to be players like Keaton Parks who don’t get involved with youth national teams until too late? Yes. But there will be far fewer of them. Part of talent identification is not just scouting from tape or in experimental camps, but rather getting players into an environment where coaches can make accurate assessments.

Over the course of the next year, some players will fall off while others force their way into the equations. That happens all the time. But keeping the player pool large helps in the pipeline up to the full national team.

Amon’s exciting return

With such a large number of players assembling in Florida, it is impossible to list the many highlights. Trey Muse has been an exceptional goalkeeper in college this year for Indiana. Christian Cappis at FC Dallas is also highly regarded at FC Dallas. It will also be interesting to watch George Bello grow with the U-17 team as the Atlanta United right back has enormous potential. Griffin Dorsey was a Developmental Academy conference player of the year.

But the most exciting inclusion is Jonathan Amon with the U-20 team. Amon has broken into FC Nordsjaelland’s first team and has helped the club surge to third place in the Danish Superliga. As an explosive winger, Amon is seen as a top prospect in Denmark. He is one of 19 players at the entire camp who is based on an international club

Amon last played for the United States at the U-14 level but he moved to Europe in unusual circumstances and Nordsjaelland actually took steps to hide his visibility so other clubs would not sign him before his 18th birthday. When he turned 18 this year, he signed a four year deal with Nordsjaelland.

But Amon is already getting valuable first team minutes and is impressing. That is very important for Tab Ramos who could also have players like Jonathan Gonzalez and Tyler Adams available at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.

2017 U-17s remain highly involved

The 2017 U-17 team was very good as it advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions England. While Josh Sargent will head to Germany in January to play for Werder Bremen in its winter break camp, there is still a large number of players from that U-17 World Cup team that will be in Florida next week.

Justin Garces, Christopher Gloster, Jaylin Lindsey, James Sands, Akil Watts, Taylor Booth, Chris Durkin, Blaine Ferri, Chris Goslin, Ayo Akinola, Andrew Carleton Alex Budnik and Sergiño Dest will all take part on one of the various national teams.

Of these recent U-17 players, one particular note is that New Jersey’s Christopher Gloster is now listed as unattached where he was previously tied to the Red Bulls. There are signs that Gloster might try to head abroad sooner than later with Schalke showing interest.

The same could be said for midfielder Taylor Booth who the Washington Post reported on Friday is attracting interest from Bayern Munich and might forego a homegrown offer from Real Salt Lake.

After Josh Sargent’s move to Werder Bremen, many of the U-17 players are at a crossroads in their careers. For some, going abroad might be the best option. For others, however, staying at home to start a career, earning first team MLS minutes, and then making a move in their early 20’s might be a better option.

It also puts MLS at a crossroads too. It is a shame that many clubs are investing significant money in youth development and receiving nothing for key prospects that move abroad before they sign homegrown deals. It would be healthy to see teams get rewarded for good development but there are concerns. Last year, FC Dallas lost Weston McKennie for nothing to Schalke after he spent over six years in the academy. Now the Red Bulls might lose Gloster and Real Salt Lake might lose Booth.

At the same point, MLS clubs are not good at giving young American players key minutes. When that improves, the league’s teams will have a better chance at signing homegrown players. A healthy environment will take place when MLS teams can sign these players, play them at young ages, and be willing to sell them. That being said, the Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake have been among the better teams in the league at playing young American players already.

U-20 defense is a concern

The United States U-20 national team has been successful the past two cycles in large part to the outstanding central defenders it has produced. Between 2015 and 2017, Matt Miazga, Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Cameron Carter-Vickers have anchored the backline. All four look as if they will contend for minutes with the full national team.

This U-20 team will likely be completely different. There are no clear choice defenders at the moment but rather, the team looks strongest in the attacking and midfield positions.

In theory, Ramos could have players like Jonathan Gonzalez, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Amon, Nick Taitague, Taylor Booth, and Andrew Carleton between the midfield and the attack.

But how successful this team will be on the field will come down to how well the defense and goalkeeping can grow over the next year.

Dual nationals decisions

This camp was also revealing in how much U.S. Soccer has been scouting dual nationals and many players will be making their first appearance for U.S. Soccer.

AIK Fotboll forward Nebiyou Perry is on the U-20 roster and has played for Sweden at the U-17 level and would need to file a one-time switch to represent the United States. There is no indication yet he has or will do so soon.

Similarly, Wake Forest’s Justin McMaster is on the U-20 roster listed as a forward but has played for Jamaica and would need to file a one-time switch.

There are also several other dual nationals that are involved in this camp who have played for other countries but do not need to file a one-time switch. Jalen Hawkins of Bayern Munich is a forward on the U-18 roster and once played for Germany at the U-15 level. U-18 defender Ian Hoffman of Karlsuher played for Germany at the U-16 and U-17 levels. U-20 midfielder Noah Verhoeven played for Canada’s U-15 team.

But the biggest surprise is from the Mexican-American dual nationals. Ulysses Llanez, Michael Barragan, David Ochoa have all represented Mexico at the youth levels before.

Following this camp, it will be interesting to see if any of these players continue to remain with the United States.

U-20 Men’s National Team:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Eric Lopez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), George Marks (North Carolina FC; Raleigh, N.C.), Trey Muse (Indiana University; Tukwila, Wash.), Brady Scott (FC Köln; Petaluma, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (12): Gedion Davis (JMG Association Barcelona; Barcelona, ESP), Jaylin Lindsay (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), Jack Maher (St. Louis FC; Caseyville, Ill.), Mark McKenzie (Wake Forest; Bear, Del.), Glademir Mendoza (Real Salt Lake; Phoenix, Ariz.), Manny Perez (N.C. State University; Garner, N.C.), Matthew Real (Bethlehem Steel FC; Drexel Hill, Pa.), James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), Aedan Stanley (St. Louis FC; Columbia, Ill.), Angel Uribe (Club Tijuana; San Diego, Calif.), Sam Vines (Charlotte Independence; Charlotte, N.C.), Carson Vom Steeg (Stanford University; Santa Barbara, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (12): Christian Cappis (FC Dallas; Katy, Texas), Andrew Carlton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Jose Carranza (Unattached; Manassas, Va.), Chris Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Anthony Fontana (Bethlehem Steel FC; Newark, Del.), Chris Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.), Brian Perez (Club Tijuana; San Diego, Calif.), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; Highland Village, Texas), Brandon Servania (Wake Forest; Birmingham, Ala.), Greg Tracey (Colorado Rapids Academy; Arvada, Colo.), Juan Pablo Torres (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen; Lilbirn, Ga.), Noah Verhoeven (Vancouver Whitecaps; Surrey, B.C)

FORWARDS (8): Jonathan Amon (FC Nordsjaelland; Summerville, S.C.), Simon Becher (Oakwood Academy; Brooklyn, Conn.), Shaft Brewer (RB Leipzig; Sacramento, Calif.), Griffin Dorsey (Indiana University; Evergreen, Colo.), Justin McMaster (Wake Forest; Atlanta, Ga.), Chris Nicola (Pateadores; Vancouver, Wash.), Nebiyou Perry (AIK Fotboll; New York, N.Y), Justin Rennicks (Indiana University; Hamilton, Mass.)

U-19 Men’s National Team:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Alex Budnik (Sockers FC; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Sam Fowler (Seattle Sounders FC; Issaquah, Wash.), Justin Garces (Atlanta United FC; Miami, Fla.), Johan Penaranda (New York City FC; Long Beach, N.Y.)

DEFENDERS (8): Charlie Asensio (Atlanta United FC; Roswell, Ga.), Sergino Dest (Ajax; Almere-Stad, Netherlands), Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.), Chris Gloster (Unattached; Montclair, N.J.), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew; Columbus, Ohio), Rayshaun McGann (Atlanta United FC; Palm Beach, Fla.), Chris Richards (FC Dallas; Hoover, Ala.), Akil Watts (Portland Timbers; Fort Wayne, Ind.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; Medford, N.J.), Franuel Amaya (Pateadores; Santa Ana, Calif.), Blaine Ferri (Solar Soccer Club; Southlake, Texas), Richard Ledezma (Real Salt Lake; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Isaiah Parente (Columbus Crew; Cleveland, Ohio), AJ Seals (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.)

FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton, Ontario), Matt Hundley (Colorado Rapids; Littleton, Colo.), Zyen Jones (Atlanta United FC; Clarkston, Ga.), Josh Penn (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Jeremy Rafanello (Philadelphia Union; Delran, N.J.), Sebastian Soto (Real Salt Lake; Casa Grande, Ariz.)

U-18 Men’s National Team:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Nick DeFreitas-Hansen (Everton; Southwest Ranches, Fla.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif,), Kris Shakes (Philadelphia Union; Austin, Texas), Collin Travasos (San Diego Surf Club; Encinitas, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (11): Jacob Akanyirige (San Jose Earthquakes; Pleasanton, Calif.), Julian Araujo (Barca Academy; Lompoc, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (New York City FC; Wilton, Conn.), Kwabena Boateng (Sacramento Republic FC; Elk Grove, Calif.), Luke Hansen (Colorado Rapids; Littleton, Colo.), Ian Hoffman (Karlsuher SC; Karlsruher, Germany), Nelson Martinez (D.C. United; Woodbrigde, Va.), David Mendoza (Chicago Fire; Gage Park, Ill.), Jose Olmos (Barca Academy; Inglewood, Calif.), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.), Nick Slonina (Chicago Fire; Addison, Ill.)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Taylor Booth (Unattached; Eden, Utah), Cameron Duke (Sporting Kansas City; Overland Park, Kan.), Hunter George (Sacramento Republic F.C.; Lincoln, Calif.), Roberto Hategan (Sacramento Republic F.C.; Chicago, Ill.), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.; New York, N.Y.), Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Stuart Ritchie (FC Groningen; Pleaston, Calif.), Lawson Sunderland (Levante UD; Portland, Ore.), Will Vint (Manchester United F.C.; Chester, England)

FORWARDS (8): Justin Butler (FC Bayern Munich; Augsburg, Germany), Quincy Butler (Sacramento Republic F.C.; Sacramento, Calif.), Cameron Harper (Pateadores; Newport Beach, Calif.), Jalen Hawkins (FC Bayern Munich; Regensburg, Germany), Jake LaCava (Barca Academy; Gouverneur, N.Y.), Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Axel Picazo (Philadelphia Union; Austin, Texas), Stefan Stojanovic (Shockers FC; Chicago, Ill.)

U-17 Men’s National Team:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Aiden Hanes (Arsenal FC; Riverside, Calif.), John Tyler Harms (Shattuck-Saint Mary's; Whitefish Bay, Wisc.), Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Chicago, Ill.), Marzuq Puckerin (FC Greater Boston Bolts; Cambridge, Mass.)

DEFENDERS (12): Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.), Michael Barragan (Atlas FC; Guadalajara, Mexico), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Amir Daley (New York Red Bulls; Elmont, N.Y.), Zackery Farnsworth (Real Salt Lake; Sandy Utah), Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.), Owen Guske (Portland Timbers; Saint Johns, Fla.), Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Mason Judge (Chargers Soccer Club, Tampa, Fla.), Kenneth Nielsen (Pateadores; Irvine, Calif.), Joseph Scally (New York City FC, Lake Grove, N.Y.), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls, Chatham, N.J.)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Emmanuel Ameres (Chargers Soccer Club; Palmetto, Fla.), Julian Anderson (Philadelphia Union; Ocean, N.J.), Luis Flores (Shattuck-Saint Mary's; Half Moon Bay, Calif.), Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.), Bryang Kayo (D.C. United; Poolesville, Md.), Benjamin Redzic (FC Dallas; Carrollton, Texas), Louis Quin Rogers (De Anza Force; San Jose Calif.), Anthony Rouse (New York Soccer Club; Albany, N.Y.), Adam Saldana (Real So Cal; Panorama City, Calif.), Peter Stroud (New York Red Bulls; Chester, N.J.)

FORWARDS (10): Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.), Aboubacar Camara (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Penn.), Cade Hagan (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Andres Jasson (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.), Diego Lopez (FC Golden State; Chino, Calif.), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Fresno, Calif.), Joshua Pynadath (AFC Ajax; Amsterdam, Netherlands), Giovanni Reyna (New York City FC; Bedford Corners, N.Y.), Wasswa Robbins (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.), Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders FC; Graham, Wash.)

U-16 Boys’ National Team:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Gavin Krenecki (Sacramento Republic FC; Fair Oaks, Calif.), Jacob Morris (Real Colorado; Parker, Colo.)

DEFENDERS (8): Adrian Aguilar (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Jacob Greene (D.C. United; Crofton, Md.), Isaac Homer (Portland Timbers; Portland, Ore.), Ulysses Martinez (Portland Timbers; Mt. Angel, Ore.), Morris Matthews (New England Revolution; Cambridge, Mass.), Nico McMillan (Seattle Sounders FC; Seattle, Wash.), Casey Walls (San Jose Earthquakes; Mill Valley, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Javier Casas (Chicago Fire; Addison, Ill.), Elton Chifamba (Crew SC Academy; Blacklick, Ohio), Caden Clark (Barca Academy; Medina, Minn.), Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Seattle, Wash.), Diego Luna (San Jose Earthquakes; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (BW Gottschee Academy; Middle Village, N.Y.), Alex Monis (FC United; Naperville, Ill.), Nicholas Pariano (Philadelphia Union; Ann Arbor, Mich.)

FORWARDS (6): Andres Cardinas (Weston FC; Doral, Fla.), Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City; Shawnee, Kan.), Selmir Miscic (Philadelphia Union; Royersford, Pa.), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Dante Sealy (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Dantouma Toure (Players Development Academy; Trenton, N.J.)

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