Tab_ramos_-_asn_top_-_isi_-_2018_u-20_camp_-_casey_brooke_lawson Casey Brooke Lawson/ISI
U-20 outlook

With qualifying on the horizon, ASN looks at the U.S. U-20 team

This U-20 cycle is far different than previous years. The United States will be hosting a very early CONCACAF qualifying which will take up most of November and it is not clear who will be available. Here is a look at how it could play out. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 29, 2018
9:00 AM
THIS FALL will be a busy period for the United States U-20 team as it will host CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying tournament this November in Florida. With qualifying taking place early in the cycle, head coach Tab Ramos will not have much time to prepare his team.

This cycle is going to be a lot different than previous U-20 cycles. Ramos has fewer camps to prepare for qualifying and has even stated that the qualifying tournament might be the first time some of the players appear with the team this cycle.

Like previous cycles, there are a lot of unknowns and European teams have often refused to release players for CONCACAF qualifying. The timing of this tournament also makes it especially difficult due to the MLS playoffs also taking place at the same time. While MLS teams have historically always been very cooperative in releasing players for U-20 World Cup qualifying, it is hard to see a player who is starting for an MLS playoff team getting released.

In the past two U-20 cycles under Ramos in 2015 and 2017, there has often been heavy turnover between the World Cup qualifying team and the World Cup team. In 2015, there were nine players on the qualifying team that did not head to the World Cup. In 2017 the difference was smaller at five players.

In 2019, the difference is likely to be especially large if the U.S team qualifies due to the very long gap between qualifying in November and the World Cup in Poland which starts at the end of May.

This cycle is harder to predict because there are three U-20 players (Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah) who are getting called up to the full national team. Will U-20 qualifying take priority over the U.S. national team games in November? Also, which European or MLS clubs will be willing to release players?

Ramos told ASN last month that he will be travelling to Europe to work with clubs to arrange releases. This has been difficult in the past and in 2017, Ramos singled out Schalke as being very reluctant to cooperate.

So the result is that there are two U-20 teams. The one Ramos would like to have in an ideal world and the one which he will have to settle for.

Here is a look what ASN believes are both scenarios at the moment, as well as some notes.

Best case U-20 qualifying team


1) Brady Scott (FC Köln)
2) Trey Muse (Indiana University)


3) Manny Perez (North Carolina State)
4) Sergino Dest (Ajax)
5) Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union)
6) Chris Richards (FC Dallas)
7) Lennard Maloney (Union Berlin)
8) Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union)
9) Chris Gloster (Hannover 96)


10) Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls)
11) Chris Durkin (DC United)
12) Richard Ledezma (Real Salt Lake)
13) Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas)
14) Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United)
15) Jonathan Amon (FC Nordsjaelland)
16) Nick Taitague (Schalke)
17) Frankie Amaya (Pateadores SC)


18) Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
19) Tim Weah (Paris St. Germain)
20) Sebastian Soto (Real Salt Lake)

Likely U-20 Qualifying team


1) Brady Scott (FC Köln)
2) Trey Muse (Indiana University)


3) Manny Perez (North Carolina State)
4) Jaylin Lyndsey (Sporting Kansas City)
5) Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union)
6) Chris Richards (FC Dallas)
7) Angel Uribe (Club Tijuana)
8) Matt Real (Philadelphia Union)
9) Chris Gloster (Hannover 96)


10) Chris Durkin (DC United)
11) Richard Ledezma (Real Salt Lake)
12) Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas)
13) Chris Goslin (Atlanta United)
14) Brandon Servania (FC Dallas)
15) Frankie Amaya (Pateadores SC)
16) Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United)
17) Alexis Méndez (LA Galaxy)


18) Justin Rennicks (Indiana University)
19) Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy)
20) Sebastian Soto (Real Salt Lake)

Notes on the Goalkeepers

As a backup keeper in 2017, Brady Scott at FC Cologne is almost certainly the number one this cycle. Given that he is not currently in the first team plans for Cologne, Ramos probably has a good chance at his release.

The backup keeper position is wide open but Trey Muse probably has the edge given that he is based domestically. Justin Garces or CJ Dos Santos could also be in the mix.

Notes on the Defenders

This area of the team is hard to predict at the moment and probably the biggest concern for Ramos. It is of no secret that the success of his U-20 teams in 2015 and 2017 centered on very good central defenders (Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown).

This cycle's team is not as strong defensively as in year's past. One issue to follow is central defender Mark McKenzie who is the anchor of the backline and is a starter for the Philadelphia Union. Philadelphia is showing steady improvement in recent weeks and if the club makes the playoffs, McKenize might struggle to get released – which would be a major setback. 

German U-19 central defender Lennard Maloney is a dual national who appears earger to play for the United States but he is poised to take a bigger role at Union Berlin and it is hard to see him being released. 

Another potential issue is at left back. It would not be surprising if Atlanta United’s George Bello, a starter for the U.S. U-17 team, gets looks with the U-20 team. Bello is one of the top young American prospects and could be in line to do what Josh Sargent did in 2017. 

Notes on the Midfielders

The U-20 eligible midfielders are the strength of this team. Tyler Adams is unlikely to play with this team and instead focus on the full national team and U-23 Olympic team.

Chris Durkin is a potential captain of the U-20 team and is having a very good professional season. Richard Ledezma has had a very good start to the cycle and is becoming a very important player for Ramos. Players like Andrew Carleton and Paxton Pomykal are also likely starters.

For Ramos, he will push hard for the release of wingers Jonathan Amon and Nick Taitague. If he gets just one, it will be a huge boost to the offense. If he gets both, the U.S team will bring a lot of firepower to qualifying. Still it seems unlikely as Amon is a starter for Nordsjaelland and Schalke have been reluctant to release Taitague and other U.S. youth internationals in the past. 

Notes on Forwards

It is hard to predict where Josh Sargent and Tim Weah will be at the club level in November. Will Weah go on loan? Will Sargent be on the first team at Werder Bremen? Will either be playing regular first team minutes? If both are still playing youth minutes, a release for qualifying is possible, but that is too hard to predict right now.

Sebastian Soto has yet to play for the U-20 team but he has been a standout for Real Salt Lake in the Development Academy as well as with the U.S. U-19 team. Justin Rennicks of Indiana is coming off a very strong U-20 camp in Honduras and appears to be in a good position.

Ramos has also relied on Ulysses Llanez this cycle although it is also possible to see Shaft Brewer sneak onto the team as well.

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