While usually I don’t get too excited about U-any level events, I couldn’t contain myself when I happened upon the U-20 World Cup Draw. Not that the draw itself was very exciting, because I missed that part, but the result of the draw is what has me jumping for joy. The reason is this: THE US FINALLY GETS A DREAM DRAW!!! But then I realized, what if we just wasted our one dream draw in my lifetime on the U-20 World Cup?!
With 2016 Olympic qualifying upcoming, along with the U-20 World Cup, we will have the opportunity to look at the future World Cup stars. The US barely qualified, but we can now be glad knowing that their group when they get to New Zealand is less than intimidating. They got New Zealand, Ukraine, and Myanmar — the team that qualified by hosting the event, one of the lowest ranked European qualifiers, and an Asian country that hasn’t made any real major tournament ever. This group of youngsters will be the backbone of the USMNT in the future, including the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Lets take a look at the US U-20 team members that might have a shot at the upcoming World Cup teams. Some of the players have already made their leap to the pros, while others may still be in college.
Rubio Rubin – Sure, he has already made his senior team debut, but he is still eligible for the U-20 team. The Utrecht forward has really found his stride in the Eredivisie and is an exciting prospect on the front line for the US. He’s still eligible for Mexico and Guatemala due to his parents, but seems to be locked into the US.
Erik Palmer-Brown – The 17-year-old has long been on the radar of the US system. He already has 5 appearances with the U-20’s and has been signed to Sporting KC. With World Cup veteran Matt Besler to mentor him, Palmer-Brown might just be the next defender out of KC to make the US team.
Cameron Carter-Vickers – Another 17-year-old with a hyphenated name who is making splashes for the U-20 team. He is still eligible for England, as he is a dual national. The big defender is at Tottenham’s youth system, signing a 2-year deal with Spurs despite heavy interest from Arsenal. I am very excited for this young man, as he is excelling with players close to 4 years older than him. Not to mention that his father was an NBA player, giving him an athletic pedigree. He said he is leaning towards representing the USA, so this prospect would be a huge get for Jurgen Klinsmann.
Dortmund Boys – Dortmund has a trio of Americans in their youth system that might make an impact for the USMNT in the future. Joe Gyau is a pretty known commodity, but is struggling to return from injury so far. Junior Flores made a splash in the U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament, while also stating the he will play for the US over El Salvador, despite invitations to their senior squad. Christian Pulisic is the latest American import to Dortmund. He got his Croatian passport due to his heritage and has even trained with the senior side. With American David Wagner coaching Dortmund’s reserve side, it is easy to see why some of the youngsters might be drawn there.
Romain Gall – The main scorer for the U-20 side during qualifying plays his club football for Columbus Crew. He took all the penalties for the US in the tournament, of which there were quite a few. He was born in France and is still eligible for the country as well. I am not as high on him as some others, but he is definitely one to watch.
T2 Squared – Tommy Thompson and Tyler Turner might get you tongue-tied if you try and say both of their names back to back. But they are both viable options for the US in the future. Turner is a defender for newly created Orlando City, while Thompson crafts his trade for the San Jose Earthquakes. Each put in some solid performances during qualifying, keeping us on the lookout for T2 Squared.
Emerson Hyndman – Saving the best for last. The 18-year-old is highly regarded as the best American midfield prospect. He already plays regular first team football at Fulham, and made his debut with the USMNT in the Czech Republic last year. He was very clearly the best player on the pitch during U-20 qualifying, but unfortunately broke his collarbone during the tournament. He is technically savvy and has a great mind on the pitch. Throw that in with the American tradition at Fulham, and I believe we will see Hyndman become one of the next best Americans out there.
The U-20 World Cup begins in New Zealand on May 30th, and will conclude with the final on June 20th. I would be very surprised if the US did not at least progress out of their group. Stay tuned for more updates about the future of the USMNT.
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