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A closer look at the USMNT youth movement

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Take a quick look at Jurgen Klinsmann’s 20-man U.S. Men’s national team roster for Wednesday’s friendly against Russia and it would be easy to mistake the list for a U-23 squad.

It isn’t a U-23 team, but rather a major step toward Klinsmann infusing a youth movement in the U.S. national team pool.

Klinsmann has called in several players who were part of the U-23 team that failed to reached the Olympics earlier this year. From Juan Agudelo to Joe Gyau to Josh Gatt, there is an influx of emerging young talent that could have a chance to impress Klinsmann in Krasnodar on Wednesday, while also showing just how far they have come since their Olympic qualifying debacle in March.

While some of these young Americans may have more experience than others with the senior U.S. team, all of them have come a long way since their disastrous showing with the U-23 team. Now, these players will look to  translate what they have learned in recent months at their clubs over to the international level, so as to possibly break into a talented U.S. team that will play in World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup in a busy 2013.

Here’s a closer look at some of the young players on the U.S. roster:

JUAN AGUDELO- After recovering from the knee injury sustained during Olympic qualifying, Agudelo was surprisingly traded from the New York Red Bulls to Chivas USA in a bid to earn more playing time. Agudelo received that playing time with the Goats, but he struggled to find the back of the net for a Chivas USA team that was downright awful. Still, he ended the season on a good run of form and even scored in Chivas USA’s regular season finale.

TERRENCE BOYD- One of the better-performing players on the U.S. U-23 team, Boyd has seen his career go on an upward trajectory since that failed bid to reach the Olympics. He moved from Borussia Dortmund to Rapid Vienna in the last transfer window and has found plenty of succes (re: playing time and goals) with the Austrian club, all while becoming a staple in the full U.S. squad.

JOE GYAU- Having secured a loan from Hoffenheim to St Pauli a couple months back, Gyau is still in the process of trying to establish himself with Bundesliga 2. club. The dynamic winger has made four league appearances for St Pauli but three of those have come in recent weeks, which may be a sign of him possibly breaking into the starting lineup in the near future.

SEAN JOHNSON- The Chicago Fire goalkeeper bounced back from his Olympic qualifying nightmare by piecing together a strong season in MLS. Johnson helped lead a stingy Fire defense into the playoffs before making a mistake in their knock-out round loss to the Houston Dynamo, but his play has been more solid than not in recent months.

MIX DISKERUD- Diskerud joined Norwegian powerhouse Rosenborg BK on a half-season deal this past summer, and he was constantly in the starting lineup for the club. He played in key Eliteserien and Europa League games and the Norwegian-American found ways to make an impact, even scoring the clutch goal that pushed Rosenborg into the group stage of the latter competition.

JOSH GATT- Gatt was not officially on the U-23 team that crashed out of Olympic qualifying, but he was originally on it before Molde summoned him back due to a number of injuries that hit the club. Gatt has endured some injury problems of his own since then, but he has been healthy enough to play in recent weeks and just finished celebrating Molde’s second straight league title this pas tweekend.


Which of these players are you hoping to get a glimpse of on Wednesday? What other young players would you have liked to seen on this roster?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Sean Johnson isn’t youth movement he is youth apoplexy. He needs to learn his position better before taking the field for the USMNT. I don’t get it. what is the attraction? We would have no chance with SJ in goal for an important game.

  2. Perfect example of why soccer players go crazy. Coaches insist that playing time goes to the players that perform the best, blah, blah, blah. So, in that case, why is Freddy Adu not on this team.? He was, far and away, the best player on the Olympic team. For once, you don’t have to talk about his potential, In the Olympic trials, he was the man, he got the job done, when most of the players around were playing like the kids that they are. Of course, in the meantime, Adu has found himself trapped in the insane asylum that is the Philadelphia Union, with a prima donna coach who can’t over himself long enough to assemble a winning team.

  3. I think the key is a bit more symbolic. I remember back in Juergen’s first game that for about 2/3’s of that game, we looked pretty poor. Then we added Brek Shea, Robbie Rogers, and Juan Agudelo to the mix. This seemed to change the game around. Shea and Rogers brought directness and somebody mking runs off the intelligent ball-play of Donovan and Agudelo.

    That’s what we need/needed. We needed players darting into the channels and stretching play for guys like Dempsey, Donovan, and Bradley.

    Somewhere along the way, that got kind of lost. We ended up with an offensively inept Danny Williams (if hard-working), and a Brek Shea who looked worn both physically and mentally, and has apparently been dealing with an injury for at least a while.

    In the recent game against Guatemala, we saw Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez bring directness, immediacy and movement that troubled the opposition defense. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, but I do think it’s a sign Juergen is learning, or at least finally has the pieces available to him to play the way he’s been wanting.

  4. Am I the only one who would have taken Wooten over Agudelo? And called in Brooks to practice with the team in Frankfurt, even if he doesn’t make the traveling squad?

  5. Tim Howard
    Sean Johnson (under 25yrs)
    Nick Rimando

    Timmy Chandler (under 25yrs) Skill and speed
    Carlos Bocanegra
    Geoff Cameron (uder 27yrs) Control
    Fabian Johnson (under 25yrs) Skill speed
    Clarence Goodson
    Maurice Edu

    Josh Gatt (under 25yrs) Skill & speed
    Joe Gyau (under 25yrs) Skill, Control & speed
    Mix Diskerud (under 25yrs) Skill & Control
    Michael Bradley (under 27yrs) Control & Skill
    Sacha Kljestan (27 & under)
    Danny Williams (under 25yrs) Control & Skill
    Jermaine Jones

    Jozy Altidore (under 25yrs) Control
    Herculez Gomez
    Terrence Boyd (under 25yrs) Control & Skill
    Juan Agudelo (under 25yrs) Control & Skill

    Gomez, Jones, Rimando, Howard, Edu, Goodson, Kljestan & Boca we know what they can do and they are veteran. But if you look at the rest that would of have been the team that could of represented us back in the Olympic game in London, of course with other players not listed.
    But now Altidore, Boyd or Gomez will have true wingers and with good Left and Right back that have speed, technical skill, control and can pass the ball. like Agudelo, Gatt, Gyau, Johnson, Chandler. Attacking Mid Field like Bradley, Mix, Sasha and jones, Defend mildfield like Jones, Williams, Edu and even Bradley. Center back as Goodson, Boca, Cameron and Edu. But the most of what I like the most is we have young players that will give everything to show JK that they have the X factor. my set up team



  6. Like stu holden but he was on a poor side at Bolton and seems very likely to be affected byy his injurues. I wouldn’t consider him until June, after a half season healthy…

    • Um… Bolton was in like 8th or 9th place when Holden went down for the season (about 2/3 of the way through). They finished in 14th without him.

      He still got their Player of the Year award, even though he missed the last third of the season.

      Holden didn’t play for a “poor” side. He MADE them a decent side. Remains to be seen if he has anything left now, though.

  7. On another note Holden is set to return to training in two weeks and could possibly be playing by late December, but will definitely be back after the winter break.

  8. How is freddy adu not here? Not only is he just as young, but he also played more minutes than most of these guys this year, AND he was the lynchpin of the U23’s that these otherguys guys were on. Just sayin, he’s always performed for the Nats and the there is no good reason on paper to have him below these guys

    • ” Just sayin, he’s always performed for the Nats and the there is no good reason on paper to have him below these guys”

      What do you mean by “performed”? Do you mean something like sparked the team to a win? Because that rarely happened.

      As for there being “no good reason”, obviously JK has what he thinks is a good reason but you may not agree with it.

    • Why would he be here? He has failed to imporess every coach he has played for. Noone will give him a consistent starting role. I suspedt there are things Adu’s flashes of frilliance are blinding you to.

  9. I think Gatt starts. Agudelo, Boyd, and Diskerud all see some minutes. Remember this is a friendly which means JK can use up to 6 subs. I don’t think Gyau will see the field. Still a little early in his career.

  10. Josh Gatt is the one I’d like to see most because I’ve never actually seen him play, just brief highlights and read what others have seen. I think I’ve seen all the others play at one time or another if only briefly. Randomly had the day off wednesday so looking forward to this.

    • My thoughts exactly. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get the start and then possibly replaced by Gyau. Gyau’s burst coming off the bench was a site to see with the U23s. If Gatt is faster than Gyau…well then I can’t wait to see him play.

  11. Nice write-up. To Ives or others, random question aside:

    To what extent are players allowed/expected to miss club events for “National Team Duty”? Who draws the line? For example, if a USMNT player abroad gets called to a training session with the National Team but has an important league game during that time, do they miss training? How about if the USMNT has a World Cup qualifier but the player’s club has an important match-up on the same day? Not really familiar with how it works.

    • Clubs know the calendars, so there will never be a qualifier on the same day as a club match (or at least there shouldn’t be). For FIFA-mandated international fixture dates, such as those that accompany WC qualifying and international friendlies, clubs must release their players. If there is no such mandate, clubs are free to do what they please.

      It’s why Jozy reported late for the matches a few months ago. It was not a FIFA date and his club refused to release him until they wanted to. Interestingly, the Olympics are not FIFA-mandated, which is why Messi had to be Barcelona to let him to to the Olympics 4 years ago. They initially refused.

    • its a decision between the club and national team coach.

      I believe FIFA requires clubs to release players during official FIFA Calendar dates: Qualifying, World Cup, etc game days even if a club has a game during the FIFA break; like MLS used to do. but a club coach can block that release for an injury or something..

  12. I would really like to see Gatt and Gyau. We could use some speed so I’m hopeful these guys can step it up at some point in the future. With respect to Agudelo, I don’t think he has earned the call up. His talent is obvious but he needs to work really hard to get to the next level. Not sure the call up sends the right message to him. Saying that, I am an Agudelo fan and certainly hope that he, too, can one day rise to the occasion

    • I don’t know how you can question the message an Agudelo call up sends and not Gyua. Gyua is still fighting for a starting place in the 2nd division. All three are young and unproven, but have shown the potential to make real contributions.

      • I can’t disagree with you. I’ve just seen so much of Agudelo with the Red Bulls and I kind of feel like he has had lots of opportunity to prove his ability especially with Chivas. I personally haven’t seen Gyau play and am excited to do so plus he hasn’t had the same opportunities as Agudelo with the senior team. So, if we’re in the “let’s give the youngsters a try” mode, I would rather Gyau and Gatt get the nod.

      • Sabella,

        Are all the young call ups serious candidates for more PT in the near future?

        Are they all showing some improvement from their club situations back when they were on the Under 23’s?

        Didn’t Agudelo lobby like crazy to get a move so he could play more and did he not do that?

        Isn’t this a friendly match where the other manager, Capello is clearly playing a young, experimental team?

        If the answer is yes what’s your problem with calling in any of these guys? Besides, it’s possible Agudelo will not play a minute so you can feel good about that.

      • I didn’t say I had an issue with the call ups except for Agudelo. And as I said, I’m a fan. I think the dude can be huge. But I feel, and perhaps i’m way off base here, that his form has been “eh”. I promise I will be happy if he plays.

      • My guess is JK wants to see as much as he can of Juan now because… and this sounds weird, the line of applicants for ” forward, US” is getting a little crowded.

        Jozy, Gomez, EJ, Boyd, Gordon, Wondo, Sapong, Magee ( should be considered), Bruin, Bunbury, Cooper, that Icelandic kid, etc., etc., etc.

        It’s getting a little ridiculous how many people JK might have to think about at the forward position.

      • Your list of players is a little wishful. Gordon, Wondo, and Magee are good MLS’ers but do not really fit the international game outside CONCACAF.
        EJ had 2 nice games…and while I hope he keeps it up I’m not 100% sold on him yet.
        Gomez has done wonders since 2010 WC…but at 30 and not getting full games at the club level I wonder how much longer we’ll be able to count in him.
        The youth (Agudelo, Bunbury, Wooten, Boyd, Gyau, etc…are in a position to potentially supplant all the players you’ve identified. That’s likely why JK has called so many of them in.

      • Mr. Space,,

        You missed the etc.part.

        It’s too early to know who is going to Brazill if we qualify. Chances are JK will take four forwards, maybe only three.

        I don’t think you can discount anyone right now.

      • Magee and Wondo are both guys who have found success playing with their brains and their hearts rather than pure athleticism. Each of them makes intelligent runs and just seems to pop up in good spots at opportune times. Neither really has the athleticism and flash that makes defenders tremble, but they can each find ways to score.

      • With WCQ & the Gold Cup next summer, it makes perfect sense to try out the younger players and figure out where they fit.

      • It’s not a “message.” It’s Landon saying he might quit in tandem with an utter lack of wing play. We lack the old Bradley years ability to run to the endline and hit a cross in, whatever people think of Zusi or Torres, that’s not them. Your choices are either dump Dempsey (and Landon) back or find people who are effective wide. Either that or you play this weird wingless approach where we possess the ball a lot but only produce so many chances.

    • I think the US Olympic qualifying campaign debacle can be laid directly to the feet of Caleb Porter. Whereas JK has a wealth of knowledge of tactics at the international level as well as what it take to play differing formation, Porter had none of that. At the WCQ, when confronted by inferior teams with experienced international coaches using unfamiliar tactics and formations, the US froze or could not counter effectively. I do not think the US will win if Russia fields a senior international team. The US , however, have speed and enthusiasm. It will be interesting to see how JK utilizes it.

      • Mr. caps,

        Why do you feel the need to blame one person for the Olympic failure?

        I suppose having a convenient scapegoat makes it easier. The failure struck me as an organizational one.

        The Under 23’s had some talented individuals but they were very unbalanced and had spent very little time together.

        It was clear to me that once the pressure was on they were unsure about who to turn to and what to do, the sort of thing a TEAM figures out before they get into tournament play. I suspect Porter felt picking his Akron guys would solve that and it probably helped but that wasn’t enough.
        In other words, they looked like a glorified pickup team.

        Porter was a part time and absentee manager who, to an outsider, seemed to have the team put together by others according to his specs. Once he was done with his Akron commitments he was going to waltz in, have a few tune up games and blow everyone away with his genius.

        So who sanctioned this idiocy? This arrogant, overconfident fiasco of an approach? Reyna? Ramos? Sunil? JK? I don’t know.

        Porter was the next boy genius so I suppose obviously basic rules, like the need for team work and a basic understanding of the dirty details of tournament play were not necessary.

        And don’t tell me most of you didn’t buy it. On this site it is speed, talent and youth first and experience counts for very little which is why you are all so eager to get rid of experienced vets like Donovan, Dolo and Boca in favor of international neophytes like Zusi, Cameron, Gonzo, George and all the rest.

        Experience with international tournament play and a healthy respect for and understanding of your foes, both of which were missing from the Olympic effort, counts for something.

        That should be the takeaway lesson of the Olympic debacle, not that Porter was an arrogant twit, even if he was.

      • I agree. You can’t blame Caleb Porter. If Brek hadn’t made that mistake at the end of the game, they would of gone to London. The coach chooses the players and the tactics, but once the whistle blows it’s up to the players.

    • And they weren’t in the Olympics because the defense stunk. It’s telling that we have obvious defensive issues but none of the U23 defenders save GK Johnson are being called in to plug the leaks. In contrast, plenty of interesting attacking players. Of course those players face a more talented bunch of A teamers to beat out. Which is why I see the attacking end of the Russia game as more about the bench and long term development. Meanwhile the defense really needs fixing and the only change is Chandler, we wouldn’t call up Kitchen, Sarkodie, Opara, et al on a bet probably.

      I saw Porter’s failings as (a) inability to diagnose the defense and fix it, even if by moving players out of position (eg, you don’t think Gyau would be better than Flores or some of the dross he had at back?) and (b) inablity to tactically shift during the course of a game to control the flow of play and finish off an opponent. People forget we tied Canada and had ES down 3-2 with ’22 left at home and he couldn’t run out the clock or keep the goals coming. And ES and Canada lost quickly in the knockouts to the teams that went to London.

  13. Just want to note, Joe Gyau is apparently on the bench in the St Pauli-Bochum game now playing (early 2nd half). I thought he would already be with the USMNT. St. Pauli is now up 1-0, and if St. Pauli needs a goal late, good chance that Gyau will be subbed in.

    • I guess you ask yourself are you looking at young age (as we usually do) or young as a professional player. Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore are younger in age, but are pretty much veterans. They’ve played in Confederation Cups, Gold Cups, World Cups, Youth championships, MLS and europe. They’ve had more of a career then players like Jesse Marsch and Ante Razov.

  14. I think we all want to see Gatt and Gyau… Gatt because of the injury setback and Gyau because he was “the next big thing” once upon a time and we want some reward for our emotional investment on both of these guys.

    • I want to see them both for one reason: speed. Without skilled, fast wingers, it will be tough for USMNT to play on equal terms with the top teams in the world.


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