Top Stories

Projecting the U.S. Under-20 World Cup roster

U20 USA vs Cuba

Photo by


The Toulon Tournament was far from a pretty one for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, but ultimately the mission of the tournament was accomplished.

No, the U-20s didn’t set out to lose three of four, but Tab Ramos did take his team to France with the hope of helping figure out just which players will make the final cuts for the U.S. Under-20 World Cup team.

Ramos had a chance to look at some fringe players, and some new faces, like Monterrey striker Alonso Hernandez. He also got to see some defense options to help him figure out just how to construct a defense capable of holding up in a World Cup that features Spain, France and Ghana.

So who will Tab Ramos bring to Turkey? Here are the 21 players we see being selected to the U.S. Under-20 World Cup roster:

PROJECTED 2013 U.S. Under-20 World Cup Team


Cody Cropper, Kendall McIntosh, Zach Steffen

OUTLOOK– Cropper starts, McIntosh is the back-up and Steffen is the future of the position.



Kellyn Acosta, Eric Miller, Juan Pablo Ocegueda, Shane O’Neill, Oscar Sorto, Caleb Stanko, Javan Torre, DeAndre Yedlin

OUTLOOK– Not a single natural centerback is on the roster but Tab Ramos is showing continued faith in the Stanko-O’Neill partnership, with Torre serving as the back-up centerback.

This roster is loaded with fullback options, but central defense looks to be a serious flaw, with one-time U.S. Under-20 national team captain Walker Zimmerman the most glaring omission.

Kellyn Acosta feels like a bit of a surprise as the youngest field player in the mix at 17, but his versatility gets him on the team, as does the prospects of him leading the U.S. Under-20 Team in 2015.



Daniel Garcia, Luis Gil, Benji Joya, Mikey Lopez, Victor Pineda, Will Trapp

OUTLOOK– No real surprises here, though Pineda is the player who has played his way into the squad most recently. Trapp and Lopez will be called in to do the heavy lifting in midfield, especially with Stanko forced to play in central defense.

Wake Forest midfielder Collin Martin misses the cut, as does Colorado Rapids rookie Dillon Serna.



Daniel Cuevas, Alonso Hernandez, Mario Rodriguez, Jose Villarreal

OUTLOOK– Hernandez is the final arrival, a player who did well enough to earn minutes for Mexican side Monterrey last season. He showed some good flashes in the Toulon Tournament, and likely impressed  Tab Ramos enough to make the squad.

Seattle Sounders academy product Jordan Morris made a late push to make the team, but falls just short.


What do you think of the squad? Excited to see what the U.S. attack can do with Villarreal and Gil in the squad? Worried about the defense holding up in such a tough World Cup group? What player would you add to the team if you could make one change?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Anyone,

    Wasn’t there a kid who was the Captain of the Bayern U-20 team that was eligible for the USA? Whatever happened to him? Did he opt out of the USA program?

  2. I like that you have 2 guys with really special game changing type of speed, each on opposite sides and in different positions in Cuevas and Yedlin. That gives Tabare some nice options for inserting a variety of different attack tactics.

  3. Looks like you nailed it Ives. Per @klinsmannschaft on Twitter who claims to have the roster:
    “21 players going to Turkey confirmed: Cropper, McIntosh, Steffen, Acosta, Miller, O’Neill, Ocegueda, Sorto, Stanko, Torre, Yedlin…U20WC list cont’d: Garcia, Gil, Joya, Lopez, Trapp, Cuevas, Hernandez, Pineda, Rodriguez, Villarreal”

    • that guy is spot on normally on twitter and news in general. I’d bet that Ives saw the same thing he did. Its the same order listed for all the players.

  4. Were Zimmerman to be called, I wonder if he would even be released to play. If George John gets a Gold Cup call, FCD could be strapped for depth at CB. Keel is still out, Ugo is out for the season. That leaves Hedges and Woodbury to slot in at CB. Woody should be playing outside btw. That would leave Bobby Warshaw (a bad CDM) to step back and play for us. Zimmy + John gone could put a big dent in FCDs success.

    • Is the U-20 WC a FIFA sponsored event? If so Zimmerman has to be released for it by the club, not sure but think it might be.

      • It is a FIFA event. Doesn’t matter anyways – have you seen the group the US is in? Our boys should be back home well before the Gold Cup starts!

      • Probably true but I was just pointing out if you are called into a FIFA event the club is required to release you, they don’t have an option in the matter

  5. I don’t follow the U-20 squad at all, so someone please tell me how on earth our youth national team might not have one natural center back on the roster for a world cup?

    • Injuries to Packwook, Zimmerman, & Cunningham along with JA Brook not committing to the team in time have left us very thin on quality. Hence use of CDM’s as CB’s.
      Additional injuries to Pelosi and others have weakened the team still further.

      • Tab also likes to build from the back, so he likes converted DM’s who can control the ball and make sharp passes rather than the traditional American boot the ball into the mezzanine type of CB.

      • you mean the typical American CB who is a tough as nails person, who is also the best defender on the team even if less technical?

      • So there are only 4 potential CB starters for our U-20 team? Seems like Tab has his hands full and can’t figure out his left hand from his right.

        There has to be more than 4 center backs who can play for this national team — with one not even committed to the USA.

      • Unfortunately, Ramos never even looked at Carroll from UVa. He is big at 6’3″/190 lbs and has international experience starting for the U.S. U-17s at the 2011 World Cup. He just finished up his freshman year at UVa where he had 4 goals and 10 points (both 2nd on team) and is currently playing in the NPSL for RVA where he has 2 goals in 3 games and their defense has only given up 1 goal — to the DC United U-23 team.

  6. certainly some omissions that make you wonder…but at the same time, you can’t argue against really any of these picks. i guess this is a good thing for US depth.

  7. O’Neill may not be considered a “natural” CB, but he’s played 792 minutes at CB for the Rapids this year, and the team is 4-0-4 on his starts. He was an aggressive box-to-box type guy in high school, and with his skill set looks to be something like the prototypical USMNT CB of the future that Klinsmann wants. Big, strong, fast, and with good foot skills for building out of the back.

  8. Are these really the best U-20’s we got? Gil, Villareal, and O’Neill are quality players, but after that it seems like Ramos has done a 180 from the “pay to play” selections of the past. But I always like speed and athleticism over slow-diminutive guys w/ fancy footwork. (As for notable little guys, even Messi relies as much on his explosive power and any other part of his game, and Chicharito is usually the fastest guy on the pitch).

    Basically, we can’t try to copy the Mexican National Team or we will never be better than them, and they are not really that great, just the best side in N. America right now.

    That said, I watched these boys play and I think they are better than the Toulon results show. My glass is half full on this squad as is currenlty listed. I just wonder what the selection criteria were.

      • yeah, I am enthused about his future. Right now he is showing a lot of spark, needs to develop the mental side, based on the two times I have seen him play MLS this season.

  9. Jordan Morris should be on there over one of Acosta or Miller.

    And I like Tab, but he’ll feel some pain if he doesn’t take Walker Zimmerman along for this trip.

  10. No way they leave Zimmerman off the roster, unless he gets hurt again. He has looked for Dallas when he played, and is certainly a key member of the U20 backline.

    • Ramos may think it’s too late to bring Zimmerman back into the fold. Personally, I’d love to see a backline that included Zimmerman/O’Neill/Yedlin… 3 guys w/ professional experience on the backline… I can’t remember ever having that on a U20WC team before.

  11. Does anyone know why Alejandro Guido (Tijuana), former u-17 star, couldn’t even get a 2nd look with this squad? or hell, i know he’s young but even junior flores (who’s on his way to borussia dortmund btw) i’m not sold on Gil.. and come this summer you’ll all see why. but that’s just my two cents

    • Gil is consistently one of the best players for the U-20 team and starts regularly for RSL. He’s not flashy so he won’t wow you with tricks, but he does a ton for the team. He’s the MB of the youth teams, the engine behind the midfield.

      • I respectfully disagree about Gil. I think at the U20 level he is flashy to the detriment of the many turnovers in bad places trying to do too much himself. I think his D is a little passive. IMO the engine is the combination of Trapp and Joya.

    • Agreed. Guido is the captain of Tijuana U20 team. He was interviewed and didn’t know why he hasn’t gotten a look.

  12. I was actually looking at our U-20 pool and put together my roster:
    GK-Cropper, McIntosh, Steffen
    DEF-O’Neill, Payeras, Zimmerman, Ocegueda, Cunningham (Miller), Yedlin
    MID-Stanko, Acosta, Trapp, Lopez, Villareal, Joya, Gil, Hernandez
    FWD-Cuevas, Kiesewetter (Morris), Rodriguez, Koroma
    A couple comments: Stanko is too much of a liability in the center of defense, he really struggled to play the ball out of defense yesterday against South Korea. Play him at his naturally cm position, next to trapp, who will operate as a box to box
    It seems as though a couple talented players like Cunningham and Jerome Kiesewetter seem to be out of the picture, if so I’d replace them with solid, experienced youth players like eric miller, and jordan morris.
    I was trying to find a way for victor pineda to fit into this team but I can’t put him ahead of villareal, joya, gil, hernandez or cuevas, he might be able to take Kiesewetters spot though.
    Walker Zimmerman MUST be included in this team, I mean come on, our best pure CB we have right now is Payeras who plays in the Guatemalan league, theres def a spot for this kid

  13. “Not a single natural centerback is on the roster”– that was the only problem they had vs Haiti, Canada, Costa Rico, Mexico, etc… Ya thats going to be problem vs Spain, France and Ghana too!

    Shane Oneil and Stanko do look more comfortable but its still the weakspot on a good team.

    • What befuddles me is it’s a need position at the senior level which doesn’t appear to be addressed at either the U23 or U20 levels. I understand Klinsi’s emphasis is on playing a 451/433 and attacking, and there is plenty of attacking talent in the pipeline. But the U23 team was like an object lesson in what happens if the team is one-dimensional. They couldn’t even hold ES at home with a lead to make the Olympics.

      • The issue with CB’s is that they, more often than not, take longer to develop. The U-23 team didn’t have it’s full compliment of players since qualification wasn’t held over a FIFA date. That procluded any European players receiving time w/ their clubs from participating. Add to that our domestic players (Opara, Boss, etc…) were not receiving any time with their clubs really hampered the ability to field a competitive team. The U-20 team has some promising CB’s but many were hit with injuries (Packwood, Zimmerman, Cunningham) or have not committed to the cause (Brooks). Granted I wish we had a deeper pool of quality players to pull from…but the US just isn’t yet able to develope a truely quality filled 6-8 player deep player pool for every position.

      • I agree, you would think we would be steering some our best and brightest towards CB and LB. Knowing, as you’ve stated in the past, that we have practically a 10 year gap in our pipeline for CBs. Unbelievable as it sounds, I think we are finally getting the concept of grooming capable defenders that are also technically well rounded players.There is only one Maldini, but we need to be on the road to identifying the American Maldini.

  14. Without knowing player specifics I wonder if that isn’t enough midfielders. I would think you want more like 7 midfielders, maybe one less defender and one more midfielder? I guess it depends a bit on the lineup they project to use.

    • Cuevas———-Rodgriguez———Villareal
      Is my guess. All of the forwards are more wingers than strikers. Maybe the new guy from Monterray would help there.. Dont know where Pineda or Garcia play

  15. How many of these players are signed by top flight clubs? Nevermind.

    I hope these young men have heart.

    Watching the Toulon, and the Euro U-21 tournaments, I am still not optimistic of our future in the footballing world, nor confident in our player scouting/development. I challenge those that have ESPN3 to watch the Italy-England match from yesterday.

    • Don’t worry. History shows us that success, or lack thereof, at the youth international level in the United States is no measure of how we will do in the future. Very few of these players will turn out to be full USMNT players.

      • And some of the best USMNT players down the line will hardly ever feature in these U20 or youth level teams. Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Joe Corona none of these guys were big parts of their U20 cycles (for some it was injuries and bad timing I know) but some players also develop late. Don’t put too much stock in the results of age restricted tournaments. Players will develop and unexpected players will rise. The future of US Soccer and development is fine.

      • Probably should also mention that the team in Toulon tournament didn’t have several of these players and in the WC qualifiers they took Mexico into extra time.

        They are a pretty solid group. And most will fade away without getting senior caps.

      • Yeah it is neat to look back at the different countries line ups in the youth WC and see who currently plays with the NT and who does not.

      • It’s also interesting to see the youth in other regions playing for PSG, Liverpool, Juventus, etc

      • Nice to have an EU passport or other available exemption allowing youth to go to world class youth teams, instead of having to wait till their 18 or received enough “A” team appearances to get a work permit.

      • “Very few of these players will turn out to be full USMNT players.”

        That’s exactly the problem!

    • You have to consider that most of our pro players are in mid-season and therefore not available whereas all France/England, etx. players are in offseason and therefore available.

  16. This team, and specifically the defense, would look a lot stronger if Packwood, Brooks and Pelosi were all healthy and/or available.

  17. If Jordan Morris is not on the roster that will be a crime. He played better than Hernandez did( who for the record I think should be on the team as well). Danny Garcia for me is not an international player, but I think Ramos will select him.

    8 defenders is a bit much IMO. No need for Eric Miller when you have Acosta. Should lose a defender and add a FWD.

    • Too bad he picked up a knock in preseason. Plus FCD is pretty stacked in CB. But Zimmerman has picked up some first team minutes the past few games. Hope to see him in Turkey and play well

    • I watched Walk Z play for FCD vs the Earthquakes here in Frisco about two weeks ago, if not for Raul, he’d have taken MOTM award, easy. Even Hyndman mentioned he was really impress with Walk Z, in his post-game conf. So were all the fans.

      • Ives, really curious to know what are your grounds, leaving Walker Z out of this roster, he looked healthy enough.

      • Am guessing that Tabare wants to play from the back and Big Z isn’t technical enough to do that?

      • Like that name “Walk-Z” Also sounds like it would be a good name for a geriatric rapper representing the AARP. Old Walk-Z’s n da house!

      • I saw the game too, Zimmerman had the outlet pass/clear to start the counter that scored the only goal in the game. Zimmerman didn’t look out of place at all…he was good. I also saw the Quakes Colorado game with O’Neil. O’Neil was solid also and might have some speed on Zimmerman, but the CB position is so thin, I think Tab would be nuts to leave Zimmerman off the WC roster.

    • I saw Zimmerman play in the first half in an Open Cup game down here in South Florida versus the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. He got substituted in the first half for Matt Hedges due to injury. Not sure if he is still banged up.

      • Reports on Zimmy are hamstring, which is pretty tough on the kid having missed most of the season thus far with a groin injury.

        He’s shown to have quickly adapted to MLS and when healthy is suitable as a starter or to sub in for George John and Matt Hedges, one of the better CB combos in the league.

Leave a Comment