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21 for New Zealand: Projecting the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster (February Edition)

150118 U20MNT v JAM starting XI



The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team learned its group stage opponents this week, and now the real preparations for the World Cup begin.

Roughly three months are all that separate the U.S. from kicking off a World Cup campaign that is full of hope after Tuesday’s kind draw, which means head coach Tab Ramos will now need to begin narrowing down his pool of players and hone in on the 21 that he will take to New Zealand.

With so much talent at his disposal, Ramos will have some tough decisions to make. Not only could he now add more polished players like Rubio Rubin, but the mandated rule of carrying three goalkeepers will assure that someone who partook in World Cup qualifying last month will lose his spot.

There is still plenty of time for players to make their cases and move up or down the depth chart, but with the World Cup fast approaching, SBI is taking a look at the 21 players we see making up the U.S. Under-20 World Cup roster:

Projected U.S. U-20 World Cup Roster (February 2015 Edition)


Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Jonathan Klinsmann

Outlook- Steffen is the clear-cut No. 1 choice, especially after his impressive outing in the qualifying-clinching victory over El Salvador last month. Behind him should be Horvath, who has been a regular under Ramos’ watch. A third goalkeeper is mandated, so it seems likely that the U.S. sticks with the approach of using that spot on a younger player who could be involved in the next U-20 World Cup two years from now. In this case, it’s Klinsmann of the U-18 team.

Missed the Cut– Santiago Antunes, Evan Louro, Jeff Caldwell



Shaquell Moore, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, John Requejo, Tyler Turner, Conor Donovan, Erik Palmer-Brown

Outlook- The six defenders that traveled to Jamaica last month all look to have secure places in the squad. Moore, Carter-Vickers, Miazga and Requejo combined to form a solid starting unit during qualifying, and Donovan and Turner also proved capable in their brief appearances in the tournament.

Still, Ramos will probably want to bring at least one more player to New Zealand for cover and Sporting Kansas City’s Palmer-Brown seems a good bet if he avoids having any setbacks and is completely healthy.

Missed the Cut– Michael Amick, Luis Martir, Tommy Redding, Chase Gasper, Chris Odoi-Atsem



Kellyn Acosta, Emerson Hyndman, Junior Flores, Russell Canouse, Lynden Gooch, Paul Arriola, Romain Gall, Tommy Thompson

Outlook– The midfield lacked execution in the final third at times during qualifying, but did well with winning the ball and keeping it for long stretches. That should be enough to have Ramos stick to his guns, especially if he plans to stick to the 4-4-2 he used during the last four games in Jamaica.

There is a lot of competition in this part of the field, so some recognizable names like Fernando Arce Jr. – who was on the qualifying roster – and Joel Sonora might miss out. One wildcard who could change the dynamic of it all is Gedion Zelalem, whose status to play for the U.S. remains in question but who would undoubtedly make the World Cup squad if given the green light by FIFA.

Missed the Cut– Gedion Zelalem, Joel Sonora, Fernando Arce Jr., Marco Delgado, Zach Pfeffer, Luis Felipe, Corey Baird



Rubio Rubin, Bradford Jamieson IV, Dembakwi Yomba

Outlook- The front line is where most of the change figures to come. The U.S. struggled with its finishing during qualifying, and has some talented options at its disposal that were not in Jamaica.

Rubio Rubin is eligible to play in New Zealand, and should be brought on to help cure the finishing troubles if he is not in Jurgen Klinsmann’s Gold Cup plans. He would join Bradford Jamieson, who showed enough during qualifying to be included in Ramos’ plans.

The final forward spot would then be up for grabs. Yomba gets the nod here given that he is training with Atletico Madrid’s first team these days, thus ruling out a pair of qualifying participants in Amando Moreno and Ben Spencer.

Missed the Cut– Ben Spencer, Amando Moreno, Andrija Novakovich, Alex Muyl


What do you think of this group of 21 players? Agree with all the players that were included? Is there someone missing that you think will make the cut?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I like Novakovich, Novakovich seems like a natural finisher we lack with USNT. Novakovich is ahead natural ability over Spencer, Jamieson and Moreno.

    De la Torre, Akalle, Yomba and Sonora need to be called up for next friendlies, more imagination, skill and scoring touch some other under 20’s.

    Does USSF? have series friendlies set-up? Costa Rica and mexico already some friendlies, seem USSF falling invest on youth teams.

    • Not sure if the kid is going to make it. Soñora has good technique but from the few games that I saw him play, his issues in my opinion are: He is a bit of a ball hog, doesn’t see the open man fast enough for being a mid, and he is not as quick to take on every 1-1 challenge he faces.

  2. On paper this is the strongest USAYNT I have evern seen. The question is, can they play well together? during qualifiers they looked very disjoined. I just don’t think Ramos is the guy to take them to the next level.
    P.S. I would add either Spencer or Novakovich and move Rubio to the midfield and cut Flores, specially if Pulisic surpases Flores.

    • I think that’s a bit hasty. If this team is as productive as the 2007 team that featured Bradley and Altidore or the 2001 team that produced the US Golden Generation featuring Donovan and Beasley, then it will have to just about win this tournament and then parlay that kind of youth success into successful pro careers at the international level. Both Donovan and Beasley featured with the full national team in the World Cup the year after that tournament, and both made MAJOR impacts at the World Cup. I don’t see a Donovan in this group.

      • I wouldn’t consider Altidore a world elite player. MB is above solid but not quite elite level after all he is back in the states. Come to think of it, we never had a world elite player unless you count Howard when he was with MU but that didn’t last very long. Out of our U17 and U20 group there is probably 4-5 kids with a shot at the USA elite level…Rubin, Green, Stephen, CCV, Pulisic, Wright with maybe Hyndam, Gall and Thompson. For me to be a World elite you need to be playing in a top 4 Premier team or top 3 German/Spanish/Italian/French league.

      • Jozi Altidore,…a world elite player? Do you know how far he is from that level? You are talking about a forward who scored,…what…1 goal in 18 months. That is outrageously poor. For gods sake,….Defoe has scored two goals in three games since joining Sunderland.

        World elite player? How about really fit guy who happens to play soccer. That is a better description.

  3. joel Sonaro and Gedian Zelelam both make it, I think Kyle Scott, too. The player that would make it more interesting is Mukwelle Akale. Some seriou talent in this group

  4. How about an inclusion of this payne kid from groningen? Just see a young american outside back, at least making gameday 18s in a somewhat big league. I would tend to agree with this roster, however it really matters who can get time at their clubs in the first few months here. Another thought, with how well canouse shielded that backline in jamaica, any thought of playing acosta at left back instead of requejo? I think requejo is a solid left back option but doesnt add quite enough for me. That being said this would be my preferred starting 11.
    ——————–Jamieson IV————————–
    -If zelalem is included i find it hard for him not to start, i guess i would move rubin out to the wing for gall and then have zelalem at the 10 or push hyndmann up. I dont know a great way to fit hyndmann and zelalem onto the field at the same time.
    -Who else makes this roster is really based on who gets time (Donovan, Payne, Turner, Redding, Canouse, Flores, Gooch, Spencer, Moreno, Arriola)

      • Desevio Payne was born in South Carolina. Should be brought over tyler turner. Kyle Scott needs a place aswell. Also would Duane Holmes be available?

      • Everyone is available because it’s a FIFA event. Teams have to release players.

        But Holmes hasn’t been getting much playing time this season, so he’s probably on the outside looking in.

      • Slowleftarm, you are so critical of who’s American enough for you. Guess what…You aren’t American enough.

  5. No way Tommy Reading is below any current CB on this U-20 team… also cutting Spencer, Novakovich will essentially kill all US aerial game…

    • It happens to be a strong spot on this team w Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown and Miazga all solid contributors… I think he will get a shot, but so will the other three.

  6. If Pulisic has jumped Flores at Dortmund, does he get brought in for a look? I know he is young, but might be a good spark off the bench. I wasn’t super impressed with Flores, Gooch, or Canouse in the qualifiers.

  7. Fair bit of talent there. On paper, anyhow, that’s a competitive squad. Adding Zelalem and Rubin would add a great deal of firepower…but as noted, you wonder if they’ll be in the senior squad for the Gold Cup.

    • Are we sure we are not getting carried away and “doing a Julian” with Zelalem? I mean… I’d love to see him added, too… but it’s mostly so I can actually see him play some meaningful amount of soccer, rather than because I’m confident he’ll beef up the team.

      Don’t get me wrong… I hope the kid is as good as his limited resume suggests. And I don’t even think Green is some sort of “lost cause”. I just feel like we have been down this road with a LOT of players at this point now and they hype has been nothing but a curse.

      • I think giving Zelalem a chance at the U-20 level is a great opportunity and helps the team. Anything further up, yes he should have to prove himself before getting thrown in.

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