With only a month until the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, Tab Ramos and his staff have plenty of decisions to make involving their final roster.
The U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team booked its place into the World Cup after winning the Concacaf U-20 Championship last year. Many of those players will be relied on to lead the U.S. U-20’s to a deep run in this summer’s competition in Poland, against numerous tough opponents.
Ramos will submit a preliminary roster before having to reduce the number to 21 prior to the FIFA deadline. The U.S. kicks off group play against Ukraine on May 24th before also taking on Qatar and Nigeria.
Here’s one squad that Ramos could go with this coming May:
David Ochoa, C.J. Dos Santos, Brady Scott.
A deep pool of goalkeepers will see these three being the ones chosen for Poland.
David Ochoa appeared for the U.S. U-20 in the Concacaf Championship and is rapidly improving with USL’s Real Monarchs. He is able to learn from a longtime MLS veteran in Nick Rimando as well which should do wonders for his growth and confidence.
C.J. Dos Santos is an expected call-in after his experience with Ramos last March. The Benfica youth keeper could fight for the starting job but will find it tough against an in-form Ochoa.
Brady Scott also appeared in the Concacaf Championship but is fighting his way back through injury. Should he recover then he will fight for playing time against Ochoa and Dos Santos.
Missed Out: Trey Muse.
Sergino Dest, Chris Gloster, Mark McKenzie, Aboubakar Keita, Julian Araujo, Chris Richards.
Ramos will have plenty of defenders to choose from for the tournament and could go with different numbers for the final roster.
Chris Gloster and Sergino Dest will be the U-20’s starting left and right backs respectively as they continue their development abroad. Dest has earned consistent minutes with Ajax II this season and brings pace on the flank. Gloster has trained with Hannover’s first team but has yet to break into the matchday squad. He has seen consistent minutes with Hannover II, though.
LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo is also an option to start but it will be a tough decision for Ramos to make.
The centerback pairing could be a bit trickier for Ramos to decide especially with numerous options to consider. Chris Richards and Aboubakar Keita could be the starting duo especially with the physicality they bring to the table.
Mark McKenzie is another option at centerback but it is unsure if the Philadelphia Union will allow him to participate. McKenzie has seen his playing time drop this season after a strong 2018 campaign.
Missed Out: Matt Real, Jaylin Lindsey (Injured).
Alex Mendez, Richie Ledezma, Frankie Amaya, Christian Cappis, Paxton Pomykal, Chris Durkin
In midfield, Paxton Pomykal, Alex Mendez and Frankie Amaya will headline the selections. Amaya recently was loaned to USL’s Orange County SC in order to earn minutes while Pomykal has stepped into a huge role for FC Dallas. Both players bring energy to the squad and have experience at the youth level.
Alex Mendez looks to be finding his own with Freiburg’s U-19 side, recently scoring and assisting. The midfielder also scored the game-winning goal last year in the Concacaf Championship Final against Mexico.
Richie Ledezma missed the Concacaf Under-20 Championship with an injury but has recovered and is playing with PSV’s U-19 team. He will be joined by Chris Durkin and Christian Cappis to round out the midfield bunch.
Cappis has dressed for Hobro IK in the Danish Superliga, while making his first team league debut earlier this campaign. He also was brought into Ramos’ squad in March, continuing his development with the team. Like Pomykal, Durkin has stuck with the MLS route and was rewarded with his first MLS goal a week ago.
Missed Out: James Sands, Juan Pablo Torres
FORWARDS: Ayo Akinola, Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah, Jonathan Amon, Sebastian Soto, Ulysses Llanez.
Versatility is the key in the forward bunch with several senior players dropping down to the U-20’s.
Josh Sargent and Timothy Weah have earned first team minutes abroad and did earn senior caps in 2018 with the USMNT. Weah has been given more of a chance at Celtic while Sargent has struggled for get into Bremen’s first team with the side moving up the Bundesliga table. Both can add experience and leadership to the group while having an eye for goal.
Sebastian Soto’s goal scoring ability with Hannover’s U-19 squad was impressive and he was rewarded with a Bundesliga debut in April. Soto was also a part of the U-20 side that defeated Mexico last Fall and should give Ramos another option in attack.
Ayo Akinola will find it tough with Toronto FC but can contribute at this level for sure. Himself and Jonathan Amon add creativity to the wings and can even slide inside if need be. Ulysses Llanez is another option in attack, scoring six goals in four U-20 appearances including four in last year’s Concacaf Championship.
Missed Out: Konrad de la Fuente, Justin Rennicks, Andrew Carleton.