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Projecting the USMNT Under-20 World Cup squad


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.


  1. MacKenzie was slated to play for the Union this wknd but ended up going into surgery for appendicitis instead. No idea what the recovery time is for that, but I’m sure he’s disappointed in the setback.

    • Seems to be 1-4 weeks recovery depending on the type of surgery. I’m not sure James Sands hasn’t passed him anyway. He was pretty good at CB for NYCFC last week.

  2. There is no way Konrad De La Fuente is not on this roster, that is unless Barcelona don’t grtant him a release but i don’t see why they wouldn’t! Andrew Carleton is another i could see on this roster as well. Akinola and Amon would swap out for De La Fuente and Carleton on my roster.

    • I agree about Carleton. He was excellent in the last youth WC he played in. Maybe Atlanta fans can fill us in, but I saw some recent mention of him that made me think he was starting to get more minutes this year.

    • why would it be a waste?? They are clearly still developing, evidenced by the lack of first team minutes with their clubs, so playing in the biggest tournament at their age group will allow them to continue to develop and gain confidence heading into the preseason where they can hopefully break into the first team. It does them no good to sit on the bench for the GC this summer, although i suspect they won’t be called into the GC anyways!

    • If they were on the senior team for GC I would agree — and I’d even argue they should be. But GB talked like they were YNT for the short term in which case it’s U20 vs U23. U23 is less organized and they might not be available in October. Playing them U20 world cup this summer would also not rule out Olympics next year. To me it’s a matter of playing them where wanted and available.

      • I agree that Weah should probably be with the senior team but Sargent has clearly taken a step back when you consider his limited to no minutes at Werder B. At 19 y/o let’s not rush our talented prospects into the senior team. They got a taste of that level last summer and fall in those friendlies, but if we’re being honest no one really stood out enough to be considered one of the first names on the call up sheet for the senior team, and at that age it should be development first. We know both can contribute at that level in a pinch but getting them games and experience at their clubs is the way to go.

        A quarter of the players playing with the senior team probably won’t be getting call ups after the GC, so aside from a few players being called in for the expanded roster portion of the GC preparation before cuts are made, we shouldn’t expect a lot of new faces. I really believe that Nations League starts is when we finally see more turnover from the last several call ups, possibly meaning more youth players, but only if they have begun to make bigger splashes in preseason and to begin their new club seasons.

      • Sargent had 2 goals in the USMNT shirt. That made him one of our leading scorers in a fairly barren 2018, ahead of players like Zardes, behind only Wood. At which point to elevate the club status as determining both him and Wood is silly. So we sit the 2 most productive goal scorers last season with 5 total, they get to watch Zardes who has one country goal in 3 years, and we pretend it’s because their club form tells you something about country.

      • Ronniet I don’t read Sargent not playing for Bremen as a sign of regression just that they don’t see him benefiting from playing that level. If they thought he had slipped that far he wouldn’t still be making the bench half the time.

      • I big difference is Wood was actually playing last year he isn’t even dressing at this point. Sargent was scoring consistently in the German 4th Division when he scored in October. Yes I know he scored in the Summer against the Bolivia D team when the keeper decided to pass the ball to him at the edge of the box. If Sargent isn’t going with the U20s I think he’s a safe bet for the GC. Especially considering injuries to Altidore and Nova.

  3. My U20 team:


    S. Dest M. McKenzie C. Richards C. Gloster

    R. Ledezma A. Mendez C. Durkin P. Pomykal

    J. Sargent T. Weah

    C.J. Dos Santos , B. Scott

    M. Real, J. Araujo,

    K. De La Fuente, A. Aaronson, C. Cappis

    J.Sargent, T. Weah, S. Soto

    Reserve: A. Keita, S. Servania, F. Amaya, A. Akinola

    • Oh the potential of freddy adu… I am dying to see the interview or documentary in the next 20 years, explaining his downfall. We all have our theories, but I want to hear the actual story. I remember the difference he made for the USMNT when he played in the Gold Cup final for us against Mexico. Best player on the field that game. I’ve heard he just had no work ethic in training, but almost every time I saw him play, he was phenomenal. How terrible does the work ethic/attitude have to be to offset that much pure talent?

      • Agree that Adu had a world of talent….but there was obviously something missing. Anytime a player gets moved around to as many leagues and as many clubs as Freddy did with little (to no appearances) there is something seriously wrong with the player.
        2004-06 DC United (87), 2007 RSL (11), 2007 Benfica (11), 2008 Monico (9), 2009 Belenenses (3), 2010 Aris (5), 2011 Rizespor (11), 2011-13 Philly (35), 2013 Bahia (2), 2014 Jagodina (0), 2015 KuPS (8), 2015-16 Tampa Bay (12),

        That’s 12 clubs over 12 years. And when you exclude his 3 stints in MLS he’s never appeared in more than 11 matches for any of them. I don’t think there has ever been a player as well traveled, or given as many chances as Freddy has been given.
        The fact he couldn’t make a go of it anywhere is a massive statement of how much of a liability/distraction he was. And should be a cautionary tale for any young player looking to become a professional.

      • I remember a couple of years ago Freddy admitted that he “liked to party.” How far did that go? Did he miss training sessions or show up late all the time? Getting so much money so young obviously did not help him grow up and mature. Plus, he was a liability on defense, if he bothered to play any at all. Boy, he had some creativity, though. I don’t know if it has been equaled since, but he was the first player to get a hat trick in 2 youth world cups. I remember one of those games and he was clearly fouled in the box, but the ref waved it off, so he could have gotten 4 in that particular game.

  4. de la Fuente had a goal in the France friendly in March that ended 2-2. Carleton had a goal in the other (Japan) game. I would not be surprised if it comes out as argued here but it would not necessarily reflect U20 performance.

    Personally I think Weah and Sargent should be either with the U20s as expected here, since it would be an offseason tournament for their age group for which release could be assured, or with the senior team for Gold Cup the following month, since there are no Olympic release guarantees. But when they had the March camp they were with the U23s and not the seniors or U20s.

    • I agree! I remember when we would have U-23 rosters that were almost all college players or still on amateur clubs. Now we have a U-20 roster where everyone is a professional and half of them are getting serious minutes. A few even have debuts in Bundesliga, Ligue1, etc.


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