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Mikey Varas hired as USMNT Under-20 head coach, names first squad

The U.S. Under-20 men’s national team will have a new head coach at the helm ahead of the upcoming Revelations Cup.

Mikey Varas was announced as the new coach on Friday, taking his first job within U.S. Soccer of his career. Varas most recently served as an assistant coach at FC Dallas under then-head coach Luchi Gonzalez after working his way up from the academy in 2017.

He’s gotten to work with several of Dallas’ Homegrown talents including Ricardo Pepi, Paxton Pomykal, Reggie Cannon, Justin Che and Bryan Reynolds. Prior to his move to FC Dallas, Varas worked with the Sacramento Republic academy and was named U.S. Soccer Development Academy West Conference U-14 Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 season.

“We’re thrilled to bring Mikey on board to lead our U-20 Men’s National Team,” USMNT General Manager Brian McBride said. “This summer’s Concacaf Championship has taken on even more importance now that it also serves as Olympic qualification, and we’re confident that Mikey has the right qualities to continue our success at the U-20 level. This age group has been critical in advancing players to our senior Men’s National Team and Mikey’s experience developing players from the FC Dallas Academy to become successful pros makes him an excellent choice for this role.”

Varas also named a 23-player roster on Friday for the Revelations Cup, the first action for the USMNT U-20’s since 2020. New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, and FC Dallas defender Justin Che headlined the roster.

“One of my strongest core values is to compete, to always embrace competition, and we’re getting into that right off the bat.” said Varas. “I want to get to know the group as well as I possibly can in the time that we have and lay a foundation for the type of culture that the U-20s are going to have leading into qualification. That culture is going to be everything to create the feeling that we’re on a mission. We’re going to evaluate where our strengths are and how we can capitalize on those strengths, and understand the areas we have to improve.

“We’ll plant the seeds in terms of culture and playing and then get the boys to compete at their best level possible, learn from what happens in this tournament and then create a long-term plan to make sure that when we hit qualifiers, the team’s flying,” added Veras.

The Americans will take part in the tournament from November 7-17 against Brazil (Nov. 10), Colombia (Nov. 13) and Mexico (Nov. 16) to kick off their new cycle. The Revelations Cup will be used as preparation for the 2022 Concacaf Under-20 Championship, which will serve as qualification to the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics.

A total of 16 clubs are represented on the roster with MLS’ franchises Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire each having three players called in apiece. Dante Sealy (PSV/Netherlands), Alexander Borto (Fulham/England), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/Croatia), and Malick Sanogo (FC Union Berlin/Germany) are the four European-based players in the squad.

Here’s a closer look at the 23-player roster:

GOALKEEPERS: Alexander Borto (Fulham/ENG)), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire FC).

DEFENDERS: Justin Che (FC Dallas), Jacob Greene (D.C. United), Kobi Henry (Orange County S.C.), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Kayden Pierre (Sporting Kansas City), Casey Walls (San Jose Earthquakes), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United F.C.)

MIDFIELDERS: Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls), Jeremy Garay (D.C. United), Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders F.C.), Diego Luna (El Paso Locomotive), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO)

FORWARDS: Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Brian Gutierrez (Chicago Fire F.C.), Missael Rodriguez (Chicago Fire FC), Malick Sanogo (1. FC Union Berlin/GER), Dante Sealy (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union)


  1. “release” assumes in-season. as i understand it november 2021 is only the weakest U20 teams in the region. the june 2022 tournament is the actual u20 regional championship and that’s european offseason. we usually get the vast majority of players because MLS usually plays along even off the calendar, and the european teams have no offseason control. if there is “loss” as discussed above it’s usually that the very best of age eligible U20s, starting for the NT, are usually re-directed for senior ball. in a normal odd year process they’d be playing friendlies or saved for gold cup. historically with U20 in-season quali we have had some tug of war over players, but they are younger and usually at an earlier place in their progression, so we would get some european II team or U21 types. the deal is by U23 anyone good not playing keeper is usually starting or at least rotating on a first team and that’s when we get pushback from europe. and there, yeah, U23 is not considered “calendar” and we can’t force release. you can only force “release” for the senior calendar. it’s just as the age groups get younger and younger most of them aren’t first team starters so we’d get a lot anyway.

  2. Very impressive roster, some already considered prospects with high ceilings and playing first time minutes in their clubs.

    As comparison the previous group, who got into quarters in the 2019 wc, has now had 11 players get their first 1st cap in the MNT.

    The base of this group was the 2019 u17 group of gio reyna. 5 of those although eligible no longer could be part as they USMNT pool. They are gio, bello, scally, pepi, busio.

    • Actually only Pepi is eligible from your list, you have to be born in 2003. Joe Scally misses the cutoff by one day and is 9 days older than Pepi.

  3. MOST of the players selected aren’t playing regularly for their MLS teams, so clubs have no problem releasing players. No George Campbell? (CB) That’s pretty surprising omission by the new manager. Slonina is in, *cue -crowds goes crazy*. I look forward to the coverage of the tourney!

    • He’s way too old, it’s U20 in 2023, not U20 today. He’s I believe eligible for the Olympics should we qualify but not for next Summer’s Concacaf U20 Championship. One of those oddities using U20s to qualify for U23 tournament.

      • i expect 2 different U20 teams, a 2022 quali team and a 2023 worlds team if we make it. if concacaf wanted for it to be a U19 tournament they would call it that — like europe qualifies U21 for the years later U23 olympics. so this will be a U20 tournament and we have a long list of U20 eligible 2022 names with senior team calls. i assume we will run the available non-graduated ones out there in 2022 even if they can’t do U20 in 2023, because (a) we have historically qualified with a significantly different unit anyway and (b) it also affects the olympics, for which some aged U20s might still be eligible. so i don’t buy that at all. what i do buy is historically core senior team players are “graduated.” they go play the summer senior games instead. so what i see is anyone getting a 2022 world cup look is with the senior team. for tournament prep for the fall. i think you will see “senior cuts” who are only eligible for quali, play quali. we will worry about the worlds team from who is age eligible the following year — just like in-season quali has meant different names. i don’t see us risking quali to be “pure” about who is U20 for 2023. i see us doing what we have to do — within the limits of using real world cup players — and then rebooting for the next tournament and the next as time passes. the whole point with the professionalized USA is it’s never the same youth teams twice…..and assuming pepi reyna are senior players, we won’t risk them in indonesia. you’ll see odunze and the ones we are grooming but aren’t ready. just like pulisic and weston could have been in 2019 — but were “graduated.” that to me is the more serious concern, is who do we “graduate” out. does scally become a regular, etc. if he does, we will once again have a nicer list of U20 age eligibles than we actually field. personally the whole point of ODP and regionals and YNT is feed the senior team. if the senior team is better for it, job done.

  4. Required, No….but depending on the league and where the player is in their club pecking order most will be released.
    For instance, nearly every MLS player will be released by their clubs as it is an opportunity for them to showcase their players in order to sell them.
    Players already in Europe the chances they’re released is harder to determine. If they’re with the 1st team or near it, then they won’t be released. If they’re still academy players then the club could decide that International play/experience is of a higher caliber & therefore more beneficial than their club games.

    • No but they generally do during breaks unless an important tournament is going on at the time like Wes wasn’t released for U20 WC because Schalke was in U19 Bundesliga playoffs or this time USL Playoffs will be beginning so Gomez isn’t joining US or Mexico .


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