Lost in all the hullabaloo of fake Twitter and actual Twitter welcoming a kid to the US who really already grew up in the US, the U-20's are heading to training camp in preparation for the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand this summer. I do not know if Gedion Zelalem will ever suit up for the U-20's, but the talent is flush even without him. Honestly, I haven't been as excited to follow a youth tournament since the Young Yanks delivered a standout performance in Canada in 2007; take a look at the provisional roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jeff Caldwell (Virginia), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS (12): Michael Amick (UCLA), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Donovan (N.C. State), Chase Gasper (UCLA), Luis Martir (Chivas Guadalajara), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Tommy Redding (Orlando City), John Requejo (Club Tijuana), Tyler Turner (Orlando City)
MIDFIELDERS (12): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana), Corey Baird (Stanford), Russell Canouse (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC), Luis Felipe (Cruzeiro), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew SC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union), Joel Soñora (CA Boca Juniors)
FORWARDS (8): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Alex Muyl (Georgetown), Andrija Novakovich (Reading), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Ben Spencer (Indy Eleven), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
Without including the imminent inclusion of Gedion Zelalem, who was American as Apple Pie without the passport, you see:
1. A diverse group attached to nine different competitions (NCAA, Tippeligan, Bundesliga, EPL, Liga MX, Brazil Serie A, English Championship, Argentine Primera Division, USL Pro, Eredivisie).
2. 3 players attached to Top 30 global clubs.
3. 10 players with 1st team minutes on first division clubs.
4. Senior national team caps for Rubin and Hyndman.
My first thought on the potential squad make up is that I'm giddy at the potential of this being the first international team to adopt Esperanto as their primary field language. My second thought is we could actually revolve our attacking tactics around a 'False 9' for the U20 World Cup. My third thought is that Shaquell Moore would make be a nice depth piece for FC Dallas in 2015 (he did train with the club already after all).
I'm guessing a bunch of these guys make the Olympic team for Rio 2016, and anywhere from 2 to 6 of these gents will end up on the roster for the Senior team at the World Cup in Russia (if it ends up being held there). The last cycle of the U-20's made it to Turkey, and it will be critical for this group to build on that momentum as they push for the opportunity to represent the USMNT. It is fair to speculate that Klinsmann's lament of last cycle's futility in youth tournament has caused him to bring young players into full National Team camp as a motivational carrot at the expense of potential results after the World Cup.
A Top-2 finish in a group that includes hosts Jamaica would see the Young Yanks advance to the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand (what a dream destination for a scout) this summer. Tab Ramos and his charges start group play (5 fames) on Friday against Guatemala. Here's hoping we all become independently wealthy, the Yanks advance, and we summer in New Zealand.