DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, July 5, 2016
The US U-20 squad won the recently concluded NTC Invitational, with Duke forward Jeremy Ebobisse proving to be the class of the bunch.
A mostly domestic selection from U-20 head coach comfortably won the round-robin format tournament, finishing ahead of Japan, Panama and Costa Rica in the four-team standings by winning all three games.
The overall goal tally of eight for the US and one against, was comprised of a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, a 4-0 destruction of Panama, and a much closer 2-1 finale victory against Japan.
For the Americans, the standout player of the tournament was unquestionably Duke forward Jeremy Ebobisse, who netted three goals and assisted on three others in the trio of wins. Coming only three months after a similarly strong performance in the Dallas Cup, this confirms that the 19 year-old should be expected to remain a primary piece in the U-20 team as they march towards next summer's World Cup in Korea.
Ebobisse has flirted with making the jump overseas, having gone on several trials in Europe early this year after being passed over by MLS for a Generation Adidas contract.
Also making a notable performance was Fulham youth midfielder Luca De La Torre, who assisted on a pair of goals in the first two games before heading back to London early for his team's pre-season preparations. These two games were De La Torre's first experience with the U-20 squad, and he likely earned continued consideration in the coming months.
Another Fulham youth player Marlon Fossey also figured heavily into the team's performance, starting the first two games - both shut-outs - at right back also entering the finale as a substitute.
Promising Villarreal academy member Mukwelle Akale, seen as one of the brightest prospects within the US system, was used more sparingly by Ramos, only starting the final game against Japan, and otherwise being limited to a second-half substitute.
US topped the final standings with a perfect 9 points, beating out second-place Japan on four points. The final two teams - Panama and Costa Rica - respectively finished on two and one point.
The dominant showing came with many of the top American players in this age category such as Christian Pulisic, Cameron Carter Vickers, Erik Palmer Brown & Gedion Zelalem not available for participation.
The long road to the next summer's U-20 World Cup in South Korea continues with another youth tournament later this month. The US will compete in the COTIF Tournament beginning on July 26, taking place in eastern Spain in the town of L'Alcudia, possibly giving Ramos the opportunity to include a few more of the European-based squad members.