21 TICKETS TO CANADA
With just over a month remaining before the US Under-20 National Team takes to the field in Montreal, 12 players are sure to be headed north of the border.
With a handful of spots clearly up for grabs, the next few friendlies will be critical for players to make an impression with Head Coach Thomas Rongen.
In this latest edition, we welcome four players who had previously not been on the list of invitees. This includes Dax McCarty who was all, but a lock in January, but was surprisingly left off the qualifying roster. McCarty has blossomed during the spring earning a starting job in the MLS Western Conference leading FC Dallas midfield.
And let's not forget Sampdoria forward Gabriel Ferrari, who has burst on to the scene scoring a goal in his first appearance with the U-20's.
There are also six players on the outside looking in, including FC Utrecht midfielder Mitchell van den Beld and college playmaker Jonathan Villanueva.
One player not heading to Canada is Mainz defender Neven Subotic who recently made his Bundesliga debut. The 18 year old defender is still nursing a nagging injury which will force Rongen to look elsewhere for a center back.
As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated in the YA mailbag.
PACK YOUR BAGS, BOYS
Freddy Adu - M, Real Salt Lake (USA)
- The 17 year old (soon to be 18) captain has been waiting for this tournament for two years after a disappointing Round of 16 loss in 2005. Can he finally have the breakthrough tournament he needs to propel himself to Europe?
Josmer Altidore - F, New York Red Bulls (USA)
- As good a forward the United States has ever had at 17 years of age. End of discussion.
Michael Bradley - M, SC Heerenveen (Holland)
- The X factor. Bradley hasn't played with this team since a friendly nearly eight months ago. Rongen has confirmed Bradley will be in Canada which pushes this team to the next level.
Amaechi Igwe - D, New England Revolution (USA)
- Igwe's versatility has made him a lock for this team. An injury at any one of three positions could see Igwe see major minutes in Canada.
Quavas Kirk - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
- Kirk's lack of playing time this year in MLS is a little worrisome, but he's still the first choice right back for this team.
Chris Seitz - GK, Real Salt Lake (USA)
- The goalkeeping position consists of Chris Seitz and Chris Seitz. The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper has already made his professional debut despite being just a rookie.
Johann Smith - F, Bolton Wanderers (England)
- Smith is starting to return to form after a disappointing run which saw him loaned out to Carlisle United. The Altidore/Smith combination will be a real handful for all teams this summer.
Nathan Sturgis - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
- Sturgis returns from the 2005 team and will be the defensive anchor for this US team.
Danny Szetela - M, Columbus Crew (USA)
- Szetela is poised for a European move after the 2007 MLS season and a quality performance this summer will definitely help. The Adu-Szetela combination during qualifying proved pivotal for the United States' success.
Julian Valentin - D, Wake Forest University
- Valentin will play a pivotal role for the USA in Canada. Will Valentin's lack of professional experience show or will he have an inspiring performance that will impress European scouts?
Tim Ward - D, Columbus Crew (USA)
- Ward's offensive abilities give the US a dangerous attacking option on defense.
NEARLY A LOCK
Gabriel Ferrari - F, Sampdoria (ITA)
- Ferrari impressed Rongen earlier in the spring in his first Under 20 camp. Ferrari could be the Benny Feilhaber of 2007. The player who comes out of nowhere to make a big time impact.
Dax McCarty - M, FC Dallas (USA)
- McCarty has blossomed this year into a starter for FC Dallas. He's one of only a handful of players on the roster who is a first team selection for his club. Even though Rongen looked at other players during qualifying, Rongen has stated McCarty has played his way into the 21 man roster.
Brian Perk - GK, UCLA
- Perk is a good young shotblocker that has performed well when given the opportunity. The only two ways Perk makes the field in Canada are injury or red card to Chris Seitz.
Robbie Rogers - F, Columbus Crew (USA)
- Rogers has not played as well in 2007 as he has in 2006 and could find himself as substitute come June. However, his creativity from the wing makes him a dangerous option for the US.
IN A BATTLE
Anthony Wallace - D, FC Dallas (USA)
- Wallace was a key contributor in the midfield for the US during qualifying, but could also fill in on the left side of defense in a pinch. An athletic player who could be important against a physically imposing team.
Sal Zizzo - F, UCLA
- The latest attacking player with flair to come out of UCLA. Zizzo is ready for the professional game and the U-20 Tournament is a great place to be noticed.
Bryan Arguez, M, D.C. United
- A skilled player, but is still green. Arguez will provide backup to Szetela and Wallace.
- GK, University of South Florida - Restrepo has been in the mix for awhile. He's a guy loaded with potential and the maturity received from being a part of a World Cup team makes him a good choice for a third goalkeeper. He will play one of the US' two friendlies against Canada. A disappointing performance and he won't make the trip in June.
Ofori Sarkodie - D, Indiana University (USA)
- A former captain at the U-17 level, Sarkodie can provide leadership in the back if called upon.
Preston Zimmerman - F, Hamburg SV (GER)
- A professional soccer player on a Bundesliga club roster not able to make the US Under 20 roster? Well, it may happen. The US forward stock is loaded with talent at this age group. Zimmerman has also been called into the latest camp and will be competing with the likes of Akpan and Zizzo for a roster spot. His professional training and experience gives him a slight edge.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Andre Akpan - F, Harvard University
- Played very well at the U-20 Qualifying Tournament, Rongen has brought him back in to the latest camp and is on the bubble right now.
Tony Beltran - M, UCLA
- Has been a fringe member of this team for the last six months. He was one of the final cuts to the U-20 Qualifying team, before the absence of Michael Bradley brought him back into the team. If Bradley is called up to the Copa America squad, expect Beltran to once again find himself on the roster.
Steve Sandbo - GK, Southern Methodist University
- Was in a battle with Brian Perk for awhile, but Sandbo dropped off. Rongen has brought him into camp which gives him his last opportunity to impress.
Mitchell van den Beld - M, FC Utrecht (HOL)
- Born in California, but moved to Holland at a young age, Rongen feels van den Beld is a quality player with professional experience. The FC Utrecht player has been invited to his first camp for the United States. However, it may be a little too late for him to make that much of an impression and make the squad.
Jonathan Villanueva - M, University of Virginia
- A talented playmaker who has the ability to play at a high level. With the likes of Freddy Adu, Michael Bradley, and Dax McCarty ahead of him, Villanueva likely will not receive the opportunity to join the team in Canada.
OTHER BUBBLE BATTLERS
Jalil Anibaba, Nik Besagno, Kyle Davies, David Estrada, Jeremy Hall, Rodrigo Lopez, Zac MacMath, Blake Wagner, Sheanon Williams