WILLIAMS: TEAM DIVERSITY AN ADVANTAGE
As one of many potential dual-nationality players in the U-20 team, Sheanon Williams sees the advantages to both the team and players, however embraces his position with the stars and stripes.
The North Carolina native made his first appearance in the tournament in Tuesday's thrashing of Cameroon and is credited with helping a much-improved back line keep their opponents in check throughout the game.
Williams looks to the diverse, multi-national background of the group on the field, which exudes a distinctly global feel, as one of the strong points of team as the head forward through the tournament.
"I think that's one of the great things about the USA in that we have a diverse culture," Williams told YA, adding "it mixes together well and it brings to the table different things that some players might not have from different countries."
The defender can count himself as one of this international group as his parents are natives of Trinidad and Tobago, however there never was any conflict in his mind throughout his development as a soccer player as to which country he would represent on the international level.
"I was born in the USA and I've always leaned more to the United States than to go and play for Trinidad and Tobago," he confirms. "I've never really had much thought of playing for them."
Helping his choice was the successful recognition of his talent early on by American coaches, effectively squashing any competition between the two countries prior to the Caribbean country even having the chance to test his allegiance.
"Luckily I got called into the United States national teams at a young age so it's not like I've been out there having to pick or choose," the 19 year-old admits. "It's always that I've been called into the USA and that's the way I go."
While his own choice was clear, Williams warns that having multiple options can be tricky for others in his situation, particularly when a player is not finding themselves receiving the invitations from the country of their preference and feels forced to weigh what options are best for their career.
"I know for a lot of guys, it's different," he continues. "Sometimes you want to be with the USA and it doesn't work out that way and you go for your second option, [or] maybe it's the other way around."
"I guess it comes down to who you feel stronger towards and who you would rather be with."
In contrast to his position in the national team setup, Williams still faces an uncertain path in his club career, having opted earlier in the year to seek a professional contract in lieu of college, and is still searching for a team to call home.
With a mixture on the U-20 team between those such as himself who have chosen to forego NCAA soccer and others who are using the college game as a stepping stone to a professional career, he sees advantages to both routes, but ultimately believes he has made the right choice for his own situation.
"Some guys might not necessarily like school and think that it's time to move on," the former North Carolina Tar Heel suggests. "That's definitely how I felt. I felt that with the U-20 World Cup coming up, even if I was at school, I would have missed most of the season."
"So I opted to leave. I had some trials at different places, [but] nothing has worked out so far so I am going to continue to look."
"I don't regret my decision to leave," he surmises. "But a lot of the guys are in the same spot and they are doing different things."
Two of his current U-20 teammates who are pursing the same path are Tony Taylor and Gale Agbossoumonde, both of whom recently signed with the management group Traffic Sports USA. While admitting contact with the company, Williams does not expect to join his teammates in the organization.
"I did speak with Traffic," Williams clarifies. "It doesn't look like I will be signing with them, [however] I am still looking to hopefully get something [...] in these games we have left."
"I've been talking to my agent who is here," he continues. "First, I've just got to get out onto the field and try to perform well. I am hoping our team does well, obviously."
"But I am just kind of throwing myself out there and hopefully someone will see that I am worth signing."
Williams will likely once again the the starting right back for the US when they take on South Korea in the final game of the tournament's group stage on Friday.