U.S. Soccer announced last week the first ever U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit Camp. The camp will feature 153 players from the U-16 to the U-20 level and run from January 2-11, 2018 in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos will steward the camp.
The U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit comes on the heels of an outstanding year for U.S. Youth National Teams and players. The Men’s U17 and U20 teams reached the quarterfinal stage of their respective World Cups while Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) and Jonathan Gonzalez (C.F. Monterrey) showed they are ready to contribute to the senior national team immediately. U.S. Soccer is clearly looking to build on that success by creating an integrated youth system. After adding new youth national teams and introducing structural changes at the grassroots level, this U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit appears to be the next step.
I firmly believe this U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit would have transpired regardless of the outcome in Trinidad. As fate would have it, however, both the U.S. Men’s National Team and the passionate fan base are eager to turn the page earlier than anticipated. What this U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit provides now is hope. Hope in the future. Hope in the potential of teenagers. Hope that the worst days in U.S. Soccer history are permanently in the past.
Each player called into camp is, obviously, an unfinished product. A few players are known commodities to many U.S. Soccer fans, but the large majority of the 153 are only known to a handful of hardcore U.S. Soccer fans. Let’s try to take a look at a few prospects in preparation for the U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit.
Jonathan Amon – The diminutive left winger has just recently started receiving the attention his game deserves. A South Carolina standout and former member of the U14 BNT, Amon moved to Denmark at the age of 15 to attend boarding school. Much like Josh Sargent’s contract with Werder Bremen, Amon was unable to sign with FC Nordsjaelland until he turned 18. That happened earlier this year and he has already broken into the Danish club’s first team. Amon couples blistering pace with impressive dribbling ability to relentlessly attack his defender. His balance and strength were on full display when he bagged his first professional goal in a 6-0 drubbing of AC Horsens. The United States Men’s National Team has lacked pure wingers for some time now. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were inverted wingers who loved to create by tucking inside. Christian Pulisic slots in at winger for Borussia Dortmund, but should play centrally for the USMNT to maximize his impact. Fabian Johnson’s best days in Red, White and Blue were at fullback and Darlington Nagbe is a possession focused player. Jonathon Amon could develop into a very intriguing wide option on a young roster loaded with central talent.
James Sands – The New York Soccer Club product officially signed as NYCFC’s first Homegrown Player last year. He spent much of this past year on international duty with the U17 Men’s National Team. Sands featured in defense at both the CONCACAF U17 Championship and the U17 FIFA World Cup. Interestingly, NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira views Sands as more of a midfielder at the moment. He was impressed with Sands during preseason last year and quickly handed him his inaugural appearance for the first team upon his return to the club in September. With Alex Ring and Yangel Herrera on the roster, Sands will face stiff competition for minutes in 2018. That competition could give James Sands a tremendous lift in his development as Ring and Herrera are two of the most talented midfielders in MLS. He will compete for a spot day in and day out. That is what we fans have clamored for, is it not? Here’s guessing his positional versatility and confidence on the ball will earn him some playing time in the Bronx.
Giovanni Reyna – Per Grant Wahl, the son of U.S. Soccer legend and NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna may seek to continue his soccer development across the pond if he can secure a European passport. For now, he is a NYCFC product beginning a new U17 cycle. Last year he captained the U15 BNT to an impressive 2nd place finish at the U15 CONCACAF Championship. Although he missed this past month’s Nike Friendlies due to injury he appears set to make a name for himself in front of the entire youth program. It is a name U.S. Soccer fans will never forget, but a player who is looking to create his very own path to stardom.
Who are you keeping an eye on this week? Do you think we will see anyone at Camp Cupcake with the full Men’s Senior National Team later this month? Let us know in the FanPost section.