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USA’s U-20 World Cup roster offers several surprises

Tab Ramos throws us some curveballs.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Another FIFA U-20 World Cup is upon us and for the second straight cycle Tab Ramos has the United States looking pretty good heading into the tournament. Back in March, a group full of primarily domestic-based players won their first CONCACAF Championship for the age group. On Tuesday, Ramos named an altered 21-player roster with some very interesting changes to what worked earlier this year.

"We are very excited to once again provide a great competitive opportunity to our players and are looking forward to heading to Korea Republic," Ramos said in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. "As always there were some extremely tough decisions to make. This is a talented age group."

The most notable roster decision has to be the inclusion of 17-year-old strike Josh Sargent. The St. Louis native is fresh off scoring five goals for the U.S. U-17’s at their CONCACAF Championship. They’ve decided that their striker pool isn’t adequate enough and have reached into the younger age group to pluck their star player. It could be argued that striker was the most disappointing position in March with Jeremy Ebobisse failing to offer much of a scoring threat. Sargent’s inclusion is a bold move that proves Ramos and his staff think he could really improve the team’s chances to go far.

Another interesting choice is Atlanta United academy’s Lagos Kunga a speedy winger who only received his first ever call-up to the U-20’s for the most recent training camp in England in April. It’s quite rare to see a player come around so late in the cycle and make the final roster. Either he really impressed in that one camp or he fits a certain need that the Ramos felt the team lacked.

Notable absences from the squad include many high profile names playing across Europe. None of the Schalke trio of Haji Wright, Weston McKinnie, or Nick Taitague were called in. It’s quite possible that the Bundesliga club declined to release them for the tournament. Which, unfortunately is their right as it is for every club. Other omissions include Fiorentina’s Josh Perez, Villarreal’s Mukwelle Akale, Manchester United’s Matthew Olosunde, Wolfsburg’s McKinzie Gaines, and Werder Bremen’s Isiah Young.

Both Gedion Zelalem and Cameron Carter-Vickers are playing in their second straight U-20 World Cup after heavily featuring in the 2015 tournament.

The majority of the roster is holdover from the qualification triumph. Including Brooks Lennon who starred for the team during that tournament from his right wing spot and has gone on to earn some starting nods for Real Salt Lake in MLS.

The U-20’s kickoff the World Cup in South Korea on Monday, May 22 against Ecuador at 4:00 a.m. ET.

Here’s the full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), J.T. Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.), Brady Scott (De Anza Force; Petaluma, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (7): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur FC; Westcliff-on-Sea, England), Marlon Fossey (Fulham FC; Surbiton, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (University of New Mexico; Las Cruces, N.M.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham FC; San Diego, Calif.), Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal FC; Bethesda, Md.)

FORWARDS (6): Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Lagos Kunga (Atlanta United FC Academy; Tucker, Ga.) Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Unattached; Columbus, Ohio), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O'Fallen, Mo.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah)