The USMNT U-20s have a new coach and a new roster, with the team finally reuniting to compete in the upcoming Revelations Cup. It’s an important cycle for the U-20s, as next summer, the USMNT U-20s will compete for spots in both the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. After the disappointment of seeing both the U-20 and U-17 World Cups canceled this year due to Covid, the new cycle is finally underway.
The U-20 pool is made of players born 2003 or later; most of them are only 17 or 18 years old right now. Let’s take a look at who was called into this first camp, as well as the full U-20 player pool!
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alexander Borto (Fulham/ENG.; South Plainfield, N.J.), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire FC.; Addison, Ill.)
DEFENDERS (7): Justin Che (FC Dallas; Richardson, Texas), Jacob Greene (D.C. United; Crofton, Md.), Kobi Henry (Orange County S.C.; Lake Forest, Calif.), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy; Lakewood, Calif.), Kayden Pierre (Sporting Kansas City; Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Casey Walls (San Jose Earthquakes; Mill Valley, Calif.), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United; Atlanta, Ga.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; Medford, N.J.), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls; Wayzata, Minn.), Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls; Warren, N.J.), Jeremy Garay (D.C. United; Crofton, Md.), Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders; Las Vegas, Nev.), Diego Luna (El Paso Locomotive; Redwood, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Stillwater, Okla.)
FORWARDS (6): Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; Ceres, Calif.), Brian Gutierrez (Chicago Fire F.C.; Chicago, Ill.), Missael Rodriguez (Chicago Fire FC; Chicago, Ill.), Malick Sanogo (1. FC Union Berlin/GER; Berlin, Germany), Dante Sealy (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Frisco, Texas), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.)
Gaga Slonina is the clear #1 for this U-20 pool, having impressed in his 10 MLS games with Chicago so far. Alex Borto has surpassed Damian Las in Fulham’s pecking order. A number of other ‘keepers are already getting pro minutes at USL level, and Carver Miller has trained with Arminia Bielefeld’s first team.
Justin Che is the top prospect on the back line for the U-20s. Bryan Okoh has made his RB Salzburg debut in the cup, and dressed for a Champions League match, but is provisionally cap-tied to Switzerland and would need to file a one-time switch to play for the US. Antonio Leone was likely invited to this camp, but is with Mexico’s U-20s instead.
On the roster: Justin Che (FC Dallas), Kayden Pierre (Sporting KC)
Yes, Justin Che is listed here again; it’s unclear if he’ll play centrally or on the right. Several others already getting pro minutes; Devan Tanton is progressing well with Fulham’s academy.
The two top LB choices are both unavailable, with Jonathan Gómez in the USL playoffs with LouCity, and Kevin Paredes out hurt. Paredes could also be an option on the wing.
On the roster: Danny Leyva (Seattle Sounders), Daniel Edelman (Red Bulls II), Jeremy Garay (Loudoun United)
The line between CMs and DMs is not perfectly defined, one or two of these three could certainly feature in a box-to-box role. Moses Nyeman would surely be included, but is out due to injury. Jeremy Garay has already been called up to El Salvador’s full national team, but accepts this U-20 callup, as he is not cap-tied yet.
On the roster: Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split U19)
Jack McGlynn has earned praise from Jim Curtin for his performances in MLS this year, especially his creative passing and skill on the ball, being called “one of our best players”.
Rokas Pukstas played for both Sporting KC and Barça Academy in Arizona before moving to Hajduk Split in Croatia. He’s a regular starter for their U-19s in UEFA Youth League. Alejandro Alvarado, Alex Méndez’s club teammate at Vizela, has made the bench in Portugal’s top tier the past two weeks vs Benfica and Famalicão.
On the roster: Caden Clark (Red Bulls), Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Diego Luna (El Paso Locomotive)
Talent abounds as we move further forward in the roster. Caden Clark has seen his form fall off in MLS after his appendectomy, but has come back to form in the past couple weeks, notching an assist vs Montréal Oct 30 and getting the start vs Atlanta on Thursday.
Paxten Aaronson has managed to score 3 goals for Philly in less than 600 minutes this season.
Barça Arizona grad Diego Luna has been a revelation in USL this year, notching 9 goals and 5 assists for El Paso.
Evan Rotundo made the Guardian’s list of top 60 young talents in world football, but is left off the roster. Danny Rios has a full El Salvador call-up already, despite not playing a pro minute at any level.
On the roster: Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union), Dante Sealy (Jong PSV), Brian Gutiérrez (Chicago Fire)
The talent doesn’t slow down as we get to the wingers. Cade Cowell has had a great season in MLS this year, especially considering his tender age.
Kevin Paredes would be a great option if not for his untimely injury.
Dante Sealy scored a hat trick for Jong PSV two weeks ago. His on-ball skill is tantalizing.
Jonny Perez is with Mexico’s U-20s. Federico Oliva has trained with Atlético Madrid’s first team multiple times, but doesn’t make the cut.
On the roster: Missael Rodriguez (Chicago Fire), Malick Sanogo (Union Berlin U19)
Seeing Ricardo Pepi’s name on this list reinforces just how young he truly is; able to play in the U-20 World Cup two years from now. Pepi is not expected to play a role in this cycle at all, as he currently holds the USMNT #1 striker job. Malick Sanogo is the only other American on the Guardian’s top 60 list besides Rotundo, has been in Germany U18 camp, and played in friendlies with Union Berlin’s first team.
Christian Torres is with Mexico’s U-20s.
In researching this article, it was incredibly encouraging to see how many of the US’s top young prospects already have full pro seasons under their belt - even at age 17 or 18. There’s no doubt that talent exists in the pipeline, and no doubt more names will emerge between now and summer 2022, let alone summer 2023. We’ll continue to track camps and developments here on Stars and Stripes FC. Here’s a snapshot of the full roster for this opening camp:
What are your expectations for this U-20 cycle? Are there any players you’re especially excited about? Hit the comments to discuss.