Tab Ramos has picked his 21 men (boys?) that he will take to Turkey for this summer's U-20 World Cup. Luis Gil, Daniel Cuevas and Jose Villarreal headline the almost entirely professional United States squad that will be tasked with making out of an extremely difficult group of Spain, France and Ghana.
Only four players on the roster, Kendall McIntosh, Eric Miller, Javan Torre and Danny Garcia, are still in college, giving the U.S. 17 professionals. Along with the fact that 17 of the players played in the Developmental Academy, nine play in MLS and four play in Liga MX, this teams represents the changing direction of American soccer, and a positive one at that.
Maybe nothing better illustrates where American soccer is going than the fact that there are more than a dozen dual nationals on the roster, including Villarreal, Cuevas, Benji Joya and Oscar Sorto.
For all the talk about Cuevas, who was scintillating in qualifiers, and Gil, Villarreal and DeAndre Yedline, who have become familiar faces in MLS, the most intriguing player on the roster may be Kellyn Acosta. At just 17 years old, making him eligible for the 2015 U-20 World Cup as well, Acosta has been touted as the gem of the FC Dallas academy and will get his first real chance on the big stage in Turkey.
The U-20 World Cup starts on June 21 in Istanbul, where the U.S. will take on Spain. They will play France three days later before concluding with who else, but Ghana.
Goalkeepers: Cody Cropper (Southampton FC), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara), Zach Steffen (FC DELCO.)
Defenders: Eric Miller (Creighton), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Chivas Guadalajara), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg), Javan Torre (UCLA), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
Forwards: Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna), Danny Garcia (North Carolina), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey), Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy)