Jarred Jeffery from Getty Images
It seems like just yesterday when Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore were leading the United States U-20 team to a nationally televised prime time victory over Brazil in Canada. The victory gave the United States first place in its group in the U-20 2007 World Cup.
But like the 2005 U-20 when the US beat Argentina, the 2003 U-20s when the US lost in extra time in the quarterfinals and the 1999 U-20s when the US beat an England side that features many of today’s Premiership stars, the team wasn’t good enough to get to an elite level despite teasing us. Nonetheless, the development academy and youth system created by the USSF has reaped immeasurable dividends for the health of football here in the United States.
The CONCACAF U-20 Championships which determines CONCACAF’s entries into this Summer’s U-20 World Cup, being held in Egypt begin on March 6th. The CONCACAF qualifying tournament will be held in Port of Spain, T&T. Argentina has won five of the last seven Under 20 World Cups, but failed to qualify through COMNEBOL this time for the event opening the door for someone else to win the title: that someone could perhaps be the United States.
Brian Perk who played a role in the success of the US in 2007 playing in place of Chris Seitz against Uruguay headlines the qualifying squad along with “El Sueno” Jorge Flores whom I expect to break out this year in MLS since Chivas has sent Panchito Mendoza back to its parent club. This could allow Jonathan Bornstein to return to his natural left sided midfield position while Flores plays at the back or vise versa.
The US midfield appears stacked with the likes of Jared Jeffery, Brek Shea and Bryan Arguez all called in for the tournament. Up front Sam Garza and Peri Marosevic will be the key players. Unlike England’s recent experience at the UEFA U-21 Championship under Stuart Pearce, all players invited to camp are expected to show in Bradenton and all the players will be honored to represent their country in the youth championships. (Two big name English youngsters failed to show for the tournament.)
It should be noted that Notre Dame Defender Aaron Maund participated in the U-17 World Cup two years ago for T&T but has petitioned FIFA to play for the United States. He holds dual citizenship.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (Central Florida; Lilburn, Ga.), Josh Lambo (FC Dallas; Middleton, Wis.), Brian Perk (UCLA; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (7): Gale Agbossoumonde (Unattached; Syracuse, N.Y.), Kyle Davies (Southampton; Danville, Calif.), Jorge Flores (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.), Aaron Maund (Notre Dame; Dorchester, Mass.), Amobi Okugo (San Juan Lightning; Sacramento, Calif.), Anthony Wallace (FC Dallas; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Sheanon Williams (Unattached; Boston)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin; Miami), Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo; Glendale, Ariz.), Dilly Duka (Rutgers; Montville, N.J.), Jared Jeffrey (Club Brugge; Richardson, Texas), Brian Ownby (Virginia; Glen Allen, Va.); Brek Shea (FC Dallas; College Station, Texas)
FORWARDS (4): Sam Garza (Denver; Highland Village, Texas), Peri Marosevic (FC Dallas; Rockford, Ill.), Billy Schuler (North Carolina; Allentown, N.J.), Tony Taylor (Jacksonville; Jacksonville, Fla.)