When attention turns to the US men’s national team each international break, many young American players abroad get forgotten. But some of them are making interesting progress, as well as showing great personality.
Adding to Gedion Zelalem, Emerson Hyndman, DeAndre Yedlin and others, here is a starting XI of under-19 players that could add to the youth sections of men’s national team.
GK – Benjamin Machini: Nicknamed “Benji,” Mallorca B’s backup goalkeeper is already familiar with Spain, having played the last season at CE Constancia in lower leagues. Holding both Swedish and American nationalities, Benjamin could become an interesting goalkeeper, considering he is one of the only Yankees in Spain. Definitely one to watch.
former FC Dallas Academy & QPR Academy Niko Hämäläinen received his international clearance pic.twitter.com/CkxHZZ0g5E
— Dr Pepper Dallas Cup (@dallascup) September 11, 2014
LB – Niko Hämäläinen: Of Finnish descent, Niko is a strong fullback, regularly starting for Finland’s U21s and a rotation defender for Queens Park Rangers. With only two appearances — a few weeks ago on loan to League Two’s Dagenham & Redbridge as well as an appearance for the club in League Cup against Charlton — the youngster has a lot to prove, but he still has lots of time to improve and get a spot in QPR’s starting XI.
CB – Niall Mason: Having grown in the academies of continental giants such as Real Madrid and Al Sadd, then for English sides Blackburn Rovers and more recently Southampton, Mason (left, above) is is already Aston Villa’s under-21 starting center back despite being only 18 years old. Capable of playing on the right side of the defense but also as a defensive midfielder, the English-born defender has played six times already for Villa in the under-21 Premier League. He has followed a strong curriculum that could eventually lead him to a spot in the American youth teams.
CB – Ken Gipson: It seems like young players of American descent are developing quite fast in Germany lately, especially this one. Gipson, a former German under-16 international and Stuttgart player, earned a move at Leipzig earlier this year. Being one of the key players in the reserve team, the young man has spent the last two 2.Bundesliga match days on the starting lineup of Ralf Rangnick’s Red Bulls.
RB – Corey Anton: At the age of 16, Corey Lee stands 6-foot-1 and is a rotation player for Kaiserslautern’s U17 team. Having made his way through the FCK academy for three years, the right back is celebrating his fourth season at Kaiserslautern in the greatest of ways, scoring twice in nine games. Though he is averaging less than 45 minutes per game, both of his goals were scored earlier this week (against Freiburg, Nov. 14th) in only 25 minutes.
LM – Panagiotis Armenakas: Australia. Greece. United States. These three countries were playing at the last World Cup, and this young 19-year-old can claim all three of these nationalities. Udinese’s winger has played four times for the club’s Primavera squad, scoring once against Milan’s youth. Missing three games due to international commitment with Australia’s under-18s and being a former Greece’s under-17 winger, Panagiotis has yet not made his choice on the country he will defend. Yankee? Aussie? Gladiator?