With the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team set to kick off Group F of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup against Ecuador on Monday, May 22 (4:00 a.m. ET; FS1), U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss the tournament and roster.
Ramos is entering his third FIFA U-20 World Cup as the USA head coach, having previously led the team in 2013 and 2015.
ussoccer.com: What were the challenges in determining the final roster?
Tab Ramos: “As always there were some extremely tough decisions to make. This is a talented age group. We feel confident in the group we have selected.”
ussoccer.com: How would you compare the selection process for this roster to your previous two U-20 World Cup rosters?
TR: “One important aspect is that cooperation by M.L.S. clubs keeps improving. The league is proving that they care about young American players and their full development by being supportive of these international competitive opportunities for them.”
ussoccer.com: The players on this roster who were not on the CONCACAF Championship roster, how did you go about selecting them and what are you hoping that they bring to the table?
TR: “We know that at the World Cup we need to be better than we were in qualifying, so the changes made were to add players who are in good form and make the team more competitive.”
ussoccer.com: What does Cameron Carter-Vickers bring to this team? What kind of influence are you hoping that he will rub off on the rest of the players?
TR: “Cameron’s playing style, demeanor and experience provide a confidence boost for the team and for players playing next to him.”
ussoccer.com: Josh Sargent has proven to be an elite player at the U-17 level. Can you speak on why he was selected and what qualities you’ve seen from him that have impressed you the most?
TR: “We have been following Josh and discussing the possibility of him playing here for six months. John Hackworth and I have discussed providing a more difficult challenge for him. He is very dangerous around the box, holds the ball well and his runs off the ball are runs you would normally see made by a much older player.”
ussoccer.com: The younger players on the team (Tyler Adams, Brady Scott and Josh Sargent) will also be eligible to play in the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Can you speak on the value of having youngers players who can contribute now and again in the future?
TR: “We tried to select the best team possible, so Tyler, Josh and Brady are with us because they deserve to be, not just because they are younger and are gaining more experience for the future.”
ussoccer.com: What positive things have you seen from Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Gedion Zelalem in the last two years after they went through this experience in 2015? Do you think the 2015 U-20 World Cup impacted their development since that time?
TR: “Erik, Gedion and Cameron have already played a U-20 World Cup and that adds tremendous value to the team. This is their team now, and I am sure they cannot wait to get back in this competition after losing to Serbia on penalties in the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.”
ussoccer.com: How would you describe the dynamics of this team, especially with 15 players brought back from the CONCACAF roster in addition to some new faces?
TR: “There is a wide range of skillsets on this team. This group can cause a lot of problems for opponents with its ability in transition, with the ball and without it.”
ussoccer.com: Having gone through youth World Cups as a player and now going into your third youth World Cup as a coach, what does this experience do for a player?
TR: “Whether you are a player or a coach, every opportunity to participate at the highest level always teaches you something new. You are always learning.”
ussoccer.com: What would you say that you most hope this group of players will get out of, and learn from, this World Cup experience?
TR: “My goal is always to provide the best environment and prepare them as well as possible so that they can do their best. I would like for us to continue our path of being consistent game after game, and tournament after tournament.”
ussoccer.com: What is the mindset of the team for the next 14 days before the first game against Ecuador?
TR: “We will utilize the preparation period to once again become a team. Unlike qualifying, in this tournament you have to be at your best from the first minute, otherwise it is very difficult to recover. Any team here can beat you.”