The 22 players called to this month’s Men’s National Team camp in Philadelphia make up one of the USA’s freshest-faced rosters in recent memory. With many players getting their first opportunities to represent the USA at the senior level, here are five things to know about the young talent that represents the future of the program.
While 17 of the 22 players called to Philadelphia have earned five or fewer caps, 21 of 22 have represented the USA internationally as part of the Youth National Team program. Ten players have made a final USA roster for a Youth World Cup at the Under-17 or Under-20 levels, while two more have participated in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying.
This time a year ago, three members of the current roster were in Korea Republic for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown and Josh Sargent all played key roles in the U-20s’ run to the quarterfinals. Palmer-Brown captained the squad and played every single minute in Korea, Sargent won the Silver Boot with four goals while Carter-Vickers anchored the U.S. defense. Later in 2017, Sargent teamed with Tim Weah at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. Sargent captained the team through that tournament, while Weah scored the first hat trick for the USA in the knockout round of a men’s World Cup.
Defender Matt Miazga partnered with Carter-Vickers on the U.S. back line at the 2015 U-20 World Cup, while Rubio Rubin also figured in the USA’s quarterfinal run. Lynden Gooch aided the young Americans in their qualifying campaign. At the U-17 level that year, Christian Pulisic played in Chile at the U-17 World Cup alongside current first-time MNT call-up Matthew Olosunde.
DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY TIES
More than half of the MNT roster are alumni of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, currently wrapping up the 11th season of its efforts to create world-class environments that produce world-class players.
Miazga, Olosunde and Weah all spent time at the New York Red Bulls academy. Now a pro with Chelsea, Miazga led the Red Bulls U-15/16 team to the 2012 Academy championship. Sargent was a part of St. Louis Scott Gallagher-Missouri before leading the USA at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.The entire goalkeeping corps called to Philly spent time in the Academy: Alex Bono with New York’s Empire United, Bill Hamid at D.C. United and Ethan Horvath with Real Colorado. Weston McKennie (FC Dallas), Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC) and Rubin (Portland Timbers) came up through M.L.S. Academy pipelines. Andrija Novakovich commuted two hours each way from the Milwaukee suburbs to play for the Chicago Magic, while Pulisic (PA Classics) and Gooch (Santa Cruz Breakers) also spent time in the Development Academy.
Almost the entire roster gathered to take on Bolivia plays professionally outside the USA. The recently-concluded international season featured MNT players raising trophies overseas, earning Champions League berths and breaking into the first team at some of the world’s biggest clubs.
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The players in Philadelphia spent their seasons in nine different countries. Eight currently ply their trades in the England, while four each come from Mexico and Germany. Hamid, Horvath, Jorge Villafaña and Weah took home titles this season in Denmark, Belgium, Mexico and France respectively.
AVERAGE AGEUpon the team’s arrival in Philadelphia on May 20, the roster had an average age of 22 years, 286 days. That’s an even more youthful team than the groups gathered in MNT camps since last November. In 2018, the average age has gotten lower and lower with each progressive camp. The 30 players brought together in January Camp had an average age of 24, while the March team that came to Cary, N.C. had an average of 23. Fifteen of the players that will face Bolivia are 22 or younger, and only two were born before 1990.
FIRST CAP OPPORTUNITIES
Seven players will look to make their senior team debut Monday night against Bolivia. Bono, Alejandro Guido, Olosunde, Palmer-Brown, Keaton Parks, Antonee Robinson and Sargent are yet to represent the USA at the full senior level. They’ve all earned their first MNT camp invites since November.
After a whirlwind 2017 with the U-17s and the U-20s, Sargent earned his first senior camp invite to Portugal in November. Bono joined the MNT for the first time at its annual January Camp following a historic treble-winning season with Toronto FC.
Palmer-Brown and Robinson got their first MNT camp invites in March, Palmer-Brown has climbed up the YNT ladder and was in the midst of his first season in Europe, while Robinson turned heads as a standout defensive starter on loan at Bolton. In Philadelphia, Guido, Olosunde and Parks are training with the MNT for the first time. Guido put together a strong full club season at Tijuana, Olosunde is rising through the ranks at Manchester United’s academy while Parks began to break into the Benfica first team in 2017-18.