GK, Diego Kochen, FC Barcelona (2006)
GK, Gavin Beavers, Real Salt Lake (2005)
GK, Charles Demarco, Georgetown (2005)
GK, Julian Eyestone, FC Dallas (2006)
You really only need one great goal keeper to make the group special and Diego Kochen is a tier 1 level keeper that has the ability to be a massively impactful player for the next group. Kochen missed the Concacaf U17 Championships because of an injury, but he will be the first choice keeper for the U17 World Cup if available.
From a depth perspective, Beavers is already getting some starts in MLS and Demarco is rated by U.S. Soccer and likely heading to Georgetown this fall. There are some solid keepers from the 2006 that could become a factor too, like Julian Eyestone.
LB, Tahir Reid-Brown, Orlando City (2006)
LB, Christian McFarlane, NYCFC (2007)
LB, Peyton Miller, New England Revolution (2007)
The major concern for this group is that the most senior eligible class, 2005, does not currently have a Youth National Team level player. Nolan Norris has been the incumbent for the U19 team, but he has recently switched positions to defensive-mid and was already below the level you'd like to see as YNT starter. Fortunately there are some very exciting players at the younger levels. Tahir Reid-Brown is an ascending talent and Christian McFarlane and Peyton Miller are both top left-back prospects in the entire pool.
RB, David Voute, Without Club (2005)
RB, Reed Baker-Whiting, Seattle Sounders (2005)
RB, Oscar Verhoeven, San Jose Earthquakes (2006)
This is the weakest position group from my standpoint. My top option, David Voute, is likely leaving Ajax's Academy and will be looking for a new club. I think he has good potential, but has yet to be invited to a U.S. camp. Reed Baker-Whiting is the best domestic 2005 and is starting to get a more meaningful role with Seattle. Oscar Verhoeven may have the highest potential of the group and was recently signed to a first team deal with San Jose. None of these guys are game changers right now.
RCB, Joshua Wynder, Louisville City (2005)
LCB, Matai Akinmboni, D.C. United (2006)
RCB, Tyler Meiser, Borussia Dortmund (2007)
RCB, Tiago Suarez, New England Revolution (2005)
RCB, Adrian Pelayo, Portland Timbers (2006)
This group will be led by 2023 U20 World Cup player, Josh Wynder, who is likely heading to Benfica in the next month. Outside of Wynder there are a lot of question marks. Matai Akinmboni has big potential as a ball playing, left-footed center-back and was recently loaned to Loudoun United so he can get more regular minutes. Tyler Meiser is one of the top U.S. eligible players in the entire youth pool, but is unlikely to leave the German project for the United States. Tiago Suarez is a very tall and instinctual defender, but lacks ball playing ability. Pelayo has the opposite profile as Suarez. He is close to a Brandan Craig level passer, but has some question marks as a defender. There is some depth here, but outside of the top three players the ceiling isn't super high.
DM, Obed Vargas, Seattle Sounders (2005)
DM, Pedro Soma, Cornella (2006)
DM, Miguel Perez, St. Louis City (2005)
DM, Matthew Corcoran, Birmingham Legion (2006)
This group has the potential to be quite special. Vargas was a standout performer in this World Cup while playing a cycle up. From a U20 perspective, the concern could be that Vargas graduates from this level in two years time and there are also whispers that he may prefer Mexico long-term. Soma is a top five prospect in the entire U.S. pool and has been a top performer for the U17 team. Perez and Corcoran are both emerging prospects that would serve as fantastic depth pieces.
CM, Noel Buck, New England Revolution (2005)
CM, Benja Cremaschi, Inter Miami (2005)
CM, Brooklyn Raines, Houston Dynamo (2005)
CM, Adyn Torres, Atlanta United (2007)
This group also has the potential of being elite. Buck is being talked about as one of the best midfield prospects the United States has ever produced and Cremaschi is also one of the top 2005 players in the entire pool. Raines adds versatility, quality and great depth for both the six and eight position. Torres is a high ceiling player that could emerge for this group in a couple years time.
CM, Niko Tsakiris, San Jose Earthquakes (2005)
AM, Cruz Medina, San Jose Earthquakes (2006)
AM, Micah Burton, Austin FC (2006)
AM, Favian Loyola, Orlando City (2005)
Tsakiris is another player that featured in the 2023 U20 World Cup cycle and would be a high impact player for this group in the next cycle. Medina and Burton are currently U17 players that are well thought of and Loyola has been a top performer for the U19 team. This group's level will be heavily impacted by whether Tsakiris graduates from this level. It's a good thing if he does, but if he is available to play for this group next cycle, he will raise the ceiling of the entire team.
WING, Bora Aydinlik, Fenerbahce (2005)
WING, Kristian Fletcher, D.C. United (2005)
WING, Esmir Bajraktarevic, New England Revolution (2005)
WING, Olger Escobar, New England Revolution (2006)
WING, Cole Campbell, Borussia Dortmund (2006)
WING, Serge Ngoma, New York Red Bulls (2005)
This winger group has the potential to be impactful, but there are some question marks. Kristian Fletcher and Esmir Bajraktarevic look like the safest bets to be a part of this group going forward. Both are working their way into becoming MLS regulars. Aydinlik has the biggest potential of the group but is currently provisionally tied to Turkey and he may not be interested in making the switch, especially at the youth international level. Escobar and Campbell are also high potential 2006 players that are provisionally cap-tied to other countries. Ngoma showed great flashes last year in MLS, but he has nagging hamstring injuries and has yet to play in MLS this year. There is a lot of risk in this group and if things don't workout, it could end up being a position of concern.
CF, Rodrigo Neri, Atletico Madrid (2005)
CF, Keyrol Figueroa, Liverpool (2006)
CF, Marcos Zambrano, Benfica (2005)
CF, Nelson Pierre, Philadelphia Union (2005)
This cycle should have more true center-forward options than the last cycle with a mix of styles and options to play with. Neri has been a highly prolific goal scorer for the U19 team and is a well rounded number nine. He is currently working his way through the Atletico Madrid system. Figueroa is a very high ceiling player that scored a boat load of goals during the Concacaf U17 Championship and he has performed well within Liverpool's academy. Zambrano recently moved to Benfica and is a skillful option and Pierre is a developing player that has great movement and verticality.
2023 v. 2025
There is a lot of time between now and the Concacaf U20 Championship and a lot will change between over the next 24 months. When looking at the broader U20 pool for this cycle compared to the next, the pool quality is pretty comparable, with some differences in where the strengths and weaknesses reside.
The next cycle will have a top keeper prospect similar to this cycle, but the 2023 cycle had two. If Kochen is available, there should not be a drop off, and in fact, he could be better. If he is not, the group becomes weaker than 2023. The backline for the next cycle will likely be weaker than the 2023 cycle. The midfield group has a chance to be truly special and the driving force behind his team with players like Vargas, Buck, Soma and Cremaschi leading the way. In attack, the wingers could end up being as good or better than 2023, but there are a lot of dual-nationality question marks. Lastly, the striker position should be better because of depth and versatility.