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U19/20 USYNT Camp Roster Analysis

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March 2024
The next U20 cycle finally gets underway as the United States will play friendlies against England and Morocco in Morocco. The camp runs from March 18th to the 27th. The squad will be led by Michael Nsien who has been with the USYNT program for the last couple of years. He coached the U16s a little over a year ago (2007s) and recently led the U23 team that played in the PanAm tournament in Chile. 

England and Morocco will be fantastic tests for this newly formed group. England specifically is bringing a very strong squad to this window. The United States team will be made up of 2005 and 2006 born players primarily. One 2007 born player was invited as well.

These friendlies are the first building block as this team prepares for the Concacaf U20 Championships in late July and August. This tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2025 U20 World Cup — the four teams that make it to the semi-finals qualify for the U20 World Cup. The United States ran away with the Concacaf Championship tournament in 2022. 
Matai Akinmboni, center-back for D.C. United

Roster analysis


Diego Kochen, Barcelona (2006), Gavin Beavers, Real Salt Lake (2005), Julian Eyestone, Without Club (2006)

This is a great group and the exact group I would have brought if I were making the decisions. Kochen is your starter and is an elite keeper prospect. It’s great to see him with the group amidst all of the Spain interest. Beavers just started in MLS last weekend and looked pretty good and Eyestone has a sky high ceiling if he can put it all together. I hear he is heading to Brentford once he turns 18 in April. 


LB, Nolan Norris, FC Dallas (2005), LB, Luca Bombino, LAFC (2006), Diego Rossi, Parma (2005), Aiden Harangi, Eintracht Frankfurt (2006)

I was really interested to see who would get selected at full-back. It’s probably the weakest position for this group and to add to that, Reed Baker-Whiting, the top full-back prospect that can play on the right or left is out with a hamstring injury. They will desperately need him back for the Concacaf tournament. Norris is the incumbent starting left-back. Harangi was on the U17 World Cup team and is well liked by U.S. Soccer. I think Oscar Verhoeven is the better prospect, but he is out of season, so they likely went with the match fit player. Rossi is a surprise name and I believe he is provisionally tied to Puerto Rico. I haven’t seen him since he left NYCFC a while ago. They must like what he is doing in Italy. I never saw a huge ceiling with him. Bombino is a pretty big surprise given he was below Tahir Reid-Brown on the U17 depth chart. Miller might have been the choice here if he was healthy. He is recovering from a foot injury.


Drew Murray, Freiburg (2005), Noahkai Banks, Augsburg (2006), Matai Akinmboni, D.C. United (2006), Neil Piere, Philadelphia Union (2007)

This was another position group that I think the United States staff nailed. Akinmboni gets some justice and is back in the USYNT mix after curiously not being in the U17 group. He and Banks are both top prospects. Banks was the best CB for the USYNT at the U17 World Cup and it’s great to see that Nsien and the staff recognized that. Murray has a great profile and I think he could have a bright future — big, athletic and good passing range. Pierre is the only 2007 in the group. He stands about 6-5, is a phenomenal one on one defender and his passing is slowly getting better. This is a really fun group of center-backs. Josh Wynder is the missing name and I think he is still recovering from injury.


Ethan Kohler, Werder Bremen (2005), Sergio Oregel Jr, Chicago Fire (2005), Pedro Soma, Cornella (2006), Taha Habroune, Columbus Crew (2006)

This group could struggle against England and probably Morocco, though I am not as familiar with their squad. Kohler brings athleticism and some defensive bite to the group. Soma is a top prospect and it’s great to see him in the group. Oregel isn’t one of the top 2005 midfielders, but has talent on the ball. Habroune is also well liked within U.S. Soccer and at Columbus. This is a position group of strength when all players are available, but U.S. Soccer had to dig into the pool this time around.


Kristian Fletcher, D.C. United (2005), Cole Campbell, Borussia Dortmund (2006), Cruz Medina, San Jose Earthquakes (2006), Favian Loyola, Orlando City (2005), David Vazquez, Philadelphia Union (2006), Paulo Rudisill, Feyenoord (2006)

There are a lot of familiar names and one new name — Cole Campbell. It had been reported by ESPN that he had made the switch from Iceland to the United States, which only made sense to report if he was going to be in an upcoming camp. He should get an opportunity to be a core attacking within this age group. Fletcher is going to have to be the key danger man. He has the most experience in this group and the profile to do well at this level. Medina, Vazquez and Rudisill all return from U17 World Cup duty. I have questions about all of them at the professional level, so let’s wait and see. Loyola had a down year last year dealing with a medical issue, but he’s had bright performances for the United States in the past.


Rodrigo Neri, Valencia (2005), Marcos Zambrano-Delgado, Vitória Guimarães (2005), Nighte Pickering, Memphis (2005)

I am high on Neri and think he should be the starting CF for this group until proven otherwise. I am not as high on the other two. Zambrano is skilled, but he has struggled in Portugal with the athleticism required to be an effective striker. Pickering scores bangers and scores at a high clip, but I don’t see the holistic game to support that it will continue at higher levels than USL. I hope I am wrong.

Who’s Missing and Why?

There are many reasons why players are not in camp. The most common reasons are that a player is already provisionally cap-tied to another country, U.S. Soccer might feel that they have graduated beyond this level, they may not have been released by their club, they have injury/fitness issues, they declined the invite or they simply were not selected by U.S. Soccer. Here are some of the top players that are not in camp and my best guess as to why: 

Cap-tied elsewhere

LB, Christian McFarlane, NYCFC (England/2007)
RB, Malachi Molina, FC Dallas (Jamaica/2006)
CB, Tyler Bindon, Reading (New Zealand/2005)
CB, Lazar Stefanovic, Toronto FC (Canada/2006)
CM, Noel Buck, New England Revolution (England/2005)
CM, Alejandro Granados, Club Brugge (Spain/2006)
W, Bora Aydinlik, Hull City (Turkey/2005)
W, Olger Escobar, New England Revolution (Guatemala/2006)

Noel Buck is missed the most from this group, but the boys will get a chance to play him during this window because he was selected to England’s squad.

Graduated beyond this level

W, Esmir Bajraktarevic, New England Revolution (2005)

This group could really use Esmir’s firepower up top, but it is great to see players moving through the pathway. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s more important to keep moving Esmir through the pathway.

Not released

DM, Obed Vargas, Seattle Sounders (2005)
CM, Brooklyn Raines, Houston Dynamo (2005)
CM, Nate Worth, FC Tulas (2007)
W, Fidel Barajas, Real Salt Lake (2006)
W, Nimfasha Berchimas, Charlotte FC (2008)

I heard that Nimfasha Berchimas was invited to this camp, but was not released by Charlotte. Berchimas would have been playing three age groups up if he had played, which shows how high U.S. Soccer is on him. I am assuming Vargas and Raines were not released because both of their clubs are thin in midfield. Not having Vargas and Raines is going to hurt, both would likely be starters for this team. The midfield will struggle without their experience and pitch control. Barajas is provisionally cap-tied to Mexico, but it was reported that he would join this camp, but RSL let Luna go to the U23 camp and Barajas was held back, which is unfortunate. USSF will stay on him. I also heard that Nate Worth was not released by FC Tulsa. Worth would have been the second 2007 selected to this roster alongside Neil Pierre.


RB/LB, Reed Baker-Whiting, Seattle Sounders (2005)
LB, Curtis Ofori, RBNY (2005)
LB, Peyton Miller, New England Revolution (2007)
CB, Josh Wynder, Benfica (2005)
CM, Benja Cremaschi, Inter Miami (2005)
DM, Matthew Corcoran, Birmingham Legion (2006)
CM/AM, Niko Tsakiris, San Jose Earthquakes (2005)
W, Serge Ngoma, RBNY (2005)
CF, Keyrol Figueroa, Liverpool (2006) 

There are a lot of big names here that raise the level of this group. RBW, Cremaschi, Tsakiris, Ngoma, Corcoran, Miller and Figueroa all would be improvements over some of the players on the roster. I am assuming Figueroa isn’t fit. He wasn’t in the last matchday squad and I am fairly confident U.S. Soccer would rate him over Zambrano and Pickering.

Not selected

GK, Adam Beaudry, Colorado Rapids (2006)
GK, Duran Ferree, Orange County (2006) on loan from San Diego FC
LB, Nati Clarke, Sporing KC (2005)
LB, Tahir Reid-Brown, Orlando City (2006)
RB, David Voute, PEC Zwolle (2005)
RB, Leo Duru, Blackburn Rovers (2005)
CB, Grayson Dettoni, Bayern Munich (2005)
CB, Stuart Hawkins, Seattle Sounders (2006)
CB, Tyler Hall, Inter Miami (2006)
DM, Miguel Perez, Birmingham Legion (2005) on loan from St. Louis City
CM/AM, Christopher Olney, Philadelphia (2006)
W, Tarik Scott, FC Dallas (2005)
W, Luke Brennan, Atlanta United (2005)
W, Bryce Jamison, Orange County (2006)
CF, Nelson Pierre, Skövde AIK (2005) on loan from Philadelphia Union

There are a few surprises in the selections. Beaudry and Ferree were left home in favor of Eyestone even though both were preferred during the U17 cycle. Reid-Brown and Miller were left home in favor of Bombino when both were favored in the last U17 cycle. Olney continues to get overlooked for players that are not performing nearly as well at the same level. He’ll get his time at some point. I rate Nelson Pierre, Neil’s brother, higher than Pickering and Zambrano, but U.S. Soccer never has.


I like a lot of the adjustments that Nsien and his staff made. They brought people back into the mix that were overlooked from the last U17 cycle. I am excited by the goalkeeper and center-back groups. Both of those groups are going to have to be resilient for the United States to be competitive in these matches. The full-backs and midfield concern me and could struggle. The squad is missing a ton of talent either through injury or not being available and I think that is going to show itself on the pitch, but it will be a great learning experience for these boys and Nsien will get a great understanding of the depths of his pool. 

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