The United States named their roster for the U-20 World Cup, which begins on May 20 (live on the FOX family of networks), and it's stunning how deep Tab Ramos' squad is. That made it tough on Ramos, who had to sift through all the players to find the team he thinks will do best.
Expectations are high for the Americans, but before we get into how the World Cup will go, what can we take away from the roster itself?
They love Josh Sargent
Sargent was supposed to be the star of the American's U-17 team at this year's World Cup. Instead, he's getting the call to the U-20 team now. The kid is that good and all of the talk from Ramos about Sargent's inclusion was about how special Sargent is. The Americans didn't put him on this team for exposure or anything like that. They think he can walk in and make an impact, even playing up an age group.
While the Americans believe Sargent could also play in the U-17 World Cup in the fall, they may not even send him there, saying he may have outgrown the age group. So yeah, the Americans are high on Sargent.
Schalke did the U.S. no favors
Weston McKinnie, Nick Taitague and Haji Wright are all some of the Americans' best young players, having made some headway at Schalke and shining for their youth teams since signing as 17-year-olds. However, they will not be going to the World Cup because Schalke wouldn't release them. Ramos said that Schalke gave them "no cooperation at all," which meant no McKinnie, Taitague or Wright.
It's hardly a killer for the U.S. or the three young players. McKinnie, Taitague and Wright will get to finish Schalke's pursuit of the German U-19 title, after all, but it would have been nice to have them in U.S. shirts.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesDennis Grombkowski
Injuries are still a concern
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Justen Glad could very well be the Americans' starting centerbacks at the World Cup, but both are dealing with injuries and could miss out ont he tournament. With those two in the fold, the U.S. could have a great defense. Without them, who knows. Both are on the roster, but could be removed if they can't get healthy in time so keep an eye on their statuses.
Having Erik Palmer-Brown sitting there ready to step in -- he might start regardless -- isn't too bad, though.
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What's next for Emmanuel Sabbi and Gedion Zelalem?
Sabbi was with Las Palmas, but he's listed as "unattached" on the U.S. roster so it appears as if he's free to sign with any club/ Meanwhile, Zelalem's run into road blocks with Arsenal and on a couple loans. He's also set to search for a new club. If the two can have good World Cups, they will have more clubs interested in them and can find the right home to continue their development for next season. This is a big summer for two talented players whose futures are very much cloudy right now.
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Seriously, this depth
Weston McKennie, Nick Taitague and Haji Wright aren't on this team, nor are McKinzie Gaines, Josh Perez, Jackson Yueill or Mukwelle Akale. Those are all players who could have been looked at as stars on past U.S. U-20 teams. That the Americans can miss players like that -- for various reasons, from club issues to Tab Ramos' choices -- and still field a strong squad is a testament to the depth of talent that the Americans have at the U-20 level right now.
Christian Pulisic could have played
Pulisic isn't on the team because the senior team will want him for the June World Cup qualifiers and he'll be playing for Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal final as the U-20 World Cup is getting underway, but it's worth remembering that he's young enough to play in this tournament. Man, that kid is unreal.