With the U20 World Cup coming up later this month, and the games being broadcast on FS1, this is a great chance to get to know the potential U.S. Soccer stars of the future. This may be the most impressive U20 side ever, so we took the liberty to compare each of them with a top European player.
Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake) – Acosta is a versatile player capable of playing at left back, center back, and holding midfield. He is technically sound enough to play in midfield, but also has sufficient defensive quality to play on the back line.
Pro Comparison: David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) – Adams started out as more of a defensive midfielder, but is developing into a box-to-box player under Jesse Marsch. He has technical quality but his most impressive attribute is his ability to cover ground; the young midfielder consistently leads the Red Bulls in their “GPS” stats (running, covering ground, etc.) by a significant margin.
Pro Comparison: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham) – One of three players to have been on the roster for the last U20 World Cup, Carter-Vickers will bring leadership and experience to the American back line. His passing ability and positioning are decent but still improving. The center back’s greatest strengths, however, are his aerial strength and physicality.
Pro Comparison: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers) – Ebobisse is a true number nine capable of playing in any variety of roles. He can play as a target striker, playing with his back to goal while using his strength and aerial ability. The former Duke striker is also able to drop slightly deeper and link up with his midfielders.
Pro Comparison: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Marlon Fossey (Fulham) – A former attacking winger, Fossey has been converted into an attacking fullback to great effect. He has solid strength and positioning, as well as being able to link up with wingers and central midfielders. Fossey is also freakishly athletic, able to do ten straight backflips as a goal celebration, and up to national standards in the pentathlon.
Pro Comparison: Serge Aurier (PSG)
Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake) – One of the best Homegrown products in MLS history, Glad has been a consistent performer at center back for RSL. He is technically proficient and very good with the ball at his feet. Glad is very intelligent and able to read the game well in order to make interceptions.
Pro Comparison: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
Aaron Herrera (New Mexico) – Herrera is an excellent all-around right back. Although his defensive anticipation occasionally leaves a bit to be desired, it is developing and his pace can make up for any positioning errors. His first touch is excellent and he is able to take on defenders to contribute to the attack.
Pro Comparison: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union) – The first Union homegrown player to make his debut for the first team, the Ghanaian-born midfielder made the roster after only recently being cleared to play for the U.S. Standing at 6-foot-3, Jones uses his body to his advantage in the middle of the field, be it winning balls in the air or holding off defenders. He is not just a big body though – Jones can spray passes across the field and beat defenders 1v1.
Pro Comparison: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Jonathan Klinsmann (Cal) – The presumed starting goalie for the Americans, Klinsmann has been playing well both for his college and his country. His aerial prowess and anticipation, as well as being able to play from the back and stop 1v1 opportunities, have led to Klinsmann emerging as the number one goalkeeper over JT Marcinkowski.
Pro Comparison: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Lagos Kunga (Atlanta United) – Although many did not anticipate Kunga being included in this roster, he now has an opportunity to prove head coach Tab Ramos right. Kunga is a pacey winger with excellent touch, and possesses the ability to beat defenders in space.
Pro Comparison: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake) – Recently loaned back to his academy club Real Salt Lake from Premier League sleeping giants Liverpool, Lennon looks poised to make a big impact on the tournament. Capable of playing on either wing, he is best as an inverted winger cutting onto his favored right foot from the left side of the field. Lennon’s pace and power made him a formidable foe for any opposing fullback, and his crosses often find their target and create chances.
Pro Comparison: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown) – What Marcinkowski lacks in height (only standing 6-foot-1), he makes up for with the rest of his game. The Hoyas goalkeeper has good hands, is quick off his line, and excellent at preventing attackers from converting 1v1 opportunities.
Pro Comparison: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City) – Although Palmer-Brown has struggled to become a regular under Peter Vermes, he will captain his team in the World Cup. Head Coach Tab Ramos had experimented with EPB as a holding midfielder, but he will likely play center back, and is listed as a defender in the official roster release. His defensive awareness is still a work in progress, but he is perhaps the best ball-playing defender prospect in U.S. history. The fact that he was able to play in defensive midfield is evidence of his superb technical ability.
Pro Comparison: Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
Tommy Redding (Orlando City) – Having become a regular for Orlando City at age 19, Redding has become a rock in the heart of Orlando’s defense. One of the most consistent center backs in the U.S. player pool, Redding could still benefit from putting on a little more bulk. That being said, his defensive awareness is second to none.
Pro Comparison: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Emmanuel Sabbi (Unattached) – Sabbi is a hybrid forward in the best possible way. He is a threat both with his back to goal holding up play, as well as running at the defense. His composure in front of goal could be better, but he is young and it will improve as he develops.
Pro Comparison: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) – A surprise inclusion after having just captained the U17’s in the CONCACAF Championship, Sargent will hope to make an impact with the older age group. One thing that Sargent has improved on is his physicality, as evidenced by his spectacular goal in the Americans’ first matchup with Mexico. The Missouri native is also superb at finding space where it feels like there should not be any, particularly in the 18-yard box.
Pro Comparison: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake) – Another one of the members of the RSL core of the team, Saucedo is capable of playing both out wide and as a number 10. Saucedo is one of the best in the player pool at taking on defenders 1v1, and has a knack for finding space in the box to poach goals.
Pro Comparison: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
Brady Scott (De Anza Force) – Scott will be the third goalkeeper behind Klinsmann and Marcinkowski. Although it is unlikely that he will see any game time, he is a capable distributor, and composed in net.
Pro Comparison: Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
Luca de la Torre (Fulham) - De la Torre’s work in midfield does not always catch the eye, but he is without a doubt one of the most important players on this roster, as well as one of the most talented American prospects. Although capable of playing the key pass or making the all-important tackle, the Fulham product’s passing and awareness often put his teammates in the best position to succeed.
Pro Comparison: Luca Modric (Real Madrid)
Eryk Williamson (Maryland) – Formerly a forward, Williamson has been converted to a midfielder at Maryland to great effect. His golazo against El Salvador in the CONCACAF championships is evidence of his shooting ability, but the explosive Maryland star’s work rate is also top class.
Pro Comparison: Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal) – Nobody needs a big tournament more than Zelalem at this World Cup. The Arsenal midfielder has struggled the past couple of years with loan moves to Rangers and VVV Venlo, but his talent has never been in question. Zelalem has superb technical ability and can dictate the tempo of a game. He is a flair player with plenty of skill, but needs to improve his consistency and goal-scoring.
Pro Comparison: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)