Ed. note: This is the second in a five-part series on the youth and development tracks of the U.S. 23-man roster. The series will run through Friday and break down how each player got his start.
M Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Date of birth: July 31, 1987 (26)
Pre-professional club history: Sockers FC
YNT history: U17 residency (2002-2004), U20 MNT (2007)
Big moment: 2007 U20 World Cup
First professional appearance: May 21, 2005 (MetroStars)
Notes: Bradley is an outlier in U.S. soccer in that he signed a professional contract when he was just 16. That’s typically the time when players are in the midst of polishing their club resumes, which only helped usher him along in the development process. Bradley spent hours upon hours training at Soccer City in Palatine, Illinois, where Sockers FC had its headquarters while his father Bob was coaching the Fire. Bradley wasn’t the biggest or fastest player, but his dedication to the game allowed him to strategize his way down the field, which is obvious in his game now. After four semesters in residency, Bradley starred for a group-winning U20 World Cup side that finished in the quarterfinals in 2007. Months later, his full national team career was up and running.
D John Brooks, Hertha Berlin
Date of birth: Jan. 28, 1993 (21)
Pre-professional club history: Lichtenrader BC 25, FC Hertha 03 Zehlendorf, Hertha Berlin
YNT history: U20 MNT (2010-2011), U23 MNT (2011)
Big moment: Friendly vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina (Aug. 14, 2013)
First professional appearance: Aug. 3, 2012 (Hertha Berlin)
Notes: In the face of the continually shifting sands of U.S. club development before the academy system, Brooks’ club history is relatively straightforward. Brooks was born and raised in Berlin, and he’s been in the Hertha Berlin system since he joined from lower division side Zehlendorf in 2007. He played on ‘jugend’ sides for Hertha Berlin from 2007 until he signed a professional contract in the summer of 2011 when he was just 18, meaning he’s been in the same system for seven years running. Brooks only played sparingly for the U.S. U20s, garnering four caps before making a single appearance for the U23s. Brooks ended speculation about his future when he pledged for the U.S. by being capped for a wild win over Bosnia & Herzegovina.
D Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
Date of birth: July 11, 1985 (28)
Pre-professional club history: Bayside FC
YNT history: N/A
College history: West Virginia (2004-2005), Rhode Island (2005-2007)
First professional appearance: March 29, 2008 (Houston Dynamo)
Notes: It’s hard to imagine a player of Cameron’s quality failing to register on a single YNT roster before he was 24, but he isn’t alone in that regard on this particular 23. Cameron was called into his first camp in 2009, but due to an injury he didn’t actually play a game for the senior team until the following year. What was he doing in the interim? Featuring as the A10 midfielder of the year in 2007 for Rhode Island, playing for PDL side Rhode Island Stingrays and finally making a splash in MLS. In the future, it’ll be harder to find first choice players who weren’t involved in a single youth national team setup. That isn’t necessarily a failure in identification since Cameron came along a bit late, but it isn’t an overly flattering fact either.
D Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt
Date of birth: March 29, 1990 (24)
Pre-professional club history: SF Oberau, Eintracht Frankfurt
YNT history: N/A
Big moment: Friendly vs. Argentina (March 26, 2011)
First professional appearance: Jan. 15, 2011 (FC Nuremberg)
Notes: Chandler was brought up in the Eintracht Frankfurt system, where he started with the youth team before matriculating through its U17, U19 and Eintracht Frankfurt II levels beginning in 2001. FC Nuremberg bought him in 2010, and he put in four good seasons there before fleeing back to Frankfurt after Nuremberg was relegated. The U.S.’s struggles with consistency at fullback made Chandler an especially interesting prospect. At 6-1, 180 pounds and with the ability to get forward, a fullback trained in Germany’s prestigious youth ranks seemed to be just the ticket. In fact, he was such a hot commodity that the U.S. didn’t bother to funnel him through the YNT ranks before his debut against Argentina.
M Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo
Date of birth: Nov. 8, 1981 (32)
Pre-professional club history: St. Louis Scott Gallagher
YNT history: U20 MNT (2001), U23 MNT (2004)
College history: St. Louis (2001-2002)
First professional appearance: March 27, 2002 (MetroStars)
Notes: Davis’ developmental upbringing is so American you almost feel it should be served with a side of apple pie. Davis came up playing in the iconic SLSG club system, and he featured for his high school team before going the college route for two seasons. Davis’ YNT history is short - he played three matches and scored a goal at the 2001 U20 World Cup, and he was part of the U23 side that lost to Honduras and failed to qualify for the U23 World Cup in 2005. In fact, despite scoring in an earlier game, Davis missed the decisive penalty. Davis has spent the rest of his senior team career outrunning doubters, and his selection to the 23 seems to be more a monument to his development as a professional than to what he accomplished as a youth player.