U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named the 20-player roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship running Jan. 9-24 in Jamaica. All five of the USA’s matches will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2. Fans can also follow the action on twitter at @ussoccer_ynt.
The USA has been drawn into Group A along with Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama and Guatemala. The U.S. opens against Guatemala on Jan. 9, followed by Panama (Jan. 11), Aruba (Jan. 14), Jamaica (Jan. 18) and Trinidad & Tobago (Jan. 21).
"Selecting the final 20 players was extremely difficult,” said Ramos. “This is a group that has a lot of depth. It's a group that has gotten good results throughout the last 12 to 14 months, regardless of the players we've had in. A lot of players have made a good case for being on the team, but in the end, unfortunately, you can only take so many (players). I am very happy with the group we've selected.
“Overall, this is a group made up mostly with professional players, and that's a strength. These are players who are completely dedicated to the sport; players who 100 percent of the time prepare to do well, to get better, and be on the National Team.”
Four countries will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. The USA is looking to qualify for its 14th trip to a FIFA World Youth Championship or FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The U.S. roster includes two members of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team in midfielder Kellyn Acosta and goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Ramos has named Acosta the team captain for the qualifying tournament. Acosta was also a member of the USA’s 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup team, which advanced out of qualifying in Jamaica. Steffen posted a 3-0-1 record for the U-20s in 2014, earning a pair of shutouts during the USA’s championship run at the 2014 National Training Center Invitational in Carson, California – a 4-0 win against Bermuda and a scoreless draw against Australia.
Six players on the USA roster represent clubs in Major League Soccer: defenders Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls) and Tyler Turner (Orlando City SC), midfielders Acosta (FC Dallas) and Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), and forwards Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy) and Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes). Gall was the U-20 MNT’s leading goal scorer in 2014 with four tallies in international competition.
Four U-20 MNT players are teammates on Liga MX side Club Tijuana: forwards Paul Arriola and Amando Moreno, midfielder Fernando Arce and defender John Requejo.
U.S. U-20 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), Zackary Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS (6): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Donovan (NC State), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), John Requejo (Club Tijuana), Tyler Turner (Orlando City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana), Russell Canouse (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Ben Spencer (Molde FK), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
The U-20s went 6-1-2 in international competition and 12-2-2 overall in 2014.
The USA was the runner-up to Mexico at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and advanced to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, where the U.S. earned a draw against eventually World Cup winner France.
This year marks the 25th occasion in which the U.S. U-20 MNT is competing in the CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship. The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U-20 Championship title.
Qualifying Format Change: The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format has changed for 2015 and is now comprises two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments featured four groups of three teams. Under the new setup, the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results to form a playoff group. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Eyes on New Zealand 2015: The U.S. has qualified for 13 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups and has its sights set on No. 14 in 2015. The 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand will be held from May 30-June 20 in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Whangarei. The final draw will be held on Feb. 10. The USA’s best World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.