CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named the 20-player roster for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which doubles as the team’s 2017 World Cup qualifying tournament, running Feb. 17-March 5 in Costa Rica.
The USA has been drawn into Group B along with Panama, Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis. The U.S. opens against Panama at 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 18, followed by Haiti at 5:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 21and Saint Kitts and Nevis at 5:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 24. All three of the USA’s matches will be broadcast in the United States on Univision networks.
“This process is always difficult,” Ramos said. “Inevitably you always end up leaving a couple guys out who deserve to be on the roster. When selecting a roster for a tournament like this, where you are trying to qualify to the world cup, you are putting together a best 11 and then players who can play multiple positions. So that’s what we’ve done. We are happy with the team and we are looking forward to qualifying.”
The U.S. roster includes one member of the USA’s 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup team in defender Erik Palmer-Brown who Ramos named team captain for the qualifying tournament.
Eleven players on the USA roster represent clubs in Major League Soccer: defenders Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC) and Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), midfielders Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Craft Coy (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC) and Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake), and forwards Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers) and Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake).
Two U-20 MNT players are teammates on Premier League 2 (U-23) side Fulham F.C.: midfielder Luca de la Torre and defender Marlon Fossey.
Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Marlon Fossey (Fulham F.C.; Surbiton, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (New Mexico; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union; Media, Pa.)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y), Coy Craft (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Luca De la Torre (Fulham F.C.; San Diego, Calif.), Jonathan Gonzalez (CF Monterrey; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Jeremiah Gutjahr (Indiana University; Bloomington, Ind.), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; Plantation, Fla.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.)
FORWARDS (3): Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Emmanuel Sabbi (UD Las Palmas; Libertyville, Ill.)
Development Academy Ties:
- Of the 20 players on the roster, 17 have spent time in the Development Academy.
- Defender Erik Palmer-Brown carries the most amount of time spent in the Development Academy, registering six seasons for Sporting Kansas City Academy from 2010 to 2016.
- Forward Jeremy Ebobisse was named U-15/16 Academy Player of the Year during the 2013-2014 Development Academy season while playing for Bethesda-Olney.
- Born in 1999, midfielders Tyler Adams and Jonathan Gonzalez are the youngest players on the roster.
- M.L.S. club Real Salt Lake has the largest representation of players on the roster, with four currently signed players (Lennon, Glad, Saucedo, Acosta) and the rights to one player currently playing in college (Herrera).
Four countries will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea. The U.S. U-20 MNT is looking to qualify for its 15th trip to a FIFA World Youth Championship or FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The USA finished tied for third at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and advanced to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, where the team lost to eventual World Cup winner Serbia 6-5 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.
“It’s hard to compare this roster to past qualifying rosters. All the rosters are different because we like to play according to the players that we have. We have good players here and I thought we had good players the last two cycles. I think this group has potential, if we qualify to the world cup, to maybe, at some point, be the best one we’ve had. But that is determined to be seen, because, in the end, what’s on paper doesn’t really matter. It’s what you get done on the field.”
This year marks the 26th occasion that the U.S. U-20 MNT will compete 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 2017 and now comprises three groups of four teams. Previous tournaments featured four groups of three teams or two groups of six teams.
Under the new setup, the top two teams in each group will advance to a second-round classification stage, featuring two groups with three teams each. In this second group phase, the top two finishers in each group will qualify for the U-20 World Cup, with the first-place teams in each group playing for the tournament championship.
Eyes on South Korea 2017:
The U.S. has qualified for 14 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups and has its sights set on No. 15 in 2017. The 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea will be held from May 20-June 11 in Cheonan, Daejeon, Incheon, Seogwipo, Jeonju and Suwon. The final draw will be held on March 15. The USA’s best U-20 World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.