Tracking the USMNT U-20 Pool in MLS

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With the CONCACAF U-20 Championship just around the corner, and spots for both the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics on the line, here’s our weekly look at how the MLS-based players in the pool are performing.

Here, we are focusing on recent call-ups by head coach Mikey Varas to his U-20 squads over the last few months, who have at least been consistently suiting up for MLS first-team rosters in the 2022 season.

As always, if we are missing any players who are showing that they will deserve a place, please let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at

After no less than nine active U-20 players took the field in the previous weekend of MLS action, only four played any role this time around, only two starting, with a large number of injuries and simple coaching choices keeping the majority off the field.

In Chicago, two likely U-20 starters in this summer’s upcoming tournament also started for the Fire in their 2-1 home loss against the surging New York Red Bulls. Gabriel Slonina, who is recently rumored to have agreed to terms with a prominent English Premier League team, got the start between the sticks for the hosts.

For the second straight game, he underwhelmed in goal, conceding two to the Red Bulls, while only making a pair of saves in the loss. He has now allowed seven goals this season, with five coming in the last two games.

Brian Gutiérrez also started for the Fire at the left wing, having 41 total touches on the ball, completing 14 of 21 passes, attempting one off-target shot, and winning eight of his ten duels against opposing players.

For the visitors, Caden Clark is out until June with a knee injury, while Daniel Edelman didn’t make it off of the Red Bulls’ bench.

Another U-20 stalwart Cade Cowell, who has been the recent subject of speculative, likely baseless reports regarding his national allegiance, had a short and tidy substitute appearance for the San Jose Earthquakes in their otherwise dismal 3-0 loss at New York City FC.

Cowell only played the final 19 minutes after coming in for left winger Jamiro Monteiro, completing all five of his pass attempts, setting up Ousseni Bouda for an 86th-minute shot, successfully completing both of his dribbles against opposing defenders, and winning half of his four duels.

In Nashville, where the latest soccer-specific stadium in the US was unveiled, the small collection of U-20 players on the Philadelphia Union roster played very little role in their 1-1 road draw to spoil the hosts’ party.

Quinn Sullivan was the only one of their regularly active trio to take the field, playing the final 15 minutes and completing all three of his passing attempts, and playing no part in Nashville’s late equalizer.

Neither Paxten Aaronson nor Jack McGlynn made it off of the Union bench during the game.

Inter Miami’s Noah Allen was in uniform but not called into action in the team’s 2-0 road loss at New England Revolution. In Orlando, Thomas Williams failed to get off the bench for the hosts in their 2-1 victory over Charlotte, after playing for the entire second half – his longest first-team appearance – one weekend before.

Atalanta United’s Caleb Wiley, a recent starter on his team, was left out of the roster after suffering what was described as a minor “lower body” injury. In his absence, the team lost 2-1 on the road at Montreal.

Finally, 16 year-old Seattle Sounder Obed Vargas had the weekend off with the rest of his team as they get ready for the upcoming second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against UNAM Pumas on Wednesday night.

Closing with a momentary step outside of the MLS-oriented focus of this article, Diego Luna, who scored for the U-20 team in their otherwise forgettable Revelations Cup loss against Mexico in November, netted the winner for El Paso Locomotive in their 3-1 victory over Loudoun United FC in USL Championship play. Eventually an MLS team or a European opportunity will come calling, until which he will remain one of the more promising USL prospects.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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