The CONCACAF U-20 Championship is barely over a month from kicking off, so let’s dive into our weekly look at how the MLS-based contingent players in the pool for Mikey Varas fared in first-team action over the weekend.
When the CONCACAF U-20 tournament kicks off on June 18 in Honduras, pressure will be on Varas and his young squad to clinch qualification for both the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics. Fortunately, a number of the players who will board the plane to Tegucigalpa are already, relatively speaking, seasoned professionals, giving hope that they will be up to the challenge.
As always, we are focusing here on players who are regularly suiting up for their MLS teams, and who have also garnered attention in the recent rosters called in by Varas to the limited number of camps in the current cycle.
If we are missing any players who are showing that they will deserve a place in the initial call-up list in a few weeks, please let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at email@example.com.
Amongst the U-20 pool, the most notable performance came from San Jose’s Cade Cowell in the Earthquakes’ 3-3 road draw at the Vancouver Whitecaps. The California-born attacker started on the left wing for the Earthquakes, and had a major influence in the team’s performance.
He served up a sublime assist through several defenders to USMNT hopeful Jeremy Ebobisse for San Jose’s second goal in the 73rd minute, then had a “hockey assist” on their third score in the 81st minute, with a strong cut to the middle to open up space for Cristian Espinoza and Ebobisse to finish the job.
Overall, he played 84 minutes on the left, had a pair of shots, completed 22 of 25 passing attempts and was accurate on his only cross attempt of the game.
Gabriel Slonina continued his slump for Chicago Fire, giving up a pair of goals in their 2-1 home loss to FC Cincinnati. Slonina was partially culpable for Cincinnati’s opening goal in the 34th minute due to poor positioning, although the majority of the blame belonged to Chicago defender Rafael Czichos, who didn’t realize that the keeper had drifted off his line when he attempted an ill-fated header that ended up as an own-goal.
The second – and winning – goal for Cincinnati with five minutes left was all of Slonina’s doing, with the 17 year-old losing possession under pressure in his own area to gift Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta his fifth goal of the season.
Apart from the two goals conceded, the Illinois-born keeper did make two saves, however is now mired in a slump, having allowed 11 in his previous four league games.
Also in the Chicago lineup, Brian Gutiérrez played the final half-hour of regulation as a substitute on the right side of the attack, completing 78% of his 18 passes, missing with his lone headed attempt on goal, but showing some promise in setting up chances from the deep. Chicago’s Javier Casas was dropped from the gameday squad after suiting up in last weekend’s game.
In Philadelphia Unions’s 1-1 home draw against New York Red Bulls, a top-of-the-table clash in the East, only two of the fleet of U-20 players on both teams took the field.
For Philly, Jack Mcglynn played the final 20 minutes as the left-sided midfielder, picking up his first yellow card of the season while completing 22 of 23 passes and setting up one chance.
Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan were also in uniform for the hosts but did not play.
For the Red Bulls, Daniel Edelman also played the final 20 minutes on the right side of his team’s midfield, but only completed four of nine passes with 12 total touches of the ball. Caden Clark, one of the presumed U-20 stars for the US, is still recovering from a knee injury and is in a race against time to be ready for the tournament in June.
Seattle’s 16 year-old midfield phenom Obed Vargas continued to have an active role in their season, starting and playing just over an hour in their central midfield, in their come-from-behind, 3-1 win over Minnesota United on Sunday.
He did well patrolling the center of the park, completing 30 of 34 passes amidst 45 touches, won five of six duels against the opposition, drew four fouls and completed his only long-ball attempt. However, his penchant for unnecessary yellow cards continued, drawing his fourth of the season for a hard foul on Minnesota star attacker Emanuel Reynoso.
Elsewhere around the league, both Michael Halliday and Thomas Williams stayed on the Orlando City bench for their 1-0 road win over Toronto, while usual Atlanta starter Caleb Wiley was out of the lineup after suffering an injury last week, missing their 2-2 home draw against the New England Revolution.
Noah Allen was also not in uniform for Inter Miami for their 2-2 home draw against DC United, after having suited up for the team seven times so far this season.