As USA U-20 head coach Mikey Varas is hard at work finalizing his roster for the upcoming push to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics, we’ll take our weekly look at how the MLS-based U-20 pool performed over the weekend.

While a few players are locks to appear in the initial list of players called in by Varas within the next couple weeks, a large number of spots are still up for grabs, with a vast number of both domestic- and foreign-based players hoping to get the phone call.

Here, we’ll focus on players suiting up for MLS first-team rosters who have previously garnered the attention of Varas since he took the reigns in early-November, but as always, if we are missing any likely candidates, please let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at media.yanksabroad@gmail.com.

Just days after committing his international future to the United States, Chicago Fire keeper Gabriel Slonina put in an improved performance compared to recent weeks, but still came away on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss at New York City FC.

Slonina made three saves in the game, with the only NYCFC score coming from the spot after a handball call on a Chicago defender. As the Chicago attack could never get their engine running, that ended up being the difference in the game.

Also for Chicago, Brian Gutiérrez started on the left wing, however was pulled after the first half after an invisible performance that saw the attacker only make 16 total touches, complete 69% of his 13 pass attempts, take no shots, and set up no chances for his teammates.

Also of note, Chicago midfielder Javier Casas is out with a groin injury, which might also remove him from consideration for the U-20 roster playing in the June CONCACAF tournament.

One player who will be available for Varas and is almost certain to be called up is New York Red Bulls attacker Caden Clark, who returned to the field as an 86th-minute substitute for his first appearance since mid-March in the team’s 2-0 road loss at Inter Miami.

In his brief amount of time, Clark only had four ball contacts, however his return to action is more significant than any stat-line.

Midfielder Daniel Edelman also suited up for the Red Bulls, but was not called into action. For Miami, left back Noah Allen was not in uniform, and has not taken the field for the Floridians since late-April.

Relative MLS veteran Cade Cowell was in San Jose’s starting lineup as usual, playing the full game on the left wing for the Earthquakes in their 1-1 home draw against Sporting Kansas City.

Cowell put in his usual active performance, taking three shots to force the Kansas City keeper into a pair of saves, setting up one additional chance, beating opposing defenders on all four of his attempted dribbles, and winning eight of 14 duels. Barring any unexpected surprises, Cowell is a certainty to appear on the U-20 roster announced in the coming weeks.

Seattle’s 16 year-old phenom Obed Vargas started in the Sounders’ central midfield in their 1-0 road loss at the Colorado Rapids. He played for 80 minutes, completing 89% of his 45 passing attempts, however he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, triggering an automatic suspension

This means that Vargas will be sidelined for Seattle’s next game on May 30 at home against Charlotte. Should he be called in by Varas for the U-20 squad, his next game for the Sounders will not occur until after the completion of the tournament in early-July.

Philadelphia Union’s fleet of U-20 players had little impact on their 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers, as the game was already set by the time Paxten Aaronson entered the game in the 52nd minute.

During his approximately 40-minute run-out, the younger Aaronson completed eight of ten passes, was beaten twice on the dribble by opposing attackers, drew one foul, and did not manage any shots or set up any chances for teammates.

Philly’s Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn, both likely call-ups for the U-20 activities in the summer, stayed glued to the bench throughout the win.

Elsewhere around the league, Orlando’s Michael Halliday was a time-wasting, 94th-minute substitute in their 2-2 draw at Austin FC, while his teammate Thomas Williams remained on the bench as an unused substitute.

For Atlanta, defender Caleb Wiley is still out of the roster, presumably due to injury, while midfielder Tyler Wolff was in uniform but stayed on the bench, and has not appeared for the first team since early-April.

Once again, we close with a note about the exploits of Diego Luna on USL team El Paso Locomotive, where he scored his fourth goal of the season over the weekend on the team’s trip to Orange County SC. While USL is a step below MLS, Luna is making the best case possible for his inclusion in the summer fun.

By 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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