United States U-20 National Team head coach Mikey Varas named his roster of 20 players who will compete in the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which will determine spots for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics.
The tournament is set to kick off for the Americans on Saturday, June 18, when they face Saint Kitts and Nevis in the first group-stage game in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
This will be followed with a matchup against rising CONCACAF power Canada two days later, with the final game of group play against Cuba on June 22.
The rapid-fire tournament will decide which teams from the region will appear in two upcoming global tournaments. The four semifinalists will play in the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia, while the two finalists will reach the 2024 Olympics.
Pressure is on the Americans to finish in the top two, after they missed out on the last three editions of the Olympics, their last appearance being in 2008, where they crashed out in the group stage.
The group of 20 leans heavily on active MLS players, although a smattering of European-based participants have been named.
Four players from the productive Philadelphia youth factory appear on the roster, with three of them – midfielders Paxten Aaronson and Jack McGlynn as well as forward Cade Cowell – likely to be first-choice starters.
The midfield is perhaps the biggest strength of the squad for Varas. In addition to the experienced Philadelphia duo, MLS regulars Caden Clark, Daniel Edelman and Obed Vargas, as well as Alejandro Alvarado, who plies his trade in Portugal with Vizela, will also be competing for significant time.
Of this group, US Soccer confirmed that Vargas will remain with Seattle Sounders, where he is a regular starter in defensive midfield, until the completion of the group stage. This likely means that his first game in the tournament will be either against Nicaragua or the third-place team in Group G on June 25.
While earlier rumors also indicated that the Red Bull New York duo of Clark and Edelman would also remain with their club, current reports have confirmed that they have been released to join the rest of the U-20 squad immediately.
In addition to the 20 players named by Varas, an addition four will initially join the team on the trip to Honduras as alternates, namely keeper Alexander Borto from England’s Fulham, defender Jaziel Orozco, and midfielders Jackson Hopkins and Tarun Karumanchi. The four will return the US prior to the group stage should the rest of the squad remain injury-free.
The squad only contains three players who are currently based with European clubs. In addition to Alvarado, Hadjuk Split’s Rokas Pukstas and Brugge’s Mauricio Cuevas were also named.
2022 CONCACAF U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION (COLLEGE OR CLUB; HOMETOWN)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Christopher Brady (Chicago Fire FC; Naperville, Ill.), Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas
DEFENDERS (6): Noah Allen (Inter Miami CF; Miramar, Fla.), Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Mauricio Cuevas (Club Brugge/BEL; Los Angeles, Calif.), Marcus Ferkranus (LA Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.), Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Apopka, Fla.), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy; Lakewood, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; Medford, N.J.), Alejandro Alvarado Jr. (FC Vizela/POR; Los Angeles, Calif.), Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls; Wayzata, Minn.) Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls; Warren, N.J.), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Sillwater, Okla.), Niko Tsakiris (San Jose Earthquakes; Saratoga, Calif.), Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska)
FORWARDS (3): Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; Ceres, Calif.), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Tyler Wolff (Atlanta United FC; Braselton,Ga.)