U20 USYNT Roster Named for Final World Cup Tune-up

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United States Men’s U-20 National Team head coach Mikey Varas has called 19 players into the final tune-up before the fast-approaching World Cup in Indonesia, giving a clearer picture of how his final roster to be named in under two months will look.

Varas and the 19 players will convene in the coastal city of Marbella, Spain for a ten-day camp, and will face fellow World Cup participants France and England, along with Serbia in a trio of warm-up matches.

The final roster for the trip to Indonesia will contain a total of 21 players, including three keepers. While several likely sure-shot inclusions are missing from this roster, the list does start to give a clearer picture of how the squad likely to be named in early-May will look.

Notably, although unsurprisingly, Chelsea keeper Gabriel Slonina is one of the two stoppers called up, along with Antonio Carrera from FC Dallas, likely leaving the final third slot as a contest between Chicago Fire youth product Chris Brady and Fulham’s Alexander Borto.

The roster contains seven European-based players, three of whom – Slonina, Real Sociedad defender Jonathan Gomez and Eintracht Frankfurt attacker Paxten Aaronson – have also appeared with the senior US team in recent months.

Aside from Brady and Borto, notable absences include Atlanta’s Caleb Wiley, LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal, New York Red Bull midfielder Daniel Edelman, RB Leipzig attacker Caden Clark, Chicago fire winger Brian Gutierrez and San Jose forward Cade Cowell.

Apart from Clark, who is still acclimatizing in Leipzig’s first-team, each of those players are either starters or crucial contributors to their respective MLS teams, who will continue to play through the break, likely making their clubs unwilling to release them for a lengthy overseas camp. Nevertheless, all are still well within the mix, in several cases certain inclusions, for the final World Cup roster.

Another notable absence, although likely a permanent one is Espanyol winger Luca Koleosho, who has been a target for the US, Canada, Nigeria and Italy, but has opted for the latter, and will help the Italians attempt to qualify for the European U-19 Championship in July.

However, the continued inclusion of Gomez, who is appearing in his third consecutive US-aligned camp since his short flirtation with the Mexican senior team in early-2022, is also a strong indication that he will be a mainstay for Varas, at least through the 2024 Olympic games in Paris.

Another notable inclusion is Seattle Sounders defensive midfielder Obed Vargas, who at 17 years old is the second-youngest player on the roster. Vargas was a regular starter for Seattle in the first half of the 2022 season before being sidelined by a series of injuries, and made his first competitive appearance in nine months on Saturday night against LAFC.

Another player to watch will be Hajduk Split midfielder Rokas Pukstas, who has inserted himself as a starter in the Croatian team as they try to challenge Dinamo Zagreb for the league title. At only 18 years old, he has proven to be a solid, promising first-team player in the early-months of 2022.

The players have already begun to convene in Marbella, and the camp will run through March 29. The first training game will take place on Wednesday against France, with another game against possible group-stage opponent England two days later. The competitive schedule will conclude on March 28 against Serbia.


GOALKEEPERS (2): Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; Addison, Illinois)

DEFENDERS (7): Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Mauricio Cuevas (Club Brugge/BEL; Los Angeles, Calif.), Marcus Ferkranus (Los Angeles Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.), Jonathan Gomez (Real Sociedad/ESP; Keller, Texas), Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Apopka, Fla.), Thomas Williams (Orlando City SC; Titusville, Fla.), Joshua Wynder (Louisville City FC; Louisville, Ken.)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Alejandro Alvarado Jr. (Vizela/POR; Los Angeles, Calif.), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.), Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Stillwater, Oklahoma), Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska), Owen Wolff (Austin FC; Austin, Texas)

FORWARDS (5): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; Medford, N.J.), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; South Riding, Va.), Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Darren Yapi (Colorado Rapids; Denver, Colo.)


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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