The United States kicks off its U-20 World Cup run with a match against Myanmar at Midnight ET, and will look to emerge from a relatively winnable group with Ukraine and hosts New Zealand.
[ MORE: U-20 World Cup preview ]
But who will be mixing it up for the Yanks over the coming weeks?
Well, there’s obviously plenty of talent to go around, even with Hoffenheim back Russell Canouse forced out of the lineup by injury. That’s a blow, but the addition of Conor Donovan from Orlando City doesn’t make for a steep drop-off.
A fair bit of forewarning: the positions below are up for debate when it comes to certain players. Kellyn Acosta plays plenty of right backs, but looks to feature in a midfield set-up for the States. There’s plenty of versatility in the mix.
Goalkeepers: Jeff Caldwell (University of Virginia), Thomas Olsen (University of San Diego), Zack Steffen (Freiburg)
Steffen is the name most familiar to our readers after the 6-foot-3 Pennsylvanian left the University of Maryland after his sophomore season with the Terps. Olsen was his conference’s freshman of the year, while Caldwell posted a .99 GAA as a freshman.
Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Donovan (Orlando City), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Huracan Valencia), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC), Desevio Payne (Groningen), John Requejo (Tijuana)
A loaded group, Palmer-Brown has been well-scouted here and abroad, while Carter-Vickers has received plenty of work for Spurs youth set-up. Payne is a pacey outside back while Moore is well-regarded. Matt Miazga is a Homegrown Player for RBNY, where he regularly starts.
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Tijuana), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Joel Sonora (Boca Juniors), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal)
Zelalem is among the most talked-about names in recent U.S. history, and will get his chance to shine as an American player. His silky moves and creative soccer IQ could wow, and Hyndman also has the skill set to impress fans. He got plenty of work in England’s Championship this year.
Forwards: Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Bradford Jamieson IV (L.A. Galaxy), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Maki Tall (Red Star), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
This group is loaded, with Maki Tall likely the only player many U.S. Soccer fans need to know more about. How about this? Once expected to declare allegiance to France, Tall is on the books for Lille, but playing for a third-tier French side. The other four should be fairly familiar, as forwards get plenty of pub. Thompson has some nifty feet, Allen is finding his form after a brutal injury and Rubin has seen time with the senior side.