BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, May 11, 2011
As the US U-20 national team heads to France to begin what is essentially the first camp of the 2013 cycle, many interesting storylines have emerged with the roster that was named.
The most important area to note is that the battle for talented dual nationals continues. The US U-20 team in France will consist of several key dual nationals are likely to have options with other countries. Their inclusion on this team shows the US is ahead of the curve.
The most important dual national is Hertha Berlin's exceptionally talented central defender John Anthony Brooks who is climbing the ladder rapidly at the newly promoted Bundesliga club.
Brooks played once in the last cycle but was frequently denied a release by Hertha to play in other US U-20 camps. This cycle, Brooks will anchor of the US defense and it is very possible he will be earning regular Bundesliga minutes by 2013.
Another dual national whose inclusion marks a significant gain for the US program is West Ham's left back Danny Potts. Potts' father, Steve, was born in Baltimore but played for England at the youth level and had a long career with West Ham.
Potts' addition is important because it gives the US a promising player at left back which is historically its weakest position. Potts will however face strong competition for playing time at left back as Molde's Sean Cunningham is beginning to play with his club's first team at just 18 years old.
The US U-20 team will also consist of two players more players at Hertha Berlin who hold dual nationality with Germany. Jerome Kiesewetter is a young forward that is likely to see a lot of time this cycle.
Terrance Boyd is doing well this season and is in the middle of a very strong season at Hertha but he is too old for the 2013 U20 World Cup team so this camp is more or less simply to get him introduced to US Soccer.
Cody Cropper's role on the team will be significantly increased this cycle and he has the potential to be one of the better U-20 keepers for the US in recent years. His continued strong play at Ispwich could spark interest from England's U-19 team but this inclusion will likely keep Cropper involved with the US team.
This aggressive approach towards including dual nationals carries over an approach that former US U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen used last cycle to get players who have options with other countries excited about the US program. It should be of no surprise that Rongen was responsible for putting this roster together before he left his position as coach.
The rest of the team consists of mostly players who were eligible for the 2011 cycle but are too old for the 2013 team. By including these players, the US will be able to field a competitive team against a talented French team while also keeping this players involved with US Soccer as they are eligible for next year's Olympic team.
Tab Ramos is the head coach for this team in France but he is unlikely to take the job fulltime. A new coach is likely to come from within US Soccer or NCAA soccer but the approach towards including dual nationals is likely to continue.