Goal.com's Noah Davis previews the U.S. Youth National Team as they head to the World Cup.
Who: U-20 United States Men's National Team vs. Germany, Cameroon, and South Korea
What: Group play, U-20 World Cup
Where: Murbarak Stadium; Suez Egypt
When: September 26, 10 a.m. EST; Sept. 29, 12:45 p.m.; October 2, 12:45
Sept. 26, ESPN Classic; Sept. 29 and Oct. 2, ESPN2
When the U-20 United States
Men's National Team steps on to the pitch to face Germany in their first
match of the 2009 World Cup, they will be without age-eligible stars
Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore. Two of the 2007 squad that made a run
to the quarterfinals, the pair graduated the senior team after their
excellent performances in Canada. Manager Thomas Rongen, however, will
turn to another member of that outfit to lead his team into Mubarak
Stadium. Goalkeeper Brian Perk was the youngest player on the '07 roster,
(Bryan Arguez, who replaced injured Sam Garza on the '09 squad, also
made that team), but the UCLA senior will need to play well beyond his
years for the Americans to match their accomplishments from two years
A level playing field
The Versatile Danny Cruz Gives The U.S. Some Options
You have to travel back to
1997 in order to find the last time the U.S. failed to finish as one
of the top two in its group. That team advanced to the knockout round
as one of the top third-place qualifiers, a fate that might befall this
year's version as well. Some consider Group C to be the tournament's
Group of Death, although Germany is missing some of their better players
such as Toni Kroos. Both Cameroon and the Korea Republic also possess
the talent to reach the knockout round. With the top four third-place
finishers again advancing, the U.S. should find themselves in the final
16, but failing to earn one of the two top spots would be a disappointment
(and make repeating as quarterfinalists extremely difficult).
Who's the breakout star?
Could Dilly Duka Be The One To Turn Heads?
In 1999, Taylor Twellman netted
four goals. In 2003, Eddie Johnson won the Golden Shoe. Two years ago,
Adu, Altidore, and Michael Bradley burned themselves into the world
football consciousness (not to mention fat contracts) with their World
Cup performances. So who will it be this year? There's no consensus
from Rongen and his staff, who tried out over 100 players in order to
finalize the 21-man roster. It's the third go-round for the manager,
and he's admitted in pre-tournament interviews that's he doesn't see
a star. In fact, he seems to be a bit disappointed with the level of
talent at his disposal. Nine members play in college, while many of
the professionals on the Red, White, and Blue roster rarely see the
pitch for their club sides. (Major League Soccer's abolition of the
reserve teams bears some of the blame for this lack of time)
The team has been training together for roughly two weeks, but expect
some rust to show through.
The defense doesn't rest
Brian Perk Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Talented U.S. 'Keepers
The backline, which didn't
allow a goal until the final of the CONCACAF U-20 tournament that doubled
as qualification for the World Cup, is the strength of the U.S. squad.
Perk, Gale Agbossoumonde, and Kyle Davies will anchor the defense, although
the loss of Anthony Wallace to injury forces Rongen to make a decision
about who will replace the FC Dallas talent. The midfield remains in
flux, but Dilly Duka, Jared Jeffrey, and Jorge Flores will see plenty
of time as well as Norwegian product Mikkel Diskerud. There are only
three forwards listed on the roster -- Peri Marosevic, Brek Shea, and
Tony Taylor -- but Rongen could play Danny Cruz or Brian Ownby up top
as he did in the CONCACAF championships. That said, this team will build
from the back.
Projected starting line up
United States 1-2 Germany
United States 2-2 Cameroon
United States 2-1 Korea Republic
Roster by position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (Central Florida; Lilburn, Ga.), Josh Lambo (FC Dallas; Middleton, Wis.), Brian Perk (UCLA; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Gale Agbossoumonde (Miami FC; Syracuse, N.Y.), Kyle Davies (FC Dallas; Danville, Calif.), Aaron Maund (Notre Dame; Dorchester, Mass.), Ike Opara (Wake Forest; Durham, N.C.), Sheanon Williams (Unattached; Boston, Mass.)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin, Miami), Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo; Glendale, Ariz.), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabak; Oslo, Norway), Dilly Duka (Rutgers; Montville, N.J.), Jorge Flores (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.), Jared Jeffrey (Club Brugge; Richardson, Texas), Gerson Mayen (Chivas USA; Los Angeles), Brian Ownby (Virginia; Glen Allen, Va.), Dillon Powers (Notre Dame; Plano, Texas), Michael Stephens (UCLA; Naperville, Ill.)
FORWARDS (3): Peri Marosevic (FC Dallas; Rockford, Ill.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; College Station, Texas), Tony Taylor (Jacksonville; Jacksonville, Fla.)
Noah Davis covers the United States Men's National Team for Goal.com.For more news on the U.S. Youth Teams visit Goal.com's U.S. National Team page.
For a full preview of the U-20 World Cup, check out a sneak peak at Goal.com Magazine.