thumbnail Hello,'s Noah Davis previews the U.S. Youth National Team as they head to the World Cup.

By Noah Davis

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

TV: 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 ago.  

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

For more news on the U.S. Youth Teams visit's U.S. National Team page.

For a full preview of the U-20 World Cup, check out a sneak peak at Magazine.