More than Pulisic: Five U-20 USMNT prospects with bright futures
The Under-20 U.S. men’s national team qualified for this year’s World Cup in style, winning the CONCACAF tournament for the first time in the competition’s history.
And there is good reason for optimism that this group has a bright future with the senior men’s national team. Under-20 head coach Tab Ramos’ side was up-and-down during the two weeks in Costa Rica, but the team improved on a game-to-game basis, beating Mexico’s U-20s for the first time since 1986 on the way to winning the whole thing.
The team that Ramos called into camp didn’t even feature a number of the its most promising age-eligible talents. A handful of players weren’t able to get released from their European clubs to compete at qualifying. That should change for the upcoming U-20 World Cup, scheduled to kick off in May. Christian Pulisic is far and away the best player from the age group, and he’s already a well-known commodity after scoring his first Champions League goal for Dortmund this week.
He’s hardly the only promising player from the U-20 pool. Keep an eye on these five players with a U-20 World Cup just around the corner -- and in the near future for the senior U.S. men’s national team.
Weston McKennie, Schalke midfielder
An intriguing trend has emerged over in Germany at Schalke, as three young Americans have set up shop over in the team’s youth ranks: McKennie, Nicholas Taitague and Haji Wright. All three have lengthy resumes for various U.S. youth national teams, and are promising players cutting their teeth at a high level.
McKennie looks furthest along of the three at the moment, after eschewing a homegrown offer from FC Dallas to jet off to Gelsenkirchen last summer. An injury slowed his progress, ultimately keeping him out of the mix for U-20 qualifying, though he’s recovered and has returned to a starting role for the U-19s. Expect to see him in consideration for the World Cup trip to Korea Republic, as he’s a busy, talented central midfielder with soft feet. Capable of playing in a box-to-box or holding midfield role, McKennie’s stock could rise quickly as the season winds down in Germany.