The US Men’s National team is coming off an impressive performance in this year’s World Cup. Much of the success has to be attributed to the squad that Jurgen Klinsmann picked for this tournament (a squad which came under scrutiny for some ‘high profile’ exclusions). Klinsmann’s side consisted of some seasoned veterans, including 35 year-old Tim Howard, and also some sparkling young talent, including 19 year-old Julian Green.
The US roster was the 19th youngest roster at the World Cup, with an average age of 27.81. The youngest team was Ghana, with an average age of 25.44; while the oldest team was the Argentinean side, with an average age of 28.92. For a closer look at the age breakdown, check out the “Goal” article for the 2014 World Cup.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the current and future young players in the US ranks.
There are several young players who have already gotten their World Cup taste. It is a toss-up between Yedlin and Green which young player had the better tournament. Both will undoubtedly be staples of the US team in the future.
Yedlin came on in the Portugal game as a ‘super-sub’ to help the US team control the impact of Cristiano Ronaldo. His presence was immediately felt and the 21 year-old’s performance drew interest from several European clubs. Hopefully this will help him to launch his career in Europe. (AS Roma seems like a very appealing option having just signed Ashley Cole, who could be a great mentor for the young outside back.)
While the 19 year-old Julian Green may go down in World Cup history for having one of the best ‘first-touches’ in an international career. Still yet to play a minute with the Bayern Munich first-team, his club will definitely look to the young US player to produce some spectacular goals like his strike against Belgium in the future.
Then there are two other young members of this year’s US squad that did not see much, or any playing time this World Cup. Aron Johannsson, an Icelandic-American saw very limited time, only playing in the first match against Ghana. While the young Norwegian-American, Mix Diskerud was one of only two out-field players to not see any playing time. Both will be sure to continue their solid play with their respective clubs, AZ Alkmaar and Rosenborg BK.
Klinsmann also has some talented youth players to look at that were not a part of his 30-man roster prior to the 2014 World Cup.
Most notably there is Juan Agudelo. It came as a shock to many that he was not named to the 30-man squad after his successful time with both New England and the Dutch side of FC Utrecht. Now seemingly on the move to the Bundesliga side Hannover 96, it will not be long before Agudelo is once again making waves in international football.
There is also a chance for Klinsmann to grab another young German-American for the USMNT. This player should be seen as the number 1 recruit for Klinsmann and his staff. This young man’s name is Gedion Zelalem and his is only 17 years old. Gedion has been playing with the Arsenal youth team for over a year. However, his performances have allowed him to sign a first-team deal with the London-based side. Klinsmann and his staff must work hard to recruit the young Arsenal player, who is not cap-tied to either the United States or Germany yet.
These are just a few of the young, talented players who will hopefully be helping the USMNT continue to make noise in international football. Creative players such as these may be a crucial piece to the puzzle that Klinsmann is putting together. As a fan of the USMNT I am excited for what lies ahead.