Monday Musings – U.S. Men’s National Team Youth Development

US Men’s National Team Youth Development

If you’ve followed us for a while you know that one of the topics we write about frequently involves the US National team(s). One of the concerns I have written about before is the American National Team’s reliance on dual nationality players. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have dual-eligible players. My concern comes from the realization that with few exceptions, most US players are products of other nations training youth/training programs . We have an especially high reliance on Germany, Mexico, and England.

Current Men’s National Team

The most recent round of call ups for the National Team included 25 active players for the Italy and Belgium games, 13 of which carry dual eligibility per FIFA. They are as follows (alternate FIFA eligibility listed):

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (US/England)
  • Shaquille Moore (Trinidad and Tobago/US)
  • Marky Delgado (Mexico/US)
  • Kellyn Acosta (Japan/US)
  • John Brooks (Germany/US)
  • Romain Gall (France/US)
  • Julian Green (Germany/US)
  • Jonathan Klinsmann (Germany/US)
  • Matt Miazga (Poland/US)
  • Christian Pulisic (Croatia/US)
  • Antonee Robinson (England/US)
  • Wil Trapp (Greece/US)
  • Tim Weah (France, Jamaica, Liberia, US)

November 20, 2018 (v. Italy)

Starters: Horvath, Long, Carter-Vickers, Zimmerman, Cannon, Moore, Adams, Acosta, Delgado, Sargent, Pulisic. This side was the youngest side for the USMNT with an average 22 years and 71 days.

November 15, 2018 (v. England)

Starters: Guzan, Miazga, Brooks, Villafaña, Yedlin, McKennie, Trap, Green, Pulisic, Weah, and Wood.

(Bolded players are dual-eligibles)

Get ’em while they’re young!

One of the favored methods from prior US coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, was to get dual eligibles called up to a senior National Team appearance as soon as possible. Interim-manager Dave Sarachan manages to secure a few youthful senior nationals as well. This is not an exhaustive list my any means but some of the higher profile players are:

  • Julian Green (American-born, moves to Germany at age 2 where he played through German youth system. He received US National Team call up at 18 years, 9 months, 20 days)
  • Christian Pulisic (American-born, moved to Germany age 17. Made full national team appearance at 17 years, 6 months, 12 days).
  • Kellyn Acosta (One of the few truly homegrown players, still plays in the MLS; made full debut at 20 years 06 months 07 days)
  • John Brooks (German-born, started playing for SV Blau-Weiß Berlin at age 5; made full debut at 20 years, 6 months, 17 days)
  • Matt Miazga (American-born homegrown player, homegrown; made full debut at 20 years 3 months 26 days)
  • Timothy Weah (American-born, moved to PSG at age 14; full debut 18 years 01 month 5 days)

The Homegrown movement is alive (and burgeoning) in the States though…

The number of residential academies has blossomed substantial in recent years as the relative health of the MLS has grown. US Soccer has come along way from the days of the IMG Academy for U16s and U17s. During those days it was a training ground for Generation Adidas and Project 2010 player development. Many of the MLS Teams have started to build residential academies and are developing local talent.

MLS Academies

Almost all of the MLS teams have functioning academies with varying levels of success. Generally smaller market clubs have a higher dependence on homegrown players because they can’t buy all their talent. Some clubs, like Real Salt Lake, have made huge investments into entire youth development complexes. They just invested $60 million into creating a world class training facility that starts with their U14 team and continues all the way through the it USL team, Real Monarchs.

Other academies have produced talent lacing the European divisions, like the New York Red Bull’s academy. They are responsible for talent such as Timothy Weah, Matt Miazga, and Juan Agudelo among other current youth prospects.

Going forward…

The continued improvement and development is imperative to improve the United States’ standing in the world. It’s almost important to developing a respected nation-wide, professional league. It’s also one of the few ways to ensure that the disappointment that followed failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup doesn’t become a regular occurrence.

I’ll see you next week on Monday Musings, please share our content if you’ve enjoyed it!

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