USMNT Youngsters to Watch for World Cup 2018

Image: Ben Campbell / EPA

Jurgen Klinsmann rocked the boat at his first World Cup as USMNT national team coach by bringing a host of youngsters for the tournament at the expense of Landon Donovan. Guys like DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Julian Green, Aron Johannsson, and Mix Diskerud were each on the plane to Brazil, with most playing some significant minutes in the tournament. Brooks and Green got goals, Johannsson got significant minutes, and Yedlin flashed his immense potential.

Using that as an example, combined with an aging roster at the Copa America, it is reasonable to believe that a new crop of youngsters will force their way into the USMNT picture. For the purpose of defining it, we are looking at players 25 years old or younger. Quite a few players were teammates at the U-20 World Cup last year. Let’s take a look at some of the potential new names that are soon to be on the tongue.

Christian Pulisic

USA youngster Christian Pulisic

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The Hype Train is full steam ahead on Pulisic. The 17-year-old made a breakthrough at Borussia Dortmund, getting legitimate minutes for the powerful club. He made a couple appearances at Copa America, looking very composed and staying grounded. Klinsmann made sure to bring him along slowly to not stunt his development, something that will likely pay off in 2 years. Pulisic is a solid bet to make the final 23-man roster, with a pretty decent shot at the starting 11 as it stands right now.

Terrence Boyd

This one might surprise a lot of people, but Boyd is still only 25. Injuries have derailed his career since 2014, when he was fighting to be included on the World Cup roster. He is in a contract year at RB Leipzig, and is supposedly fully healthy for the first time in years. The German-American made a lot of USA fans happy when he affirmed his commitment by getting a US Flag tattoo a few years ago. He is the most like Jozy Altidore and was scoring goals in bunches prior to injuries. If he gets back to pre-injury form, he should be in the mix.

Emerson Hyndman

Hyndman made news recently when he signed with Bournemouth after snubbing a contract extension from Fulham. Klinsmann loves players playing in top European leagues, and Hyndman likely made this move with that in mind. His new coach had some high praise for the youngster. Hyndman captained the U-20 squad at the World Cup last year, leading them to a quarterfinal appearance. He has credentials both tactically and in leadership, something the US needs in a youngster.

Gedion Zelalem

Zelalem starts his first USA game

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Zelalem was the previous Hype Train prospect when he decided to commit to the US over Germany and Ethiopia. The Arsenal academy product has high praise across the board. Last season, the 19-year-old went on loan to Scotland with Rangers. He made a good number of appearances, impressing for his technical and passing ability. He also converted a penalty in the semifinal shootout against Rangers rival Celtic in the Scottish Cup. It will be interesting to see what Zelalem does this year, going out on loan again or attempting to get some time at Arsenal. He worked well with Hyndman as they teamed up for the U-20 World Cup.

READ: On the Spot: Gedion Zelalem

Matt Miazga

The tall (6’4”) youngster made a big move to Chelsea in January, and made a couple appearances for the first team when injuries struck. Miazga made his name at NY Red Bulls, and was also the anchor for the back line at the U-20 World Cup. He flirted with committing to Poland before Klinsmann called him up and locked him down by playing in a World Cup qualifier. Miazga has all the physical capabilities, but still needs some game time adjusting to the international game. He paired well with Cameron Carter-Vickers with the U-20s, something that might come in handy later down the line. Chelsea made some big purchases, and John Terry re-signed for a final season, so maybe a loan might be in order for Miazga to get playing time.

Cameron Carter-Vickers

CCV was a surprise pick up for the US, but is a very exciting prospect. As a 17-year-old, he paired up with Matt Miazga to create a powerful tandem in central defense at the U-20 World Cup. A Tottenham academy prospect, CCV has already made the first team bench a couple times before seeing his season end with an injury. He is likely to be the 5th centreback for Tottenham next season, so he might see his first team debut, and has been training with the first team this summer. His father was a basketball star at LSU in the 1980s, so athleticism is no issue. He still has options for international play, as his mother is English and he has not been officially capped.

Rubio Rubin

Another promising striker in the pool is Rubin. He broke through at FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie, starting consistently for awhile. He already owns 3 caps for the US senior team, despite being of Mexican and Guatemalan descent. He is solidly on Klinsmann’s radar, so maybe he gets another look soon.

Kellyn Acosta

The left back position is the weakest spot in the entire player pool, and Acosta might be the answer. The FC Dallas academy product made his debut with the senior team in January against Iceland, while also playing alongside the other prospects at the U-20 World Cup last year. He can play both fullback positions and as a defensive midfielder. His best shot for Russia is to make himself valuable at the left back position.

Luca De La Torre

Fulham is one of the few English clubs that likes to take chances on Americans, and de la Torre is one of those products. He is beginning to train with the first team and even scored the opening goal of their pre-season tour. He has done well with the various youth teams, and the next 2 years will determine if he can make the jump to the senior level. He is another talented midfielder who might garner a look.

Jerome Kiesewetter

All these German-Americans coming out of nowhere! He recently singed for Fortuna Dusseldorf of the 2.Bundesliga. The quick winger has made his mark with the various youth US teams, including 2 senior caps as well. If he fits in and gets playing time at Dusseldorf, there is a good chance he will get a look from Klinsmann and the staff.

Paul Arriola

Just across the Mexican border, Tijuana has accepted Americans as vital pieces of their club. Arriola is one of the young pieces, moving to the club in 2013. He plays quite a bit, establishing himself as a first team player at 21 years old. He also scored a goal in his national team debut against Puerto Rico in May.

Ethan Horvath

Horvath was the 3rd goalkeeper on the roster at the Copa America, getting a taste of a major tournament atmosphere. The Copa inclusion is a surefire indication that Klinsmann is high on the Molde FK keeper. Goalkeeper has been a strength for the US over the past couple decades, and if Horvath progresses, he might just be the next great one.


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About the author: Dominic Habjan


I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.



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