By Mike Woitalla
Coach Tab Ramos has a month to finalize his roster for the U-20 World Cup that kicks off May 30 in New Zealand, where the USA aims to reach the knockout stage of the biennial competition for the first time since 2007.
After finishing third at the U-20 Concacaf Championship in January, Ramos speculated that there could be four to five changes from the roster used in qualifying.
The 20-player roster for April 18-26 trip to Austria, during which USA will play Qatar Tuesday and Croatia on April 25, included nine players who weren’t part of qualifying. Among them, Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union) and Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), who have made a case with their MLS performances this season.
Allen has made six appearances, two starts and has scored once for RSL. Pfeffer has played six MLS games, three starts and scored once for Philly. Roldan has two starts in five appearances for the Sounders.
For the March camp in London during which the USA fell, 2-1, to England, Ramos invited 10 players who weren’t part of qualifying.
The newcomers who were invited to both the England and Austria camps are:
Maki Tall. The goalscorer against England was born in Washington, D.C., and moved with his family to Senegal at age 7 and to his parents’ homeland, Ivory Coast, at age 11. He is currently playing for French third division Red Star on loan from Lille.
Jeff Caldwell. The North Carolina product, who had two starts in goal during his freshman season at the University of Virginia, played the full 90 against England. He played youth ball for the North Carolina Fusion, was a part of the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton. Fla., and has played for the Seattle Sounders FC U-23 squad.
Erik Palmer-Brown. The defender, an Ohio product, was courted by Juventus last year but has remained at Sporting Kansas City, which signed him at age 17. He appeared in three games and started twice for SKC last season, and was a late sub in one game this season.
Ethan Sonis. A Texas native born to Argentine immigrants, played for Kendall and FC Dallas U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams before joining the reserve team at German Bundesliga club Freiburg.
Joel Sonora. The son of former Argentina MLS defender Diego Sonora, scored for the U.S. U-17s in the 3-1 loss to Honduras in 2013 that knocked the USA out of qualifying for the 2013 U-17 World Cup. The midfielder, who plays in Boca Juniors’ youth program, was a frequent part of Ramos’ team but was injured on the eve of U-20 qualifying.
Marco Delgado. Signed as a homegrown player by Chivas USA in 2012, he was picked up by Toronto FC in dispersal draft after Chivas USA folded. He played 25 MLS games for Chivas USA but has yet to see MLS action for Toronto.
(Pfeffer didn't go to the England camp but was called in for the U-23 game in Denmark after he was suspended for his red card with the Union.)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jeff Caldwell (University of Virginia), Zack Steffen (Freiburg/GER).
DEFENDERS (6): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham/ENG), Conor Donovan (Orlando City SC), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), John Requejo (Tijuana/MEX).
MIDFIELDERS (8): Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew SC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland/ENG), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Ethan Sonis (Freiburg/GER), Joel Sonora (Boca Juniors/ARG).
FORWARDS (4): Amando Moreno (Tijuana/MEX), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union), Maki Tall (Red Star/FRA), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes).