Five U.S. U-20 World Cup stars get shots on first teams in Europe

Making it abroad -- whether it is in Europe or Mexico -- has never been easy, even players who had high visibility representing the USA at the Under-20 World Cup.

Of the 33 players who went to the 2013, 2015 and 2017 U-20 World Cups and have played abroad, just a handful are first-team regulars on first-division teams that own their contracts: Tyler Adams, Emmanuel Sabbi and DeAndre Yedlin.

A few others played regularly on loan last season but find themselves unable to break in at their Premier League clubs: Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga.

Paul Arriola, Emerson Hyndman and Gedion Zelalem have returned home to play in MLS, while others are already out of soccer altogether.

Tab Ramos' team that lost to Ecuador in the quarterfinals is the most talented team he has ever taken to a world championship, and it included 11 players already under contract with clubs in Europe, including the reigning champions of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

Ramos' 2019 team was also the youngest he has ever taken to a world championship. Most players were born in 2000 -- the birth year for players moving up from the 2017 U-17 World Cup -- or in 2001 -- making them eligible for the 2021 U-20 World Cup. In the case of three players -- Alex Mendez, Richie Ledezma and Uly Llanez -- they are only in their first full seasons in Europe, so they are still being integrated into their club programs.

How quickly they move up the ladder will impact how quickly they will get a serious lock on the senior U.S. national team, where opportunities exist to break in over the next 2-3 years.

Five players are with their first teams for preseason training ...

Tim Weah (Lille/FRA). Weah debuted for Paris St. Germain in the 2017-18 season and played for PSG and Celtic on loan in 2018-19, but a transfer was always likely as PSG continues to unload its top youth prospects. (It will have no place for young players as it has taken the unusual step of dropping its reserve team playing in the French fourth division.)

The 19-year-old forward moved to Lille, which finished second in Ligue 1 and will play in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League, for a fee believed to about $10 million.

Weah is just getting up to full speed in the Lille camp after arriving a week after preseason camp opened. His chances of playing a lot depend on what happens to Lille's two prized attackers, Ivorian star Nicolas Pepe and Portuguese Rafael Leao. Pepe could command a transfer fee of $90 million while Leao's value is at least $50 million.

Weah will also face competition from veteran Loic Remy and Jonathan Bamba, who was injured in the UEFA U-21 Championship.

Sergino Dest (Ajax/NED).
Dest started for the USA at right back in Poland but Ajax is giving him a shot at left back, where he started Sunday against Istanbul Basaksehir in the first game on its pre-season trip to Austria. Ajax is loaded at right back, but the only player ahead of him at left back is Argentine Nicolas Tagliafico, who remains on vacation following the Copa America.

Chris Gloster, 
Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96/GER).
The good news is that Gloster and Soto are both very much in the first-team mix at Hannover. The bad news is, Hannover was relegated to the second division and has an uncertain future. In the most recent game at the training camp in Austria, Soto came off the bench and scored two goals to give Hannover 96 a 3-1 win over Grazer AK. For Gloster, who started at left back, talk of a move to Dutch club PSV has quieted down.

Brady Scott (FC Cologne/GER). In his third season in Germany, Scott is one of four goalkeepers in preseason camp at promoted Bundesliga club FC Cologne. He played in FC Cologne's two most recent friendlies against lower division competition, but will likely begin the season as the No. 3 keeper behind Timo Horn and Thomas Kessler.

Other 2019 U.S. U-20s in Europe ...

Konrad De La Fuente (Barcelona Juvenil A/ESP)
CJ Dos Santos (Benfica Sub 23/POR)
Richard Ledezma (PSV Jong/NED D2)
Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19/GER)
Alex Mendez (Freiburg II/GER D4)
Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II/GER D3)

5 comments about "Five U.S. U-20 World Cup stars get shots on first teams in Europe".
  1. beautiful game, July 17, 2019 at 9:45 a.m.

    As long as such dvelopmental players stay out of the MLS, they have an opportunity to reach higher levels.

  2. wait what? replied, July 17, 2019 at 3:49 p.m.


  3. Chris Wasdyke replied, July 17, 2019 at 5:09 p.m.

    You mean the ones that were mostly developed in said MLS system?

  4. Jeremy Darnell, July 17, 2019 at 10:14 a.m.

    Yes, @beautiful game, just like Tyler Adams.

  5. don Lamb replied, July 17, 2019 at 3:13 p.m.

    And Pomykal, who is on a very simlar track to Adams.

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