Past U20 groups -- some numbers and observations

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by Dave Marino-Nachison, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    I've been recreating my tragically (to me, anyway) U-20 callup lists and decided it was time to actually post some output. As I find things I think are interesting, I'll post them in this thread from time to time.

    As a first stab, here are some thoughts on the 87/88 group from the 2007 WYC. I'm starting there for two reasons: First, because at this point, based on age, any player from this group who is going to play professional soccer will likely have done so by now; and second, because my data for the 2005 cycle is incomplete. (I'm seeking callup lists for that cycle if you have them.)

    One asterisk: I haven't been able to find the full 26-player callup list for the December 2005 Florida camp. If anybody has it, please share. (I believe I'm missing three guys.)

    General data:
    • 14 opportunities to be called up (including the WYC and qualifiers)
    • 78 total players, 11 of them GKs
    • 37 callups for 87s; 26 for 88s
    • another 15 players played "up" -- 11 89s, 3 90s and a 91 (MacMath)
    • 6 players were called in during the 2005 cycle (Adu, Bradley, S Sandbo, Sturgis, Szetela, J Valentin; all of them made the WYC roster)
    Other observations:
    • I count 62 professionals at all levels; if anybody knows whether the other guys (K Banghart, T Banks, C Brown, B Bumpas, N Cardenas, B Dworsky, G Folk, R Hidalgo, D Kelly, W Koss, D Lopez, M Rein, Sandbo, N Skverer, M Tutich or M Van Den Beld ever signed a pro contract, please let me know)
    • It looks like 27 guys were pros during the cycle
    • 9 capped players (Adu, Altidore, Besler, Bradley, Gonzalez, Lichaj, Rogers, Shea, Wallace)
    • 5 guys who have played in qualifiers (Adu, Altidore, Besler, Bradley, Gonzalez)
    • 2 guys who have played in a World Cup (Altidore, Bradley; obviously that number could change next summer)
    • 1 Neven Subotic
    • 1 guy from the 87/88 class who played in a World Cup despite no involvement during this cycle (Jose Francisco Torres)
    A lot of these numbers will be more interesting once I can accurately compare them with other groups.

    A few names stand out for various reasons. Matt Besler was called in just once; he might end up the best defender of the group unless Gonzalez has something to say about it. Another guy who turned up just once but ended up pretty good: GK Joe Willis. (The "star" GK of this group was Seitz.)

    Nik Besagno! Miguel Gonzalez! Danny Kelly! Bryan Arguez! Jonathan Villanueva!

    If people have questions about U20 callup data, and I can answer them, I will do so.

    Tangent: Detailed pre-2005 data is pretty hard to find, but as I was poking around I came across the 1989 team (for 69/70 birth years) which finished fourth in the WYC. They didn't have a brutal draw, but it was still an impressive accomplishment: Kasey Keller was the star, but the most accomplished field player on that team was Mike Burns.
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  2. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    Should have included in the first post: Of the 15 guys playing "up," five made the WYC roster: Adu, Altidore, Arguez, Perk and Wallace -- two guys who made it to the next level (yes, we could debate Adu all day but he did get MNT caps in qualifying matches), a solid pro (Wallace) and two guys who are ... doing something, I don't know what, right now.

    Of possible interest is the idea that a starting USA backline in Brazil could (very theoretically) consist of four guys who didn't make the finals roster out of this age group: '88 Lichaj (2 callups), '88 Gonzalez (1), '87 Besler (1) and '87 Fab Johnson (none).
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
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  3. Hararea

    Hararea Member+

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    Tim Ream and George John are 87 defenders, too, a really strong crop.
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  4. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

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    I'm going to guess that 9 fully capped players from that group is a substantially good number. [Plus Neven] And at least two of those guys are "cornerstone" players in Bradley and Altidore, with a good chance of getting to 100 caps.

    I went to one of the final tune-ups for this team prior to the World Cup. They played Argentina in Rochester and did very well. I'd argue that the best player that night for the team wasn't Adu or Bradley or Szetela or Altidore. It was Johann Smith, who was giving the Argentine defense absolute nightmares with his pace. He got hurt, though, and has fallen off the face of the planet. I don't remember the score from that game, but I remember thinking "this team has a shot" at the World Cup.

    It should be mentioned that Bryan Arguez is currently being held on rape charges. So its not all kittens and rainbows.................
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  5. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    1-0 Argentina.
    http://www.ussoccer.com/news/u-20-m...rld-cup-preparation-match-at-paetec-park.aspx

    You were at that game? I was too, we probably sat next to each other and didn't even know it. Must have been long drive from Ft. Worth. :) Didn't remember Bradley being on that team so I looked it up. Sat near front row on J.Smith side for first half and he dominated with not only his pace but some nifty ball skill. I guess that was his 'in the zone moment'. I don't recognize any of the Argentinians. I remember just pummeling their goal in the second half. We had 3 times more shots and many more corners. I remember an Adu free kick off the crossbar straight down that didn't go in. Remember Arguez and Szetela controlling midfield and Sturgis really good on the ball coming out of the defense. Memory is alittle fuzzy for obvious reasons for the second half and a thunder storm coming in as game ended. Really windy.
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  6. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

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    Ah, you're right. Bradley wasn't there.

    I lived in Syracuse at the time...............................(Liverpool to be exact).
    Used to go to Rhinos and Salty Dogs games (while they existed).

    Disappointingly, that was a weakened Argentina team we played. Those were players fighting to make the roster. Aguero, Banega, di Maria, Zarate, and more joined the team for the World Cup. Which they subsequently won of course.
  7. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    My buddy who I went to the game with is a Liverpudlian. I remember Argentina wasn't overly talented but they knew how to play the game. Their spacing, quick decision making were almost perfect. They knew exactly where to be for their teammates and what touch to use on the ball to maximize their effectiveness.
  8. Gamecock14

    Gamecock14 Member+

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    If anything, the 07 WC group shows that YWC do not find all of the talent.
  9. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    The goal is to try to find the best talent at the time. No human can pick a youth team who's players will be the best in 5 yrs. Just not possible.
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  10. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    Since I've spent way too much time assembling this data, I've tried to figure out what it should tell us -- whether I'm doing anything more than list-building for its own sake, which is a kind of fun obsessive hobby but rather pointless perhaps.

    Here are a few ideas -- I would love more, if people have suggestions and it is already in my data. (I decided not to track MNT callups that didn't result in caps because, basically, I'm lazy.)

    I'm interested in this group because it's at a pivot point between youth and adult soccer -- during a two-year cycle, a guy could be in high school when it starts and playing first-team pro ball when it ends. This means, among other things, there should be pretty good information available about what kind of prospect a kid is by the time a U20 cycle is over.

    This also means there is probably value, generally speaking, in comparing early-camp guys and late-camp guys to see how much easier it might be to pick a good player in the second half of a cycle than in the first. That's something I haven't looked at yet.

    Over the long term, I'm decreasingly interested in who made a specific roster -- there are too many reasons a guy might or might not -- club releases, injury, international tugs-of-war -- to make the numbers purely interesting without context. I am of course interested in who was identified as an interesting player at this age as defined by callups.

    Counting the eventual pros is basically uninteresting at this point because so many of these guys go pro that it doesn't tell us much. (Especially true if you count the lower divisions, which I have because a guy's career can certainly start in the USL, for example, and take off from there.) Counting the number of guys who go pro during a cycle remains somewhat interesting but that may also change.

    As a measure of our ability to scout players, the number of guys who have absolutely zero involvement with the U20 program and then end up being capped by the MNT should be pretty low -- mostly limited to foreign-born guys. Jose Francisco Torres is an exception -- American-born and raised -- but he also turned down some YNT opportunties before joining the MNT so the context matters.

    I also would expect to see the number of guys called in once or twice and then never brought back in go down over time. If we are doing a good job scouting and training players, there shoudl be more serious competition for these teams over time even though, obviously, people do have to get cut eventually.

    I hope that looking at the list of players who play "up" and whether they have more success over time than the broader group yields something interesting. We'll see. ​

    That's it for now...
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  11. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    @SUDano and @Clint Eastwood, I seem to remember there was an online highlight reel from this game at one point. A lot of it was of Smith running like he was being chased by cheetahs -- truly incredible. (I vaguely recall somebody on BigSoccer referring to him as a "wind-up toy" for his teammates during that game.)

    There is a Smith highlight reel on YouTube...



    ... but I think there were also match highlights somewhere, sometime...

    Anybody remember?
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  12. USvsIRELAND

    USvsIRELAND Member+

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    I'm pretty surprised Johann Smith wasn't at least able to carve out a career as a decent MLS player.
  13. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

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    Great physical tools, not-so-great soccer brain.

    When he couldn't simply run by people any more, he was pretty much screwed at the elite levels. Think Quavas Kirk..................
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  14. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    Well, Kirk and Smith got past people as youth players for different reasons. Kirk was a man among boys as a teen, but turned out to be an essentially unremarkable adult athlete. Smith, who I saw much less frequently than Kirk (though I did see him and Fuad "Abdus" Ibrahim live on the field together in MLS once...) also had unremarkable technique but his speed was exceptional even by adult standards.

    I don't know if there was a better potential outcome for Quavas Kirk; maybe he gets moved back to CB as a teen, grows into the position and lasts a decade in MLS, but he was never going to make it as an attacker at that level. (He's still just 25. Wow. Did he have a team in 2013?)

    Smith's speed was sufficiently unusual that if he'd stayed healthy and, who knows, maybe moved to fullback around 17 or 18, he might have had a different career.
  15. Peretz48

    Peretz48 Member+

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    The 2nd coming of Marvell Wynne?
  16. Brown Shark

    Brown Shark Member

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    I do believe I'll have to make a stop at Heids in the coming weeks for a white coney.
  17. Hararea

    Hararea Member+

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    Even though this thread is mostly about the 2007 U20s, it's probably also a good place to reminisce briefly about the 2005 U20 team, which featured three guys who had can't-miss reputations: Freddy Adu, Eddie Gaven, and Jonathan Spector.

    At age 18, those three of those guys had all been capped, but they've now reached a point where it's unlikely that any of them will play in the finals of a World Cup. In fact, the only players from that 2005 squad who appeared for us in the 2013 Hex were Sacha Kljestan and Brad Evans, both of whom were benchwarmers back in the day. Also of note is Benny Feilhaber, who went on to play significant minutes in the 2010 World Cup; he and Marvell Wynne were both breakout performers on the 05 team.
  18. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

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    I don't know. He was on the Rhinos in 2012, but I'm not sure if he was for 2013. In actuality, having a 7-8 year post-Bradenton pro career is more than you can say for quite a number of Bradenton players of that era.

    It's hard to fathom, but Quavas was a key cornerstone of his U17 class. He played over 50 matches for the U17s, with over 20 goals.

    He would perhaps have been a starter for this 2007 U20 team. After all, he was a pro on the LA Galaxy in the run-up to this tournament. By the end of the 2007 season he had made over 30 appearances for the Galaxy before the age of 20. His ceiling was such that he was traded to DC for a very good veteran in Greg Vanney. He got injured, however, and ended up being excluded from the U20 roster. From there it was a slow slide down the US pyramid.

    Long-time posters like yourself will also remember the hub-bub that occured when T&T started recruiting Kirk hard. I believe they offered him a senior national team callup while he was still making MLS appearances. He turned it down in favor of fighting it out for a much more questionable USMNT role. [It was the same refrain we hear now. We invested so much in Quavas at Bradenton! We did so much for him! How daaaaaaaaaaaaare he even think about switching to T&T!!!?] If people think CONCACAF nations recruiting our youngsters is anything new (Flores-El Salvador, etc.)........Quavas is an example from the past of it occurring. T&T also tried to recruit Ricardo Clark, who swatted them away quickly. And somebody else. Kamani Hill maybe....................
  19. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    I guess I just never saw anything more than average (by pro standards) about Kirk once he started playing against adults. I do remember the T&T situation, and I'm sure there was some degree of hand-wringing, but I don't recall much concern from a U.S. Soccer perspective.

    Also, the Vanney who DC traded for Kirk was about 34 and entering his final pro season. (Yes, he was still a decent player, but I don't see that as a blockbuster swap.)

    All that said, Quavas Kirk is still an awesome name, and I don't dispute that the career he's had up to this point -- about 100 pro appearances, maybe 40 or so in MLS -- is nothing to sneeze at.
  20. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    I'll have more data on the 2005 as soon as I have time to finish a bit more research, which is going slowly. (Trying to find all the 2003 records to see how many guys played in both cycles, but the 2003 stuff is a bit hard to track down.)

    The 2005 were definitely an interesting group. In addition to the guys you list, we had Bradley playing up (guys from five birth years were called in during this cycle, which is pretty unusual), a guy named Christian Jimenez who got to train with the MNT at one point, and lots of other interesting storylines.

    Off the top of your head, name (if you choose) the two 85/86 players to make a US World Cup roster who were not called in a single time during this cycle.
  21. Clint Eastwood

    Clint Eastwood Member+

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    The pre-game roster for that U20 game against Argentina is pretty instructive.............
    Of the 16 players in the camp, 11 were in pro environments, many of them getting playing time in MLS. Adu, Altidore, and Sturgis had all played MLS first team games the previous week, and Lopez, Igwe, Rogers, and Ward had all gotten MLS playing time (but had only played in a reserve game the previous week).

    U.S. U-20 MNT Roster GOALKEEPERS (2): Alec Dufty (University of Evansville), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

    DEFENDERS (4): Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest University), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)

    MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake), Jalil Anibaba (Davis, Calif.), Bryan Arguez (D.C. United), Rodrigo Lopez (Chivas USA), Michael Stephens (UCLA), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew)

    FORWARDS (4): Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Johann Smith (Carlisle United [on loan from Bolton]), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

    Long-time posters will remember that the real "buzz" before the run-up to this game was Rongen's way out of left field call up of a high school player that many of us knew absolutely nothing about. (for this game and the previous one) I didn't even recognize his name at the time. Now Jalil has made over 100 MLS appearances, and is forging a great pro career for himself.

    This was also Michael Stephens first US camp, another kid I hadn't heard of prior to the friendly. He didn't end up making the 2007 U20 team, but did make the 2009 version of course. He also now has made >100 pro appearances for the Galaxy.

    People can criticize Rongen for a lot of things, but he did seem to be a good talent evaluator. He found talent from all sorts of places, and gave these players a chance to impress. That roster is pretty stacked, and was supplemented by a couple of players for the World Cup (Bradley from Heerenveen at the time, Preston Zimmerman then at Hamburg, Gabe Ferrari then at Sampdoria). Rongen also added Dax McCarty, Tony Beltran, Brian Perk, Anthony Wallace, Andre Akpan, etc.

    BTW people may not remember the name...........Alec Dufty. This was his only US camp. He did get into a game for NYRB and served as a backup for the Fire for a while. Now he's an assistant at one of the up-and-coming NCAA programs, FGCU.
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  22. Hararea

    Hararea Member+

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    Edu and Findley, both of whom had good enough college credentials to deserve a call-up. Edu had started in the final four as a freshman, and Findley had scored 18 goals in his first two seasons for Oregon St. (Barrett was a starter for that U-20 team despite scoring fewer goals with better service against similar competition.)

    There's also Cameron, an 85 who will likely make it to Brazil but would've been difficult to spot. Didn't really stand out until late in his college career, if at all.
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  23. Hararea

    Hararea Member+

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    Fwiw, neither Anibaba nor Stephens was a Rongen discovery.

    Prior to his U20 call, Anibaba had played down with our U18s, and Stephens was a YNT darling from an early age.
  24. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    Righto, @Hararea. This cycle also included Holden, Kljestan and Orozco -- and, sigh, Charlie Davies. If you reached a bit, you could probably pull together an MLS-level starting XI from the uncapped players in the 85/86 group.
  25. Dave Marino-Nachison

    Dave Marino-Nachison Member+

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    Here's the best information I've been able to find for the 2005 (85/86) cycle:

    • 13 opportunities for callups (including WYC and qualifiers)
    • 68 players called in, 5 of them GKs
    • 26 callups for 85s, 28 for 86s
    • 14 guys played "up" -- 7 '87s, 6 '88s, 1 '89
    • Three guys called in during the 2003 cycle -- Adu, Alvarez, Capano; only Adu made the WYC roster

    Other observations:
    • I count 59 professionals at all levels; the rest (subject to correction) are Chevannes, Will Hall, Andrew Kartunen, Kevin Long, Brandon Owens, Robby "Not Robbie" Rogers, Bryant Rueckner, Steve Sandbo, Karl Schilling, Ryan Soroka and Darren Yeagle
    • Looks like 17 guys were pros during the cycle
    • 22 capped players
    • 10 guys who have played in qualifiers
    • 3 guys who have made a World Cup roster (Bradley, who played up, Holden and Spector)
    • 2 guys who made a World Cup roster who were not called in during this cycle (Findley and Edu)
    I have not done any comparative (between groups) research yet but will get around to it at some point.

    I also have some doubts about the quality of this data (may have missed some callups) which I hope to resolve through the help of other fans or U.S. Soccer.

    Minor asterisks: I have no birth year for Kevin Long or Robby Rogers.
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