The United States national team is about to convene for its first training camp since the debacle in Trinidad, and as expected, interim manager Dave Sarachan has named a roster that features plenty of youth.
Sarachan has called in a squad that includes five uncapped players: 17-year-old striker Josh Sargent, 18-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams, 19-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie, 19-year-old center back Cameron Carter-Vickers and 22-year-old goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
You’ll be hearing those names a lot over the next week, leading up to next Tuesday’s friendly against Portugal. And you’ll be hearing them a lot over the next decade, if all goes well. So it’s time you familiarized yourself with them.
We’ll go by age, but in reverse:
Josh Sargent, striker, 17
Sargent was born in Missouri, and still plays for his local Development Academy club, St. Louis Scott Gallagher. But he’s already secured a move to German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen – a move he’ll make once he turns 18. And he reportedly garnered interest from European clubs as big as Bayern Munich.
Sargent is a prototypical No. 9. He’s a goalscorer. Already 6 feet tall, he can hold the ball, win aerial duels and bring teammates into attacking moves. He can play with his back to goal or run in behind a defense. He’s the type of all-around striker who can have a successful career even if a couple of his skills don’t grow with him and translate to the pro game.
Sargent burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old at the Under-20 World Cup this past spring. He scored five goals and assisted on two en route to the quarterfinals, then led the line for the U.S. under-17 side that reached the same stage of their World Cup last month. He’s the most promising U.S. striker prospect since Jozy Altidore, and just became the first American to be called up to the U-17, U-20 and men’s national team in the same calendar year.
Tyler Adams, central midfielder/right back, 18
Adams, born and raised in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., has come up through the New York Red Bulls’ system and broken into the first team for good in 2017. He played alongside Sargent at the Under-20 World Cup early in the season.
Off the field, he’s still leading a semi-normal 18-year-old life. As of a month-and-a-half ago, he lived at home, and commuted 75 miles each way to Red Bulls training. He graduated from high school in June by taking early-morning classes, but had to miss his graduation ceremony to play in the Hudson River Derby – no big deal.
On the field, he’s a multi-talented midfielder – so multi-talented that he was excellent for New York down the stretch as a right wing-back in a unique 3-3-3-1 formation. If he’s playing there, he has the athleticism to speed up and down the wing and the technical ability to deliver a killer cross. If he’s playing centrally, he can be playmaker and high-press ringleader all at once. He bites into tackles without hesitation, drawing comparisons to a pitbull, but is remarkably smooth on the ball for his age.
Adams should be in Europe before long. The question he and his coaches will have to answer, at both club and international level, is a two-pronged one: What’s his best position? And when, if ever, does he need to have a definitive answer to that question?
Weston McKennie, central midfielder, 19
McKennie is the American teenager getting regular Bundesliga minutes that you haven’t heard about. Or at least not as much as the other one. He made his full debut in Germany’s top flight for Schalke earlier this season, and, despite a month-long injury layoff, regained his place in the starting 11 this past weekend.
McKennie was born in Little Elm, Tex. He spent three years of his childhood, from age 6 to 9, living in Germany. When he returned to Texas, he joined FC Dallas’ academy, and blossomed into a well-rounded central midfielder. Then he jumped back to Germany in August of 2016 to sign with Schalke as an 18-year-old – despite Dallas’ and MLS’s best efforts to keep him at home.
He needed less than a year in Gelsenkirchen to crack the first team, and has so far played a holding midfield role for the seven-time German champs. That could be his calling in a U.S. jersey as well. But his natural fit is as a No. 8. Perhaps his national team career will be in part shaped by the partnership he forms with Adams or others.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, center back, 19
Carter-Vickers is at Sheffield United on loan from Tottenham, where he’s been since he was 11. He was born in Southend, England to a British mother and American father – former NBA player Howard Carter. When Howard moved back to the States, Cameron stayed in England, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother. But he maintained a close relationship with his dad, and has represented the U.S. at youth levels since his first call-up to a U-18 camp in 2014.
Carter-Vickers loves basketball and plays soccer, but he has the build of an American football linebacker – broad shoulders, muscular frame, and quick for his size. He’s not yet clean on the ball, nor is he positionally sound enough to handle skill and pace of the Premier League. His Spurs experience has been confined to the League Cup.
But after spending several years in the Tottenham reserves, Mauricio Pochettino was willing to led the 20-year-old leave on loan this summer. He’s found a nice home in the Championship with Sheffield United, where he’s started eight consecutive league games. He scored a winner on his debut back in September. His development hasn’t been as meteoric as some might have hoped, but 2017-18 could end up being a turning point season for him.
Jesse Gonzalez, goalkeeper, 22
Gonzalez, who was born in North Carolina and grew up in Dallas, represented Mexico at the under-20 and under-23 levels. He even declined a U.S. call in January 2015. But he filed a one-time switch with FIFA this past summer, and was a mid-tournament addition to the Gold Cup roster. He has not yet appeared for the Yanks, but has committed his future to the U.S. because of the one-time switch.
Gonzalez came through the FC Dallas Academy pipeline, and after seeing irregular first-team playing time in 2015 and 2016, he became Dallas’ undisputed No. 1 in 2017. He didn’t quite have a standout first season as a starter, but is one of the best, if not the best American keeper in his age range.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.