, 17 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Gonna put together a little thread:

I'm stoked for this #USYNT at the U-20 World Cup. I think the team that @RamosTab brought is filled with high-upside players, many of whom have the ability to bigger and better things than the cohorts and generations that've come before.
I am particularly high on Chris Richards, a former FC Dallas academy CB who was sold to Bayern Munich last year for about 1.25 million before he'd ever played a pro game.

His passing is so smooth – the ball travels like it's on a pool table.
Paxton Pomykal – you know him if you watch any @MLS. He's another @FCDallas academy kid, and at the pro level I don't think the US has ever produced a more complete CM (or winger, where he'll play today).

Mature. Affects the game on both sides of the ball
Right back Julian Araujo from the @LAGalaxy... he's just 17 and is a monster defensively. Good reads, great balance, quickness, speed and toughness. And you can see he's calm enough to play out of the back and precise enough to complete meaningful passes.
Tim Weah. You've seen him already with the USMNT, with PSG and with Celtic. Dude's so good he won 2 league titles in one year! 😉

Plays soccer like a mathematician. His runs are so smart, so on tempo, so good off the ball.

*Need* him to be outstanding.
#10 Richie Ledezma, an RSL product who signed (for 250k/year) with PSV.

In a lot of ways he has a chance to become the player we all hoped Nagbe would be. Great close control, great balance & acceleration, glides past defenders. *And* he actually attacks.
Chris Durkin, a @dcunited academy player who you've probably seen a bit. Could end up being a true regista – wins the ball and then dictates the game with his passing.

Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen & others want him.
There are others on this team who are potentially excellent as well. This pass from CB Mark McKenzie and this rocket of a goal from Alex Mendez, who won the Golden Ball last autumn as the US won the Concacaf title...
But remember: The U-20s aren't the full national team, and most of these guys won't pan out. In a very good cycle (2015, for example), you get maybe 4 or 5 regulars from the U20 World Cup team. In a great cycle maybe 6 or 7.

The 2013 cycle gave us 2, maybe 3. And broken dreams.
The point is: This is a numbers game. Doing well at the U-20 level is often a leading indicator of things going right developmentally, but phenoms can and will burn out, get injured, get lost on the wrong club team with the wrong coach, w/e.

It happens all the time, everywhere.
Also remember every cycle there are guys who are more than good enough to be on the team but aren't called in for one reason (injury) or another (club refuses) or another (Gold Cup) or another (FIFA paperwork issues).

Pulisic & McKennie didn't play in 2017. US made the QF anyway
To that end: In addition to the 21 guys who made the roster Tab picked, here's another XI that *is arguably superior to the one that will actually take the field today*, including our two best age-group players!
And that doesn't even count guys like Jesus Ferreira (FIFA paperwork), Indy Vassilev, Blaine Ferri, Cole Bassett, Siad Haji, Sam Rogers, Gianluca Busio and a dozen others I'm sure I'm forgetting who've been productive for their club or country.
Which brings me to the end point: The way to get really good – top 10 in the world, then top 5 – at soccer is to build out infrastructure. It's the only way to get more rolls of the dice. Otherwise you're just hoping to find a Donovan & a Dempsey, and pray they stay healthy.
Over the past 10-12 years, the US (and to a lesser extent, Canada) has started to build that infrastructure.

The depth and quality of this U20 player pool (including the guys who aren't there) is a testament to that.
And FWIW: Don't live and die on U20 results, but it's fair to be super pissed if they don't get out of the group. Even without Adams and Sargent they should have enough for that

Now enjoy the games!
Yes. I think this was the big point I was belaboring.

That said, if Ledezma and Richards become as good as I think they can be, then that will overshadow damn near everything else.
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