Photo by ISIphotos.com
A blend of professional, academy and collegiate talent accounts for the U.S. Under-20 men's national team Milk Cup roster, a squad aiming to capture the United States' second tournament title in three years and third since 2005.
Coach Tab Ramos will be taking 18 players to Northern Ireland, including 2011 U-17 World Cup participants Alfred Koroma, Mario Rodriguez, Kendall McIntosh and Dillon Serna, Mexican-American left back Juan Pablo Ocegueda and University of North Carolina standouts Mikey Lopez and Boyd Okwuonu.
The U-20s have games against defending champion Denmark on July 21 and Turkey on July 23 before a playoff match to determine order of finish on July 26. The other teams in the six-team field are Mexico, Chile and host Northern Ireland, meaning there is the potential for a U.S.-Mexico clash in the final match.
Here is Ramos' full 18-man roster:
U.S. U-20 MILK CUP ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS: Cody Cropper (Unattached; Athens, Ga.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Clara, Calif.)
DEFENDERS: AJ Cochran (Wisconsin; St. Louis, Mo.), Holden Fender (Concorde Fire; Marietta, Ga.), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (UANL Tigres; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), Walker Zimmerman (Furman; Lawrenceville, Ga.)
MIDFIELDERS: Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Daniel Metzger (Maryland; Staten Island, N.Y.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy; Brighton, Colo.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS: Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Alfred Koroma (Solar Chelsea SC; Southlake, Texas), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.)
Ramos addressed his roster and the Milk Cup challenge in a Q&A on USSoccer.com, saying the following (the full interview can be seen here):
"As a team we want to be able to develop that team chemistry which I think began in the last camp. I felt that by the end of the last camp, certainly the Chile game, I felt for the first time we looked like a team. Up until that point because of so many camps and so many players coming in and out, it was a bunch of guys just getting together and obviously they’re all good players, but there was no team chemistry at all. I felt by the third game of our South American tour we looked like a team. I think we made mistakes as a team and we went forward and did good things as a team. I think that was the beginning, I thought that was the first step for us and hopefully we can continue that going through the Milk Cup.
"I think the opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the world is something that we can’t replace with domestic camps. Certainly, for us as a coaching staff and what we mention to our players, one of the things that is very important about these international games is how they perform under pressure. There are little moments in these games that I think become very important for the group because they are moments that we’ll remember as players performing at certain times under pressure. So, when we go into qualifiers we can remember certain players doing well at those difficult times."
What do you think of the roster? Which players to you expect to break out on the international stage? Surprised by any omissions?
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