USMNT Daily Update: The 2012 All-American Under-23 Team

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All it took was one failed Olympic qualifying campaign, on the heels of a failed Under-20 World Cup qualifying campaign, to doom the next generation of young American talent to the trash bin of failed expectations. The next crop of young Americans couldn’t be all that strong after such disappointing results could it?

If the failure to reach the Olympics led you to write up the U.S. National Team’s next generation, you did so a bit prematurely. For one, the team that ultimately failed to qualify was missing a who’s-who of top young talent, from Jozy Altidore to Danny Williams to Timmy Chandler to an injured Juan Agudelo. Perhaps more importantly, the current Under-23 crop of Americans was about to hit a very important year in the development of a long list of players.

The 2012 MLS season saw breakout campaigns all over the league. A strong rookie class, led by the likes of Americans Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva, Matt Hedges and Connor Lade, was buoyed by the maturation of standout sophomores Perry Kitchen and Luis Gil. The contingent of Under-23s competing abroad also enjoyed good years, from Joe Corona’s title-winning campaign with Club Tijuana, to Terrence Boyd’s breakout season with Rapid Vienna.

To get a sense of just how good a full year it was for the American Under-23 contingent, consider that when we put together or first team and second team squads for a 2013 All-American Under-23 Best XI, we left out standouts like Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea and Freddy Adu, all players who could return to their standout levels come 2013.

Our selections for the 2012 American Under-23 team were based not strictly on ability, but rather on the year players had with their club teams and national teams. This squad isn’t meant to be a measure of talent. If it were just based on talent, then players like Shea and Agudelo would obviously have made the team. Neither had a strong 2012, but both are clearly still two of the best young prospects in the U.S. National Team pool.

The ultimate point of putting this squad together is to show just how much young talent is working its way up the pipeline. Despite what happened last March in Olympic qualifying, there is plenty of young American talent on the rise.

Just who did make the cut? Here are 23 players chosen for the SBI 2013 All-American Under-23 team (Made up of players born in 1989 or sooner):

2013 Under-23 Team of the Year

GK- Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Zac MacMath

D- Timmy Chandler, Kofi Sarkodie, Matt Hedges, Amobi Okugo, John Anthony Brooks, Tommy Meyer, Sheanon Williams, Connor Lade

M-  Danny Williams, Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt, Joe Corona, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva, Luis Gil, Kelyn Rowe

F- Terrence Boyd, Jozy Altidore, Will Bruin, Jack McInerney

2013 All-American Under-23 Best XI




———————D. Williams————————–

Chandler—-Hedges———Okugo—–S. Williams









Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Tony Cascio, Danny Cruz, Ray Gaddis, Greg Garza, Ryan Meara, Brek Shea, Andrew Wooten.

NOTE- Luis Silva missed the age cutoff by a few days. He was replaced on the second team by Kelyn Rowe, who was already on the 23-player roster. Zac MacMath was added to the 23-player roster.


What do you think of these teams? Which players didn’t make the cut that you feel should have? Who are you happy to see make the cut?

Share your thoughts below.

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143 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: The 2012 All-American Under-23 Team

  1. THomas says:

    The defense is a little suspect. But what could have been at the Olympics…

    • PD says:

      Not sure how MacMath makes this roster. He’s just not a number 1 yet.

      • Elite Hunting says:

        I completely agree. As a Union fan I can confidently say he is NOT very good. Makes awful decisions on a fairly regular basis and gives up soft goals way more often then he should.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        He had the same kind of ups and downs that Hamid and Johnson had, only he came into the season with fewer games under his belt than both of them. He had a rough start to the season but got better as the year went on. For a 20-year old in his first Year as a starter he did well and merited a spot as the third goalkeeper.

        • JJ says:

          Ives, stop making sense and giving credit where it’s due! Seriously though, MacMath did very well for being thrust into the starting spot. People also tend to forget that he didn’t have a consistent lineup in front of him: a converted mid playing left fullback (Garfan), a young 23 filling in (admirably) at CB (Okugo), a solid right fullback (Williams) covering every other defensive position while a rookie (Gaddis) filled in at his spot. And let’s not forget the Porfirio Lopez experiment and the Danny Califf debacle. It’s easy to blame the young keeper, but the U’s 45 goals against was actually pretty average for the league. MacMath really was much better than people give him credit for.

  2. downintexas says:

    The bright side to not making the U-20 and olympics is that these kids won’t be taking things for granted. They now know they have to put in 100% against every team. Plus they now want it more now.

    • Rory Miller says:

      I think that’s exactly what we said after the U 20 fiasco… About the kids going to Olympic qualifying.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        The will to win is overrated; I think the defense simply stunk. Morales was called back, Chandler wasn’t coming, and Porter lacked the imagination to escape his own plight. I find it hard to believe some of his stack of attackers wouldn’t also have been better defenders than what he used.

        I believe in talent and the US didn’t have it on defense. If emotional intangibles and effort could overcome talent limits Wondo would be the greatest international striker ever. I think you can will yourself to something easier in MLS where work rate is rewarded. But internationally there is no substitute for sheer skill, speed, height, defensive prowess, what have you.

        I’m not worried about the results per se, what worries me more is what they seem to reflect, which to me is fewer finished products. I think the initial Bradenton push bouyed the USA because you had talented players who spent a lot of time together before going pro, developed well, then came into the NT in droves. What has happened now is so many of the same relative age group of players 16-20 can go pro or get drafted and the development is shifting from a central camp like Clairefontaine to individual pro teams that may or may not have resources or the will to invest much in individual players. [A lot of the maddening players are MLS kids who start off with years of spotty first team PT and no meaningful alternative.] Shifting to the pros also means we have to beg for player release, won’t necessarily get everyone, and can’t hold camps and hone players at length together.

        So where you used to be able to pool the players from clubs and colleges and train them forever, you now have to try and pry them from pro teams with their own interests. It’s a mature soccer nation’s problem but it is arguably causing worse results in international tournaments after the age groups where the players are starting to turn pro….IMO….

        • Lorenzo says:

          I think effort, determination, focus can get you a lot farther as a defender then a forward. I’m not saying defenders don’t have skill or benefit from it, but a big difference between a slide tackle and a volley, a header to clear the ball and a header to put it in the top left corner of the goal.

          Bob Bradley also proved that a midfield and team defense can help make up for a less then stellar defense against many teams, including most CONCACAF teams. You are right that our defense was not our strongest, but it isn’t more than half the reason we failed.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            Lemme put it this way: did it look like the U23 defense wasn’t trying? No. But no one stood out to me as exceptionally good at stopping people on defense. To the contrary, they handed out goals like candy to ES in the key game and couldn’t close 20 minutes to get to the next round, against a team that didn’t even make London, playing at home.

            In contrast, I think we can all list several offensive players who wowed us. Corona, etc. People may disagree about who showed well or is best suited to senior level play, but everyone could name a player or players who literally stood out.


            • Dennis says:

              Defense is about concentration first, second and maybe third, then some athleticism so to not be simply outrun or outjumped, then some skill to start an attack or at least enough to not give the ball away once it is won. I recall a game of the RedBull vs Union where Tim Ream had a great game for about 92 out of 93 minutes, except for the one unpressured and careless pass he made to a Union forward standing all alone about 30 yards from goal. Result a 1-0 loss for the RB.

        • beachbum says:

          disagree 100% that the will to win is overrated. NO coach will agree with you on that Imperative, not one.

          Skill is required, yes, stamina and conditioning is required, yes. But with no will to win you get Marquez for the Red Bulls, for example.

          The will to win is VITAL!

          • PetedeLA says:

            I agree with Beachbum, but if I’m not mistaken, the SBI collective intelligentsia (yes, a bit nebulous) came to the conclusion that it was lack of experience at high competition levels.

            A lot of this goes back to will to win. But you can’t just summon that at the flick of a finger tip. It takes practice. That’s where experience comes into play.

            As Klinsmann has said repeatedly, American players just aren’t playing enough games.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            I think work ethic is a marginal, notch or two one way or the other, factor. At the top levels, particularly international play, you will get flushed if you don’t play 100%. Marquez stands out precisely because he is, like some of the paycheck players before him, unmotivated in a sea of motivated players.

            No, when I look at the defense from the U23s, including their seasons after, a lot of them kept making the same mistakes in pro games. I think they just aren’t good defenders.

            I think people underrate the talents needed to be a good defender. First, you have to have a knack for defense. David Luiz is a classic example of someone who you can put in the back but lacks the knack of knowing how to position himself and stop people. Second, it then helps to have defining physical characteristics. I had sprinter speed. No one beat me on the run. I was short; people beat me on crosses. Someone else might excel on that end with height. It can also help to have foot skills, although I think the primary function is simply the ability to stop people.

            Hustle to me is marginal. Maybe you win a ball that way. But whether you can play defense, are fast, tall, whatever, that’s 95-99%. By their 20s people can either play ball or not and our defense was over-matched vis a vis their peers. Now, with Chandler and Morales, perhaps a different story. But that actually underlines rather than undercuts the talent theory. You’re either good or not.

            • GW says:

              The Under 23’s may not be the best example of the hustle vs talent debate.

              They gave a performance that, more than anything, struck me as disorganized.

              Given how little time Porter actually spent with these guys ( he was after all a part timer) this should be no surprise. They looked like a pickup team.

              I don’t care how talented, hard working and motivated you are if everyone isn’t more or less on the same page, then people start to get tentative.

              Thats fine when you can beat up on a team like Cuba but once you start getting some resistance, things fall apart. Which is what happens when you underestimate the difficulty of the task.

              The guys who hired Porter should be crucified for allowing him to send a team out there so unprepared.

            • beachbum says:

              good post, don’t diagree with your ideas there. hustle and work ethic are what they are, as are talent and ability.

              the Will to Win (Belief) is not limited to any of those things nor just a summation conglomeration of them; not talking about those things. Actually, at the highest levels, where so many of those things are levelled out, the will to win is a true difference maker it’s always seemed to me.

              it’s an intangible quality, yes, but one that sifts the crowd at all levels, and also as the talent levels rise and the best play the best. It’s coveted.

              I think you are looking to define it in more tangible terms (perhaps, which is cool) when maybe it’s simply an intangible, an intangible that some are simply better at than others

              On Morales, the guy’s absence at the Olympic qualis was THE major reason that team didn’t advance imo. He wasn;t released so he wasn;t available, and no other midfielder ever filled that destroyer presence he provided to that team. Having watched them play before with him and then after without him, he was a tangible loss.

  3. Thomas says:


  4. ec says:

    Totally agree, back line makes me a bit nervous but would love to see that 1st team MF/F line up get a run. In fairness to the defense, there aren’t many U-23 defenders that you see and think “rock solid” though.

  5. Andy says:

    Brooks is lefty so I’d switch him and Meyer (unless he is as well). Other than that I agree, and I wish there were more tournaments, or games in general really, that we could watch our young players. I’m tired of all this word of mouth scouting we have to do.

  6. Joe+G says:

    Aron Johannsson!!

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      When he actually shows up at a single U.S.-related camp then we can start talking about Johannsson. Until then, I say Americans should stop drooling over a kid who may never wear a USSF shield a day in his life.

      • Joe+G says:

        I realize that, but it’s fun to speculate.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          This team wasn’t about speculation, but about acknowledging the performances of players who are actually in the USMNT pool already. On some level I think it’s a bit disrespectful to make it a habit of constantly overlooking people who are actually in the pool to drool over players who aren’t in, and may never be in, the pool. That’s just how I see it. I know others don’t, but that’s life.

          • unbeknownst says:

            But yet you selected Timmy Chandler.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              lol, +1

            • Ives Galarcep says:

              Last time I checked he is in the pool. He started in the last USMNT friendly. Your line would have worked much better two months ago, but then I probably wouldnt have included Chandler (just as I wasn’t including him in the projected World Cup team at that point).

  7. Paddy Megroyn says:

    When you see how each player finished the MLS season, Porter should have played Kitchen as a D-mid and Okugo as a central defender rather than the opposite.

    Hard to argue with any of these selections.

  8. Vic says:

    I would put Joe Gyau on this list. Its more difficult to break throught he line-up at 2nd div in Germany even if the level may/may not be better. Gyau has also been called up for the Nats while many others haven’t.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Why is it more difficult to get a handful of subs appearances on a Bundesliga 2 team than it is to start in MLS? I’m not buying that one for a second. And as for the Nats, Gyau was called into one camp, where he got in one training session and didn’t dress for the friendly. How exactly should that earn him a place above the other players mentioned? I think Gyau’s a great prospect, but he quite simply didn’t do much in 2012. I’d expect that to change in 2013.

      • Peter says:

        I’d say it’s harder to get into a top 5 Euro 2nd Division than MLS. Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley, Tim Ream, and Conor Doyle.

        • Vic says:

          Add Eddie Johnson, Heath Pearce and Ricardo Clark to that list. Again I’m not saying the level is better than MLS. Its just more difficult for an American to break through versus a local player.

        • GW says:


          UEFA rates the top divisions but do you have a credible source for rating Euro Second Divisions? I”m not aware of one.

          The Championship and Bundesliga 2 are good leagues but after that it gets a little dicey.

        • Lorenzo says:

          Peter and Vic, I think you made good points. But just because it’s harder to break through doesn’t mean you can rate a bench player higher then a MLS player. Marcus Tracey is getting some minutes while Altidore is getting time in MLS. So- there are counter examples. We all know well that in the end, we have to see how it pans out. But lots of 1st minutes in MLS compared to fringe time with a 2nd division club is not a stretch in Ives’s thinking. Many players will tell you they need loans (even to lesser clubs/leagues) for first team minutes, because that is very very important.

      • louis z says:

        I beg to differ, Gyau was seldom used in the actual tournament but when he played vs. Mexico he was co-MOTM according to the mexican announcers. It was too bad Porter had his mind set on certain players and Gyau’s club direction wasn’t to his advantage. I wanted to see a full U23 play in the Olys, I guess we would never know if the combo of Morales-Mix was just a flash in the pan.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          So he played great in a U-23 friendly and that means he had one of the best years among all U-23s? Not really.

          Again, this isn’t a team based on potential, or what-ifs, or if-only-he-played-mores.

          I agree with you though in that I really would like to see what Gyau can do when given some regular playing time. He was someone I thought would have a breakout qualifying tournament, and I was definitely surprised by how little he played.

      • AngelofLA says:

        Come on, I like the MLS player and I think they also deserve a to be on this list, but Gyau has more talent than any other MLS player playing right now. If he was in the MLS I bet you already had put him on one of the list.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          IT IS NOT A TEAM BASED ON TALENT!!!!!! Holy crap it’s amazing how people can completely ignore what has been written repeatedly.

          Okay, you probable just trolled me hard. I fell for it. You win. 😉

        • beachbum says:

          @AngelofLA…come on! more talent than any MLS player right now? that is ridiculous but thanks for the laugh. And I like Gyau!!!

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I like Gyau for the speed. The NT has plenty of technical types, but sometimes it struggles to break teams down. What it then needs is Gatt or Gyau types with the ability to beat teams down the flanks. Speed also nullifies some of the defensive pressure by containing the opposing threat.

  9. Eugene says:

    Jose Villarreal from the Galaxy maybe deserves a spot, no? Or at least consideration?

  10. Thomas says:

    Juan Agudelo was our best U-23 player in the Olympics before he got injured, and he misses the second team.
    Freddy Adu, the captain of that team. Even though I am not huge fan of him, he is a highly skill player who can change games in positive way for U-23. I think he is a second maybe first team U-23 player
    No way a youth team veterans Agudelo and Adu get cut because of Gil and McInerney.

    • THomas says:

      I think you missed the part where he said:

      “Our selections for the 2012 American Under-23 team were based not strictly on ability, but rather on the year players had with their club teams and national teams.”

      So if your argument for them making this list is the Olympic Qualifying debacle this year, you’ve proved your own point invalid.

      • Thomas says:

        So getting interest from a Round 16 Champions League team isn’t club success or getting an assist against a top 10 europe team isn’t national team success being 19 and 20 and being called up and playing for that team isn’t national team success. Okay I was half wrong on the Adu thing but Adu was highly involved in most of McInerney. If it really is about club succes doesn’t Sarkodie beat S.Williams and Sarkodie has had more success than S.Williams on the U-23 team. Even though Will Bruin right now is no where near Jozy. Altidore skills, Will Bruin has had more club success. Jozy Altidore has had little national team succes this year.
        JAB made the Bundesliga 2 team of midseason and helping is team to get promotion that sounds like a good year and for Okugo, McInerney, Adu, S.Williams they were on a non-playoff yet 2 are on the first team and 1 on the second team and one barely made it.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          “getting interest from a Round of 16 Champions League team” is a thing now? It’s a form of measuring actual production for a player’s year? Sorry to bust your bubble but training stints that turn heads isn’t exactly a player producing in actual matches. As I’ve already said. Agudelo is one of the most talented players in the pool, but he simply didn’t have a strong 2012. Deal with it.

          The Sarkodie-Williams thing is an interesting one. That Sarkodie played more than Williams for the U-23s isn’t debatable, but what can be debated is the success Sarkodie had with that playing time. Sarkodie was pretty awful in qualifying, so that playing time edge doesn’t really benefit him. If anything it raises the question of whether Caleb Porter shouldn’t have played Williams instead of Sarkodie. That leaves us with MLS playing time. Yes, Sarkodie finished the year with a good run as he became a late-season starter. Williams was a solid starting fullback for the entire season. He played twice as many games and minutes as Sarkodie and was one of Philly’s better players. THAT is why he gets the edge over Sarkodie in my book. I can see an argument for Sarkodie, which is why I put him on second team, but I gave the edge to Williams.

          Will Bruin had more club success in 2012 than Jozy Altidore? I should really have stopped reading. I’ll leave that comment for others to rip apart.

          As for Brooks, their season is halfway through. He’s played the equivalent of 12 matches, and he isn’t close to their best centerback. He’s doing well with his playing time, and I’m not saying that an argument can’t be made for him, but the idea that he’s having some amazing season is a bit much for me, and a bit of myth-making in my opinion.

          Lastly, regarding the Philly guys. Yes, the Union were a bad team, but they also played good MLS teams and Okugo, McInerney and Williams all fared well against good MLS competition. That’s why they’re on the teams.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          “Even though Will Bruin right now is no where near Jozy. Altidore skills, Will Bruin has had more club success.”

          i was following you up until this line. what do you mean by club success? i’m trying to figure out by what metric bruin accomplished more than jozy. bruin got far in the playoffs, and (as far as i know) the eridivisie doesn’t have playoffs, so i guess that could be it?

          • Thomas says:

            Please tell me the club success Jozy had or is having?
            AZ is in 50/50 situation where they be either regulated or middle Table is that club success? Agudelo and McInerney both play well for their mediocre team the difference one is being scouted by a UEFA Champion League team. Agudelo, Boyd, Mix, Corona and had the best Senior National Team and U-23 on both lineups except one, Juan Agudelo. I agree Agudelo has had a tough club year, but he had more or equal to national success than 3 of 4 strikers you have put up there. My point this is about a individual player’s skill over is Club or National Team success.

            2nd place in the MLS vs. fighting regulation in the Netherlands.

            • Hogatroge says:

              Each season spans parts of two calendar years.

              Jozy was a beast for AZ last season, which ended in May 2012. That’s certainly within the past year.

              Even though AZ is doing poorly this season, Jozy is about the only thing keeping them out of the drop zone.

              I’m a Dynamo fan and am glad Bruin had a breakout year in MLS, but this comparison is hilariously wrong.

            • Ives Galarcep says:

              Agudelo played 23 minutes for the national team in 2012.

              Also, your AZ is fighting relegation notion is pretty hilarious. They were in the title mix at the end of last season, and made a good Europa League run last season as well, but because they’ve had a rough start to the new season they’re “fighting relegation”?

              As for the club success Jozy is having, he is having the kind of club success that has top European clubs preparing to make major bids for him in the summer, if not sooner. You bring up Agudelo being “scouted by a UEFA Champions League club”. So is Altidore. By several of them, and not just ones he happens to be training with.

              I get your point about Agudelo being more talented than many, that is very true, but that wasn’t what this team was ever about. I made that very clear.

              • Thomas says:

                I am not comparing Agudelo to Altidore, I am comparing Agudelo to Mclernery. I get my Altidore-Bruin logic does not make sense to other people, but you have avoided the Agudelo-Mclernery thing. I did not how Agudelo goes to our best performing u-23 during Olympics and getting overseas looks and a national team cap and assist to missed the cut. Yes, Agudelo had a up and down club season yet he still gets called to the USMNT and and Mclernery only has 9 goals with no club success just like Agudelo but Agudelo has 3 goals. Agudelo also switch from Striker to Right
                winger. Agudelo also does not have Adu and we all know what Adu can do passing wise. This is not measured by club or national team success if so Okugo, S.Williams would not be on the first roster.

              • Ives Galarcep says:

                McInerney had a better club season than Agudelo, considerably better. Agudelo impressed in a November friendly, but beyond that what did he do outside of the club level? I’m sorry but I really don’t get how “getting overseas looks” matters when it comes to quantifying his 2012 success. That has more to do with his talent than his actual production. And again, this team was about production.

                You keep mentioning Adu being key to McInerney’s success. You know how many of McInerney’s goals Adu assisted on in 2012? Try ZERO. In fact, McInerney assisted on an Adu goal. He had three assists, as many as Agudelo had, but with six more goals.

                Let me say it again. I’m NOT saying McInerney is better than Agudelo, but I am saying McInerney had a better year. You’re entitled to disagree, but I’m still waiting to hear a better argument for Agudelo.

              • Thomas says:

                How about Juan Agudelo’s U-23 success? Does that count for anything in this U-23 roster? I understand stand the purpose of this roster, but it impossible to make a reasonable roster with the conditions “Most Club Success” without taking a player’s skill into count. Does really matter a player is doing club wise if they are helping the USMNT win, I don’t care if the play in the npower 2.

              • dikranovich says:

                thomas, maybe we can just give it the apples to apples, goals/90 mins. juan agudelo scores at a rate of .27 goals every 90 mins. jac mac, .43 goals. these numbers can take some of the opinion out of this debate.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        But before Agudelo got hurt he was one of the stronger U23 attackers in the qualifying effort. And a glance at the stats would make me ask whether Shea and Agudelo are worse than every other attacking option on the two teams. I don’t think Rowe or Gil for instance are superior players today. I think Shea and Agudelo have just shown enough promise at high enough a level where we get frustrated they don’t do more. Which doesn’t mean they should be treated as worse than someone with modest production just breaking in.

        It’s like Jozy; as frustrating as he is, people would be crazy to leave him off a NT roster at least as a bench option in a 23 man situation.

  11. biased rbny supporter says:

    If Meara lasts the whole year… ugh.

    Feel bad for the kid and hope he gets back to playing at a high level.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Re Meara…..isn’t this a potential Rossi situation? He’s been called into ROI U21 and would have played if the NYRB released him.

  12. Nate Dollars says:

    thought brek was more like 25. surprised to find out he’s only 22; seems like he’s been around for a while now.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Happens when you’re drafted as a teenager and thrown in early on. Jozy Altidore is a similar case.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      IMO he burned a few years apprenticing for Hyndman where I was amazed he didn’t play more. He turned pro at 18 straight from club/youth NT. When I talk about we’re turning over development to the pros more these days he’s the sort of kid I am talking about, him, Adu, Gil, Agudelo, et al. At an early age he becomes FCD’s thing to shape.

  13. Moe says:

    Brooks should be on the 1st team, don’t see how you rate Hedges and Okugo higher than Brooks who plays for a much better team and a slightly tougher league.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I rate both ahead of Brooks right now, and rate their full years better than Brooks’. You can feel free not to, but I did. Brooks is a great prospect, but he’s played the equivalent of 12 matches worth of minutes for a Bundesliga 2 side. Credit to him for playing well when given the opportunity due to injuries at Hertha, but I think he still has more to prove. I know others disagree, but I’m not buying into the hype machine just yet. His day could definitely come, but for me it’s not quite here yet.

      • Hogatroge says:

        While I generally agree with your assessment, I think it’s worth noting two things:

        1.) JAB’s club 2012 (including time in the Regionalliga) is pretty much a direct defensive analog of Terrance Boyd’s.

        2.) Hertha is at the top of the table in the 2.Bundesliga. Neither Philly nor Dallas had great defensive seasons (Philly was 11th in GA, Dallas was tied for 12th with neither playing in the CCL)

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          1. Comparing centerbacks to forwards is pretty pointless.
          2. Didn’t realize this was a team award situation. Actually, it’s not. Hertha would be a favorite to return to the Bundesliga with or without Brooks, so the notion that he’s leading them up is a reach. He’s doing well, but he’s hardly the defensive leader of that team. Hedges was Dallas’ best defender in the final months, and a case can be made for the same being said of Okugo in Philly (and that’s with him having Valdes as a teammate).

          Again, I can see the argument for Brooks, but I disagree with the notion that he has to be a lock based on him playing 12 games on a team that was always going to be among the best in Bundesliga 2.

  14. Marco says:

    Joe Gyau?

  15. Andy says:

    You’re a replying machine right now, Ives.

    • malkin says:

      And a feisty one taboot

      • Russ says:

        I’ve always been fascinated and confused by how fired up Ives gets about user comments…

        • GW says:

          Why are you “fascinated and confused”?

          If this were “Soccer by Russ” and you had some form of editorial control, which Ives does, then the comments by the posters on “Soccer by Russ” would reflect on you in some fashion.

          Positive or negative who knows but try putting your name and face on something this public and see if you don’t “get fired up” about some of the comments that get posted and then associated with your name.

  16. Camjam says:

    Love this list. Great example of who is actually playing well, and, well, playing.

  17. Corey says:

    These goalkeepers don’t exactly inspire confidence. They are athletically gifted but they seem to make mistakes too often. While normal for young goalkeepers, it should be worrying that they are doing this week-in and week-out in the MLS, where they aren’t really in the spotlight for most of the season (Mera is somewhat consistent). It could get scary if they move up a few levels.

    Here’s hoping the next batch come through.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      How many young goalkeepers, 23 and younger, don’t make mistakes? Casillas? Buffon? It’s part of the position, the learning curve, and there’s a reason that goalkeepers don’t reach their peaks later in their career than field players tend to. Both Hamid and Johnson have plenty of learning to do, but they both had solid years, filled with ups and downs, but the important thing is they’re both gaining experience. I’m not saying both are can’t-miss players who will absolutely be in the EPL in a few years, but the idea that this batch of goalkeepers is already a lost cause, and we should already be looking to the “next batch” is woefully premature.

  18. The Imperative Voice says:

    In the spirit of the exercise, where’s Alfredo Morales? He’s a ’90, I liked him in the U23 game I saw him in, and he was called into the senior camp.

    Agudelo, Bunbury, and even Wooten have more demonstrated pro forward efficacy than McInerney, who is a pipeline kid still somewhat living off rep.

    Shea and/or Agudelo should be in the midfield teams. Second team has a lot of flavors of the month like Gil with limited pro production who actually don’t do as much as the more embattled players like Shea and Agudelo. Who are embattled because we ironically have come to expect even more than what they did this year, which is still more than say Gil has done yet.

    Sarkodie and Meyer have embarrassed themselves a few times. As have the two keeper selections.

    FWIW including players like Boyd, Diskerud, Corona, Williams, and Chandler (as well as debatables like Brooks, Wooten, and Morales), is actually an anti-pipeline argument. These are foreign developed players we latched onto at the last age groups. Ditto players like Bruin and DeLeon who were unheralded and basically earned their names in college and the pros, from outside the youth NT system.

    No, if you want to see how the pipeline is functioning, it matters how the Bradenton can’t misses are doing, because those are the people we really put in the pipeline as the future of the US. Viewed from that perspective, Jozy has done OK, McInerney is still potential, Gatt has done OK, Gil is still potential, Hamid and Johnson are mixed bags, and whatever Kinnear thinks of him, I think Sarkodie is awful. Adu, the pipeline poster boy, was off the list. About half the guys off the first team and several of the other interesting players are the last minute dropins we’ve recruited from other countries. One can argue they are covering up deficiencies in the pipeline that become much more apparent if, say, many of the recruited players couldn’t get released and the team erodes in their absence, and, say, can’t qualify.

    FWIW, I think it’s also telling in terms of who’s now doing the heavy development lifting, that when a player like Gyau came here to play in the U23s, a pipeline kid yes but one of such promise that he has essentially been turned over to the pros since U17, we struggle to integrate them back in. It is both a compliment and a restriction that more of the developmental work is shifting over to the pro sides.

    I’m sorry, but I look at the same lists and it’s like, where’s the next Donovan? Cherundolo? And don’t tell me they had to wait and mature forever to pan out. The really greats are often capped and contributing 16-22.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I really think you missed the whole “This is based on the years they had, not on their reputations” part.

      Morales played in one U-23 friendly, and was invited into a USMNT camp to have a look but never played. He has played zero minutes for Hertha this season, so how would he make this team?

      Shea and Agudelo didn’t have good years in MLS, and neither were all that much of a factor from a national team standpoint to merit spots. Sure, some might say an assist in a senior team friendly somehow wipes away a mediocre and disappointing season in MLS play, but I’m not one of those people. As for Shea, every midfielder listed had a better MLS season than he did and his national team performances were more on the disappointing side (a flashy late-game appearance against Mexico notwithstanding).

      Sarkodie finished the year strongly, playing a key role in a playoff run, as did Meyer. How many rookie defenders don’t have a few blunders in their first pro seasons? Not sure who exactly you would have placed ahead of them. As for the goalkeepers, it’s the same idea. Young goalkeepers make mistakes all over the world. Doesn’t mean they’re not still promising goalkeepers, and both Hamid and Johnson had solid years in MLS.

      As for your “pipeline” comment. All those foreign-developed players are in the USMNT pipeline. They’re all playing for the national team and therefore are in the pipeline. You’re mistaking that for the idea of the development pipeline. That’s a completely different argument that nobody is making here. Yes, you can definitely say that there has been a void in this generation in terms of players not developing at earlier ages and not being given the chance to really play many games at an earlier age. That’s a key reason the U-23s failed to qualify, because once the very best players weren’t available there weren’t enough battle-tested options available in that age group. As much as that is the case, the reality is that the same generation has grown quite a bit this calendar year, and just because there isn’t a Landon Donovan among them doesn’t mean there isn’t talent there. I’d argue there is more talent in this group than if you put together a similar group five years ago or 10 years ago.

      Who were the U-23 forwards enjoying success in Europe like Altidore and Boyd are now? Who were the U-23 goalkeepers who had become regular MLS starters five years ago? Who were the U-23 playmakers starting in title-winning teams in Mexico and for a good team like Rosenborg five years or ten years ago?

      The point of putting this team together wasn’t to act as if the entire development process is perfect, but rather to show that there is actually more talent coming through the USMNT pipeline than people might have realized, and any suggestions that there is less overall talent coming through the pipeline is more perception than actual reality.

      BTW, thanks for your comment, and your contributions to the comments section in general. You’re one of the better contributors to the site so thanks for that.

      • Red says:

        Ives is similar to DiMarzio in the fact they both get back to their fans. Great website Ives.

      • dibo says:

        Interesting that the selected players are lined up in a 4-4-2 formation – not that this post was supposed to be about tactics, but I think we have enough young talent in this group to jump to a 4-3-3. I like Boyd Agudelo and Altitore as a front three – these guys are athletes. Shea fits that mold, too, and he’s left-sided. Technical skill in center of mid is also very high. Just need more outstanding defenders in this group.

      • louis z says:

        I understand your point, but since we are talking about U23 (nats team) then you would need to put some more weight on the actual performance to those that actually played for the NATS i.e. Agudelo and Shea both did very well for the small amount of time given.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          Shea had more poor performances than good ones, which is why he played less and less as the year went on. And there is no getting around the fact he had a pretty awful MLS season (and yes, that was likely due to burnout and/or injuries, but the ‘why’ doesn’t really matter). Agudelo wasn’t much of a factor on either side until the final months of the year (he played one USMNT game all year).

          Once again, it’s not about what they might have done if given more time, or what they could have done if they played more, it’s about what they actually did. In the end, club accomplishments were the foundation, so if you had a bad club season your chances of making the team were pretty slim, unless you were great for the national team. And no, neither Shea or Agudelo were great for the national team in 2012.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I could go through and be disagreeable but I’ll just agree to disagree on whatever I would have disagreed on. =p

        Take the fact I find SBI to be a sensible place to read and post as a sign of respect for the material and the forum.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      “The really greats are often capped and contributing 16-22.”

      well, i still don’t think the US had a “really great” (non-keeper) player, and that includes donovan and dolo.

      i do think it was easier for donovan to get capped so young because there wasn’t quite as much competition for a player of his caliber at that time. no, we don’t have a player that stands out quite like he did, but i think that’s due to an increase of talented players, rather than a decrease.

      • louis z says:

        I think Landon had more chances than most do now days to make the national team, what set him apart is that once given the chance he continued to excel which others don’t.

      • Mike says:

        Chandler, DWill, Mixx, Gatt, Corona, Boyd, Agudelo, Shea, and Altidore are all U23 and all received caps with the senior team. 2 of them (DWill and Jozy) are already 1st choice. The rest except Corona, Agudelo, and Shea already look like they’ll be major contributors this year. Just because we don’t hae a U23 playing for Barca or Real doesn’t mean they aren’t promising or on the way up

      • GW says:

        “there wasn’t quite as much competition for a player of his caliber at that time. ”

        Just curious, but could you name me a USMNT player now that could do what that version of Donovan did?

        Remember that after only a few games he pretty much started his USMNT career facing good competition as a 20 year old in the 2002 World Cup where he did not do too bad.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          no, i couldn’t name one, and most likely, there won’t be one, because we’re not (hopefully) relying on our 20-year-olds to carry us through the world cup.

          to clarify, i’m not saying one couldn’t (or even that they shouldn’t) fill donovan’s shoes, i’m just saying we’re now in a position where we have enough established talent keeping our kids from getting into the first team. for better or worse.

        • jlm says:

          altidore did pretty much the same thing

          • GW says:


            The difference is Jozy did well but Donovan went on to a stellar World Cup performance and a stellar career.

            I happen to like Jozy but you cannot compare his USMNT productivity at any point, with Landon’s.

            Since 2002 the USMNT has revolved around Donovan.

        • beachbum says:

          good question GW.

          Having watched Landon from the beginning, and comparing him to the under-23s of today, I don’t see one of them that compare to Landon at his agae…not one. And that is not a rip on any of these young guys–the pool has never looked better!

          Instead, it’s a comment on just how good Landon was early on

    • Ty says:

      Whoa. Way to comment and not read anything Ives wrote.

      On another note. In my personal opinion the guys I like best out of ALL players named and who I also think will grow much more this coming year are (drum roll please):

      Jack McInerney
      Tony Cascio
      Greg Garza

    • Judging Amy says:

      say pipeline one more g**** time…

    • assocfoot says:

      Aside from the good points Ives made in reply, I think you are overrating Bradenton’s role in today’s development, even if that is the topic that interests you. There have always been non-Bradenton players in the NT, but today there is no single Bradenton pipeline, there are multiple academies that are still in early days and growing, kids heading early to Europe, a more active German American pipeline and Mexican American pipeline (if you can even call that a separate pipeline), etc…some of these kids make a camp or two or more in Bradenton, some don’t. Bradenton is still good to have around as part of the process, just like its not a bad thing to have ODP in addition to other wider pipelines, but pure Bradenton residency development will continue to diminish in importance if things keep going well.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I think kids are turning pro earlier which makes Bradenton less relevant which is not necessarily a good thing if they just go someplace and sit, eg, MLS. You can go down a list of players like Adu who turned pro to adorn a bench at a high price for a disagreeable coach. Some of those situations I don’t see as more positive than being in a U-17 residency camp where the schedule is coordinated for your development, not to primarily serve the needs of an adult first team that you are trying to join as a teenager that some coach scared about his job may not feel like risking his job to play.

        • beachbum says:

          +1. Bradenton’s environment is specifically for teenagers, and for some teens, that’s very important in their development, especially emotionally. Not for all, but for some

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      Not sure I really buy your “pipeline” argument.
      You said, “No, if you want to see how the pipeline is functioning, it matters how the Bradenton can’t misses are doing, because those are the people we really put in the pipeline as the future of the US.”

      First off, a “sure thing” u-17 player does not exist. Anyone who believes that is just falling for the hype machine. There are too many variables at that age to be can’t miss.

      Also, Bradenton is only a small fraction of our US pipeline. I get what you are saying, but the truth is there are only about 30-40 players per age group who get the chance to play at the Bradenton academy. Only a fraction of these players will make it in the pros and even fewer will be good enough to play for the national team one day. It is unrealistic to think that each crop of our players from Bradenton should have a Landon Donovan in it.
      The current pipeline for young Americans to become professionals and possibly national team players is wider and deeper than ever before. We may lack the elusive American “world class” player, but we are producing more solid pros than we have at any other time. That should be seen as a huge step forward. The absence of a future Landon in the player pool does not mean the system is faltering.

      As Ives has pointed out with these fantasy lineups, we have far more professional players (over 40 or so?),in this age group, who have legitimate national team potential. Basically, we are growing exponentially as a soccer nation in the ability of our players, expertise of our coaching, and knowledge and passion of our fan base. The future is bright.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        When you look at the NT situation right now and how the golden boys of recent years like Chad Marshall and Ike Opara and Gabe A. have fared, and how they are being shoved aside by interlopers like Cameron who earned their keep in MLS, the primary concept of the youth NTs as a device to build the next generation of players seems to be breaking down. I think if you look at the US roster, and then pull out all the Germans and like that Klinsi recruited to the flag, you’d see it’s hollowing out a little. I don’t know if it’s more kids turning pro at an earlier age or what, but the machine that stocked the 2002-2010 set of players is not working as well and is being heavily supplemented by foreign recruits.

  19. fifawitz1313 says:

    Hey Ives, I really enjoy how interactive you have been in the comment section recently. You bring a voice of reason to a comment section that desperately needs it. Please keep it up!

  20. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    I blame Gulati on the youth teams failures, lack proper preparation. Look at mexico youth teams are better preper with quality games, while our boys go to mini camps. We need to learn from teams like Argentina, Brazil & Uruguay develop, focus less female teams.

    • Vic says:

      When MLS teams start getting hundreds of millions of dollars in tv revenue (from USA) then MLS teams can have residency programs as well.

  21. Brad C says:

    Ives, did you see this article in the NY Times?

    link to

  22. Dinho says:

    Speaking of making teams/lists….the Guardian just posted its top 100 footballers in the world. Sweet exercise, but a major problem…not one American to be found.

    link to

    Such a bummer:

    • Dinho says:

      And, no Michu. Weird.

    • Colin Reese says:

      Dempsey is 50 on the Goal 50

    • Spank says:

      That list is crap. I didn’t scan through the whole thing but once I had seen Joe Hart on it I knew the list was/is crap.

    • GW says:


      It depends on your perspective.

      There are 22 seeded teams in the Champion’s League which is usually regarded as the highest level of competition. If you count the starters as the cream of the crop that gives you 242 players. As far as I know Jermaine Jones, yes the Jones most of you think is garbage, is the only American amongst them.

      The point is if there are no Americans in the Guardians top 100 list that is hardly a slap in the face.

      There are at least 142 starters in the Champions League who aren’t on it either. I’d guess there are a lot of really good, maybe even great players amongst those 142.

      • Dinho says:

        Wholeheartedly understand your position, GW. I didn’t expect to see Jones, Bradley, or Donovan. And, I’m not one of those that thinks Jones is crap. I happen to think he is an important player for the USMNT.

        With that said, based on the season Dempsey had last year and his spot as a regular for Tottenham, I thought we’d at least see him somewhere on that list. I’m sure I’m just a homer in this respect, but it surprised me.

        • GW says:


          People here expect too much. Clint just spent five seasons as the main (only) attacking threat for a team that was much less talented than Spurs.

          That is five years doing things a certain way and now he moves to a team that has much more talent, and is still figuring out how fit in all these new players under a new manager.

          It’s a credit to Clint that he has done as well as he has.and it’s a little naive to think he can replicate what he did at Fulham last year.

          He is doing very well under the circumstances.

  23. Al says:

    Wow I’m surprised at the list made because it’s a joke to leave off the Capt of the 23-U squad, and a technical giant like agudelo, for Mcinerney of all people. That guy the deflection scorer of the century, no skills on the International level and never will. To make it plan and simple Wondo, is 100 times better then Jack will ever be. Smh…

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      You can feel free to rip McInerney all you want. Fact remains he scored eight goals as a 20-year-old, starting on a team with no viable forward partner. He had a very good season.

      Is McInerney BETTER than Agudelo? NOOO. Nobody said that, but again, that’s not what this team is about. I think most people figured that out though.

      • Pablo says:

        Don’t be so hyper sensitive over your intent for the make-up of this team, Ives. What do you expect from a legion of the soccer obsessed?

        The ensuing debate among many posters should be indulged not batted away with responses using ALL CAPS.

        These type of speculative player pool threads draw a lot of traffic and applying such a stringent intent to something so hypotetical is silly.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          Who is being sensitive Pablo? I’m clarifying points and debating points being made about the team. I’m pretty sure I’m well within my right to do that. I’m not looking to “bat away responses”, but if some folks want to make comments on this site then I’ll offer my take on this statements.

          And last time i checked, all-caps doesn’t have to mean emotion. It can also mean emphasis. I’d rather bold things, but that’s not an option.

          Lastly, people can argue for whoever they want, but when someone so clearly misses the point of this team, even after it’s been stated repeatedly, I feel the need to emphasize the point with caps.

  24. Madaoua05 says:

    Ives, wholeheartedly agree with other’s sentiments that its great to have you join the comments section. For a long time, it was a wasteland of peons with their ‘shoot from hip’ opinions, but now we are graced with your presence…and voice of reason!

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Thanks. I’m just trying to offer up my take on things in a more detailed way, and also get back to engaging readers like I used to. Got away from that for a long time.

  25. Goalscorer24 says:

    Does Mexico have trouble getting their best layers released for tournaments and qualifications on their youth teams? Because certainly the US did not have all of our best players for Olympic qualification or the U20 qualification campaign.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Mexico’s best young players are generally still in Mexico at the ages of 22 and younger, so getting them released for the qualifying tournament wasn’t really a problem. The USMNT is a different story.

  26. Colin Reese says:

    The list looks good since it includes this essential caveat:

    “Our selections for the 2012 American Under-23 team were based not strictly on ability, but rather on the year players had with their club teams and national teams. This squad isn’t meant to be a measure of talent. If it were just based on talent, then players like Shea and Agudelo would obviously have made the team. Neither had a strong 2012, but both are clearly still two of the best young prospects in the U.S. National Team pool.

    The ultimate point of putting this squad together is to show just how much young talent is working its way up the pipeline. Despite what happened last March in Olympic qualifying, there is plenty of young American talent on the rise.”

  27. Josh D says:

    DeLeon would be on my “A” team over Gatt. I’m a big fan of Gatt, but if we’re talking last year v this year, Gatt stayed level in terms of most stats from last season, whereas DeLeon went from college to starting and becoming a key piece on a playoff team. He also scored one more in a comparative league.

    Granted Gatt played in CL qualifiers and made a start for the US team, he was also out injured when the team needed him most. I fully expect DeLeon to lose his USMNT virginity this summer. Pretty even altogether.

    Other than that, ace picks.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      You know I like DeLeon, but can’t put him ahead of Gatt. They’re in comparable leagues, but Gatt helped his team win the league title, played in CL qualifiers and also started a USMNT game. DeLeon was great in the playoffs, and at the start of the season, but had that rough stretch in the middle of the season where the pro grind caught up to him.

      Should make for an interesting 2013 to see how both of them develop.

  28. Charles says:

    I year or two ago, I posted I thought the US team was deep, just didn’t have exceptional talent. I was flamed to death. Just recovered a few days ago…..but look at the third string team you have:

    Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Tony Cascio, Danny Cruz, Ray Gaddis, Greg Garza, Ryan Meara, Brek Shea, Andrew Wooten.

    I will stick with that. Now it is just good players pushing some to be great. When we get three Landons on the main team, with a couple others that developed “late” in a five years ( lets hope it is 3 years )…….look out.

    • Bobb says:

      “MISSED THE CUT Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury”

      Brek Shea is still in the national team picture when healthy, but it’s amazing how far guys like Adu and Bunbury have fallen. I’m glad to see it, but still amazing…

  29. Karl says:

    JAB should be starting, a standout in the 2. Bundesliga , which I believe is better than the MLS. Nice list though.

  30. slughog says:

    It’s great to see Rowe on the list. I think he has been underrated and will breakout next season!
    GO REVS!

  31. Travis says:

    Ives, love the increased coverage of the USMNT recently, especially the looks at the youth coming through. Hope to see it continue in the future.

  32. beto says:

    great team, thanks for the interesting posts SBI. I feel like i say this a lot more but the US is really building some better depth.

    Interesting that about half of them played some NCAA Soccer, and of those that started with club soccer about half them in European clubs and the other half in North American clubs. Good Splits.

  33. Colin in MT says:

    Whenever I see these articles I get really excited because it means I can skip the whole reading the actual article thing and just jump right to the list. Then after reading the list I can immediately go to the comments section and make my own list of players who should be on the list but aren’t. It’s great because I don’t have to consider all the factors Ives outlined in the article like “form” and “production” and just jump right into the criticizing.

    Keep the well reasoned and articulated lists coming Ives so I can make my own irrational, emotional lists.

  34. aslksdfl says:

    Am I the only one who looks at the past few crops of USMNT and thinks we kinda do have Donovans and Dempseys in it? Bradley is certainly in their category if not already above it for the past age group. Altidore is in the same category for the current generation. People criticised Bradley heavily until around age 23-24, but now he is an absolute stud. The same will probably happen to Altidore, when any player gets as much playing time as he has had in their early years and posses his athletic ability it is hard to fail.

  35. I’m biased, but I had the pleasure of having Ray Gaddis, Matt Hedges, CJ Sapong, and Andrew Wenger on our PDL squad. Wenger deserves mention simply because he can play anywhere and I’m not sure Montreal used him as well (or as much) as he could. Ray and Matt seized their opportunities with breakout seasons and everyone knows CJ (although he’s not a U23).

  36. John says:

    How is Brooks not on the first team? He is a starter for a very good Hertha Berlin team that are in second place in the 2. Bundesliga, from watching him play I can see he’s a better CB than Hedges and Okugo and he’s only 19. This kid has talent and huge potential, Hertha fans see him as the next Jerome Boateng. Hopefully he gets called up for the USMNT soon because he looks like the real deal and we cannot afford to lose him just like how we lost Subotic.