By IVES GALARCEP
NEW YORK- Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks was considered a potential star addition for the U.S. Under-20 National Team heading into this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, but his delay in making a final decision has led to Brooks being left out of the U.S. team’s plans for the World Cup in Turkey.
“Everybody knows we’ve been following Brooks for a couple of years now,” Ramos said. “We’ve been inviting him to camps, he played with us in November, 2011, in a camp we had overseas. Last year, in September I decided to go to Germany and meet with him. He was very good about the meeting. He was very committed to us and the future, but yet, all the camps we’ve called him after he, for whatever reason, couldn’t make it.
“This particular month, obviously we had a FIFA deadline to meet,” Ramos said. “We gave him a deadline. We gave him a date. He couldn’t meet that deadline for us to get all the paperwork in so we’ve left him out of the 35-man roster.
“He cannot play for us.”
Brooks enjoyed a breakout season for Hertha Berlin, helping lead the club to promotion to the Bundesliga after finishing atop Bundesliga 2. The 6-foot-4 centerback would have been projected as a starting centerback on the U.S. Under-20 team, but now he won’t be on the team.
So does the Brooks omission from the U-20 World Cup team mean he won’t play for the United States eventually? Not necessarily. The German-born defender has also been left out of this summer’s German Under-21 European Championship squad, so at this point it appears Brooks has yet to make a decision on his ultimate senior national team future.
Brooks skipping this summer’s youth tournaments shouldn’t be completely surprising given the fact he just completed his first full season as a starting pro, playing more soccer in the past eight months than he ever had.
Brooks could theoretically still be a part of the U.S. Gold Cup team, though U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has stated that he would prefer not to include European-based players on the Gold Cup team who aren’t part of the World Cup qualifying squad in June. That said, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Klinsmann would make an exception for a 19-year-old centerback prospect like Brooks.
The U.S. centerback situation is in a state of flux on the Under-20 team, with converted midfielders Caleb Stanko and Shane O’Neill starting in CONCACAF qualifying. Walker Zimmerman is working his way back from injury, but Ramos made it sound as though Zimmerman still has a ways to go to be considered a leading candidate to make the U.S. Under-20 World Cup team.
What do you think of this development? Disappointed that Brooks won’t be on the U.S. Under-20 team at the World Cup? Still holding out hope he plays for the senior national team? Starting to worry he will join the list of players who passed on playing for the United States?
Share your thoughts below.