With the Under-20 World Cup coming up in just a few short weeks in New Zealand, U.S. national team fans are licking their chops at the prospects of this competition. The United States is fielding its strongest team in years and behind the leadership of national team legend Tab Ramos will be looking to make an impact on the world stage.
With such a strong squad on the horizon, here’s a look at the top three prospects.
1. Cameron Carter-Vickers CB
Once a 16 year-old central defender in Tottenham Hotspur’s youth squad holding a U.K. passport, Cameron Carter-Vickers has become one of the most important figures in the American talent pool. Born in an English household to American parents, Carter-Vickers always dreamed of representing England at the international level, but when he was approached last year by representatives at U.S. soccer, he realized what an honor it was to represent the United States.
Carter-Vickers has since risen to captain Tottenham’s U-21 side, despite being one of the youngest players on the team, and has become a centerpiece of the U.S. youth side. He impressed in two U-23 matches with the U.S. in Brazil and Czech Republic last season, and will look to do the same in New Zealand as the U-21s look to win some silverware.
2. Emerson Hyndman CM
The grandson of legendary MLS coach Schellas Hyndman, Emerson is probably the most creative youth player the United States has ever seen. Hyndman joined the Fulham youth academy in London at the young age of 15, and made his first appearance for the senior team three years later, in the Championship against Ipswich Town this season.
Hyndman made nine appearances for Fulham this season in the Championship, but will look for a largely upgraded role next season. He has made appearances at nearly every U.S. youth level, starting with the U-17s, and came on as a substitute for the senior team against the Czech Republic in a friendly in September.
In the appearance versus the Czech Republic, Hyndman became the ninth youngest player to ever suit up for the national team. With clear steps laid out for Hyndman to become the true No. 10 that the United States and Fulham desperately need, this summer’s U-20 World Cup could be a coming out party for the young American.
3. Rubio Rubin ST
The likely goal scorer for the American U-20s, Rubio Rubin has already made something of a name for himself in Europe. A product of the Portland Timbers academy, Rubin signed a deal with Dutch Eredivisie side FC Utrecht the minute he turned 18.
In his first year with Utrecht, Rubin made 22 appearances and scored three goals, all while competing in a league that is considered to be amongst the top leagues for young players in Europe. His play in the Netherlands earned him a pair of call ups to a senior team friendly against Colombia, where he earned a starting role as a striker.
Rubin will likely reprise that starting role in the U-20 World Cup, and after Jurgen Klinsmann heaped praise on the young striker following his performance against Colombia, Rubin will look to prove he is simply too talented for the youth level and deserves more looks at the senior level. The link up play between Hyndman and Rubin will be paramount to the United States’ success and it will be very exciting for national team fans to get a look at the youngsters that represent the future of a budding soccer nation.