U.S. Soccer
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EMERGING TALENT IS THE NAME OF THE GAME IN 2018

Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer is the non-for-profit, governing body of soccer in the United States and has helped chart the course for the game for more than 100 years. Now in its second millennium, the Federation is driven by the singular mission of making soccer the pre-eminent sport in the United States.

To achieve that goal, we will serve the athlete by developing world-class players, coaches and referees, thereby growing participation and increasing awareness. We will serve the fan by connecting supporters to their heroes. By focusing on these two key constituencies, U.S. Soccer is well positioned to elevate the sport to new heights and continue to build on the magnificent traditions established by a century of hard work in support of the beautiful game in this country.

After the massive disappointment of not qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team takes its first steps toward the 2022 edition of the tournament with a focus on the emerging talent coming through the ranks. As a starting point, the current MNT pool is already stacked with young players who have established their credentials at the international level, highlighted by 19-year-old Christian Pulisic. The PA Classics product tallied six goals and four assists in nine matches, collecting the 2017 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year Award after earning the Young Player of the Year award just a year earlier. World Cup veteran DeAndre Yedlin has accumulated nearly 50 caps at age 24, while fellow 2014 World Cup alum John Brooks has more than 30 appearances to his credit. Having risen through the FC Dallas Academy, midfielder Kellyn Acosta (22) earned a big role in official competitions throughout 2017, appearing in five Gold Cup games - including a start in the championship final - as well as five World Cup Qualifiers. Paul Arriola (23) put up almost identical numbers, collecting a Gold Cup medal along with a career-high 12 caps in a calendar year. On the attacking end, Jordan Morris (24) signaled his elevation to elite status with the championship-winning goal in the 2017 Gold Cup final, while Hamburg striker Bobby Wood increased his career goalscoring tally to double digits.

On the youth front, recent progression through the Youth National Teams is starting to bear fruit at every position on the field. A total of seven players who have played in a FIFA U-20 World Cup since 2015 have already earned caps with the Senior National Team. Tyler Adams, now 19-years-old, parlayed a successful 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup into his first MNT appearance last November against third-ranked Portugal. The rangy midfielder was joined that night by central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (20) and his 2015 World Cup defensive partner Matt Miazga (22). Also making his senior team debut in the 1-1 draw in Portugal was Weston McKennie. Already getting regular minutes for Schalke in the German Bundesliga, the 19-year-old McKennie displayed his promise on the international level with a clever finish that put the United States ahead.

It appears that this may be only the beginning. While the true measure of the Youth National Team programs are the players who move through the pathway to the Senior Team, results against international competition are still a valuable benchmark. On that front, the programs had one of the most successful years in U.S. history. Both the U-17 and U-20 Men’s National Teams reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2017, making the United States only one of two teams in the world (alongside England) to accomplish the feat. In qualifying for the World Cup, each squad also reached the final of the CONCACAF Championship, with the U-20 team winning the title for the first time in U.S. Soccer history. Five players from that squad were named to the tournament’s best XI, including Erik Palmer-Brown, who collected MVP honors. The U-17s also had five players recognized on the CONCACAF best XI, with goalkeeper Justin Garces earning the Golden Glove as the top netminder.

The U-20s were first up in Korea Republic, finishing in first place in Group F after going undefeated in three matches. In the knockout phase, the USA demolished New Zealand in a 6-0 rout before falling in extra time to eventual runners up Venezuela. Led by captain Palmer-Brown – who has since signed with Manchester City – the U-20s received sparks from a number of spots on the field, including Adams and Fulham FC midfielder Luca de la Torre. Seven different players found the back of the net, including one of the revelations of the year in the form of striker Josh Sargent. A member of the U-17 Residency program and the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy, he was elevated into the squad for the U-20 World Cup in May and quickly made his mark, scoring four goals to finish second in the race for the tournament’s Golden Boot.

Five months later, the 17-year-old Werder Bremen bound forward tallied three times in India while serving as the U-17s captain. After advancing out of a highly competitive Group A, the Baby Yanks nearly matched the output of their elder counterparts in the Round of 16 with a 5-0 pasting of Paraguay on the strength of a Tim Weah hat trick. The PSG-based striker was one of six goalscorers for the United States in the tournament. The USA’s impressive run ended with a defeat at the hands eventual champion England in the Quarterfinal as several players turned in scintillating tournament performances in the likes of Atlanta United duo: midfielder Andrew Carlton and Garces as well as New York City FC defender James Sands and D.C. United Academy standout Chris Durkin.

With full-time coaches in every age group from the U-14 Boys’ National Team through the U-20s, the National Teams program has never been more integrated and the development pathway never clearer. The pinnacle is the Senior National Team, and it is there that a new journey begins in 2018.

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