Tab Ramos calls 2 MLSers into latest US U-18 national team squad

Tab Ramos - US U-20s coach - closeup

Coach Tab Ramos has called up 12 players from MLS clubs in his latest U.S. Under-18 men’s national team roster, including two players signed to first-team contracts, as the squad that will represent the United States at the 2018 Vaclav Jezek Youth Tournament in the Czech Republic this week.

FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy lead the way with three players each, including FCD Homegrown signings Bryan Reynolds and Thomas Roberts, while two of New York City FC’s top academy talents got the call. Columbus Crew SC, the Houston Dynamo, Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake are also represented.

The 21-player group is composed of 2001-born prospects in their first year in the U-18 cycle, a preliminary step on the road to competing for a place at the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup as Under-20s in two years’ time.

The U.S. U-18s open the tournament vs. the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, then face Bulgaria on Wednesday and conclude the group stage vs. the host nation on Friday.

Depending on those results, they’ll face one of the four nations from the event’s other group, which includes Japan, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine, in their final match of the event on Saturday. The U.S. won the 2014 and 2016 editions of Vaclav Jezek.

Full roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.), Kristopher Shakes (Bethlehem Steel FC; Coral Springs, Fla.)

DEFENDERS (7): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (New York City FC; Wilton, Conn.); Nathan Harriel (Chargers Soccer Club; Oldsmar, Fla.), Julian Hinojosa (FC Dallas; Garland, Texas), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC; New York, N.Y.), Stuart Ritchie (FC Groningen; Schoolstraat, Netherlands), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Taylor Booth (Unattached; Eden, Utah), Justin Haak (New York City FC; Brooklyn, N.Y.), Aidan Morris (Crew SC Academy; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas); Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Little Rock, Ark.), Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa FC; Savannah, Ga.)

FORWARDS (6): Roberto Hategan (Sacramento Republic F.C.; Chicago, Ill.), Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Axel Picazo (Philadelphia Union; Chester Springs, Penn.), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Gabe Segal (Bethesda SC; Bethesda, Md.), Folarin Balogun (Arsenal FC; South Ockendon, England)