You don't often hear the term veteran leadership applied to a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old. That however is exactly what Eddie Gaven and Freddy Adu bring to the U-20 U.S. national team, the pair combining for four goals as the USA got their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Youth Championship off to a flying start with a 6-1 victory against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center.
Gaven has become a regular in the starting lineup for the Metrostars, and his play has even earned him a call-up into Bruce Arena's full national side. Adu came into last season as one of the most heralded rookies in MLS history. All he managed to do in his rookie campaign was to become a super sub for Peter Nowak and D.C. United en route to a MLS Cup last season.
The pair showed their experience in last night's opener of the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament by combining for their goals in the first 25 minutes, Gaven notching a hat trick while Adu calmly buried a penalty kick to put away Trinidad and Tobago in the early goings of the first half.
All three of Gaven's goals were textbook finishes, as the 18-year-old always seemed to be in the right place as the U.S. side dominated the run of play. "It felt real good," he said. "I don't even remember the last time I scored a hat trick."
Adu also created the USA's lone goal of the second half, putting in a cross from the left side that Will John put home on the second chance after his first effort was saved. The USA's other goal came from a first-half own goal.
One player who enjoyed some success last night isn't with MLS yet, but could be a name to watch out for in tomorrow's MLS SuperDraft. Right-sided midfielder Benny Fielhaber played a vital role in the first four U.S. goals.
While qualification for the world championships to be held in the Netherlands next summer is priority No. 1, it's obvious to Fielhaber that the qualifying tourney is a great opportunity for a young player trying to attract some attention.
"There's a lot of scouts out there. Everybody is watching. It's a great chance to get viewed by other coaches," Fielhaber said.
Two MLS players surprisingly missing from the starting lineup in last night's game were Columbus Crew midfielder Danny Szetela and the San Jose Earthquakes' Arturo Alvarez. Szetela came on in the first half as a substitute after another U.S. player went down with an injury and Alvarez never saw the field.
Still, U.S. coach Sigi Schmid didn't hold out much hope either would be included in his first team on Friday night when the USA plays Panama in their second match in the four-team round-robin. Panama and Costa Rica drew 1-1 in their opening match on Wednesday; the top two teams in the group advance to the world championship.
"The way this team played tonight, I don't think you mess around with it too much," said Schmid.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.