NEW YORK — With how much the pool of teenage talent has grown in recent years, the list of notable omissions from Tab Ramos' US U-20 World Cup roster could make a decent starting XI.
Between James Sands, Julian Araujo, Frankie Amaya, Brendan Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Amon and others all being left behind for one reason or another, the evidence is there that the US U-20 pool is deeper than ever.
“This particular roster was really difficult," Ramos admitted at a media roundtable on Friday. "There’s no question there’s three or four guys who deserved to go who are not going.”
A couple of those guys are earning regular minutes for their MLS clubs, though currently injured. LA Galaxy right back Araujo broke into the first team this season, impressing in back-to-back starts in April before injuring his ankle on April 24. He has yet to return to the field.
“Had they not been injured, it would have been more difficult but I’m very confident in the six defenders I have — there’s all kinds of scenarios we could have," Ramos said. "Julian was a strong consideration because, in theory when you look at right back where [Sergino] Dest is, it’s the one position in which we have the weakest spot. When you pick these teams, you don’t have two per position. Somewhere you’re going to be weak.”
Ramos also referred to NYCFC's Sands, who had started the first nine games of his clubs MLS campaign before picking up an adductor injury. It may have been difficult for the young star to be included, though, even if fit.
“If you look at the No. 6 position, we have [Chris] Durkin, [Edwin] Cerrillo and [Brandon] Servania," Ramos explained. "We have three already, and Servania did really well in qualifying in that position.”
“When I watched him play against San Jose, everything he did in that game, I thought immediately that’s the player I trust," Ramos said. "He’s such a great player, so easy on the ball. There are such few of those, particularly Americans. It made things a lot more difficult. I didn’t know where Frankie was going in the first two months of the season, which made me be a bit more bias against the players who were playing. But I’m sure he’ll have a great career.”
Ramos also added that Gianluca Busio, Gio Reyna and Ricardo Pepi were the three U-17 players added to the 50-man roster. In addition to looking at an age group down, there was a chance for a few players to drop in from the senior team to the U-20 World Cup.
Like Tim Weah, there were a few other U-20 eligible players that have made their senior debut who could have joined the squad but weren't selected with the 2019 Gold Cup starting in June.
RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams could have featured for the U-20s, but wasn't considered.
“What’s important for me is to put the players in a comfortable situation so they do well for the senior national team," Ramos said. "Gregg believes Tyler has moved on from here. He plays in the Bundesliga, he’s doing great there. He’s not even on the 50-man roster.”
Ditto for Werder Bremen striker Josh Sargent.
“We weren’t 100% sure because of the playing time situation, so I did put him on the 50-man roster, but it’s clear that he’s going into the summer with the senior national team," Ramos said. "So it’s best that he continues to move in that direction.”