One of the big criticisms of the United States Men’s National Team over the past few years has been the increasing age of the squad. And, on more than one occasion, young players in a good run of form have been declared “the next big thing” only to flounder after bursting onto the scene.
With that in mind, here are eight U.S. players with a legitimate shot at becoming stars for the national team.
Johnson is known to most USMNT fans for his late game blunder against El Salvador during Olympic qualifying that ended the U.S.’ hopes of playing in London.
However, it is important to remember that Johnson was only 22 years old when that happened, and all young keepers commit their fair share of howlers.
Since then, Johnson has recovered nicely.
In the MLS, for keepers with at least 20 games played, Johnson is currently tied for sixth in the MLS in goals against average, fourth in winning percentage and first in save percentage.
Johnson has twice won MLS’ Save of the Week and put on an impressive performance in the attached video clip that starts at 0:59 mark.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann hasn’t lost faith in Johnson either, calling him into the full national team for the friendly against Mexico last month and the World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica this past week.
Johnson’s youth, skill and athletic ability make him a good bet to be the one in the net for the USMNT once Tim Howard hangs up his gloves.
Diskerud has had a start-and-stop club career since first appearing with the full national team in the Bob Bradley era.
However, in his first game with the full national team, in an away friendly in South Africa, Diskerud had the game-winning assist
Now with Rosenborg in the Norwegian League, Diskerud has re-emerged on the scene with this ridiculous game-winning strike in Europa League play.
Diskerud is still only 21 years old and has plenty of time to develop his potential into becoming a star with the USMNT.
Bedoya became a fan favorite during the Bob Bradley era and received 13 call-ups to the national team during that time.
Bedoya used his success with the USMNT to engineer a move from Orebro in the Swedish league to historical Scottish powerhouse Rangers in the fall of 2011. However, the move resulted in little playing time for Bedoya, who only saw five league starts in the 2011-12 season.
After Rangers was demoted to the Scottish fourth tier, Bedoya made a move to return to Sweden this summer, is now with Helsingborg and will be competing in the Europa League.
With Helsingborg, Bedoya has already made six appearances and scored this wonderful goal in his debut with the club. If he finds a consistent return to form, he can get his international career back on track too.
Less than a year ago, Omar Gonzalez was considered by many to be the top center-back prospect in the USMNT pool.
However, a winter loan move to Bundesliga side Nuremburg resulted in an ACL injury when Gonzalez was involved in collision with part-time USMNT player Timothy Chandler.
Since then, Gonzalez has seen Geoff Cameron push his way ahead in the USMNT center-back depth chart.
However, Gonzalez is now back to playing with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy, and since his return, the Galaxy defense has been much improved. When Gonzalez was injured, the Galaxy gave up 27 goals in 17 MLS games for a 1.59 goals against average and only had two shutouts.
Since Gonzalez has returned, in the six matches he has played 90 minutes, the Galaxy have allowed five goals for a 0.83 goals against average and have earned four shutouts.
Clearly, Gonzalez is a difference-maker for his club and soon can be for his country as well.
USMNT fans have been excited to see Gatt in the Stars and Stripes since he burst onto the scene last year with a pair of fantastic goals that quickly made their rounds on YouTube.
Since then, he has continued to impress with Molde in the Norwegian League and earned his first national team call-up for the Jamaica World Cup qualifiers.
However, he was forced to withdraw from the national team camp due to a hamstring injury that he sustained in his final club game before the international break.
Blessed with world-class speed and playing at a position that the U.S. is desperately undermanned (outside midfield) in, it is only a matter of time until Gatt becomes a full-fledged star.
While Joe Corona has only seen appearances for the full national team in friendlies against Scotland and Mexico, he continues to receive regular call-ups from USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
A versatile player who can be slotted in at the wing or underneath the forward, Corona is only 22 years old and still developing.
USMNT fans saw a glimpse of his potential when he scored a wonderful hat trick against Cuba in the U-23 Olympic qualifying tournament with some great goals.
Although Danny Williams has started six of Klinsmann’s 18 games in charge, he has only received one start in his natural position, as a holding midfielder.
In that one start, in the U.S.’ most recent game against Jamaica, Williams was particularly impressive cycling the ball around the U.S. attack. Although he was helped by Jamaica’s low-pressure defense, Williams has surely proven that he deserves more starts in the heart of the U.S. midfield.
Only 23 years old, Williams plays for Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga and is on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged American star.
Boyd received a shock call-up to the USMNT for its surprising friendly away win against Italy last February, even getting into the match for the last 10 minutes.
Since then, Boyd has been called into every American camp and has also had a great start with his new club Rapid Vienna scoring six goals in 10 appearances.
With fellow American striker Jozy Altidore not having the strongest performances in the last two games for the USMNT, expect Boyd to start seeing regular playing time with the national team during its October World Cup qualifiers.
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