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USA vs. Jamaica: Young Players Who Deserve a Shot

Mix Diskerud is among three young Americans who deserve their chance against Jamaica on Friday.
Mix Diskerud is among three young Americans who deserve their chance against Jamaica on Friday.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Leo HowellContributor IIIOctober 9, 2013

The United States Men's National Team has already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, which means Friday evening's game against Jamaica should be an opportunity for younger players to gain valuable experience ahead of soccer's biggest event in the summer of 2014.

The training camp roster has already been announced and posted to the USMNT website, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has elected to invite multiple young players who have little experience with the national team. 

Building experience for these players is crucial ahead of the World Cup, because Klinsmann cannot guarantee the health of his star players between now and the tournament next summer. He must have a deep roster of players prepared to step onto the pitch in red, white and blue and perform at a world-class level.

That all starts Friday against Jamaica, when he should give the opportunity to play to these players.

 

Terrence Boyd, Forward

Boyd is an extremely talented young player, but lacks experience against a high level of competition since he plays in Austria for his club soccer.

But when he got his chance against top-level opposition in a hostile environment, he made the most of his opportunity. The video below depicts his biggest moment as a member of the national team, when the US defeated Mexico at Azteca Stadium.

He showed a great amount of positional awareness and creativity to facilitate what would be a very important goal for the US, and would prove to be the first ever game-winning goal scored by the USMNT against Mexico at Azteca.

At the age of 22, there's certainly plenty of room for Boyd to continue to grow and develop into a world-class forward that the US has sought for quite a while.

So getting the chance to start and play against Jamaica in Friday's World Cup qualifier would be yet another chance for him to build chemistry with his national team compatriots, and earn his place on the roster for bigger and tougher opponents in the future.

Boyd has yet to score in nine caps with the US Men's National Team, so getting him a first goal would go a long way towards building his confidence and preparing him for his role on the 2014 World Cup squad.

 

Aron Johannsson, Forward/Winger

As Johannsson says in the video above, coach Jurgen Klinsmann was very interested in bringing the young Icelandic and American attacking player into camp with the USMNT despite interest from Iceland, which he considered to be more of a "home" than the United States.

It was Klinsmann's persistence, respect and experience which won over Johannsson, who now proudly wears the USMNT colors on the national team level. 

He has only appeared twice for the United States, but he is an important member of Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. AZ is the same team that USMNT striker Jozy Altidore called home for the past few seasons before moving to England to play in the Premier League.

As Jason Davis of ESPNFC points out, Johannsson isn't the quickest or strongest striker, but he's smart and has a great knack for finishing scoring moves and netting goals. But he also has positional flexibility, which could be his key to a roster spot for the World Cup.

That's why he should play as many minutes as coach Klinsmann can find for him, whether they're as a winger, a striker, or as a supporting striker behind a player like Boyd. Friday's game against Jamaica would be the perfect opportunity to get Johannsson some minutes in his secondary positions, to see how he adjusts and what sort of potential he has in those spots.

 

Mix Diskerud, Midfielder

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 05:  Mix Diskerud #8 of the USA passes the ball against Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium on July 5, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The USMNT has definitely shown signs of weakness when they're without key players in the midfield, especially Michael Bradley. The team does not connect the defense to the attack well enough when Bradley and his fellow veteran midfielders are not on the pitch.

That's why a young player like Diskerud needs to see the pitch as often as possible, so he can work himself into consideration as a mainstay midfielder for the US for years to come.

At only 23, there's certainly plenty of life left in Diskerud's legs, and he's already netted two goals for the United States in the last year. He's capable of playing multiple roles in the center of the pitch, but his strengths certainly show when he gets forward, creating and finishing chances to score.

There are a lot of older players on the USMNT roster at midfield, and Diskerud represents one of the few promising young options at the moment. Getting him as much experience as possible before next summer's World Cup should be a key for Jurgen Klinsmann.

Diskerud offers a positive passing mentality that should fit what Klinsmann wants to see from his team, especially against a weaker opponent like Jamaica. 

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