Gold Cup 2011: Juan Agudelo and the 5 Best Young Players on the United States
Following a good experience at the 2009 Confederations Cup, Bob Bradley wants to return in 2013.
Consequently, the United States Men's National Team has set its sights on the 2011 Gold Cup.
Some old faces are still playing, but there are also new faces that fans should get used to seeing.
From the 23-man roster, I have chosen the best five players under 25 that are likely to have an impact for the Americans for a long time.
Tim Ream, 23
Tim Ream seems to have established himself as the new center back for the United States. He is strong in the air and composed with the ball. Once he develops his positioning and on-ball defense, he could become an elite defender.
Ream looked overwhelmed against Spain, but he seemed comfortable in his other caps. In time, his comfort level will (hopefully) grow against the elite teams and provide the United States with a rock in the center of their defense.
Eric Lichaj, 22
Eric Lichaj is a versatile defender who provides the United States with some speed along the outside. Following his loan to Leeds United, he hopes to move there permanently this summer.
On the outside, he could provide the United States with the width that the team has lacked for a long time.
Freddy Adu, 22
Freddy Adu seems to have completed an entire career.
He went from wonder-kid to overwhelmed to disappointment to bust to washed up to returning to form to consistent player.
All of that happened before his 22nd birthday.
If that doesn't make someone mentally tough, what will?
Adu rushed into the limelight, and he simply wasn't ready. Now, following many good (and bad) experiences, he is ready to contribute to the national team.
Adu possesses the flair and creativity that the United States' national team lacks. And although he was left off the 18-man roster against Canada, fans might get a chance to see his development at some point in the Gold Cup.
Jozy Altidore, 21
Jozy Altidore has been a mainstay for the United States for three years, and he is only 21. He has looked great (Spain 2009), good (Canada 2011), and bad (World Cup 2010).
The whole country watched him battle through his growing pains as a young player, and he has responded well time and time again.
He may never be the great target forward everyone wants him to be, but Altidore is a solid striker, and with the right partner, he could score loads of goals.
Juan Agudelo, 18
Although the jury is still out, Juan Agudelo has looked good in a United States jersey. He is quick with the ball and looks dangerous while dribbling.
That is something the United States has characteristically lacked.
He may not ever become a world-class striker, but if Agudelo can consistently score or create goals, I'm sure Bob Bradley and U.S. fans will be extremely grateful.
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