International Football

Gold Cup 2011: Juan Agudelo and the 5 Best Young Players on the United States

Dan RenfroCorrespondent IIIJune 8, 2011

Gold Cup 2011: Juan Agudelo and the 5 Best Young Players on the United States

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 26:  Juan Agudelo #9 and Oguchi Onyewu #5 of the United States celebrate Agudelo's game-tying goal during the second half of a friendly match against Argentina at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011 in East Rutherford, Ne
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    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

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    HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 30:  Tim Ream #5 of the New York Red Bulls plays the ball against Sporting KC on April 30, 2011 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The Red Bulls defeated the Sporting KC 1-0.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    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

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    VIENNA, AUSTRIA - AUGUST 19:  Eric Lichaj of Aston Villa gestures during the UEFA Europa League, Play off, first leg Qualifying match between Rapid Vienna and Aston Villa at the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium on August 19, 2010 in Vienna, Austria.  (Photo by Ian
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    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

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    SEATTLE - JULY 04:  Freddy Adu #19 of USA looks on before the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup game against Grenada on July 4, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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.

    Wow.

    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

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    CHESTER, PA - OCTOBER 12: Jozy Altidore #17 of the United States is chased by John Javier Restrepo #21 of Colombia at PPL Park on October 12, 2010 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    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

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Juan Agudelo #39 of the New York Red Bulls in action against the San Jose Earthquakes during the 1st leg of their playoff match up at Buck Shaw Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Get
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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