USMNT: Scouting the Next Crop of US National Team Stars

John D. Halloran@JohnDHalloranContributor IIJuly 1, 2012

USMNT: Scouting the Next Crop of US National Team Stars

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    Since the United States Men’s National Team re-emerged on the international scene with its World Cup qualification in 1990, USMNT fans have quickly identified any young player with a glimmer of talent as “the next superstar,” often to see those young careers fizzle out without delivering on their promise.

    Without heaping that pressure on any of these young men, here are eight players 21 years old or younger who just might fit the bill.

Juan Agudelo

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    Although Agudelo has had a couple of bumps in his career path as of late after tearing his meniscus during Olympic qualifying, USMNT fans must remember that he is only 19 years old and already has 15 caps for the national team.

    Agudelo also scored in each of his first two appearances with the national team, scoring the game-winner in an away game against South Africa and the game-tying goal against Argentina in a home friendly.

    Here are his two goals for the USMNT—both quality goals.

    And if anyone has any doubts of Agudelo’s quality in the box, check out the embedded clip of his wonder-goal for the New York Red Bulls.

Josh Gatt

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    For those who don’t know him, Josh Gatt is one of America’s most promising prospects. He currently plays for Molde in Norway, which is managed by Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    Gatt, only 20 years old, can play as either an outside back or outside mid and already has three goals in nine club appearances this season.

    He has yet to be capped by the USMNT.

    This clip shows his considerable attacking skill.

Mikkel Diskerud

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    “Mix” Diskerud is a 21-year-old midfielder currently playing for Gent in the Belgian league. He was impressive in the U.S. U-23 Olympic qualifying, covering loads of ground and providing the link between the backline and the U.S. attack.

    What impresses many U.S. fans about Diskerud is his composure on the ball, especially in the attacking third, perhaps best exemplified by his assist to Juan Agudelo in a friendly against South Africa shown in this clip.

Terrence Boyd

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    Most USMNT fans are now well aware of who Terrence Boyd is after his inclusion in the roster for the recent May/June friendlies and World Cup qualifiers.

    Boyd is one of the most exciting forward prospects in the USMNT pool because along with the natural athleticism that many former American forward prospects enjoy, Boyd actually has a strong technical foundation to go with it.

    At only 21 years of age, Boyd scored 20 goals in 32 appearances for Borussia Dortmund II last season and recently transferred to Rapid Vienna in the Austrian league looking for first-team football.

    Like many American national team players, Boyd is/was eligible to play for multiple national teams, but USMNT fans had to love his reaction to being officially cap-tied to the U.S. after his appearance in the U.S.-Antigua World Cup qualifier.

Joe Corona

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    The 21-year-old midfielder has been prominent on USMNT fans’ radar for a number of years now, with many fans worried he might bolt for the opportunity to play for Mexico or El Salvador, as he is eligible to represent all three countries.

    Corona enjoyed a strong season this past year with Club Tijuana in the Mexican league and impressed many USMNT fans with his performances with the U-23 team during Olympic qualifying in which he scored four goals in three games.

    Here is his hat trick against Cuba for the U-23s in the Olympic qualifying opener.

Joseph Gyau

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    Gyau is a 19-year-old highly touted winger who currently plays for Hoffenheim II and has been capped for the U.S. youth teams at four different age groups.

    This clip shows Gyau’s considerable skill on the dribble. Although he will certainly need to play more of a team-oriented game as he moves up the ranks, this type of individual skill will serve him well as a wide midfielder able to gain enough space to provide service from the flanks.

Villyan Bijev

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    The 19-year-old forward is owned by Liverpool, but spent last season on loan with Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany. With their Regionalliga team, he saw 16 appearances and notched four goals.

    Here are two goals from Bijev with the U-20s.

Marc Pelosi

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    The 18-year-old Pelosi signed with Liverpool last year and played with their reserves this past season. A natural left-footer, Pelosi has been used in the midfield and, in what could be great news for U.S. fans, at left-back. Pelosi also captained the U.S. U-17s at the U-17 World Cup.

    Here is a goal by Pelosi with the U-17s.

Players Who Just Missed the 21-Year-Old Restriction

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    Jared Jeffrey: a 22-year-old Dallas, Texas native who plays for Mainz II and has appearances with the U-17, U-20 and U-23 U.S. youth teams.

    Andrew Wooten: a 22-year-old German-American forward who garnered seven appearances for Kaiserlautern in the German Bundesliga last season.

    Alfredo Morales: a 22-year-old German-American defender/midfielder who saw 10 appearances for Hertha BSC in the German Bundesliga last season.

    Jozy Altidore: most American fans forget that Jozy, who already has 49 caps for the USMNT and just enjoyed a fantastic season in the Eredivisie, is only 22 years old. His 10 goals for the USMNT already place him 10th in all-time goal scorers for the full national team.

    Altidore was only 19 years old when he muscled off Gerard Pique and then beat Iker Casillas, two of the world’s best players at their respective positions, in the now famous U.S. victory over Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup, which ended Spain’s 35-match unbeaten streak.

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