Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
All it took was one failed Olympic qualifying campaign, on the heels of a failed Under-20 World Cup qualifying campaign, to doom the next generation of young American talent to the trash bin of failed expectations. The next crop of young Americans couldn’t be all that strong after such disappointing results could it?
If the failure to reach the Olympics led you to write up the U.S. National Team’s next generation, you did so a bit prematurely. For one, the team that ultimately failed to qualify was missing a who’s-who of top young talent, from Jozy Altidore to Danny Williams to Timmy Chandler to an injured Juan Agudelo. Perhaps more importantly, the current Under-23 crop of Americans was about to hit a very important year in the development of a long list of players.
The 2012 MLS season saw breakout campaigns all over the league. A strong rookie class, led by the likes of Americans Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva, Matt Hedges and Connor Lade, was buoyed by the maturation of standout sophomores Perry Kitchen and Luis Gil. The contingent of Under-23s competing abroad also enjoyed good years, from Joe Corona’s title-winning campaign with Club Tijuana, to Terrence Boyd’s breakout season with Rapid Vienna.
To get a sense of just how good a full year it was for the American Under-23 contingent, consider that when we put together or first team and second team squads for a 2013 All-American Under-23 Best XI, we left out standouts like Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea and Freddy Adu, all players who could return to their standout levels come 2013.
Our selections for the 2012 American Under-23 team were based not strictly on ability, but rather on the year players had with their club teams and national teams. This squad isn’t meant to be a measure of talent. If it were just based on talent, then players like Shea and Agudelo would obviously have made the team. Neither had a strong 2012, but both are clearly still two of the best young prospects in the U.S. National Team pool.
The ultimate point of putting this squad together is to show just how much young talent is working its way up the pipeline. Despite what happened last March in Olympic qualifying, there is plenty of young American talent on the rise.
Just who did make the cut? Here are 23 players chosen for the SBI 2013 All-American Under-23 team (Made up of players born in 1989 or sooner):
2013 Under-23 Team of the Year
GK- Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Zac MacMath
D- Timmy Chandler, Kofi Sarkodie, Matt Hedges, Amobi Okugo, John Anthony Brooks, Tommy Meyer, Sheanon Williams, Connor Lade
M- Danny Williams, Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt, Joe Corona, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Luis Silva, Luis Gil, Kelyn Rowe
F- Terrence Boyd, Jozy Altidore, Will Bruin, Jack McInerney
2013 All-American Under-23 Best XI
MISSED THE CUT
Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Tony Cascio, Danny Cruz, Ray Gaddis, Greg Garza, Ryan Meara, Brek Shea, Andrew Wooten.
NOTE- Luis Silva missed the age cutoff by a few days. He was replaced on the second team by Kelyn Rowe, who was already on the 23-player roster. Zac MacMath was added to the 23-player roster.
What do you think of these teams? Which players didn’t make the cut that you feel should have? Who are you happy to see make the cut?
Share your thoughts below.