By IVES GALARCEP
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team is facing a tough task at this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, but that challenge could get much easier if John Anthony Brooks is in a U.S. uniform.
U.S. Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos told ESPN recently that Brooks is leaning toward playing for the United States, and that he could play with the team at the Toulon Tournament later this month, an event that will serve as the U.S. team’s final tune-up match before the World Cup.
“There’s been a lot of progress lately, that Brooks may be joining us for Toulon, but we’re not 100 percent sure yet,” Ramos told ESPN.com.
Brooks stated last month that he would be making his decision soon on whether he would play for the United States or Germany. With a European Under-21 Tournament looming this summer as well, Brooks was expected to choose soon between countries, though he wouldn’t be officially cap-tied by either the European Under-21 Tournament or the Under-20 World Cup.
A German-born defender who is the son of an American serviceman, Brooks has attended U.S. and German youth national team camps in recent years, but has yet to formally represent either in a major competition.
Brooks has enjoyed an outstanding season with newly-promoted German side Hertha Berlin, which will compete in the Bundesliga next season. The tall and technical central defender projects as a starter on a U.S. Under-20 team that counts centerback as arguably the weakest position in the pool.
Former U-20 captain Walker Zimmerman has been battling injuries all year and is a major question mark for the tournament, while Colorado Rapids defender Shane O’Neill has done well to earn consistent playing time with the Rapids. Caleb Stanko started alongside O’Neill in Under-20 World Cup qualifying, but is a natural defensive midfielder.
Brooks would give the U.S. a strong aerial presence and a potential stabilizing force in central defense, which would be vital in a World Cup group that features Spain, France and Ghana.
What do you think of this development? Excited at the prospect of Brooks playing for the U.S.? Still not sold on him committing to the United States?
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