United States U20 Qualifying Team by Micah Weinstock
The United States U20 National Team has just won the U20 CONCACAF Championship, meaning that we are both qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics – our first Olympics since 2008 – and for the 2023 U20 World Cup in Indonesia.
You cannot talk about this U20 team without first discussing Diego Luna. The 18 year old, who made his own pro pathway through second division El Paso Locomotive, was the player who had his star shine the brightest on a team filled with young talent. The midfielder had 6 goal involvements in 7 games. His passing, dribbling, and read of the game is mind-bendingly beyond his years.
Also in the midfield, we saw Paxten Aaronson. Paxten had 8 goal involvements through the seven games he played. He had an insane ability to find the goal, and every time he had the ball, opposing defenses were terrified. This finishing ability, coupled with his smart passing were the attributes that stuck out the most to me. There are a multitude of reasons that he took home both the golden boot and the best player of the tournament. Paxten is the brother of Brenden, and may follow his steps to RB Salzburg, who have some rumored interest.
Paxten’s Philadelphia Union teammate Quinn Sullivan was another player that won me over. The German-American left a very strong impact whenever he played. From the wing, he had 10 goal involvements through his 7 games and was nothing short of a swiss army knife on the field. He could do a little bit of everything. To me, he was one of our stronger players while simultaneously being one of our youngest. He did an all-around great job with a strong finishing ability and smart movements. I believe that he will end up being a 9, and now that the Union have traded Sergio Santos, he will definitely get a bunch of playtime up top.
One of my favorite players to watch in this tournament was Alejandro Alvarado. His movements were incredibly smooth, and I found him to be an extremely unselfish player who knew when to make the pass and was never afraid to put in a defensive shift. Even though he sat out the game against Canada, he still had a lot of moments of good play, having three goal involvements, including an absolutely ridiculous shot using the outside of his foot behind him. For his first U20 camp, he seemed to already fit in very well and it’s obvious that he has the potential to develop into a massive player for club and country. Not many young foreign players start in the Portuguese league, so the fact that he was able to shows the level that he is capable of. He is also very mentally strong. He had residency issues in Portugal which meant that he was not allowed to leave the country, but he was finally able to figure out his paperwork to join up. Mikey Varas did note that he was recruiting Alejandro at every opportunity during his time in charge, stating that Alejandro was invited to every camp.
If anything, this is an extremely short list that does not do justice to all the players on the roster, as almost all of them have given me something to talk about. This is just a short rundown on all the players that I was most impressed by. We had four players make the U20 Best XI for the tournament, the golden glove, the golden boot, and the best player. I really believe that looking back at this roster, we will have nothing but positive things to say about the players, and I believe that they all have the potential to develop into starters for our national team at some point. Now all they need to do is realize that potential.