On the heels of a disappointing 2015 former U.S. international goalkeeping legend, Brad Friedel heads up a list of new coaches appointed by U.S. Soccer in hopes of turning things around on the men’s side of the youth set up.
Friedel, who will be in charge of the U19 team, was hired along with Omid Namazi, who will take over at the U18 level. The pair was involved with the U20 side that provided a rare glimmer of hope in the American youth ranks with its performance in the 2015 U20 World Cup.
That group was eliminated on penalty kicks by eventual champions Serbia but under the guidance of Tab Ramos, several exciting prospects emerged. Goalkeeper Zack Steffan, defenders Matt Miazga, and Desevio Payne shone while Emerson Hyndman, Gedion Zelalem, Bradford Jamieson IV, and Rubio Rubin all displayed impressive potential as attack minded players.
The U18 and U19 hirings in the new year follow John Hackworth’s appointment just before Christmas, with Andi Herzog a holdover at the U23 level.
Friedel famously backstopped the deepest U.S. MNT World Cup run yet, when he led the team to a quarterfinal tilt against Germany in 2002.
Friedel only retired last summer from Tottenham after a long and successful career, mostly in England’s Premier League. Friedel has assisted at various levels for U.S. Soccer qualifying for his UEFA A coaching license along the way.
When Friedel and his group compete in the four-team Copa del Atlantico in Spain’s Canary Islands later this month it will be the first time the U.S. has competed at this age level.
With Spain and France joining hosts Canary Islands, Friedel’s coaching chops will be tested right off the bat at the event which runs from January 27 through February 6 in Las Palmas.
Namazi will get down to business when he leads his first training camp later this month in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. 36 players will try to impress the new boss at the camp which runs from January 17 to the January 23, at Premier Sports Campus. The camp will serve as a primer for Namazi’s competitive debut in early March against no less an opponent that Argentina.
Although he may be best known for his stint as head coach of the Philadelphia Union, Hackworth is a veteran of the U.S. YNT coaching system, causing some to grumble that his hiring was not the kind of bold step forward that the system needed.
In Hackworth’s defense, he has twice guided the U.S. to the U17 World Finals, advancing to the quarterfinal of the 2005 FIFA World Championship before taking the Yanks to the Round of 16 two years later.
Ramos will be keeping busy on the coaching front too with 36 players set to report to Miami this week for the first U20 camp of 2016.
The Young Americans will play four games at the camp, beginning with a doubleheader on January 8. First up will be local all-stars CASA, with NPSL side Weston FC in the late game.
On January 12, Ramos’s crew will have a second twin bill although the opposition is yet to be named.
Here is the U20 roster
GOALKEEPERS: Jonathan Klinsmann (California; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.), Mason Stajduhar (Orlando City SC; Lithia, Fla.), Justin Vom Steeg (Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara, Calif.)
DEFENDERS: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; San Pedro Sula, Honduras), Hugo Arrellano (LA Galaxy; Norwalk, Calif.), Jonathan Bell (DC United; Rockville, MD), Marcello Borges (Michigan; Kearny, N.J.), David Burns (Sacramento Republic; El Dorado Hills, Calif.), Aaron Herrera (New Mexico; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Malcolm Jones (UCLA, Chino Hills, Calif.), Andrew Lombard (Northeastern, Montclair, N.J.), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Miles Robinson (Syracuse; Arlington, Mass.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.), Diego Silva (Maryland; Provo, UT)
MIDFIELDERS: Amir Bashti (Stanford; Cupertino, CA), Joshua Doughty (Manchester United; Manchester, England), Cameron Lindley (Indiana Fire; Carmel, IN), Lucas Mendes (DC United; Arlington, VA), Matt Olosunde (New York Red Bulls; Trenton, N.J.), Martin Salas (UNC; Dallas, Texas), Yosef Samuel (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, PA), Evan Waldrep (Creighton, Peoria, Ariz.), Eryk Williamson (Maryland; Alexandria, VA), Jackson Yueill (UCLA; Bloomington, Minn.), Alex Zendejas (FC Dallas; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS: Coy Craft (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Jeremy Ebobisse (Duke; Bethesda, MD), Sebastian Elney (Maryland; West Chester, PA), Juan Flores (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Victor Mansaray (Seattle Sounders; Des Moines, WA), Josh Perez (AFC Fiorentina; La Habra, Calif.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Chicago Magic; Libertyville, Ill.), Abu Winter (Philadelphia Union; Newtown Square, PA), Isaiah Young (PDA; Berlin, NJ)