February 14, 2015
2015 is still in it's infancy, but we have already seen the USMNT take to the pitch twice. In their first match they couldn't hold off a Chilean side consisting of many B team players who eventually came back and nabbed the victory and in their second match they managed to end their post World Cup/Czech Republic winless skid with a 2-0 victory over CONCACAF rivals, Panama.
Although the USMNT continues to plummet in the FIFA world rankings (who really pays attention to those though?) and they haven't exactly been performing spectacularly, those of us who have been soccer fans for a while understand the several reasons why we play "friendly" matches and seeing how young players deal with the pressure of playing for their country is one of the biggest ones.
Much will more than likely change before Klinsmann decides on his final roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but after the couple matches that we've seen so far, I have decided to feature the Top 3 youngsters that I feel have the most potential to make impact in 2015. Here they are.
3. DeAndre Yedlin
Before 2015 started, I would have said Yedlin was easily the young player with the most potential in 2015, but after the matches against Chile and Panama, I am a little more skeptical of Klinsmann's plans for the Seattle native.
Now given the fact that I am a fan of domestic soccer and trying to keep young talent here, I am very ready to start blaming his move to Tottenham on his lack of fitness early in 2015. However, that's just because I have seen how bad playing in Europe has been for most young American stars and have grown very tired of the wheel of madness that keeps on spinning regardless of the lackluster results it has spit out. Looking at it from a non-bitter point of view though, I suppose the argument could be made that Yedlin would only be in preseason form right now if he was still playing in the MLS anyways. That hasn't seemed to hurt my next two players though...
2. Miguel Ibarra
Now I know I will get booed for placing Ibarra ahead of Yedlin, but if we're talking about expectations? Ibarra has definitely surpassed my expectations. I know he isn't really a "youngster" at 24, but the fact that he was called up from the NASL's Minnesota United, a second tier North American Soccer team, is both incredible and baffling to me.
Why baffling you may ask? Well, from a Coach who continually has bad things to say about North American soccer leagues, I find it kind of funny that Klinsmann would name someone like Ibarra to the USMNT roster. I am completely behind the decision, just confused as to what is actually going through Klinsmann's brain sometimes.
Ibarra still has a lot of work to do before he finds a solid spot on the USMNT roster and I will be the first to say that he lacks the polish that you see from players that continually play at a higher level, but his always attacking mentality is exactly what the US needs and I would love to see Klinsmann continue to roll the dice with him during these friendlies. He's a blue collar attacker and I love watching him play.
1. Gyasi Zardes
This may be a bold statement, but I feel Zardes may be the most promising goal scorer the US has seen since Landon Donovan. Now don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE Clint Dempsey fan, but I feel like Zardes and Dempsey are Apples and Oranges, where is I can find more similarities between Zardes and Donovan.
It's kind of interesting that Zardes will be helping fill a hole that Donovan has left behind with both the USMNT and his club team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, but I am beyond excited to see him progress as a player. He's dangerous as both a helper and a goal scorer and his soccer sense to me is something that the Yanks have needed for a while. From what I have seen so far, post World Cup, Gyasi Zardes is my pick for the most promising up and coming American player.
Now if we can just get Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips to become US Citizens.
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