In late June the United States will be competing for the 2013 U-20 FIFA World Cup in Turkey. This week is their first training camp since qualifying for the tournament and two Seattle Sounders FC players have been called up. DeAndre Yedlin is the fleet-footed right back on a professional contract with calls at the U-20 and younger levels. Jordan Morris is still an amateur forward with the Sounders Academy U-18 side, making his first showing on the national stage. Both will be trying to earn time for a preparatory tournament in Touloun, France, and ultimately in Turkey on the world stage.
Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid once dealt with the same challenges that current U-20 coach Tab Ramos has. In 2005, Sigi would coach the United States U-20s in the World Youth Championship (the predecessor to the U-20 World Cup). Like Ramos that roster was a mix of high school, college and pro talent. In short, camp guys will either show that the deserve the spot regardless of past accolades or age, or they will not.
“You have to judge, you see how quickly guys adapt,” Schmid said after Monday’s practice. “Some guys are swimmers and some guys sink. So when they get to the next level they’re not quite ready and they sink a little bit. Other guys find a way to swim no matter what level you put them in.”
Yedlin has the history. Like 14 other players on the 23-man camp roster, he is a pro. He’s already swimming at the MLS level as he’s started every match and played every minute for Seattle.
“I think going down now with the under-20s he’s going with full confidence. He’s going in playing with men and coming from a pro team where he’s playing every game, he’s starting. Some of these kids on the under-20 team are inexperienced,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson noted. “They’re in MLS teams, but maybe not getting the minutes that DeAndre is.”
The opportunity for Yedlin is wide open. The right back spot is available for the taking. For a player that just last year was playing collegiate Spring soccer he has a chance to further rush up the ladder.
Jordan Morris is in a different boat. Last year he was not even in the Academy system, though he was the 2012 Washington State Gatorade Player of the Year. He is currently a top five goalscorer at that USSDA U-18 level and committed to play collegiately at Stanford in Fall of 2013. The third-youngest player on the U-20 roster he is also going to be in his first ever national team camp.
“I think for him you go into it with all the confidence that you have nothing to lose. There’s no pressure on you. You can go in and just enjoy the experience. He’s a player that I think can really impress there and make a difference at that level. I was a 17, 18-year-old on the under-20 team just like him,” Henderson remembered. “If you go in believing and doing the best that you can do usually good things happen.”
The six forwards called to camp consist of players with Santos Laguna, the Chicago Fire, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Akron, North Carolina and the Sounders Academy. It is a proving ground. It is a chance to show that a late bloomer can succeed.
Ramos learned of Morris’ success through talking to Sigi Schmid.
“In Jordan’s case, [Seattle Sounders Head Coach] Sigi Schmid thinks very highly of him, and we value his opinion and look at Jordan’s track record,” Ramos said about today’s camp announcement. “When he’s scoring one or two goals in every Academy game, that is something you seriously have to look at.”
Both players can be a signal for the dozens in the current Seattle’s Academy system. Talent, hard work and the recognition that any practice, any game they play can have a coach on the sidelines that can change their fortunes. Whether that coach is Sigi Schmid, Tab Ramos or Jurgen Klinsmann can’t be known ahead of time, but all are paying attention to the future Sounders.
Morris and Yedlin will be training with the United States U-20s through April 29th. The next possible selection would be for the Touloun tournament from May 28th to June 8th. The U-20 World Cup starts June 21st for the USA. Spain, France and Ghana are their opponents in the Group Stage.