- Ben McCormick

Without a new head coach, the US U-20 National Team kicked off its next cycle with a pair of
friendlies against France. A 3-3 draw on May 17 and a 2-1 loss on May 19 saw the US start the
new cycle in a positive fashion.

The 3-3 draw featured the talents of Molde FK winger Josh Gatt, who was held back by his
club when called up for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Gatt’s dribbling was a particular
highlight, using his speed and skill to weave in and out of French defenders. He scored a goal,
as did Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil and Derby County striker Conor Doyle. Match reports
suggest the Americans were the better side for much of the match despite the French squad’s
superior athleticism.

The lone goal from the 2-1 loss on Thursday came from Doyle on a rebound from a 30 yard free
kick from active midfielder Kelyn Rowe, one of the standouts from last month in Guatemala.
Gatt played well, again from the left back position, more defensive than his spot on the left wing
at Molde. He made a strong case for full national team consideration, especially in front of Bob
Bradley assistant Mike Sorber. He’s one to keep an eye on for the customary January camp.

John Anthony Brooks of Hertha Berlin also played in the friendlies, and after some recent
comments by Thomas Rongen, the German-American center half should figure heavily into
the U-20s upcoming cycle. Rongen said it’s key for America to get to players like Brooks
early before larger programs like Germany can. He believes Brooks will certainly become a
Bundesliga quality center back and is a good player to build the 2013 U-20 team around. Brooks
just signed a new four year contract at Hertha, and plays fairly regularly with the reserves despite
being very young, born in 1993.

Tab Ramos made a good case in these two friendlies to be made permanent U-20 head coach.
His squad never seemed outclassed by the strong French team gearing up for the Toulon
Tournament starting on June 1. It appears as though Sunil Gulati will be looking domestically
for his next manager, and with the team’s performances in these friendlies, Ramos merits serious

It was reported early this week the U-20s will return to Northern Ireland’s Milk Cup which the
US won last year with an emphatic 3-0 win over the hosts. Due to the summer’s World Cup, the
tournament will be a mix of national sides and top club teams, including Manchester United. The
draw will take place on May 26, with the tournament beginning on July 25.

U-17 Notes:

The US U-17 National Team drew New Zealand, Uzbekistan, and Czech Republic for this
summer’s World Cup in Mexico. As good of a draw as they could have hoped for, the US are
early favorites to win the group in which case they will face one of the two third place teams
advancing from the group stage. Should they take second, they will likely face Germany. The
US opens group play on June 19 against Czech Republic.

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