The US Under-20 Men’s National Team kicks off the CONCACAF Championship on Saturday with a roster that has a large presence in the Galaxy, both past and present.
Defensemen Jalen Neil (Lakewood) and Marcus Fekranus (Santa Clarita), as well as Galaxy academy products and former Galaxy II players Mauricio Cuevas (LA) and Alejandro Alvarado Jr. (LA) were called up. Both moved to Europe after leaving.
The US kicks off Saturday’s group game against St. Kitts and Nevis (13:00), before facing Canada (17:30 on Monday) and Cuba (17:30 on Wednesday).
This tournament is a qualifier for the Indonesian Under-20 World Cup and the Olympics, which the US has not competed in since 2008.
Cuevas, who left Galaxy II after the 2021 season, has since joined Club Brugge in Belgium. He is the only player on the squad to have played in the 2017 U-17 World Cup.
“He is the greatest talent that we have blind faith in,” said US Under-20 coach Mikey Varas of Cuevas. “He has a great career ahead of him if he gets the right opportunities and continues to improve steadily.
“He has a calm composure on the pitch, a warrior mentality to compete, and he’s an extremely skilled player for an outside defender who can attack very well.”
Neil, 18, and Fercanus, 19, spent a season in the Galaxy II. Neil made 12 appearances and 11 starts while Fercanus made four appearances and two starts.
“They’re roommates and they’re two completely different centre-backs,” Varas said. “One of our core values is to have different opinions, but also to have a diverse mix of our roster. Markus is a tough defender first and foremost, a firefighter mentality that gets better with the ball every day, plays simple and really helps the team.
“Jalen is a very focused player who breaks lanes incredibly with his passing and helps to fire up the attack while also calming down the back line.
“He is growing every day. We think both of these players have great potential.”
Alejandro Jr. made his Galaxy II debut in 2020. He has since joined FC Vizela in Portugal.
The Mexican Under-20 team includes Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Perez (Pico Rivera), as well as LAFC’s Antonio Leone (Long Beach) and Cristian Torres (Fontana). Mexico is grouped with Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.
“These matches are important for the growth and maturity of the players,” said Galaxy coach Greg Vanni. “Playing in difficult conditions and difficult situations will only help them develop.”
American U-23 went to Sweden
USC linebacker Croy Bethune, Racing Louisville FC linebacker Savannah DeMelo (USC, St. Joseph HS), Florida State linebacker Jenna Nyswonger (Huntington Beach HS) and 17-year-old forward Alyssa Thompson were called up to the U-23 Women’s Team for the Tri-Nation Tournament.
The US will face India (June 25) and Sweden (June 28).
Thompson, who played high school football at Harvard Westlake, did not play in her senior season. She was a member of the U-20 team that won the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in March.
American women under 20 will take part in France
USC forward Simone Jackson (Bishop Montgomery HS) and UCLA guard Lilly Reale were called up to the U-20 team for the Sud Ladies Cup in France.
The USA will play France (June 24), Mexico (June 26) and the Netherlands (June 28). These are the last international games before coach Tracey Kevins chooses the final roster for the Under-20 World Championship (August 10-28).