2021 USL Championship Young Player of the Year finalist Diego Luna, who was recently acquired from El Paso Locomotive FC for a league-record transfer fee by Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, has been selected to the United States squad for the upcoming 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship, with the young attacking midfielder joined in the squad by a collection of players who have come through the USL Championship and League One in this and prior seasons.
The United States will vie for a place at both the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics at the tournament, which kicks off in Honduras on Saturday, June 18. The side will face St. Kitts and Nevis on the opening day before facing Canada on Monday, June 20 and Cuba on Wednesday, June 22 in the group stage.
The top three teams in the group will advance to the knockout stage, with the four semifinalists advancing to the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the two finalists to the 2024 Olympic Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Luna grabbed the spotlight at Locomotive FC as he turned professional with the club as a 17-year-old after attending the Barca AZ Academy, recording nine goals and five assists in his first season to earn nomination alongside Jonathan Gomez, formerly of Louisville City FC, and Jose Gallegos, previously of San Antonio FC. This season, Luna had notched another four goals and two assists for El Paso before his transfer to RSL earlier this month.
Those performances saw Luna called up for the first camp of the current U-20 cycle last November, where he recorded his first youth national team goal against Mexico at the Revelations Cup. The 18-year-old will now try to help the United States defend its title as part of Head Coach Mikey Varas’ squad.
The U.S. side also features a pair of prior award-winners from USL League One, with goalkeeper Chris Brady and defender Noah Allen each having claimed the League One Young Player of the Year award over the past two seasons. Brady had a standout campaign on loan with Forward Madison FC in 2020, and is one of two goalkeepers selected to the squad, while Allen featured prominently for Fort Lauderdale CF a season ago to claim the award.
The squad also includes numerous players who have featured in the Championship, including the midfield duo of Caden Clark and Daniel Edelman, both of whom began their professional careers with the New York Red Bulls II, and the trio of Markus Ferkranus, Jalen Neal and Mauricio Cuevas, who all competed for the LA Galaxy II. A quartet of former Philadelphia Union II players were also selected in defender Brandan Craig, midfielders Paxten Aaronson and Jack McGlynn, and forward Quinn Sullivan.
Overall, the United States U-20s squad has accumulated 290 appearances in the USL Championship, recording 20,260 minutes of action, 39 goals and 24 assists, and 45 appearances in USL League One, recording 3,926 minutes of action in the league.