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USL Top Five – #U20WC Players to Watch

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/18/17, 2:02PM EDT


The FIFA U20 World Cup kicks off on Saturday; here are five USL players to watch

The FIFA U20 World Cup kicks off on Saturday in South Korea, with a host of talent from around the globe set to not only compete for the championship, but also potentially springboard their professional careers to another level. Held every two years, the U20 World Cup has brought the spotlight to soccer prodigies, many of whom have gone on to even greater heights.

Four years ago, France’s Paul Pogba was the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, while two years ago the stars of players like the United States’ Emerson Hyndman and Kellyn Acosta began to rise as they helped the team reach the quarterfinals before falling in a penalty shootout to eventual champion Serbia. As such, it has become a must-see event, and even if the kickoff times might be better for those working late nights, the games will be well worth tuning into on FOX Sports and Telemundo’s family of networks.

Additionally, the USL will also have a number of current and former players competing at the tournament. Here are five to keep an eye on over the next three weeks.

Tyler Adams, United States

The first signing in New York Red Bulls II history prior to the club’s inaugural 2015 season, Adams has seen his star ascend rapidly for both club and country over the past two years. Part of the U.S. squad at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, Adams became a key contributor to the U20s in their run to the championship in March, continuing the success he found in 2016 in the USL as part of the New York Red Bulls II’s USL Cup-winning squad when he made 22 appearances over the regular season and USL Cup Playoffs.

The No. 5 player on the 2016 USL 20 Under 20, Adams has now begun making his mark in MLS for the Red Bulls, and is expected to be a key midfield figure for the United States as it looks for even greater success than it found in Costa Rica earlier this year.

Myer Bevan, New Zealand

Bevan has taken an interesting route to the FIFA U20 World Cup, with the recent Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 signing having most recently been a member of the Nike Football Academy, a full-time professional-level training based at the English F.A.’s national training center at St. George’s Park. Bevan earned his place at the Academy after being singled out from more than 200 other young Kiwi players in the New Zealand leg of the Nike Most Wanted event in 2016.

Bevan has been an integral part of the All Whites’ U20 squad since his arrival at the Academy, too. He was the co-leading scorer in Oceania qualifying for the World Cup, notching five goals alongside the Cook Islands’ Dwayne Tiputoa, and scored in a 5-0 victory against Vanuatu in the final. WFC2 fans will have a chance to check out their latest Kiwi addition for the first time in South Korea.

Erik Palmer-Brown, United States

The youngest Homegrown signing in Sporting Kansas City’s history when he signed from the club’s academy in 2013, Palmer-Brown was the captain of the U.S. U20 side that claimed its first CONCACAF U20 Championship in March. Since then he’s been featuring on loan in the USL for the Swope Park Rangers, where he’s been on point with his passing to the tune of a 92.9 accuracy rate over 322 passes in his first appearances for the club.

A versatile player, Palmer-Brown has played mainly at center back in his club career, but was deployed as a holding midfielder by U.S. U20s Head Coach Tab Ramos in qualifying. Part of the World Cup squad two years ago aged just 18, his experience as he dons the captain’s armband again in South Korea will be valuable if the U.S. is to make another strong run.

USL Insights – Palmer-Brown Sets the Tempo

Douglas Martinez, Honduras

Honduras hadn’t reached the final of the CONCACAF U20 Championship since 1994 going into this year’s tournament, but thanks to Martinez and a talented group around him the side advanced that far before falling in a penalty shootout to the United States. Since then, Martinez has arrived in the USL with the New York Red Bulls II, on loan from CSA Vida, and it didn’t take long for the 19-year-old to make an impact as he scored on his debut in a 3-1 win against the Harrisburg City Islanders on May 6.

Martinez had one goal for Honduras in qualifying as he started in five of six contests, and also scored in the penalty shootout against the United States in the final. His dynamism in the final third will be important as Honduras looks to get out of the group stage for the first time.

Tommy Redding, United States

Signing with Orlando City SC ahead of its final season in the USL in 2014, Redding has made major strides to becoming not only a big piece in the Lions’ future in Major League Soccer, but also with the national team program. Redding made 17 appearances in the USL in his rookie season, and has since made 27 starts in MLS for Orlando, highlighting his major upside at the center back position. Redding’s composure on the ball came to the fore at the CONCACAF U20 Championship, where he registered an 88 percent accuracy rate on 130 passes during the tournament as the side conceded only four goals in six games.

One of only four players in the U.S. squad to play in all six games at the tournament – alongside Palmer-Brown, Justen Glad (Real Monarchs SLC) and Brooks Lennon – the 6-foot-2 Redding will likely have a key role to play in South Korea as well.

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