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USL 20 Under 20 – No. 11 through No. 15

By Staff, 07/20/17, 2:44PM EDT


Two standout midfielders and emerging strikers continue the countdown

The 2017 USL 20 Under countdown continues with a pair of standout central midfielders, a center back with a high ceiling, and two bright young forwards who have stepped forward this season in their respective conferences.

No. 15 – Liam Fraser, Toronto FC II

Photo courtesy Mark Guthrel / Saint Louis FC

- Canada U20 international has made 44 appearances for TFC II

- Led CONCACAF U20 Championship group stage with 168 attempted passes

- 85 percent pass completion rate, 86 percent tackle win rate in 2017 season Scouting Report
Liam Fraser’s one of those players most teams love to have in the development hopper because he can do so much. He’s versatile enough in Toronto FC’s system to perform numerous roles in the central midfield admirably, although he’s best holding up the architecture of the build as a prototypical defensive midfielder, which he did admirably for Canada’s U20 National Team at the CONCACAF U20 Championship. He’s been quality for Toronto FC II and has clearly grown in leaps and bounds since first splashing on the scene in 2015. Can he make a move to Greg Vanney’s 3-5-2 for the club’s Major League Soccer team in the future? Don’t bet against it.

No. 14 – Derrick Jones, Bethlehem Steel FC

Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC

- First signing in Bethlehem Steel FC history in December, 2015

- Four appearances for the United States at the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup

- Five goals in 28 appearances for Steel FC since start of 2016 season Scouting Report
By the time Derrick Jones hit the U.S. U20 World Cup roster earlier this year, he was more than a known quantity as a vital sitting midfielder for the Philadelphia Union and previously Bethlehem Steel FC. But what most didn’t realize is he’d been on the USYNT radar for months, and it was only a matter of time before he earned his call-up. Jones is a prototypical destroyer, creating havoc on the defensive end and a solid possessional baseline when the ball flips the other way. The first signing in Steel FC history in 2015, Jones can play in numerous systems, but there aren’t many No. 6s in the U.S. pool with broader promise.

No. 13 – Hassan Ndam, New York Red Bulls II

Photo courtesy Rich Graessle / New York Red Bulls II

- Cameroon Youth International signed with Red Bulls in January

- Team-high 51 interceptions, 80.8 percent tackle win rate in 2017

- Third on NYRB II in attempted passes (667), fourth in minutes (1,204) Scouting Report
The New York Red Bulls have a keen recent history of pulling in quality players for analysis on their 2016 USL Cup-winning NYRB II side, and Hassan Ndam seems to be next in line. There aren’t many center backs in the USL with his blend of tackling ability and vision, and his physicality makes strikers think twice before drifting into his general cone of vision. The fact he currently leads the team in interceptions, a stat often reserved for defensive midfielders, should tell you something about what the Cameroonian brings to the Red Bulls II, and could in the future at the MLS level.

No. 12 – Augustine Williams, Portland Timbers 2

Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2

- Turned professional with T2 from Nomads SC on August 3, 2016

- Has recorded five goals in 28 USL appearances for Portland

- 80.9 pass completion rate, 11 Key Passes in 2017 season Scouting Report
As far as players in the USL with finishing ability, you can’t do a ton better than picking Augustine Williams to lead your line. The Sierra Leonean striker laid the brickwork for his growing reputation in 2016 with three goals for T2, and the rest of the country got to see his broader promise when he started and went the full 90 in his debut for the Timbers in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash with Seattle Sounders FC earlier this year. All he did was score a goal, proving his slithery movement and keen instincts around the penalty area might lead him to more chances in Major League Soccer soon.

No. 11 – Albert Dikwa, Orlando City B

Photo courtesy Joe Petro / Orlando City SC

- Signed from Montverde Academy on February 9, 2017

- Previously competed for the Cameroon U20 National Team

- Three goals, one assist, five chances created in 15 appearances for OCB Scouting Report
These days, any player with Montverde Academy attached to his development history deserves a look. The Florida academy produces pro-level talent with unerring regularity, and Albert Dikwa is one of the best to ever emerge from its pool. Dikwa, who was firmly in the Cameroonian U20 picture this year ahead of qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup, is a tremendously dangerous scorer in the sense that he can create space for himself with his feathery footwork. Give him an inch and he’ll punish you, something Orlando City B’s opponents have found out fast already in his rookie season.

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