USA, Next Generation: The Forwards

While everyone knows about Charlie Davies, Freddy Adu, and Jozy Altidore, very few know about the up-and-coming youngsters in the US ranks.

With the U-20 World Cup coming up at the end of September and the U-17 World Cup at the end of October, I thought we could get a brief look at some of the forward possibilities in the US National Team’s future.

(note: not all of these guys will be traveling to Egypt for the U-20 WC or to Nigeria for the U-17 WC)

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Stefan Jerome

8\11\92

6’0, 170lbs

Stefan Jerome is one of the more well-known US prospects because of his good size and frame, but moreso for his great speed and clinical finishing. Only just 17, Jerome still has quite a few years before he’s ready to see time with the USMNT, but his future is certainly a bright one.

Jerome, who will play for the U-17 USMNT this summer at the World Cup in Nigeria, is blessed with speed and agility, but also shows a gift for goals. His skills are still developing and his eventual move to a professional team will certainly accelerate his progress. The most important thing for Jerome is the development of his body, though, as his wiry frame can certainly hold some good weight. He’ll never be the hulking figure that Jozy Altidore is, but he could certainly build himself into a Charlie Davies-esque figure.

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Joseph Gyau

8\16\92

5’7, 160lbs

Another speedster in the US U-17 attack is the quick and shifty Joseph Gyau, who is the lightning to Jerome’s thunder. With a good pedigree – his father, Phillip, played for the US National Team from 88-91 – Gyau has shown a ton of promise in his time at the Bradenton Academy and is being tracked by some of the bigger clubs across the globe.

While Jerome shows pure class in his burgeoning striking ability, Gyau shows a penchant for flair. Full of creativity and imagination, Gyau is quick with his feet and eager to drop defenders and leave them for dead. Only 16, about to turn 17, Gyau obviously is nowhere near a finished product. Like Jerome, Gyau’s body still needs work, as he isn’t physically ready for the rigors of professional football. However, again like Jerome, a move to a professional squad will accelerate his progression, both physically and mentally.

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Abdus “Fuad” Ibrahim

8\15\91

6’0, 160lbs

Toronto FC

Long and lanky, the Ehtiopian-born Abdus Ibrahim has dazzled Toronto FC fans early on in his career. While not yet a consistent striker or winger, Ibrahim has shown plenty of promise with speed and skill through the middle and down either wing.

While Ibrahim possesses great speed and a fairly advanced skill level, he’s still yet to adapt to the speed of MLS play. His development is ongoing, even if it seems to have stalled, however slightly, with Toronto. Like just about every player at this age, his body needs the most work to continue his improvement at the professional level, along with his understanding of tactics and runs. Ibrahim is still a bit raw in his understanding of the game at the top levels, but he’s only just turned 18 and looks set to be a part of the U-20 WC team. A good performance there could see him moving abroad next year.

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Peri Marosevic

5’9, 175lbs

5\5\89

FC Dallas

One of the more advanced, pro-ready strikers in the U-20 pool, Peri Marosevic is a promising striker with skill, athleticism, and a good understanding of the game.

While prospects like Gyau and Jerome base their games on their athletic gifts, Marosevic uses his innate understanding of runs and body positioning to make himself a more-than-useful goalscorer. With good finishing instincts, Marosevic was a standout at Michigan and is currently making substitute appearances for FC Dallas. Peri, unlike Gyau and Jerome, has a pro-ready frame with great strength and above-average athleticism. However, he still needs to develop his first and second touches (both are lacking for a pro striker) and needs to continue developing his speed of play and speed of thought. He struggles with the pace of MLS and often gets caught making slow decisions. Like his counterparts in the Youth National Team pools, a good showing at the U-20 World Cup could certainly see him make a move to Germany, especially given his Bosnia heritage.

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Vincenzo Bernardo

5’6, 145lbs

5\22\90

Napoli

The first trequartista of this rundown, Vincenzo Bernardo is a gifted playmaker currently plying his trade with the Napoli youth and reserve squads in Italy.

At only 19, Bernardo has a gift for weighted passes and quick plays in tight spaces. While not as flashy as his compatriot Freddy Adu, Bernardo is arguably quicker of thought and pace of play, but not as likely to win a 1v1 battle as Adu. Where Adu shines in open field play and 1v1 situations, Bernardo’s gift for passing is his calling card. Blessed with vision to both sides of the field and a quality right foot, Bernardo is arguably the most creative player in the (probable) U-20 squad. Bernardo still has plenty of work to do, especially since he stands only a meager 5’6. At that height, his quickness and strength still need to improve mightily to ever compete on the highest stage.

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Tony Taylor

6’0, 168

7\13\89

Currently on trial with Norwegian side IK Start, Tony Taylor is seeing his stock rise quickly since a breakout season with Jacksonville University.

Taylor is strong and fast and will likely draw the inevitable Charlie Davies comparisons due to similar build and skill sets. He possesses great speed and good finishing instincts, but he certainly could stand to develop his individual skill and his off-the-ball runs, something Davies does quite well. Taylor is a high-quality prospect for the future.

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That’s it for now, and I know I’ve left off a handful of guys:

  • Brek Shea – I’m not convinced he’s a long-term forward prospect. Left-mid or even left-back for the future.
  • Sam Garza – I know very little about Garza.
  • Danny Cruz – Again, I don’t know enough about him.
  • Alex Nimo – Not sure he’s a forward prospect, as I believe he plays more in the midfield?
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9 Responses

  1. Jerome and Gyau both look like they have a lot of potential. Are any of these guys potentially as good as either Jozy or Davies?

    • Jerome has been quite impressive with what I’ve seen.

      Ibrahim, if he ever comes around will be lethal. If he comes around.

      Taylor, like Ryan alluded to, is like Davies 2.0. If he develops in the same vein, we could have a solid 90+ mins of afterburner speed for 2014.

  2. Evgeny Starikov.

    He is currently with Zenit’s U-21 team. He has 5 goals in 13 appearances (and two disallowed goals that I’ve seen, fwiw) with the U-21 team at Petersburg.

    He is 100% off of BB’s (and probably most everyone’s) radar in the RPL, but he seems to be a talent. If he is going to break through to the senior side, it will happen this season depending on Zenit’s play down the stretch (due to climate, RPL plays on the summer schedule like MLS) or next year. If not, true striking talent is becoming rare in RPL, and another top flight side would sign him.

  3. “Taylor is strong and fast and will likely draw the inevitable Charlie Davies comparisons due to similar build and skill sets.”

    Is Davies really that close to 6 feet? I always saw him as a shorter guy, closer to 5’8″ or so.

    Great writeup! It’s cool to hear about stuff like this.

  4. Garza has an extreme amount of potential; he is just absolute speed. Decent size 5’10” 5’11”, incredibly gifted.

  5. Dig your blog and the post.

  6. Great post! i would mention Bernardo’s finishing skills. Ive spoken to many coaches about him and they all mentioned that he was very good around goal and has a natural habit of finishing around goal. Same goes with Marosevic.

  7. Great post! We have a lot of good young players overseas and God knows we need a good striker. I’m sure at least one of these guys will be ready for world cup 2014 if the coach calls on some of these players.

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