An interesting pair of dual-national Jonathans will play for the U.S. Under-20 national team in the upcoming CONCACAF Championship, and one of them has South Florida ties.
Plantation native Jonathan Lewis and University of California goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of fired U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann, are among the 20 players on the U.S. roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica.
Lewis, a 19-year-old speedy midfielder, was recently selected No. 3 in the Major League Soccer draft by New York City FC. He played youth soccer for the Plantation Eagles and Kendall SC, and attended South Plantation High before heading to the University of Akron.
Lewis was scouted by the Jamaican and U.S. national teams but chose to play for the United States. He is considered a late-bloomer, as he didn’t start playing soccer until fifth grade and joined an Academy team at age 17.
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The other Jonathan has a deeper soccer pedigree.
The younger Klinsmann, a sophomore at Cal, was born in Germany, where his father is a legend. But unlike his dad, he preferred to be between the posts. He joined the Bayern Munich youth club, and then moved to California, where he continued his career and has been a member of several U.S. national age-group teams.
He made headlines for sending a snarky tweet after his father left Landon Donovan off the 2014 U.S. World Cup team and later apologized.
There are five college players on the team, and 11 from MLS teams or academies. Midfielder Luca de la Torre and defender Marlon Fossey are teammates on Premier League 2 (U-23) Fulham FC.
“This process is always difficult,” coach Tab Ramos said of his picks. “Inevitably, you always end up leaving a couple guys out who deserve to be on the roster.
“When selecting a roster for a tournament like this, where you are trying to qualify to the world cup, you are putting together a best 11 and then players who can play multiple positions. So that’s what we’ve done. We are happy with the team and we are looking forward to qualifying.”
The United States opens against Panama Feb. 18, plays Haiti Feb. 21 and then faces Saint Kitts and Nevis on Feb. 24. All three games will be televised on Univision. The tournament in Costa Rica serves as qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup.
▪ Arena narrowing roster: Meanwhile, on the senior national team level, new coach Bruce Arena, who replaced Klinsmann, got a good, long look at 31 domestic players during a January camp. He further evaluated them during friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica.
Arena and his staff must now figure out how many of those players will join the Europe and Mexico-based players for the World Cup qualifiers against Honduras in San Jose, California, on March 24 and at Panama on March 28.
“We’re going to follow every player, both in Europe, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, and decide on who we think are the best group of players to help us get some results,” he said on a conference call last week. “We have a pool of about 40 players we are monitoring, and we have to break it down to near-25 for call-ins for March. We have to merge the players abroad and the ones here to come up with the best roster.”
Arena said he and his staff will be visiting U.S. players in Germany, England, and Mexico over the next few weeks.
The coach also gave an update on the goalkeeper situation. Tim Howard had surgery on a groin injury in November, and is on the mend.
“[Howard] is on schedule to maybe start the first week of the MLS season,” Arena said. “Having said that, his recovery could be off a couple of weeks, and perhaps he won’t be a candidate for March. But right now he’s in the picture, and that’s a positive.”
He said Brad Guzan remains a prime candidate to start, even though he isn’t getting much playing time with Middlesbrough in England. Guzan is scheduled to join new MLS team Atlanta United over the summer.
“Brad Guzan is a very experienced goalkeeper, and as we saw in the case of Nick Rimando in the January camp, that experience means a lot,” said Arena. “Because they’re not getting games on a consistent basis doesn’t mean you can rule them out. I think Brad has shown enough that he’s still a strong candidate to be our No. 1 goalkeeper.”
Asked what his goal is for the upcoming matches, Arena answered: “We have to win games right now. We’re behind the eight-ball.”
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