USMNT fans rejoice! While club vs. country has been a hot topic in recent weeks, Orlando City SC is establishing early on that they can benefit the National Team program and should have U.S. Soccer purists a least taking notice.
Adrian Heath sends a strong statement with his current roster as he builds toward Orlando City’s opening campaign next March, and that statement is youth. With seven of the nine current outfield players under the age of 25, AH is creating a strong foundation for the program to build upon for years to come. Among this group of Lions are two cubs that should give supporters of the Red, White & Blue reason to get on board with the work being done in Orlando.
U.S. Youth Internationals Tommy Redding and Tyler Turner were amongst the first signings of Orlando City’s MLS era. Whether the defensive duo see regular minutes with Orlando or go out on loan to gain experience, they have shown they possess all the tools necessary to build on their impressive first year of professional soccer. For National Team fans, their inclusion is a positive sign that Adrian Heath has no apprehensions relying on young Americans.
As we look toward Russia 2018 and beyond, it is crucial that young Americans are gaining valuable, first-team experience early in their careers. Jurgen Klinsmann has been scouring leagues in search of prospects he can groom for the future.
Allow me to put aside reason and indulge optimism for a brief second. As new World Cup cycles begin, opportunities begin to emerge. While these two prospects are years away from a potential involvement with the senior National Team, the possibility of them forming a lasting partnership that could be transferred to the various international levels is enough to get me excited.
A constant theme of defensive uncertainties has alarmingly plagued the USMNT prior to recent World Cup finals. So, having YNT defenders like Redding and Turner playing regularly in Major League Soccer or other competitive leagues is a big step in avoiding those concerns in future tournaments. If they can continue to develop under Heath for a few years and work themselves into the Olympic team for 2016, the twosome could become a viable experiment worthy of a January camp some years down the line.
While Olympic involvement is somewhat far-fetched and the inclusion of Redding and Turner in any USMNT conversation is moving well past reality and into fantasy, there is something to be said of their presence with Orlando City SC. Adrian Heath seems to have faith in the two American defenders, and with several other promising Youth Nationals rising in the ranks, the Lions can quickly become a hotbed for young American talent.