CARSON, Calif. – Two LA Galaxy players got good news this morning when they found out that they had been selected to represent the U.S. Under-20 National Team later this month at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Defender Oscar Sorto and forward Jose Villarreal, along with fellow Galaxy Academy Javan Torre, a defender who currently plays at UCLA, were named by head coach Tab Ramos to his 21-man squad that will be facing France, Ghana and Spain in Group A. Despite the tough draw, the U.S. is striving to advance beyond the quarterfinals of the competition for the first time ever.
No other MLS team has more than one player on roster, while the Galaxy and Santos Lauguna of Mexico are the only clubs with two players named in the final roster.
Villarreal, 19, is expected to be a key component to the U.S. attack. The 19-year-old was the team’s leading scorer when the club qualified for the World Cup, scoring three times while starting four of the five games that the U.S. played at the U-20 CONCACAF Championship. Two of his three goals came in the 4-2 Quarterfinal win over Canada, which booked a berth in Turkey for the U.S.
Three months into the 2013 MLS season, Villarreal has already matched last season’s totals of a goal and an assist in 10 games. Six of those 10 appearances have come as a starter, including his first career MLS start on March 17 during the club’s 1-1 draw with Chivas USA. The Inglewood-native was also instrumental during the club’s CONCACAF Champions League run to the Semifinals scoring two goals in the competition, including one during the club’s 4-1 win over Herediano in the second leg of the Quarterfinals.
Sorto, 18, recently represented the U.S. at the Toulon Tournament in France. The LA-native made just one appearance in the tournament, starting and playing 77 minutes in the team’s 1-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday. Signed by the Galaxy in December after joining the club’s Academy, Sorto has played in 41 games for the Galaxy U-18’s, scoring four goals in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy while guiding the team to two consecutive Southwest Division titles. He’s also played in nine MLS Reserve League games in that time, including two of LA’s three Reserve League games this season, starting each contest at right back.
Rounding out the Galaxy Academy trio is Torre, who played in three of four games at the Toulon Tournament and is heading into his sophomore season at UCLA. The 19-year-old Galaxy Academy graduate played in 12 matches for the Bruins as a freshman, while also spending time playing for the Galaxy in the Reserve League. Prior to heading to UCLA, the Santa Monica-native was a staple of the Galaxy Academy U-18 backline during the 2011-12 Develop Academy season, playing in 25 of 30 games as the club reached the Development Academy Playoffs.
The U-20 World Cup begins on June 21 and wraps up with the Final on July 13. The U.S. will be part of the opening day festivities taking on Spain on June 21 at 10:45 a.m. (PT) on ESPN2. Three days later they take on France on June 24 at 7:45 a.m. (PT) before playing their final Group Stage game against Ghana on June 27 at 9:45 a.m. (PT). The game against France will be broadcast on ESPN2, while the match against Ghana can be seen on ESPNU. All games will also be available on WatchESPN.