One of the Union’s brightest young stars will get to test himself on a big international stage.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Derrick Jones has been named to the United States roster for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, which will run from May 20 to June 11.
The news comes less than a week after Jones was granted clearance to play for the U.S. He was born in Ghana but moved to Philadelphia when he was 14 and has natural citizenship in the United States.
Union defender Auston Trusty, who played for the U.S. in the CONCACAF U-20 Championships earlier this year — which the Americans won to book their place in the World Cup — will not be joining Jones for the trip to South Korea as he missed the cut.
“As always there were some extremely tough decisions to make,” U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos said in a statement. “This is a talented age group.”
In past years, the Union have had several members of their team do well in the youth ranks, but Jones will be the first active player to participate in the U-20 World Cup. Zach Pfeffer was one of the last cuts two years ago and Amobi Okugo and Zac MacMath likely would have been there in 2011 had the U.S. qualified for the U-20 World Cup, which is held every two years.
Jones has certainly shown to be worthy of the selection. The first homegrown signing to go from the Union youth academy to the first team, the 20-year-old started the first five games of the season before settling into a reserve role when captain Alejandro Bedoya was moved deeper in the midfield. He’s been a key second-half sub in each of the last two games, helping spark a three-goal surge that led to the Union’s first win of the season last weekend.
Jones will miss several Union games as the U.S. U-20 team departs for its initial training camp in Japan on Wednesday with some players joining the group on May 17. It's not yet clear if he'll available for Saturday's Union game vs. D.C. United.
The Americans open group play against Ecuador on May 22, followed by matches with Senegal on May 25 and Saudi Arabia on May 28. All games will be broadcast live on FS1.
Sapong named MLS Player of the Week
The first hat trick of CJ Sapong’s career led to his first MLS Player of the Week award as the Union striker received the well-deserved honor Tuesday.
In Saturday’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, Sapong scored in the 74th and 81st minutes before completing the third hat trick in Union history with an 85th-minute penalty kick. The 11-minute hat trick was tied for the eighth-fastest hat trick in league history.
This marks the eighth time in franchise history that a Union player has been named MLS Player of the Week. Ilsinho was the last to win it after the Brazilian scored twice against D.C. United last July.
The Union return to action against D.C. on Saturday at RFK Stadium (7 p.m., TCN).