Philadelphia Union midfielder Derrick Jones will have a chance to make his MLS debut this season, but his status as a United States youth international is still in limbo with the U20 World Cup on the horizon.
The 19-year-old, who represented Ghana at the U15 level before moving to Philadelphia, has received two call-ups for the U.S. U20 team; for the Four Nations Tournament in England back in September, and most recently for a trip to Costa Rica in December 2016.
But according to head coach Jim Curtin, he’s awaiting paperwork to clear to be eligible for a competitive tournament.
“Derrick needs to be a U.S. citizen for the five years in order to play in the competitive games so he can play in the friendlies in those under 20 situations, but to play in qualifiers he comes up a little short in that regard,” Curtin said earlier this week. “The hope is and the timing looks like he’d be available for Tab’s selection - and that’s totally up to Tab at that stage, not available for the qualifiers at the moment but would be available for the actual World Cup if the timeline goes as expected.”
Jones was left off of U.S. U20 coach Tab Ramos’ roster for a training camp in California last week, the first of two domestic training camps to prepare for World Cup qualifying in Costa Rica (aka the CONCACAF U20 Championship) that begins February 17. The U20 World Cup will kick off in South Korea on May 20.
Fellow Union homegrown Auston Trusty appears to be in line to be with the U20s for the World Cup qualifier. The 18-year-old represented the U.S. in the U17 World Cup in 2015.
Midfielders on the 24-player roster for the California camp (three more than is typically allowed in competition) that wrapped over the weekend included Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Coy Craft (FC Dallas), Jonathan Gonzalez (CF Monterrey), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Suarez (Querataro FC) and Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland). Rosters are limited to 20 players for the qualifiers and 21 for the World Cup.
Curtin said he wants to see the former Union Academy standout doing more than making the game day 18 this season. He had five goals and three assists in 26 games for Bethlehem Steel FC and made his first team debut in a friendly with Crystal Palace FC in his first year as a professional.
“I think he has a grown a great deal physically, mentally on the field so (he’s) a guy that you know we’re high on but is still young and has a lot to learn and has done well in all the camps with Tab,” Curtin said.