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Real named captain of United States U20s for World Cup qualifying

Matthew Real is one of three players from the Philadelphia Union on the squad

U.S. Soccer

When the United States U20s kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign today in Florida, Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC defender Matthew Real will be wearing the captain’s armband.

“Matt’s a veteran in this group, a player with a lot of experience who’s going to help a lot on and off the field,” U20 head coach Tab Ramos said in a news release. “That’s something that’s really important for our group, especially when you’re together for a period of three to four weeks.”

Real is one of three players from the Philadelphia Union on the 20-man roster — midfielder Anthony Fontana and defender Mark McKenzie are the others — that is seeking to repeat as confederation champion and secure a berth in the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup. The Yanks captured their first title at the U20 level in March 2017.

“I’m really blessed that Tab sees me as one of the leaders of the group,” Real stated in the release. “I’m going to do my best to lead the group forward through this tournament – we know we have a big responsibility on our hands, because we’re the defending champions. We’re going to do our best to come away with the same title. We feel confident going into this tournament that we have the right guys to get the job done.”

The U.S. opens the tournament today against Puerto Rico (5 p.m. ET;, Concacaf GO app and Univision Deportes).