New US U-20 manager Anthony Hudson has called 24 players into his first camp, and two players with Seattle Sounders connections have been included. Blake Malone, coming off his freshman season with the University of North Carolina, and Marlon Vargas of Tacoma Defiance have been named to the roster for this camp as the U-20s start a new cycle following the 2019 U-20 World Cup.
This will be Malone’s second camp with a US youth national team, after he was called in for a U-19 camp this time last year. Malone is a centerback who played in 15 games and made 13 starts for UNC, having been highly touted as a prospect following a very strong academy career with the Sounders Academy. Prior to heading to North Carolina, Malone played in six games for Tacoma Defiance on an academy amateur contract as a 17 year-old at the start of the 2018 season.
Marlon Vargas got his first chance to wear a national team jersey in 2015 prior to joining the Sounders Academy, when he got be part of a U-14 camp. He made his return last year when he was named to a U-18 training camp roster in February. In the time since then, Vargas has had a very full second season as a professional with Tacoma Defiance. Vargas made 13 starts in 24 appearances - only four players had more appearances for Tacoma - while adding another 11 appearances for the Sounders Academy U-19s. While the 2019 season was more of a lesson in being a professional and playing against grown men for Vargas, the young man who turns 19 this month started to show more of the flashes of talent that made him so exciting at the academy level as he contributed two goals and two assists in ten appearances during the second half of the season when Tacoma’s offense started to click.
This U-20 training camp will run from January 7 - 19, and will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The team will play Mexico twice at the end of the camp, on the 16th and 18th. It will be Anthony Hudson’s first chance to work with the players in the U-20 player pool, with his first real test coming in the Concacaf U-20 Championship this summer. Vargas and Malone will have an opportunity to establish themselves with the team, and hopefully elevate their games for the season ahead.