Quinn Sullivan, Antonio Carrera headline MLS NEXT Pro past and present stars named to USMNT U-20 World Cup roster

The U.S. Under-20 men’s national team’s quest to lift the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup kicks off in just 10 days and several former MLS NEXT Pro players will be gracing the fields in Argentina. 

Mikey Varas named his 21-player roster on Wednesday, giving plenty of current MLS players and former MLS NEXT Pro standouts an opportunity to represent the United States on the biggest stage at the U-20 level. 

Quinn Sullivan, Antonio Carrera, and Brandan Craig are just three of six USMNT U-20 call-ups that stood out during the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro campaign in 2022. 

Here is a closer look at which former MLS NEXT Pro players made the USMNT U-20 World Cup roster:

Quinn Sullivan
Midfielder · Philadelphia Union II

One of the more experienced forwards in the current U-20 pool, Philadelphia Union attacker Quinn Sullivan will be one of the key players to watch in Argentina. 

Sullivan has remained a consistent option for Jim Curtin’s first-team squad in Philadelphia after enjoying some positive moments in MLS NEXT Pro last year. The 20-year-old forward scored three goals and added three assists in 11 appearances for Union II, helping the team sneak their way into the inaugural league playoffs. 

Sullivan excelled for the USMNT U-20s at the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship, scoring six goals and finishing just behind international and former club teammate Paxten Aaronson for the tournament’s Golden Boot award.

Antonio Carrera
Goalkeeper · North Texas SC

North Texas SC’s Antonio Carrera will be fighting for the No. 1 job in Varas’ squad after continuing to excel at the MLS NEXT Pro level. Carrera, 19, registered four clean sheets and 53 saves in 18 appearances in 2022. 

The 6-foot-4 goalkeeper has continued to play regularly for North Texas SC this season, logging 17 saves and one clean sheet in five appearances. Carrera will be joined by Chelsea’s Gabriel Slonina and Fulham’s Alexander Borto in the goalkeeping ranks this month.

Darren Yapi
Forward · Colorado Rapids 2

18-year-old Darren Yapi could be tasked with leading the line for the USMNT U-20s in Argentina. 

Yapi remains a top prospect for the Colorado Rapids and finished 2022 as Rapids 2’s second-leading goalscorer behind Dantouma Toure. He scored six goals in 16 appearances for Rapids 2 while also totaling 21 combined MLS appearances over the past two seasons.

Brandan Craig
Defender · Philadelphia Union II

Another one of the Philadelphia Union’s promising players, Brandan Craig is a top defender in the USMNT U-20 ranks. Craig logged the third-most minutes for Union II in 2022, finishing with 1,612 minutes, one goal, and three assists.

Craig also registered 42 interceptions (second-most for Union II) and was always a threat on set pieces, whether it was him taking the shot or finishing off a cross into the box.

Niko Tsakiris
Midfielder · Earthquakes II

Niko Tsakiris was also one of the regular performers for the USMNT U-20’s in Honduras last summer and the San Jose Earthquakes homegrown midfielder will be pushing for a larger role this time around.

Tsakiris scored one goal and added one assist in six MLS NEXT Pro appearances for Quakes II last season. The 17-year-old can play a few roles in Varas’ midfield, whether that be in the starting lineup or off the bench as an impact substitute.

Jack McGlynn
Midfielder · Philadelphia Union II

Jack McGlynn has been rewarded with a growing first team role with the Union and the clever midfielder will be eager to run the show for the Americans in Argentina. McGlynn made five MLS NEXT Pro appearances for Union II last season, scoring one goal for Marlon LeBlanc’s squad. 

McGlynn’s strong technical abilities paired with his high soccer IQ have made him a growing talent in the Union’s MLS squad, excelling also in the Concacaf Champions League this season.

Diego Luna
Midfielder · Real Monarchs

Diego Luna did not feature in Real Monarchs’ debut MLS NEXT Pro campaign but has made an impact for them in 2023. 

Luna has two goals and one assist for Jamison Olave’s squad this spring, giving him some confidence heading into international duty. The aggressive winger was one of the USMNT U-20’s top players last summer, and although his wait for first-team minutes may continue this summer, Luna has definitely reaped the rewards of playing in MLS NEXT Pro.