Soccer US National Team

Is Next USA Soccer Star a Goalkeeper?

Jerry Lai- USA TODAY Sports

The United States have been handed a tough 2014 World Cup draw. It’s one they probably won’t survive, so it’s inevitable that fans are starting to look ahead to future World Cups. Our eyes are always looking at players, desperately trying to find our countries “next big thing.” Could the next star of the American national soccer team be young goalkeeper Charlie Horton?

The States will be preparing for games against Germany, Portugal and Ghana, but their eyes will be cast upon their younger players, looking for the ones who can make an impact at the 2018 World Cup. Horton spent years honing his goalkeeping skills in America and he had a trial at elite Premier League club Manchester United when he was a young teenager. Although it didn’t work out, he continued to improve his game, and through hard work and raw talent, he grew taller and stronger, and was again being tipped to move to a big English club.

The 18-year-old stands at 6-foot-4, and is already an impressive goalkeeper for his tender age, especially considering goalkeepers tend to reach their prime in their late 30s. The youngster has already been labelled the next Brad Friedel and he could yet surpass the experienced goalkeeper. It’s incredibly early to suggest that Charlie will be in USA’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, but why couldn’t he be? If he duplicates his recent improvement, then he could well be a squad member for the tournament.

In the summer of 2013, Charlie was linked with Premier League club Tottenham and Championship club Bolton. Neither team opted to sign him, but then a team two divisions below the Premier League came in for his services. League One club Peterborough United signed the American keeper on a three-year contract. His new club seems to be the perfect place for him to continue the development he started at the United States Soccer Development Academy, which he graduated from.

So who are Peterborough, you ask? They are a smaller, English soccer club who are striving to give young players a chance, while developing them. Their aim is to move up the leagues and become a settled club at a higher level, while helping the young players to move on to the very top. Since the owner Darragh Macanthony took over the club, they have sold several players to Premier League clubs. They sign players for relatively small fees, help them to improve and then make a big profit, while the young talents often realize their dream of playing in the Premier League. Not a bad system, is it?

The biggest success from this policy has been young Englishman Dwight Gayle. In early 2013, they signed him for a little over $1 million, and months later sold him for close to $9 million to Premier League club Crystal Palace. Within months, Gayle has gone from being less known than Horton to a Premier League regular. With this transition happening in a blink of an eye, why couldn’t it happen for Horton?

The keeper has been highly rated and is too young to be judged like some other players. Talks of a similar deal would be premature as he has yet to even make one appearance for Peterborough, but once he does, it could send him flying toward the top of the English game, and therefore he would likely get a chance to be in the USA’s national soccer squad.

There’s a lot of ifs and buts, but the kid has serious potential, he is at a soccer club known for helping players progress and he has time on his side. So you may well be reading about a future World Cup squad member. Keep an eye out for Charlie Horton, America.