U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown has been named captain of the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team ahead of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos gave Palmer-Brown the captain’s armband this week during the team’s 11-day training camp in Orlando, Florida.
Later this afternoon, Ramos will name the final 20-player roster that will travel to Costa Rica for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, running from Feb. 17 – March 5 in the city of San Jose. The 12-team tournament will send four nations to the 2017 FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in South Korea in May.
“What I like about Erik is that he's not just a vocal leader, he’s also a leader by example,” Ramos told U.S. Soccer. “He has both qualities. He’s a player that the team respects and one that believes in the values of our team and what we’re looking for. Erik is in good form right now; he’s been a professional player for quite a few years and has had the experience of playing in a U-20 World Cup already. That is invaluable to us at this point.”
Palmer-Brown, a product of the Sporting Kansas City Academy and the team’s third Homegrown player in club history, is the only player on the Orlando training camp roster to have played in the previous U-20 World Cup in 2015. He also captained the U-20s at the 2015 Stevan Vilotic Tournament in Serbia.
“To be named captain, it means everything,” Palmer-Brown told U.S. Soccer. “We are a great group of guys and to be named captain with all these great players … I know was a difficult choice for Tab, and I'm really excited to be leading this team into qualifying. I put my trust in the coach and now he's putting his trust in me. Hopefully that elevates my game and takes it to the next level so I can lead this team into the World Cup.
“Being at the 2015 U-20 World Cup before, it was an amazing experience. It was awesome. The environment in New Zealand, just to see all the teams and all the nations there, made it such a great tournament to compete in. I think being there helped me learn that I wanted to be there again. I wanted to go there with the next U-20 cycle. I want to go there with the (senior) U.S. Men's National Team, so the goal is to get back there. We must do our job down in Costa Rica first. It's not going to be an easy task and we are going to have to work hard to do that."
A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Palmer-Brown returned to Sporting Kansas City this offseason after a year-long loan at Portuguese powerhouse FC Porto. The center back played 17 games for FC Porto B en route to winning the LigaPro title in May and scoring his first professional goal against the Leicester City U-23s in the Premier League International Cup in November.
Palmer-Brown has played 13 matches in all competitions since signing for Sporting KC’s senior team in August 2013 — 10 in MLS, two in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and one in the CONCACAF Champions League. He became the youngest defender in MLS history to appear in a game when he made his Sporting KC debut as a 17-year-old in May 2014.