Philadelphia Union homegrown defender Mark McKenzie will wear the captain’s armband for the United States U-20 World Cup team in Poland.

United States U20 Head Coach Tab Ramos came right out the gate in his news release saying “Mark is a natural leader,” then went on to say “I pulled together all the leaders of the group and we made a decision together,” Ramos said. “Everybody agreed Mark is the guy to lead the way.”

“It’s an honor to be named captain,” McKenzie said. “I hold myself to a high standard. I try to do the little things, try and push the other guys to do those little things because ultimately it adds up and it boils over on to the field. We have a lot of leaders on this team, so I’m extremely humbled to be named the captain of this group.”

After having a stellar 2018 season for both club and county Mark McKenzie was nominated for the 2018 United States Young Male Player of the Year. McKenzie lead the back line that helped the U20s secure their second straight Concacaf championship in November. McKenzie was also the leader in minutes played for the U20 MNT in 2018. McKenzie and his back line teammates only allowed two goals during the Concacaf championship tournaments eight games.

McKenzie has been hit with many injuries early on in 2019 MLS season. He suffered an ankle injury during the preseason, suffered a concussion at the beginning of March, and also had to have an emergency appendectomy in late April. Due to all these injuries, McKenzie has only played 12 minutes this season in MLS play.

The United States lead by Mark McKenzie will begin the U20 World Cup tournament against Ukraine on Friday (2:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Universo). The U.S. will play Nigeria on May 27 and end the group stage against Qatar on May 30.

Featured Image: Wes Shepherd
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