Dillon Serna hoping to earn a spot on US U-20 World Cup team with performance at Toulon Tournament
Colorado Rapids rookie Dillon Serna has been through a similar exercise with a youth U.S. National Team before.
In 2011, Serna didn't allow an emergency appendectomy stop him from making the U.S. U-17 FIFA World Cup team.
This week, the club's homegrown product is healthy, but he'll still have to prove to U.S. U-20 National Team coach Tab Ramos that he also belongs on the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster for the big tournament in late June.
The U-20s are in France participating in the famed Toulon Tournament with matches against host, France on Tuesday, followed by games against Colombia, Congo DR, South Korea and a playoff match.
"I'm really excited," Serna said to ColoradoRapids.com before departing for France. "I talked to Tab in California about the World Cup and what my chances were of being on the final roster, and he said I was one of those players that was on the bubble. But with the tournament in France before the World Cup, I think my chances are good."
Serna was not originally on the U.S. U-20 CONCACAF Championships roster for the Qualifying tournament in March. He was added in just before the start of the tournament and played three matches, including starting the semifinal and final in an unfamiliar position at right back.
Despite his performance at Qualifying, the 19-year-old know he's not a lock to make the World Cup team. He took part in a U.S. U-20 camp in April in Carson, California and earned himself another look in France.
"In California I played left mid, left back, and right mid," Serna said. "(Ramos) said one of the good things I bring in, and why my chances are maybe better than some of the other players on the bubble, is because I'm a versatile player. I've proved that to him, playing multiple positions for him with the National Team."
Serna is not deterred by being one of the younger players in the group. He made his first appearances for the U-20s as an 18-year-old in July 2012 at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland.
"I definitely feel confident," Serna said the Toulon Tournament. "The first camp I was with the 20s, in Ireland, I was a little bit more nervous. But playing in the CONCACAF Qualifying, that helped my confidence a lot."
Serna will be joined by his Rapids teammate, Shane O'Neill, in France next week. The Rapids are the only MLS team to have multiple players on the U-20s roster in Toulon.
Toulon Tournament Format: The tournament features 10 countries separated into two five-team groups. The USA is in Group A with Colombia, Congo DR, France and Korea Republic. Group B features Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and Portugal. The group stage features four games, after which the group winners face each other in the championship match and the group runners-up meet in the third-place game. Both matches take place on Saturday, June 8.