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Crew’s Aboubacar Keita called up to 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup U.S. team

The Black & Gold’s Homegrown defender is headed to Poland this summer.

Sam Fahmi/Massive Report

Columbus Crew SC Homegrown defender Aboubacar Keita is headed to the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Keita was named as one of the 21 players for this summer’s tournament in Poland by U.S. U-20 National Team head coach Tab Ramos.

“I am excited for the players who will get the chance to be able to participate in a World Cup. It’s an unforgettable experience and one that they will value forever,” Ramos said in the press release. “This is always an extremely tough decision to make as a coach. There were an additional four or five players who also really deserve to go this time.”

Keita is one of 10 Major League Soccer players selected by Ramos to represent their country at the U-20 World Cup, including three players from FC Dallas, two from the Philadelphia Union and one player each from D.C. United, the New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and the Crew.

Signed as a Homegrown player in late January, Keita has been a part of the Crew Academy since the 2016 season while attending Westerville North High School. He played for the Academy at the Under-17/18 and Under-18/19 levels. Keita made 43 appearances, including 42 starts, for the Academy, scoring one goal. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound defender joined the first team during the 2018 preseason, starting in the 2-1 win over the Charleston Battery as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup last February. Keita also spent a large portion of last summer training with the Black & Gold’s first team. He featured in a number of friendlies against various college teams and impressed the previous staff led by Gregg Berhalter.

Last fall, Keita played his freshman season at the University of Virginia. The defender started in every match for the Cavaliers, scoring one goal and helping his team to a 10-4-3 overall record. Despite losing in the first round of the ACC Tournament to Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers made a run to NCAA Tournament’s third round before falling 1-0 to Notre Dame in overtime. In total, Keita helped UVA to 10 regulation shutouts in his one year in Charlottesville. The defender logged 1,599 minutes in his lone college season and was named to all-freshman team in the ACC and Top Drawer Soccer’s second-team Freshman Best XI.

Keita has represented the United States at the youth nationally team level. He featured for both the U.S. U-19 and U-20 teams and was called up for the U-20 training camp earlier this year.

In his first professional season, Keita has been on loan from the Black & Gold to USL League One side Richmond Kickers. Keita has made two appearances for the Kickers, with one start, playing 104 minutes largely at left back, recording five tackles, five clearances and two interceptions. Keita returned to Columbus for a few weeks to recover from an injury but is now back in Richmond.

The US U-20s will begin play in the World Cup against the Ukraine on Friday, May 24 (2:30 pm ET), then face Nigeria on May 27 (2:30 pm ET) and conclude group play vs. Qatar on May 30 (2:30 pm ET).

2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Roster by Position (Club; Hometown; U-20 Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (Benfica/POR; Foxchase, Pa.; 2/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.; 4/0), Brady Scott (Köln/GER; Petaluma, Calif.; 9/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Sergino Dest (Ajax/NED; Almere-Stad, Netherlands; 8/1), Chris Gloster (Hannover 96/GER; Montclair, N.J.; 11/0), Aboubacar Keita (Richmond Kickers; Columbus, Ohio; 2/0), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; Bear, Del.; 10/3), Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union; Drexel Hill, Pa.; 10/0), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich/GER; Birmingham, Ala.; 8/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 0/0), Chris Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.; 2/0), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED; Phoenix, Ariz.; 4/0), Alex Mendez (Freiburg/GER; Los Angeles, Calif.; 15/8), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; Highland Village, Texas; 9/3), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas; 8/2)
FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC/CAN; Brampton, Ont.; 12/9), Konrad De La Fuente (Barcelona/ESP; Miami, Fla.; 2/1), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER; Lynwood, Calif.; 11/7), Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution; South Hamilton, Mass.; 13/6), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96/GER; San Diego, Calif.; 5/2), Tim Weah (Celtic FC/SCO; Rosedale, N.Y.; 0/0)