Pulisic, Reyna, McKennie amongst listing of kids to be enthusiastic about


After a nine-month hole between video games as a consequence of COVID-19, the United States males’s nationwide workforce lastly returned to the pitch this previous week with a pair of friendlies in Europe in opposition to Wales and Panama. The video games, a 0-0 draw with Wales and a 6-2 win over Panama, showcased the rising expertise normal and potential with the USMNT expertise pool, and constructed on an eventful and momentous summer time for American gamers overseas.

A fast refresher of what is occurred because the final time the USMNT convened: Christian Pulisic performed in addition to any attacker within the Premier League post-restart; midfielder Weston McKennie joined Juventus, the place he rubs shoulders with Cristiano Ronaldo; Sergino Dest made the transfer to Lionel Messi‘s Barcelona; Giovanni Reyna established himself as a first-team participant at Borussia Dortmund; and Chris Richards has labored his approach into the senior squad at Bayern Munich.

After the large disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup three years in the past, it’s an thrilling time to be a U.S. Soccer fan.

In that vein, we’ve got compiled a listing of 25 younger gamers, age 23 and underneath, who U.S. followers needs to be enthusiastic about because the Stars and Stripes start the lengthy and grueling highway towards Qatar 2022. We divided this listing into three tiers — The established stars, These breaking via and Those that are subsequent — which think about every participant’s membership standing, nationwide workforce function and long-term potential.

The “Stars” tier wants no rationalization, however the others contain somewhat extra nuance. For instance, Chris Richards has large potential, however has but to earn constant minutes with Bayern and noticed solely 10 minutes of motion off the bench within the Panama match — he slots into our “These Breaking Via” tier. Likewise, somebody like Alex Mendez, who nonetheless performs principally reserve/Beneath-21 soccer, or an MLS participant with little or no senior nationwide workforce expertise (say Gianluca Busio) reside in our “These Who’re Subsequent” class.

Tier 1: The established stars

Christian Pulisic, FW/MF, Chelsea (22) — The current and way forward for the USMNT, Pulisic rebounded from a sluggish begin in England to publish a particularly spectacular 11-goal, six-assist stat line in his first season with Chelsea. The Blues’ greatest participant after the restart (5 targets, two assists), Pulisic has established himself as one of many prime wingers within the Premier League and greatest younger gamers on this planet. If he can keep away from the accidents which have plagued him at occasions early in his profession, he may go down as the perfect USMNT participant of all time.



Jurgen Klinsmann can’t heap sufficient reward on Sergino Dest as he is set to hitch Barcelona from Ajax.

Sergino Dest, DF, Barcelona (20) — Born within the Netherlands, the right-back was a significant coup for the USMNT when he dedicated to the homeland of his father in October 2019. One yr later and after a breakout marketing campaign at Ajax, {the teenager} joined Messi at Barcelona regardless of heavy curiosity from Bayern Munich. Dest has tailored shortly to the Barca setup, solidifying himself as an everyday starter and producing a man-of-the-match worthy efficiency in his first Clasico.

A contemporary full-back, Dest’s potential to get ahead down the best with out leaving himself uncovered ought to show an actual asset for the USA. One of many brightest performers for the U.S. within the pair of latest friendlies, Dest appears to be like stuffed with confidence for the time being and continues to get higher and higher.



Kasey Keller explains why he feels Gio Reyna might be higher than his former U.S. teammate Claudio.

Giovanni Reyna, MF, Borussia Dortmund (18) — The largest riser over the previous yr, Reyna has gone from good younger prospect to beginning alongside Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland at Borussia Dortmund. The son of legendary USMNTer Claudio Reyna, Gio grew to become the youngest aim scorer within the historical past of the German Cup final yr and already has a aim and three assists within the Bundesliga this season.

A fast thinker who possesses terrific imaginative and prescient and composure on the ball, Reyna, who debuted and scored his first worldwide aim for the U.S. this previous week, might need the highest ceiling of any participant within the pool moreover Pulisic.

Tyler Adams, MF, RB Leipzig (21) — After coming off the bench to attain the aim that despatched RB Leipzig into the Champions League semifinals in August, Adams’ function on the Bundesliga membership has solely grown.

The New York Crimson Bulls academy product performed each minute of Leipzig’s first three video games this season earlier than selecting up a minor harm and appears to have established himself in defensive midfield underneath Julian Nagelsmann. There’s nonetheless some debate over what Adams’ place with the nationwide workforce needs to be (right-back or central midfield), however wherever he performs, Adams needs to be an anchor for the U.S. for the subsequent decade.

Weston McKennie, MF, Juventus (22) — We have identified Weston McKennie was good for a number of years, however did anybody actually assume he was Juventus-good? The Texan began brightly after becoming a member of the Outdated Girl, initially on mortgage, almost scoring on his debut in opposition to Sampdoria, earlier than later testing optimistic for COVID-19. McKennie was a little bit of a left-field signing however supervisor Andrea Pirlo and Juventus clearly see one thing within the tenacious central midfielder, regardless of a blended starting.

One other who will make up the spine of the U.S. facet for a minimum of the subsequent two World Cup cycles, McKennie is one in every of coach Gregg Berhalter’s younger leaders.

Josh Sargent, FW, Werder Bremen (20) — It’s no secret that the U.S. desperately wants a striker to emerge to interchange the inconsistent Jozy Altidore, and younger Sargent stays the perfect guess. He scored 4 targets final season for Werder Bremen, serving to the membership narrowly keep away from a second-ever relegation. Whereas Sargent’s numbers do not come out at you, it’s laborious to be too crucial of him given Bremen’s total attacking limitations. The 20-year-old possesses uncooked instruments — measurement, ending potential, motion, robust hold-up play — that recommend the targets will come.

With Sargent barred from becoming a member of up with the U.S. this month by Werder Bremen as a consequence of native COVID-19 rules, two-goal outings by fellow center-forward challengers Nicholas Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto in opposition to Panama can have absolutely turned the warmth up just a bit on the St. Louis native.

Timothy Weah, FW, Lille (20) — It may appear unusual to check with Weah as a forgotten man, however after a misplaced season at Lille as a consequence of hamstring accidents, Weah, who has not performed for the U.S. since November 2018, has light out of sight and thoughts for a lot of American followers. He stays one of many prime abilities within the U.S. participant pool. Because the son of a former Ballon d’Or winner, and as a participant who was groomed in PSG’s expertise manufacturing facility of an academy, Weah’s pedigree and talent set offers hope that the winger can blossom right into a star on the worldwide stage.

It was good to see Weah again within the fold with the U.S. — taking part in 10 minutes in Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Wales and just below half an hour on Monday vs. Panama — after two “misplaced years,” however at current he has work to do to earn again a beginning spot with each Lille and the USMNT.

Tier 2: These breaking via

Chris Richards, DF, Bayern Munich (20) — The younger defender made waves when he joined Bayern on mortgage from FC Dallas in 2018. Quick-forward two years and he has cracked the first-team squad of the European champions.

A gifted athlete, Richards has good measurement (6-foot-2) and is powerful each on the bottom within the sort out and within the air attacking and defending crosses. One of many stars of the U.S. Beneath-20s run to the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup in 2019, the younger center-back has begun incomes minutes with Bayern and made his worldwide debut as an Eightieth-minute substitute in opposition to Panama on Monday.



Gio Reyna is hopeful Yunus Musah will decide to the USMNT after the 2 teamed up in camp for the primary time.

Yunus Musah, MF, Valencia (17) — A late addition to this listing after his shock call-up by Berhalter for the November friendlies in opposition to Wales and Panama, Musah may show a significant get for the USMNT if he chooses to characterize the Individuals. An England Beneath-18 worldwide who was born within the U.S. however can be eligible to characterize Ghana and Italy, Musah has burst onto the scene at Valencia — rising as an everyday starter for Los Che and scoring earlier this month in opposition to Getafe. Whereas Musah’s two appearances do not cap-tie the midfielder, his call-up was a sign of intent.

Regardless of primarily taking part in on the wing at Valencia, the previous Arsenal academy grad was introduced up as a central midfielder and impressed in that function for the U.S. in opposition to Wales and Panama. Berhalter already has weighed in relating to Musah’s greatest place, indicating that the U.S. plan is to attempt the teenager in a box-to-box midfield function.

Konrad de la Fuente, FW, Barcelona (19) — The opposite younger American at Barcelona, de la Fuente grew up in Spain and joined Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy at age 12. After impressing final season with Barca B, and in preseason with the senior facet, de la Fuente initially earned a spot within the Blaugrana’s first-team squad.

Blessed with good tempo, de la Fuente thrives in open area because of his dribbling potential and confidence. The younger winger hasn’t essentially translated that right into a ton of targets and assists simply but, however his trickiness makes him an thrilling proposition, whom Berhalter might be eager to see extra of following a blended worldwide debut in opposition to Wales.

Antonee Robinson, DF, Fulham (23) — The England-born left-back just lately made the leap from the Championship to the Premier League, and to date has been one of many few shiny spots for Fulham. An attack-minded full-back who likes to roam ahead, Robinson’s tempo is his No. 1 attribute. Whereas his defensive play stays a piece in progress, his pace permits him to get well and cancel out hazard.

His appearances with the nationwide workforce have been very “Jekyll and Hyde” so far, however after a standout season at Wigan and a promising begin within the Premier League, Robinson appears to be like able to take a step ahead.

Brenden Aaronson, MF, Philadelphia Union (20) — One of many hottest names within the U.S. participant pool following a breakout MLS is Again Match in Orlando, Aaronson will head to Austria on the conclusion of the MLS season to be part of Jesse Marsch and FC Salzburg.

A pass-first No.10, Aaronson thrives on the counter in assault and wreaks havoc together with his urgent when the Union do not have the ball. He is additionally a wonderful dribbler in tight areas and appears to at all times have his head up on the lookout for the killer go, even when positioned deeper on the sphere. Aaronson’s pending transfer to Europe will problem him, however going up a stage is the subsequent logical step in his improvement.

Paxton Pomykal, MF, FC Dallas (20) — Pomykal is without doubt one of the highest-rated gamers on this listing who nonetheless plies his commerce in MLS, however that doubtless will not be for for much longer.

Linked with strikes overseas, notably to the Bundesliga, the attacking midfielder is powerful technically, covers a ton of floor, and could be very direct in the case of kick-starting assaults from the center of the park. A 2019 MLS All-Star, the once-capped Texan is recovering from hip surgical procedure in September, which is able to hold him out of motion for about six months.

Reggie Cannon, DF, Boavista (22) — Lengthy linked with a transfer to Europe, Cannon joined Portuguese outfit Boavista in September, a transfer that ought to check the marauding right-back.

One of many quickest gamers within the U.S. pool, Cannon is extra of a balanced right-back than the extra attack-minded, “trendy” full-back that so many groups covet. With 13 caps, Cannon is regular at each ends of the pitch, however with Dest forward of him, tasks to be a squad participant fairly than an everyday starter. One of many gamers who took his probabilities within the November friendlies, Cannon was spectacular whipping in crosses from the best and picked up an help on Sebastian Lletget’s aim in opposition to Panama.



Nicholas Gioacchini delights in his two-goal evening for the U.S. vs. Panama, however laments his missed penalty.

Richard Ledezma, MF, PSV Eindhoven (20) — One other gifted teenager who may emerge because the USMNT’s future No. 10, Ledezma is prospering within the Netherlands with PSV’s reserves. The previous RSL youth product has been an everyday starter over the previous year-plus with Jong PSV and just lately made his first-team debut — nabbing an help within the course of — for the Dutch giants. A participant with aptitude who strikes effectively with out the ball, can drive the assault on the counter and pick a go, Ledezma is the kind of attacking expertise the U.S. has lacked in earlier editions.

Having already earned rave evaluations from big-name coaches like Tab Ramos (with US U20s) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSVs U19s), Ledezma appears to be like poised for a breakout yr in 2020-21. Ledezma made fairly a primary impression with the senior workforce on Monday, offering two assists (each for Sebastian Soto) in 20 minutes after approaching as an alternative in opposition to Panama.

Sebastian Soto, FW, Norwich (on mortgage with Telstar) (20) — One of many largest query marks on this listing, Soto is in the course of a tug-of-war between Chile and the U.S. for his worldwide providers. Considered one of these international locations might be getting a pure aim scorer as Soto has racked up targets wherever he is performed. He fired 17 targets in 24 video games whereas with Hannover 96’s U19s, added 4 for the U.S. on the 2019 U20 World Cup, and has 5 targets in his first seven video games for mortgage membership Telstar within the Dutch league.

The California native (6 foot) is fast, robust, and could also be the perfect poacher among the many United States’ younger forwards. Soto accepted Berhalter’s November call-up and made a significant splash, displaying his instincts with a headed brace in simply 13 minutes vs. Panama. One other whose future stays undecided, Soto would add some actual competitors to the U.S. center-forward pool.



Sergino Dest is optimistic concerning the USMNT’s potential with so many gamers breaking into massive golf equipment.

Nicholas Gioacchini, FW, Caen (20) — One other newcomer to the U.S. pool, Gioacchini was born within the U.S. however spent most of his childhood cut up between residing in Italy and France. The 6-foot striker put himself on the U.S. radar with three targets in eight video games this season for Ligue 2 membership Caen, incomes a shock call-up for the November friendlies.

On Monday, in his first begin for the USMNT, Gioacchini made a right away influence, scoring a first-half brace in opposition to Panama to throw his hat within the ring for the beginning U.S. center-forward job. Whereas each targets had been comparatively easy finishes, and he additionally missed a penalty that will have given him a hat trick, Gioacchini was spectacular and, like Soto, confirmed a knack for being in the best place when probabilities introduced themselves. Gioacchini advised Caen’s web site final month “that is the nation the place I used to be born, I really feel American,” and after a formidable debut begin, he appears to be like like a participant who may have a job to play within the current World Cup qualifying cycle.

Tier 3: Those that are subsequent

James Sands, MF, NYCFC (20) — James Sands is not “thrilling” however that’s the very cause U.S. followers needs to be enthusiastic about him. The defensive midfielder, who has additionally deputized successfully at center-back, just isn’t flashy however boy is he efficient. A terrific reader of the sport, Sands’ anticipation and skill to react separates him from his friends and is a significant cause he was capable of earn a beginning job with a membership the dimensions of NYCFC at 18.

Ranked within the prime 20 in MLS in clearances, interceptions, and pictures blocked, Sands is excellent defensively and tasks to make a transfer abroad earlier than too lengthy. The NYCFC man nonetheless must work on being extra progressive together with his passing, as he tends to take the protected possibility, but when he continues to develop he may slot into the Michael Bradley/Jackson Yueill function with the nationwide workforce within the coming years. Sands fractured his foot final month and can miss the conclusion of the MLS season.

Miles Robinson, DF, Atlanta United FC (23) — One of many extra intriguing prospects within the U.S. setup, Robinson possesses the instruments to be a dominant center-back and probably a starter for the U.S. on the 2022 World Cup — in the event that they make it. Tall (6-foot-2), quick and powerful, Robinson thrives in one-on-one conditions and is simply plain laborious to get round. An MLS Finest XI member in his second full season with Atlanta, Robinson has large potential and may generate loads of curiosity from Europe within the coming years.

Mark McKenzie, DF, Philadelphia Union (21) — Probably the greatest center-backs in MLS, McKenzie has each the old-school physicality wanted to play the place and the standard and passing vary of the “new-age” center-back. Good within the air and on the bottom, he’s a stable defender however it’s his calmness and skill to play out of the again that separates him from his friends.

Equally snug with each ft, McKenzie has the imaginative and prescient and skill to not solely attempt however full defense-splitting passes from central protection. After a irritating U20 World Cup, he has bounced again, making his U.S. debut in February and reportedly attracting curiosity from European golf equipment reminiscent of Celtic, Anderlecht and Union Berlin.

Ulysses Llanez Jr., FW, VfL Wolfsburg (on mortgage at Heerenveen) (19) — One other American making his first-team debut in Europe this season, Llanez accomplished a mortgage transfer to Dutch facet Heerenveen, a membership that has nurtured the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Martin Odegaard and Michael Bradley. Llanez arrives within the Netherlands after a prolific spell with Wolfsburg’s U19s, wherein he racked up 11 targets and 6 assists in 16 video games.

A mainstay with numerous U.S. youth nationwide groups over the previous few years, he scored seven targets to assist the U.S. U20s to the 2018 CONCACAF Championship and later was a key participant within the facet’s run to the quarters on the 2019 U20 World Cup. The winger, who scored on his senior debut in opposition to Costa Rica in February, is able to taking part in on both the best or left and might each swing in a cross and strike a shot from distance.

Gianluca Busio, MF, Sporting Kansas Metropolis (18) — One of many youngest gamers on this listing, Busio, outdoors of Caden Clark (see additional under), is perhaps the furthest away from making an influence with the senior nationwide workforce. (He’s additionally eligible to characterize Italy ought to he select.) That mentioned, the Sporting Kansas Metropolis man, who on the age of simply 16 grew to become the third-youngest participant to play in MLS, is oozing with potential.

The attacking midfielder’s greatest attributes are his passing and management, as Busio is excellent with the ball in tight areas and usually retains the play shifting. He is attracting curiosity from golf equipment in Europe with Man United, Juventus, Inter, and Fiorentina amongst them.

Jeremy Ebobisse, FW, Portland Timbers, (23) — It took somewhat little bit of time however halfway via final season, it lastly “clicked” for Jeremy Ebobisse. A powerful end to the 2019 marketing campaign and a terrific begin to 2020 — he made the MLS is Again Match Finest XI — has Ebobisse firmly within the U.S. striker image.

Not a participant that jumps off the display screen within the conventional sense, Ebobisse does a number of the small issues effectively: work fee, motion, passing, and so forth. He is scoring extra targets of late, too — 20 in his final 56 video games — and whereas he is not essentially flashy, he is well-rounded and may have a job to play with the nationwide workforce.

Alex Mendez, MF, Jong Ajax (20) — The last word aptitude participant, Mendez has imaginative and prescient, a candy left foot, is stuffed with methods and could be extraordinarily efficient from set items. Whereas Mendez is at all times able to producing the spectacular, to date he has discovered the European recreation a tough adjustment. The participant of the event on the 2018 CONCACAF U20 Championship with eight targets and 6 assists, Mendez’s long-term ceiling will doubtless come right down to how prepared and dedicated he’s to taking the mandatory subsequent steps.

Caden Clark, MF, New York Crimson Bulls (17) — A digital unknown even a month in the past, Clark has made a blistering begin to his MLS profession with the New York Crimson Bulls. With targets in his first two appearances, together with this golazo in opposition to Toronto FC, Clark is the newest teenager tipped for a giant transfer to Europe. Whereas Clark’s rise has appeared meteoric, he has been a prime expertise for a while now, drawing curiosity from Barcelona at 13, shifting to their U.S. academy in Arizona at 14, and touring and trialing with Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig final summer time.



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