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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Another 2002 Signs in MLS

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The trend of very young MLS signings continues

Gilbert Fuentes

United States

Gilbert Fuentes Perez- Attacking Midfielder, San Jose Earthquakes

Gilbert Fuentes signed a homegrown contract with San Jose this week, becoming the second youngest player currently under contract in MLS (SKC’s Gianluca Busio is 3 months younger). Fuentes is one of the most impressive players in his age range. At the Nike friendlies last month, Fuentes showed his quality. With everyone looking to Busio and Atlanta’s George Bello to be the stars of the team (with NYCFC’s Gio Reyna out injured) that faced England, Holland and Brazil, Fuentes was the most consistent attacking threat on the team. He has very nice touch and is consistently willing to take defenders 1v1. He can play centrally or on either wing. He figures to be an important player at the 2019 U-17 World Cup. Let’s hope Fuentes can realize his potential in San Jose. Hopefully he can join the contingent of MLS youth training with their MLS first team clubs in preseason (Busio is training with the SKC first team, Gio Reyna with NYCFC, Uly Llanez with the LA Galaxy, etc.). Good luck Gilbert!

Eryk Williamson - Central Midfielder, Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers completed a trade with DC United this week to acquire the homegrown rights to Eryk Williamson. Williamson left the University of Maryland early to turn pro and was mulling signing a homegrown deal in MLS or moving overseas (he was reportedly on trial at FC Schalke). Williamson played for the US U-20 team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 U-20 World Cup. Let’s hope he can get some good minutes and impress in MLS.

Germany

Kevin Lankford - Winger, Heidenheim

The 2. Bundesliga returned from winter break in midweek and it was a happy return for Lankford. The 19-year-old started on the left wing and went 81 minutes in their midweek 2-0 win over Eintracht Braunschweig. Unfortunately, he was not in the team for Saturday’s 3-3 draw with MSV Duisburg. Hopefully Lankford can continue to push for more consistent opportunities.

Taylor Booth - Central Midfielder, Bayern Munich

It appears that the Booth to Bayern move is imminent according to reports from Kicker. Booth is a talented player from Real Salt Lake’s academy and would be joining the likes of Jalen Hawkins, Justin Butler, and the Tillman brothers at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Let’s hope it’s a positive move, and he can reach his potential.

England

Marlon Fossey - Full Back, Fulham

Fossey finally made his return from injury in midweek, making a substitute appearance midweek for Fulham’s U23 team. He had missed the entire season to that point following surgery from a groin injury suffered just before the U-20 World Cup. Fossey turned 19 in September and should start garnering some first team looks this coming summer. He’s capable of playing both fullback positions, although he is much more comfortable on the right. Let’s hope he can impress with the reserves now that he’s finally healthy.

Luca de la Torre - Attacking Midfielder, Fulham

De la Torre appeared off the bench for the final 9 minutes of Fulham’s 6-0 win over Burton Albion in midweek. He was an unused substitute on Saturday in Fulham’s 3-1 win. The 19-year-old has been used sparingly this season and is unlikely to regularly see a ton more action. Fulham currently occupy the 6th and final promotion playoff spot in the Championship. They’re 5 points out of the second spot, which receives an automatic promotion to the Premier League. With Fulham having so much success and promotion within grasp, I would expect few opportunities for the youngster. Still, he’s made the bench regularly so he needs to stay ready in the case of an injury to one of the regulars.

Netherlands

Matt Miazga - Center Back, Chelsea FC (On Loan at Vitesse)

Vitesse was fortunate to avoid a suspension for his “unsportsmanlike conduct” in Vitesse’s 1-1 draw with Herenveen (speaking of Herenveen, there’s a US-eligible 17-year-old CB named Kik Pierie who starts regularly for them) last weekend.

I’m personally not a fan of behavior like this and feel that he should have been suspended, but the folks in Holland apparently disagree. Miazga has had a very nice year on loan in the Eredivisie, but it remains an unknown what will happen when the season concludes and he returns to Chelsea. Will they give him a chance to win the job there (which I think is unlikely) or will they look to move on from him and loan him elsewhere or even sell him permanently. We will have to wait and see. Miazga started and went the distance as usual on Saturday in Vitesse’s 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle.

Mexico

Kekuta Manneh - Striker/Winger, Pachuca

Manneh made his debut for Pachuca in their 1-0 Copa MX win over Celaya C.D. last Tuesday. He looked lively in his debut and hopefully can help Pachuca have a solid campaign. Manneh moved on from Columbus Crew this offseason and is hoping to find his form after a rough 2017. Good luck Kekuta!

As always, if there’s something major I overlooked please mention it in the commnent section.