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SSFC Spotlight: Noah Allen thriving under the bright lights in Miami

The fullback is growing and learning from the best.

MLS: New York City FC at Inter Miami CF Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the creation of Inter Miami CF, South Florida was considered one of the top soccer markets in the country, teeming with young talent. An eventual first-division club was sure to benefit from the market’s passionate youth scene. Noah Allen is one of several American players to watch in the Magic City. The 19-year-old defender has jumped into a starting role and impressed while sharing the field with some famous teammates.

Born in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Allen played for West Pines United and Weston FC before joining the Inter Miami academy in 2019, competing with an older age group. He was promoted to the reserves in October of 2020, making two appearances at left fullback in USL League One. The following year, the teenager featured in 27 matches, registered two assists, and led the team in minutes, being praised for his multifaceted game and ability to help in possession. His performances garnered the 2021 USL League One Player of the Year award, and coaches noted a “willingness to learn and improve every day” while adapting to the more physical level of play.

The transition from the local clubs through the academy to the reserve level forced him to grow up quickly by focusing on other aspects of his life such as diet and punctuality. “[The award] means everything,” said Allen. “I’m truly blessed to be named USL League One Young Player of the Year and to even get a shot to play for this team this year. Obviously, I wanted to take my experience and take my opportunity and I’m happy that I was able to get this award... I think my defensive positioning was much better, and overall I think I’m a much better player now at multiple things on the field. Off the field, I think I was more professional because I was in a more professional environment”

Allen opened the 2022 MLS season in the starting lineup, playing 78 minutes in a scoreless draw with Chicago Fire FC. A few weeks later, Inter Miami signed the “incredible talent” to a Homegrown contract. For the rest of the season, he split time between the reserves and senior level, making ten league and cup appearances with the first team and a further 15 in MLS Next Pro while contributing four assists.

During the preseason, Allen suffered a Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tear that required several months of rehabilitation. Upon returning to the field, he spent a few weeks with the reserves before finding his way back to the first team, enjoying the opportunity to learn from Jordi Alba. As the schedule unfolded, the defender has emerged as one of the league’s top young prospects, making 24 total appearances and registering two assists. His first professional goal came in a 2-2 draw with D.C. United, snaking a free kick into the lower corner of the net.

The summer infusion of talent, including Lionel Messi, had caused a sharp upturn in the club’s fortunes and imbued the players with newfound vigor. “It’s, uh, pretty surreal,” Allen shared with “It was my dream just to play for my hometown team. Now we’re doing amazing and winning games and trophies and the fans are coming out and everyone is so excited in South Florida – it’s exceeded my dreams... [Messi’s] been amazing to everyone in the locker room, especially the young players... I was going against Messi in a training session early on and, man, he really turned me and had a nice finish after – I thought to myself, ‘Hey, you gotta’ be sharper, you know this is the best player in the world.’”

At the international level, Allen has a Greek passport but has only suited up for his birth nation, beginning at the U-15 level. He was named to the roster for the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, making five appearances during the successful campaign and scoring a goal in the 6-0 victory over the Dominican Republic in the final – the tournament was described as “one of the best experiences of his life.” His most recent call-up came in September of last year, competing with the U-19 squad at the Slovenia Nations Cup.

Primarily a left fullback, Allen is also capable of deployment at centre-back and left midfielder. He is a volume passer with a high percentage of accuracy at short and medium ranges while excelling at bringing down opposing dribblers. His heat map stretches the length of the field, as the young defender is capable of contributing during the build-up and making deeper runs into the final third with menacing intent.

“Noah is a speedy left-back that flies up and down the wide areas of the pitch,” wrote Marcus Chairez for Chasing a Cup. “He is adept at providing overlapping runs and getting crosses into the mouth of the goal. His speed and tenacity also show up on the defensive side of the ball where he is a good 1v1 defender. His overall work rate and hustle really stand out defensively... Right now, he wins with speed and his intention with the ball is to get crosses in. Nowadays full-backs are expected to contribute a lot on the offensive side of things and Noah will need to add some things to his game to be able to reach high levels of competition.”

The USMNT player pool is growing by the day, particularly at the fullback position, which has evolved from a liability to an area of strength over the past decade. Allen is at the beginning of his career but has already gained crucial experience, competing with a cadre of some of the sport’s luminaries. The next step is to maintain a spot in the lineup while developing his abilities, weathering the typical issues faced by young players. With time, there could be further international call-ups and transfer interest.