Speculation on dual national players is one of the unique pastimes of following the United States Men’s National Team, akin to college football or basketball. Sometimes a potentially eligible talent will appear on the radar, displaying a skillset that would add a new or greater dimension to the existing squad. One of the more recent names to enter the purview of American soccer is Alex Mighten of Nottingham Forest. The 19-year-old winger completed a fantastic second season in the Championship and is, for now, firmly entrenched in the Three Lions youth set-up.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, his father was an analyst and host at ESPN. After moving to England and playing with Arnold Town, Mighten joined the academy of two-time European Cup winner Nottingham Forest in 2009. Despite initially being kept from the higher groups due to his size, the “standout” prospect eventually reached the U-23 level. While being linked to Manchester United, the Tricky Trees signed him to a two-and-a-half year professional deal.
WARNING! This video contains skill of an obscene nature— Nottingham Forest FC ❤️ (@NFFC) January 17, 2021
@AlexMighten10 #NFFC pic.twitter.com/SUTm1mZAZi
“I am delighted, obviously having been here since the age of eight there is no better feeling,” he said after putting pen to paper. “I was raised in the city. My parents were raised in the city, so it means a lot… It means more being from here, living literally five minutes away and going to the games when you are younger, of course it means a lot.”
A decade after joining the club, Mighten made his first-team debut in the EFL Cup, playing 12 minutes in a 5-0 third-round loss to Arsenal. He would be in and out of the lineup for the rest of the season, ultimately making nine more appearances between the English Championship and FA Cup. “Alex is now developing into the elite footballer we all hope he would become,” said academy manager Gary Brazil. “Brave, exciting, self-confident, single minded, he has all the ingredients to go a long way in the game.”
This past season was a big step forward for the teenager, which started by signing a new five-year contract lasting through June of 2025. At first, Mighten had a brief spell in the squad before being relegated to the bench. However, the manager gave him another chance in December, rotating the teenager into the lineup in the midst of a “dreadful run” of form. His first professional goal came in a 1-1 draw against Millwall, a moment that was described as “brilliant.”
THAT moment for @AlexMighten10 #NFFC pic.twitter.com/NUqK91b2pT— Nottingham Forest FC ❤️ (@NFFC) December 20, 2020
“We have some great players, especially in my position and that is good as it gives us healthy competition and keeps pushing me,” he said after regaining his spot in the squad. “I want to get into this team and it is only going to push me harder knowing that I have got good players to compete with. I just try to play my normal game and hopefully that gets me to where I want to be.”
From March, Mighten appeared in the final ten matches, including a few appearances at striker. For his performances, he was named Nottingham Forest Young Player of the Year. Club staff is excited about expanding his role next season, believing he is a special talent capable of competing in the Premier League in the near future. After a 17th place finish, the once-great standard bearer of English football hopes to challenge for promotion, led by its growing star.
At the international level, Mighten has played frequently in the England set-up, appearing with the U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-18 teams and scoring a hat trick in a friendly against Australia. A “really good friend” of Yunus Musah, the two discussed “their American heritage” in the past. He has yet to be contacted by U.S. Soccer as of March but at least appears open to an overture.
“I haven’t been in the position to make a decision because I haven’t received the call,” Mighten exclusively shared with American Soccer Now. “Maybe if I do it, then [that] would give me something to think about – for sure. But I can’t really say I’ve considered anything when I haven’t really had it in front of me… The promising young players that are coming through right now – it is no secret to where they are trying to go and the squad they’re going to develop.”
@AlexMighten10's first goal at The City Ground helped The Reds secure all three points yesterday! #NFFC pic.twitter.com/2juwLyxeGH— Nottingham Forest FC ❤️ (@NFFC) February 21, 2021
A “crafty and pacey winger,” Mighten can play on both sides of the field. His skills are a perfect fit for the position, able to blow past defenders with or without the ball and get behind the back line. While not an out-and-out goal scorer, he found the back of the net three times last season and will likely continue to improve on that number. Watching his highlight footage reveals a highly intelligent player with the awareness to know exactly how long he can hold onto the ball, while also drawing fouls and taking weighted first touches into space. For all the descriptions of his play as “daring” and “exciting,” there is a methodical nature to his game, supported by above-average passing accuracy statistics.
For now, Mighten remains a player of interest but is not required to make any decisions on his international future. While his skill set could benefit the United States, there is no pressure considering the absence of contact. In line for a big season, fans should keep a watchful eye on his progress as he continues to develop at Nottingham Forest and possibly makes the jump to the Premier League. Perhaps his name will be included on a future roster, another dual national attracted to the welcoming environment and growing status of the USMNT.