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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Konrad shines, plus a flurry of debuts

Jonathan Gómez, Cole Bassett, and Jose Gallegos saw debuts this week, while James Sands and Obed Vargas saw continental competition for the first time.

FBL-EUR-C4-MARSEILLE-QARABAG Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome back to the USMNT Weekly Youth Update! Let’s take a look back at some developments in the young US player pool over the past week. By reader request, here’s a breakdown of which birth years are eligible for which youth national teams and tournaments:

  • 1999 and younger: eligible for “age-based” U-23 team (this is not something US Soccer does, but I advocate for it)
  • 2001 and younger: eligible for 2024 Paris Olympics (U-23 team)
  • 2003 and younger: eligible for 2022 Concacaf Championship, 2023 U-20 World Cup
  • 2006 and younger: eligible for 2023 U-17 World Cup

The rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should be called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 10-absolutely call him up and start him). Let’s get into it!

Austria

Salzburg - While Brenden Aaronson is just 21 years old, he’s too old for the 2024 Olympics. However, when a 21-year-old gets an assist vs Bayern in Champions League, you get to be in the Youth Update. Rating: 9

St. Pölten - Uly Llanez was oh-so-close to a beautiful goal. Sweet run from the ‘01 winger, who is on loan in Austria’s second tier. Rating: 3

Belgium:

Bryan Reynolds’ loan to Kortrijk from Roma has been great for the ‘01 right back. He’s off to a great start with his new team. Rating: 6

Brazil

Johnny Cardoso has competition, as his club signed another defensive midfielder from his same birth year (Bruno Gomes, 2001). However, Johnny has started 3 games in a row for Internacional. Hopefully he’s able to lock down the starting job heading into this summer. Rating: 5

Canada

Djordje Mihailovic started his season with a CCL game against Liga MX side Santos Laguna. CF Montréal ended up losing on an 88’ heartbreaker. Rating: 5

Czech Republic

Seattle has loaned ‘02 winger Ethan Dobbelaere to MFK Vyškov in the Czech second tier. Dobbelaere has been in US U-17 camp in the past, and has 9 MLS games to go with 27 in USL. Rating: 1

Denmark

Jose Gallegos made his debut for SønderjyskE in Denmark’s top tier, after moving from San Antonio FC in USL. He came off the bench to play the final 30’ in the 2-3 loss to AGF. Rating: 3

England

Fulham - Eric Ameyaw (CB, 2002) is back with Fulham’s U-23s after a year-long injury! Rating: 1

Also at Fulham, Devan Tanton (RB, 2004) picked up an assist for the U-18s, his 4th in 12 games. Rating: 1

Huddersfield - Jaheim Headley (LB, 2001) scored for Huddersfield’s U-23s vs Newcastle. Rating: 1

Newcastle - Santiago Muñoz (ST, 2002) made his debut with Newcastle’s U-23s. Injuries have hampered the Mexican-American’s loan until now. Rating: 2

Norwich - Josh Sargent (FW, 2000) has moved past the youth level for the U.S., but we highlight him this week after he picked up an assist against none other than Liverpool. Rating: 8

In addition to the assist, Sargent was noted for his defensive work.

Faroe Islands

Erik McCue (CB, 2001) has signed with AB in the Faroe Islands’ top tier. The Swedish-American was formerly a Houston Dynamo homegrown, but never played in MLS, making 22 appearances in USL. Rating: 1

France

Le Havre - Amir Richardson (DM, 2002) played 60’ for Le Havre in their 2-4 loss to Bastia in Serie B Monday. The French-Moroccan-American was 25/28 passing, with 1/1 dribbles won, 1/1 long balls, and 3/7 duels. Rating: 6

Marseille - Konrad de la Fuente (wing, 2001) put in a strong performance in the 4-1 Conference League win vs Azerbaijan side Qarabağ FK. 15/15 passing, 2 key passes, 3/5 dribbles won, 2/2 tackles won, 6/8 duels won, 3 recoveries. Rating: 8

Germany

Joon-mo Kang (wing, 2002) has joined Ingolstadt’s reserves in the fifth tier. The South Korean dual-national was previously with Greuther Fürth’s reserves in the fourth tier. Rating: 1

Joe Scally (RB/LB, 2002) revealed in an interview that he hasn’t been contacted by Gregg Berhalter since the November WCQ window. Rating: 9

Justin Che (CB, 2003) made the bench for Hoffenheim’s first team for the first time, before logging 90’ with their reserves. Rating: 4

Malick Sanogo (ST, 2004) scored for Union Berlin’s U-19s. Rating: 1

Taylor Booth (CM/RB, 2001) picked up 2 assists with Bayern’s reserves in a 4-2 friendly win. Booth will move to Eredivisie side Utrecht in the summer, where he can look forward to fireworks being thrown onto the field at Utrecht players, as happened Sunday. Rating: 5

Nico Carrera (CB, 2002) scored a goal for Holstein Kiel’s reserves. Rating: 3

Evan Rotundo (AM, 2004) scored a goal for Schalke 04’s U-19s. Rating: 1

Gio Reyna (AM, 2002) got to enjoy some banter with former NYCFC academy teammate Joe Scally before he started for Dortmund vs Gladbach, but Reyna re-injured his hamstring just 27 minutes into the match. Reports say the injury is minor, and that Reyna should be back in training in two weeks. Rating: 10

Anrie Chase (CB, 2004) has been linked with a move from his native Japan to Stuttgart when he turns 18 in March. Rating: 1

Aaron Heard (mid, 2006) will reportedly move to Bayer Leverkusen from St. Louis City in a few years when he turns 18. Rating: 1

Italy

Anthony Fontana (CM, 1999) has joined Ascoli in Serie B. The former Philly homegrown played 51 games for the Union. Rating: 2

Jack de Vries (wing, 2002) set up the lone goal for Venezia’s U-19s Saturday. Patrick Leal (AM, 2003) subbed on at 83’. Rating for both: 1

Luxembourg

Tyler Taber (mid, 2003) has signed with Racing-Union in Luxembourg’s top tier. The triple-national has been with the US U-16s, but more recently with Luxembourg’s U-19s. Rating: 1

Mexico

Hector Holguín (GK, 2001) has joined Santos Laguna’s first team in Liga MX. The Mexican-American has played exclusively in El Tri’s youth setup, with callups at U-15, U-18, U-20, and U-20 levels. Rating: 1

Netherlands

Richy Ledezma (AM, 2000) was injured in Jong PSV’s 0-2 loss to Jong Utrecht last Monday. The good news is that it’s not a knee injury, but Richy is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. Rating: 6

Cole Bassett (CM, 2001) made his first-team debut for Feyenoord in the Eredivisie! Bassett entered at 88’ in Feyenoord’s 3-1 win over Cambuur. Rating: 5

Poland

Nebiyou Perry (wing, 1999) is the subject of a transfer saga, with reports claiming he is joining Górnik Zabrze in Poland’s top tier, but his current club Östersunds are saying Perry is out with a long-term injury. Rating: 1

Portugal

Joshua Wynder (CB, 2005) went on a training stint with Sporting CP, and has returned to USL side Louisville City. ProspectsUSMNT offered some analysis of Wynder’s game.

Scotland

James Sands (CB/DM, 2000) made his Europa League debut for Rangers in their 4-2 win over Dortmund! The NYC product played 24’ as a RCB in a back three, and was 7/11 passing, 2/5 long balls (no duels).

Sebastian Soto (ST, 2000) made his debut for Livingston in Scotland’s top-flight, playing 15 minutes off the bench.

Spain

Jonathan Gómez (LB, 2003) made his debut for Real Sociedad B in La Liga 2. JoGo went 90’, with 87% passing, 7 recoveries, and drew a penalty kick to bring the Sanse level at 2-2 (they would go on to lose 2-3 at the death).

Gómez went 90’ again Saturday in a 2-0 win over Málaga. It’s been a strong week for the 18-year-old Mexican-American, with reports saying Sociedad is “pleasantly surprised” with his progress, “very happy with his performances”. Rating: 7

Diego Kochen (GK, 2006) played in a friendly with FC Barcelona B on Wednesday — three levels above his academy age group. Kochen is 15, turning 16 in March. He was in US U-17 camp in January. Rating: 1

Adrian Simons Gill (CM, 2006) played well with Barcelona’s U-19s on Saturday. Gill was in US U-17 camp in November, but wasn’t a part of the camp in January. Gill flashes some extremely good-looking skills, but it’s important to remember he’s playing against U-19 academy kids in the clips. It was reported just a week ago that Gill was in talks to sign his first pro contract with the club. Rating: 3

Turkey

Bora Aydinlik (wing, 2005) is in first-team training with Fenerbahçe, and not for the first time. The Turkish-American has been with Turkey’s U-16s and U-17s; no USYNT camps yet. Rating: 1

USA

U.S. Soccer has hired Tommy Heinemann as U-15 coach! With Heinemann’s hiring, there are now full-time head coaches at U-15, U-17, and U-20 levels.

There are reports of a U-15 camp beginning today. ProspectsUSMNT took a stab at the roster last week. NYCFC requested not to have players called in, as their academy is traveling to England to play against a few Premier League sides.

At U-20 level, Mikey Varas named his coaching staff for the cycle. Both Brian Sciaretta and ProspectsUSMNT were impressed with Varas’ choice of Shaun Tsakiris, who has previous YNT experience.

Atlanta - Noah Cobb (CB, 2005) is rumored to sign a hybrid USL/future homegrown deal with Atlanta United. Rating: 1

Charlotte - Chris Thaggard (FW, 2005) made his first-team debut with the expansion team. Rating: 1

Cincinnati - Stiven Jimenez (def, 2007) will be staying with the academy this year, after joining Cincy’s first team for preseason. There is reported interested from Brazilian clubs when he turns 15 in June. Rating: 1

Colorado Springs - Isaiah Foster (def, 2003) signed a pro contract with the USL side from Bethesda’s academy. Rating: 1

Dallas - Buzz Carrick from 3rdDegree has the scoop on all 15+ academy players in camp with USL reserve side North Texas SC. The FC Dallas first team also saw goals from Jesús Ferreira (FW, 2000) and Paxton Pomykal (CM, 1999) this week.

El Paso - Brian Sciaretta interviewed El Paso Locomotive’s Diego Luna (AM, 2003), going into special detail on Luna’s preference between the U.S. and Mexico. Rating: 3

Hartford - Pearse O’Brien (AM, 2004) has signed with Hartford Athletic, after leaving the RSL youth system. Rating: 1

Kansas City - Sporting KC has waived forward Tyler Freeman (FW, 2003), a surprising move given Freeman’s talent and youth. The move has sparked speculation from ProspectsUSMNT. Rating: 1

Louisville - Manny Perez (RB/RM, 1999) has signed with Louisville City in USL, after spending last season with Austin FC in MLS. Rating: 1

Miami - Ian Fray (CB, 2002) has torn his ACL (again) and will miss the entire 2022 season. Brutal news for the youngster, who impressed in preseason. Rating: 1

Noah Allen (LB, 2004) earned rave reports while picking up an assist with Inter Miami’s first team. Rating: 1

New York - Tayvon Gray (RB/DM, 2002), went 90’ in NYCFC’s 2-0 win over Santos de Guápiles in CCL, with 39/49 passing, 1/4 long balls, 4/12 duels, and getting dispossessed twice. Prior to the game, Hudson River Blue took a look at Gray’s 2021 season and projected his role in 2022. Rating: 4

On the red side of New York, Serge Ngoma (wing, 2005) was reported to sign a Homegrown deal, while Jordan Adebayo-Smith (ST, 2001) signed with Red Bulls II in USL. In addition, Tactical Manager interviewed Caden Clark (AM, 2003) this week.

Orlando - Alex Freeman (RB, 2004) signed a Homegrown deal with the Lions. Rating: 1

Philadelphia - The Union are a constant source of youth news, starting with Jack McGlynn (CM, 2003) scoring a nice free kick:

Jim Curtin also talked up youngsters McGlynn and Paxten Aaronson (AM, 2003), while Quinn Sullivan (AM, 2004) won the “beep test”, an impressive feat for the 17-year-old. Here’s a goal from Paxten Aaronson:

San Jose - Cade Cowell (wing, 2003) had a remarkable preseason for the Earthquakes, picking up 4 goals and 4 assists in 4 games, mostly as a wingback. Rating: 4

Seattle - Obed Vargas (CM, 2005) made only his Seattle Sounders appearance in a 0-0 draw away to Motagua in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Not bad for a 16-year-old. Rating: 2

Tucson - Elijah Wynder (wing, 2003), has been loaned from Louisville City in the USL Championship down a rung to FC Tucson in USL League One, after missing the 2021 season due to injury. Hopefully Elijah can stay healthy and find success in Tucson. Rating: 1

Hit the comments to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked or if there’s anyone you’d like to hear about. Thank you for reading!