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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: MLS opening weekend

A breakthrough weekend for youngsters all over the US.

MLS: Nashville SC at Seattle Sounders FC Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

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

Note: This column features a heavy amount of content from the @ProspectsUSMNT twitter account. This content is used with permission from the account owner.

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!

Argentina

Leandro Soria (wing, 2004) made it onto SportsCenter with a nice play in the rain for Godoy Cruz’s reserves. The Argentine-American made his first-team debut with Godoy Cruz in November, but has been back with the reserves since. His brother Matías (GK, 2001) is also with Godoy Cruz’s reserves. Rating: 1

Canada

Djordje Mihailovic (wing, 1998) took center stage as CF Montreal knocked Santos Laguna out of Concacaf Champions League over two legs. Djordje put up a nice stat line in the second leg: 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 key passes, 2/4 long balls, 1/1 dribbles, 5/10 duels, 2/3 tackles. Strong performance to defeat the Liga MX opponent. Rating: 7

El Salvador

El Salvador is recruiting hard in the US. Their latest U-20 roster includes 14 American dual-nationals. An interesting development to watch, especially since the US isn’t currently fielding teams at U-19, U-18, or U-16 levels.

England

Fulham - Devan Tanton (RB, 2004) got an assist with Fulham’s U-18s. Tanton hasn’t been either of the first two U-20 camps of the new cycle, as Kayden Pierre, Mauricio Cuevas, and Michael Halliday have filled the RB role there for now. Rating: 1

Leicester - Zach Booth (CM, 2004) has signed a pro contract with Leicester City. The highly-rated youngster has spent most of his time with the Foxes’ U-18s, but has also popped up with their U-23s. Rating: 1

London - Zak Swanson (RB, 2000) made Arsenal’s first-team squad for the first time in an EPL clash with Wolves. The English-American has 15 games with Arsenal’s U-23s this season, playing RB, LB, DM, and LM. He’s never been in camp with England or the US. Rating: 4

Faroe Islands

Aidan Liu (CB, 2001) has been loaned to B68 Toftir in the Faroe Islands’ top-flight from from Vejle BK in Denmark. The defender from Sockers FC academy in Chicago has also had loan stints at Danish side Sydvest, and Indy Eleven of the USL. Rating: 1

France

Le Havre - Amir Richardson (DM, 2002) subbed on for the last 18’ as Le Havre got hammered 4-0 by league leaders Toulouse. Richardson was in camp with France’s U-20s in November, and is also eligible for Morocco. Rating: 6

Germany

Köln - Damion Downs (FW, 2004) has 6 goals in 697 minutes for Köln’s U-19s. He’s also in the younger of two U-19 age groups. Listed as a 6’4 striker. Second on the team in goals. First is a German youth international that scores goals for German youth teams. Rating: 1

Munich - Malik Tillman (AM, 2002) is rumored to be a target of US Soccer. The Bayern Munich youngster could be an immediate addition to the USMNT. Rating: 7

also Munich - Grayson Dettoni (CB, 2005) went 90’ for Bayern’s U-17s in the first match back from winter break. Dettoni was born in Virginia and moved from San Diego Surf’s youth system to 1860 Munich before joining Die Roten. Rating: 1

also also Munich - Cruz Medina (mid, 2006) is on trial with Bayern from the San Jose Earthquakes, and has interest from RB Leipzig and Mainz. Medina has been called up to both US U-17 camps so far this cycle. Rating: 1

Italy

Venice - Jack de Vries (wing, 2002) and Patrick Leal (AM, 2003) had some fun with Venezia’s U-19s on Saturday. De Vries scored and assisted, and Leal picked up a late assist in a 4-0 win over Udinese U-19. Rating; 1

Mexico

Carlos Castrejon (LB, 2007) and Armani Haro (ST, 2008) from Real Salt Lake’s academy have both been called into a Mexico youth camp. Thanks to @ProspectsUSMNT for noticing.

Guadalajara - Daniel Cervantes (FW, 2003) scored a nice goal for Atlas U-18. Rating: 1

Norway

Tromsø - Zyen Jones (wing, 2001) popped up with Tromsø IL in Norway’s top flight. Jones was last known to be with Ferencváros’s reserves in Hungary, and had trained with the Hungarian sides first-team.

Portugal

Vizela - Alejandro Alvarado (CM, 2003) scored a brace for Vizela U-19. Alvarado is the second-youngest non-Portuguese player to appear for any Primeira Liga club this season, and just one among a small handful of any non-domestic youth-eligibles. Rating: 2

Scotland

Greenock - Oisin McEntee (CB, 2001) scored the winner for Greenock Morton in Scotland’s 2nd tier. The Irish-American has been a consistent member of Ireland’s youth setup, up to U-21 level at this point. Rating: 1

Spain

San Sebastián - Jonathan Gómez made his third straight start and went the full 90 minutes for Real Sociedad B in La Liga 2, playing LWB in a 3-4-3. Sociedad B has won two straight, pulling into a 3-way tie for 19th, as they try to stave off relegation. JoGo was whistled for a handball penalty that was saved by the keeper, but showed his attacking quality throughout the match. Rating: 7

Turkey

Bora Aydinlik (wing, 2005) traveled with Fenerbahçe’s first team and made the first-team squad for their Europa Conference League match with Slavia Prague. Aydinlik has trained with the first team several times before. The Turkish-American was born in Miami, but has only repped Turkey at YNT level so far, both with U-16s and U-17s. Rating: 3

USA

New U-15 coach Tommy Heinemann gets his first taste of action as a U-15 camp gets underway. NYCFC did not make players available, as they’re on a tournament of their own in England. @ProspectsUSMNT analyzed the U-15 roster in detail, as well as laying out his ideal roster for the camp.

Here’s the roster:

At U-20 level, Concacaf unveiled plans for this summer’s U-20 Championship.

USL also unveiled details of this years Academy Cup national tournament.

Atlanta - The Five Stripes loaned homegrowns Justin Garces (GK, 2000) and Efraín Morales (CB/DM, 2004) to their reserves for the season. Atlanta United 2 will play in MLS Next Pro in 2022, rather than the USL Championship, where they’ve spent the past four seasons.

also Atlanta - On the first team, George Campbell (CB, 2001) and Tyler Wolff (wing, 2003) were in the starting lineup, with Campbell earning good reviews. But it was Caleb Wiley (LB, 2004) that made headlines with his first-ever goal.

Chicago - Gaga Slonina (GK, 2004) earned a clean sheet for the Fire, making a crucial save in the final minutes to preserve a 0-0 draw. Slonina, a Polish-American dual-national, also made a statement with a “No War in Ukraine” t-shirt underneath his kit, and a personal message. Rating: 5

Cincinnati - Harrison Robledo (DM, 2003) has signed a homegrown deal with FC Cincinnati. The Colombian-American left the NYCFC academy in Jan 2020, and now makes it pro with his adopted Ohio club. Rating: 1

Columbus - Aidan Morris (DM, 2001) is back from injury, which is good news for the Crew, and could be good news for the USMNT if he puts in a consistent run of strong performances, like his showing in MLS Cup 2020. Rating: 5

Dallas - Antonio Carrera (GK, 2004) became FC Dallas’ 33rd Homegrown signing. The expressed his thankfulness. Eligible for the US and Mexico, Carrera was in January US U-20 camp. Rating: 1

also Dallas - Paxton Pomykal (AM, 1999) put up a nice stat line in the Huntsmen’s 1-1 draw with Toronto: 33/46 passing, 4/6 long balls, 3 fouls drawn, 11/16 ground duels, 4/8 tackles, 9 recoveries, plus a hockey assist that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet. If Paxton is back to top form, he could be an intriguing option for the US. Rating: 6

Fresno - Michael McFarlane (FW, 2003) signed a pro deal with Fuego FC in USL League One. The Jamaican-American was formerly with Barca Academy in Casa Grande, AZ. Rating: 1

Houston - Xavier Valdez (GK, age 18) signed a Homegrown deal with the Dynamo after the Dynamo paid $50,000 each to the Red Bulls and NYCFC for his homegrown rights, since he came from the Shattuck-St. Mary academy, in their “homegrown territory”. The 6-foot-6 keeper is one to watch for the future. Rating: 1

Miami - Noah Allen (LB, 2004) had an eventful week. Under contract with Fort Lauderdale CF in MLS Next Pro, Allen was loaned to parent club Inter Miami. It’s a little odd Allen isn’t already a Homegrown, sparking speculation he may want to sign outside MLS. Next, Allen made the starting lineup for Inter Miami’s season opener. He recapped his experience for the club website:

New York - Caden Clark (AM, 2003) came off the bench and got an assist for the red side of New York. Hopefully he continues to perform well this season before moving to Salzburg or Leipzig in the winter. Rating: 4

In addition to Clark, the Red Bulls handed debuts to Daniel Edelman (DM, 2003) and Serge Ngoma (wing, 2005), much to the delight of their academy fellows:

Philadelphia - Paxten Aaronson (AM, 2003) didn’t start for the Union, but he came off the bench and played well. He’s one of the top young players to watch this season. Rating: 5

Seattle - Obed Vargas (CM, 2005) got the start for the Sounders in their midweek CCL match vs Motagua, and impressed. 40/47 passing, 2/3 tackles, 7 recoveries, 1 interception, 3/7 duels.

Vargas started again for the Sounders in their MLS opener at the weekend, making his league debut. Not a bad week for the 16-year-old, whose performances impressed viewers.

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!