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
Fulham - Alex Borto (GK, 2003) started for Fulham FC’s U-23s. Borto is 18 years old, and was with the US U-20s at the Revelations Cup in November.
Hull - Sincere Hall (FW, 2004) started for Hull City’s U-23s. Hall is just 17 years old, and is also eligible for Bermuda.
Leicester - Chituru Odunze (GK, 2002) made the first team bench for Leicester City’s Conference League match vs Rennes. Odunze also made a 95th-minute save to preserve a clean sheet with the U-23s (below). The ‘keeper played with the US at the U-17 World Cup in 2019, but is a year too old for the current U-20 cycle.
Middlesbrough - Folarin Balogun (FW, 2001) scored again for Boro to make it 2 in 3 games. He has a total of 2 goals and 2 assists in 14 matches since joining from Arsenal FC on loan. Sanjiv also released highlights of Balogun’s time at Boro.
Balogun with another! pic.twitter.com/6rlMsiA0RJ— FIFAmerica | Jake Landau (@AmericanFif) March 15, 2022
Norwich - Jonathan Tomkinson (CB, 2002) started and captained Norwich City’s U-23s at just 19 years of age.
Kiel - Nico Carrera (CB, 2002) made his full debut with Holstein Kiel in the 2. Bundesliga, after previously coming on as a substitute. Carrera is the third-youngest defender to start in the league this season; the other two are in Germany’s YNT setup. Nico put up some nice numbers: 28/32 passing, 1/1 dribbles, 1/3 long balls, 3/3 tackles, and 4/6 ground duels. The 19-year-old is just too old for the current U-20 cycle, and is eligible for both the US and Mexico.
Mönchengladbach - Joe Scally (RB/LB, 2002) got the start for Gladbach vs Hertha Berlin. His previous start came due to injuries, but that was no longer the case, so it was good to see him earn the manager’s trust.
Joe Scally vs Hertha Berlin pic.twitter.com/diN6QDXoaz— dispossessed Kranks (@dis_possessed) March 14, 2022
Also at Gladbach, Michael Wentzel (CB, 2002) scored the tying goal for Gladbach II in the Regionalliga (German fourth tier), making it back-to-back games with goals.
Munich - Taylor Booth (CM, 2001) scored a goal and helped spring another in Bayern Munich II’s 3-0 win over Unterhaching on Friday, then scored a beauty of a free kick in the 5-1 demolition of Eltersdorf this Tuesday. Booth is up to 3 goals and 5 assists on the season. Bayern refused to sell him to Eredivisie side Utrecht in January, forcing him to stay until his contract runs out in the summer.
Bologna - Giovanni D’Agostino (FW, 2004) popped up with Bologna’s U-18s last Thursday. D’Agostino came through the Arlington Soccer Academy.
Mexico called a pair of US-eligible kids into YNT camp; interestingly, both have a third nationality - one with Honduras, the other with El Salvador.
Eindhoven - Richy Ledezma (AM, 2000) is back from injury, as evidenced by him making PSV’s first-team squad for their Eredivisie match with Utrecht on Sunday. It’s a surprise to see him back with the senior team, as he had been playing more with the reserves prior to his most recent injury. Richy is also traveling with the first team for their Conference League match with København.
Glasgow - James Sands (DM, 2000) made a 15’ cameo as Rangers won 3-0 over Red Star Belgrade in Europa League. Sands made his Europa League debut a month ago vs Borussia Dortmund.
https://t.co/Z1y5B7RUZJ— americanwigends (@americanwigends) March 11, 2022
Sands vs Red Star Belgrade
Barcelona - Adrian Gill (CM, 2006) is rumored to sign a new contract with Spanish giants FC Barcelona, with the potential of playing with Barça B in the future. Gill picked up an assist in academy play this week, and got full video treatment from Sanjiv, who also highlighted his game vs Escola F. Gavà on Saturday. Gill was with the US U-17s in November.
San Sebastián - Jonathan Gómez (LB, 2003) got his fifth straight start with Real Sociedad B in La Liga 2, and has now played 446 of the club’s last 450 minutes. The game ended in a 0-0 draw, which will be a great disappointment to the reserve team, which had won 3 straight, and is hoping to avoid relegation to the third division.
a few Jonathan Gómez clips vs Burgos (Sun Mar 13) pic.twitter.com/kcLgCK3eRQ— Justin Moran (@kickswish) March 14, 2022
Bora Aydinlik (wing, 2005) was left off Turkey’s U-17 roster for the Euro Elite Round. Aydinlik has represented Turkey at U-16 and U-17 level before (but never the U.S.), and is still U-15 eligible, meaning he could play in the next U-17 cycle. Having already made the matchday roster for Fenerbahçe’s first team, it makes sense he’s playing above his age group.
U-17 coach Gonzalo Segares called a 20-man roster for games vs Argentina and Uruguay. The roster included a few notable names, such as midfielder Cruz Medina, who recently trialed at Bayern Munich, and Diego Kochen, a keeper playing up three age groups in the FC Barcelona academy system. Kochen’s teammate Adrian Gill was not on the roster, with suspicions he is focusing on his club play, with hopes of a new contract soon. Midfielders Jude Wellings of RSL and Matthew Corcoran were also notable omissions. Corcoran recently left the FC Dallas academy to sign with Birmingham Legion in the USL Championship. Information is sparse with this age group; it’s completely possible both Wellings and Corcoran are injured, or otherwise unavailable.
Pedro Soma, a defender from UE Cornella in Spain, was the one other player from outside the U.S., with 18 of the 20 callups coming from MLS clubs (none from any non-MLS clubs in MLS Next, none from USL academies, and none from any other youth systems). The San Jose academy led all clubs with four players on the roster: Oscar Verhoeven, Edwyn Mendoza, Fidel Barajas, and the aforementioned Medina. Ezekiel Soto was the lone 2007 on the roster, the rest being 2006s.
Marcus Chai at Chasing A Cup wrote a full analysis of the game, as well as posting several clips of individual player moments:
- Oscar Verhoeven with the audacity to try a rainbow
- Diego Kochen making a one-handed reflex save
- Cruz Medina showing some sauce on the ball
- Andre Gitau making a driving run and cutback pass
Lastly, Jack Stephen actually made a full compilation video of Medina’s game:
Atlanta - George Campbell (CB, 2001) went 90’ for Atlanta United’s 2-1 win over Charlotte, and got video treatment.
Charlotte - on the North Carolina side of the game, Adam Armour (LB, 2002) scored the first goal in Charlotte’s franchise history, assisted by Ben Bender (CM, 2001).
Denver - Darren Yapi (FW, 2004) made his MLS debut for Colorado Rapids. Yapi has been in US U-17 camp in the previous cycle, and has trained with Arsenal and Club Brugge.
El Paso - Last weekend marked the opening of the USL Championship season, and Diego Luna (AM, 2003) started with a bang, getting an assist before being subbed off due to injury at 89’. Luna has been in both US U-20 camps to start the new cycle.
Despite the loss, @eplocomotivefc’s opening match in the Hutchinson false-nine-centric, 4-3-3ish look was exciting. Below, I’ve highlighted Diego Luna within that framework; he’s liberated to pop up anywhere that space exists. pic.twitter.com/hdcYCBK99g— john morrissey (@USLTactics) March 13, 2022
Las Vegas - Tony Leone (CB, 2004) picked right up where he left off with Las Vegas Lights in the USL Championship, starting and going 90’ in his preferred position in a 0-2 loss. Leone made 23 appearances with Las Vegas last season. The top CB prospect in the U.S. U-20 pool, Leone has opted to represent Mexico’s youth teams so far.
Los Angeles - Kobi Henry (CB, 2004) went 90’ for USL champions Orange County SC. Henry has been in camps with both the U.S. U-20s and the full national team in the past few months, as well as reportedly trialing with Ligue 1 club Stade Reims.
Louisville - Josh Wynder (CB, 2005) made his USL debut for Louisville City, starting and going 90’. The 16-year-old was trialing with at least one major club in Portugal in recent months.
From the good people who brought us Jonathan Gómez, I introduce to you another exciting young prospect:— Marcus Chai (@chai_asc) March 13, 2022
CB, Josh Wynder
16 year old started at LCB for Lou City tonight. A very, very intriguing ball playing CB. https://t.co/1J3HXjAG0z
Miami - It’s only fitting that Noah Allen (LB, 2004) earned a homegrown deal with Inter Miami, having already started the club’s first two games of the season on a short-term loan from reserve side Fort Lauderdale CF. Allen was in January’s US U-20 camp.
New York - Andres Jasson (FB/wing, 2002) picked up an assist in NYCFC’s 4-1 romp over Montreal Impact on Saturday, before going 90’ at RWB in the Pigeon’s 2-4 loss away to Comunicaciones in CCL (NYC did advance on aggregate).
Philadelphia - Nathan Harriel (RB/LB, 2001) put up some nice numbers for the Philadelphia Union vs San Jose: 5/7 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 interceptions, 7 recoveries, 12 duels won, and 3/4 aerial duels.
San Jose - Niko Tsakiris (CM, 2005) made his MLS debut for the San Jose Earthquakes! Niko is the son of current U-20 assistant coach Shaun Tsakiris, who also coached the US U-16s from 2016-18.
Seattle - Seattle Sounders midfielder Obed Vargas (2005) was asked about his international allegiance, following an impressive start to the season:
Any talk about NT representation is probably premature but he was asked. Said he grew up rooting for Mexico, but since signing with the Sounders and getting called into USYNT "it has leveled out the playing field. I still don’t know. My heart is in two places right now."— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) March 10, 2022
Washington, D.C. - Loudoun United signed Tyler Freeman (wing, 2003), shortly after Freeman was abruptly cut by Sporting KC. Loudoun also received Ted Ku-DiPietro (wing, 2002) and Hayden Sargis (CB, 2002) on loan from parent club DC United. Both young players have had success in USL already, with Ku-DiPietro earning a contract with DC by impressing at Loudoun, and Sargis earning a starting spot with independent USL club Sacramento Republic before joining DC this season.
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!