Series Overview

This is this first article in a series of articles that looks at the landscape of United States eligible youth soccer players. Notice I used the term US eligible. I am defining this as a player, that to my understanding, has the ability to play for the United States and has not yet been cap-tied at the senior level. This means there will be some players on this list that might surprise and may never play for the United States, but they could and isn’t that possibility what makes tracking all of these guys fun?

In this series I will be reporting on players born in years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 — the U19 to U15 levels from the 2022 season. The first part of this series will focus on who I grade as the top 20 prospects for the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 class and then it will commence with a youth talent ranking of all the United States MLS clubs, specifically looking at the talent that each club has within their 2003 to 2007 classes. 

Youth Grading Framework

Let’s start by saying it is really difficult to scout and grade youth soccer players and it gets even harder the younger you go, which is why I don’t typically scout players below the U15 level. My grading system is comprised of three categories: physical profile, technical ability and soccer intelligence / intangibles. There are a lot of sub-categories within each, but I won’t go that deep here. The grades that I give are based on where the player is at relative to their age level, not where I project them to be. With this framework, it’s possible that a player grades out as an elite U17 player, but doesn’t progress in any of the aspects of the game and turns out to be a very average player. 

2003 Class — Top 20

The 2003 class is one of the most talented groups in recent history and probably the second most talented group of the five classes that I will be covering. This is the group that is eligible for the U20 World Cup next summer, so it is an important one to get to know. Additionally, many of these players were on the U20 team that won the Concacaf tournament that qualified the United States for both the 2023 U20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. What you might find interesting is that many of the players on this list were not on that roster. The reasons for that vary, but the most common are that they were not released by their clubs, they were in offseason training overseas or they were injured. This shows how deep this class is and that there is another level they can hit if some of these other players are available for the 2023 tournament. 

#1 | CF, Ricardo Pepi, FC Augsburg

I think a lot of us forget how young Ricardo Pepi is and have become impatient with his progress in the German Bundesliga, but it’s important to remember that Pepi was eligible for the U20 Concacaf Championships. Paxten Aaronson dominated the tournament, but doesn’t start for Philadelphia — imagine what Pepi would have done in that tournament? The point here is that he is still very advanced for his age. He is the only player on this list to impact the USMNT and he is the only player to carve out a role in one of the big 5 leagues in Europe. And let’s not forget he was sold for a base of 18M! We should all still be very excited about Rico and give him time to adjust and develop in Germany.

What makes him special? 

I believe that it is Rico’s mentality that makes him a special young player. Yes, he has all of the tools to be a great striker, but it is his work rate, determination and his desire and understanding for how to get in dangerous positions that make him a special talent. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

I think Rico can become a little more effective in creating his own space for his own opportunities. He is still a little rough with the ball at his feet and so often times he is reliant on others to find him in dangerous places. World class strikers can create their own opportunities and be in the right place at the right time. 

#2 | LCB, Bryan Okoh, RB Salzburg

Bryan Okoh is a Swiss-American that has never played for the United States, but he still could. Bryan was days away from not being eligible for this list because he was about to get his first start for Switzerland senior team in a World Cup Qualifying game, but unfortunately hurt his knee in training and has not played a competitive game since. The fact that Switzerland was going to get Bryan a senior team cap in WCQ before he ever played a single Austrian Bundesliga minute tells you how highly they think of him.

All reports are that he is recovering well and getting back to fitness. Bryan has not yet penetrated the RB Salzburg first team, but if he gets back to full fitness, I think that could happen towards the end of this season or next season. He seems pretty committed to Switzerland so I think it is a real long shot that he ever plays for the red, white and blue, but you never know! 

What makes him special? 

There are quite a lot of things to like about Bryan Okoh’s game but it’s hard not to start with the physical profile. If you were going to put together a modern day center-back, they’d probably look a lot like Bryan. He has a strong frame, he is quick and fast and he is plenty big enough to be effective in the air. Did I mention he is left-footed? Yeah, he’s got all of the tools to be a special LCB for a long time. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

I believe that the biggest thing for Bryan right now is more game time at a higher level of competition. As a center-back, developing instincts and decision making at a high level of competition requires minutes and he hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to play highly competitive soccer yet. He is still very young for a center-back and as long as he stays fit this will likely come very soon. 

#3 | RW, Kevin Paredes, VfL Wolfsburg

Kevin Paredes is a Dominican-American who moved from DC United to Wolfsburg during the 2022 winter transfer window. Many pundits thought that the move was premature and that another half season or full season in MLS would have better prepared him for a move overseas and a big year could have net a bigger return for DC United. I was one of the people in that camp, but I will never criticize a player for moving to Europe, especially when it is to a big club because you never know what will happen in life and you never know if an opportunity will come again. So far, Kevin hasn’t had much of a chance at Wolfsburg. He played in 2 games last year in blowouts. This year, the goal for Kevin is to get consistent minutes and earn the trust of his manager to have a consistent role. 

What makes him special? 

Kevin is one of the best dribblers in the entire USMNT pool. His combination of technical ability, creativity and quickness make him a nightmare to defend 1v1. This is a major reason why I see him best suited on the wing because it is where he can leverage his best trait most often. The next step for Kevin is to get stronger. Once he does that, he could be pretty unstoppable in 1v1 situations. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Kevin really needs to find a positional home and get a chance to develop there. For DC United he was primarily a left-wingback and for Wolfsburg we have seen him play both as an attacking midfielder and a right-wing. I think his game is best suited to be a left-footed right-wing that can leverage his dribbling ability to cut in and shoot off of his dominant foot. Hopefully Wolfsburg will provide some consistency and opportunity to grow. 

#4 | LB, Jonathan Gómez, REAL SOCIEDAD B

Jonathan Gomez or JoGo, is the top Mexican-American dual national that has yet to declare his commitment to either national team. He has played in senior friendlies for both countries and has also been in camps for both U20 teams. He did not play in the Concacaf U20 tournament because of a knock, but it was looking like he was going to play for Mexico, but that is not 100% confirmed. Mexico did not make the U20 World Cup, so JoGo can still play for the United States in that tournament if he does not declare for Mexico before then. There will be upcoming decisions for JoGo to make and the fans from both federations will be watching with bated breath. On the club side of things, Jonathan is trying to break into the Real Sociedad first team. It is looking like he will get some opportunities with the first team this season and split his time between the first team and B team. The sooner he starts impacting the first team, the sooner the dual national race will heat up even more. 

What makes him special? 

Whenever I have talked to people that have followed JoGo’s development about what impresses them the most, they all say the same thing: how quickly he adapts when moving from one level of competition to a higher level of competition. This narrative speaks to his elite soccer intelligence and his work ethic.

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

JoGo is asked to be a left-back in defensive line of four people, which means he has critical defensive responsibilities. This is an area where JoGo can improve to make him more ready for LaLiga and for International soccer. More specifically, JoGo physicality on the defensive end is where he needs to be more reliable. As of right now, bigger attackers can get the best of him in duel situations and moments where you need your fullback to hold up physically — for example when a fullback needs to rotate and cover on the weak side of an attack. 

#5 | CM, Jack McGlynn, Philadelphia Union

American soccer academies have not historically produce a lot of players that are elite technically, but Jack McGlynn is just that. Jack, like Paxten mentioned above, came through the Philadelphia Academy and is in his second professional season. Jack is having the most productive second season of the young Philadelphia products and is started to get some consistent starts. Jack was also part of the recent U20 Concacaf Championship team. Jack is another player that is certainly on the European radar. He has the type of profile that will be coveted by certain clubs in certain leagues, specifically the Spanish LaLiga and Italian Serie A.  

What makes him special? 

To put it simply, his left foot, but to be more specific I think it is his vision and array of passes that he is capable of completing. He is an elite passer by any standard, you name the type of pass, he can execute at a very consistent rate. He can also a strike it, but I think his passing ability is what really makes him special. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

The big knock on Jack is his speed and quickness shortcomings. There is still time for Jack to develop physically, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to believe he is going to get much faster or quicker, but he can get stronger and with the right supporting cast and in the right system, Jack is a major weapon. 

#6 | AM, Paxten Aaronson, Philadelphia Union

Paxten Aaronson is the brother of Brenden Aaronson if you didn’t know already. Paxten, like Brenden, is making a name for himself as a US soccer player. Paxten is in his second pro season with Philly Union and hasn’t had as big of an impact this year in MLS as many though, including myself, but he had a massive impact at the Concacaf U20 tournament earlier this summer and he won player of the tournament. Paxten has a lot of attention from notable clubs in Europe, but it may be another year before we see him leave. It would be nice to see him become a more consistent contributor for Philadelphia before he departs. 

What makes him special? 

Paxten’s ideal position is an attacking-mid similar to his brother, but he is a different kind of player. What I like most about Paxten’s game is his composure and technique in the final third. He’s very adept at setting up his teammates for big chances and getting in dangerous spots that give him good chances to score. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Paxten needs to get a little stronger on the ball so that he can make more of an impact with the ball at his feet. He is a fairly technical dribbler, not super creative, but efficient and that ability can be magnified in a positive way if he could protect the ball more from big and strong defenders. 

#7 | LW, Brian Gutiérrez, Chicago Fire

Brian Gutierrez (Guti) is a Mexican-American in his second professional season with Chicago after coming up through the Fire Academy. Brian has not always been touted as a noteworthy prospect, yet he has developed into a really good prospect and is becoming a very effective professional player at a young age. Guti has been a part time starter and consistent contributor this season and he continues to develop his game. He wasn’t released to play for the U20s this summer, but will be a preferred selection for this group if available. Another year or so of growth will likely initiate demand overseas and there are likely clubs monitoring him already. 

What makes him special? 

I really love Brian’s fearlessness and creativity when he is attacking a defense. This trait first caught my eye in the Revelations Cup against Brazil when the US team was getting dominated pretty badly. Brian came on in the second half and just a fearlessness about him and he really made things happen. I love an attacker that is courageous and is willing to try things because it shows a high level of confidence. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

The ambition described above is a little bit of a double edge sword. While I love his fearlessness, as he continues to develop technically, I’d love to see him be a little more measured and clinical without taking that bravery away too much. Perfecting that balance is what makes a great attacking player. 

#8 | AM, Caden Clark, New York Red Bulls (RB Leipzig)

Caden Clark has long been a top prospect in this class. Talent has never been the question with Caden, more recently the question has been availability and consistency. Caden was off to a really hot start last season and was on track to join the USMNT for the Gold Cup before an Appendectomy sidelined him and derailed his season. He started to regain his form at the end of the season. This year was kind of the same, he had some nice moments early in the season but an injury at a U20 camp sidelined him and he still doesn’t look like he is back in form.

Last summer Caden signed a deal with RB Leipzig, but he has yet to join the club. There have been rumors that Caden isn’t happy with his role at NYRB and he’d like to move to Europe this summer. We’ll see if that happens and if that helps him continue to grow and eventually get a chance with RB Leipzig. 

What makes him special? 

There is a ton to like about Caden’s game but what I like most is his vision and ability to execute high difficulty passes in the final third. To me, this is what makes him more of a 10 than a wing or an 8 because he can find and execute that final ball to unlock a defense. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Good things tend to happen when Caden is on the ball, but he doesn’t get on the ball enough. He needs to continue to learn how to make himself available and more consistently impact a game. Even in the U20 tournament there were times where he went missing for stretches in the game. 

#9 | CM, Alex Alvarado Jr, FC Vizela

Alex Alvarado is another Mexican-American that could likely be coveted by both Federations, but as of right now, Alex has only played for the US and I have not heard any reports that he is thinking otherwise. Alex came up through the LA Galaxy system but left last summer to join recently promoted Portuguese club, Vizela. Alex spent some time in USL with LA Galaxy’s reserve team in 2020 and impressed, but he really came out of nowhere to get first team minutes with Vizela last year, one of the few teenagers to get time in the first tier of Portugal. Alvarado has become more of a known name after the Concacaf U20 tournament after having a very good tournament and showing a ton of ability. It has been speculated that Alex is inline for a big jump in minutes this year with Vizela who surprised many by avoiding relegation last season. Some people are even speculating that Alex might be a starter for Vizela. If so, Alex would be the first player in this age group to become a consistent starter in Europe. 

What makes him special? 

Alex is a really well rounded player but I think it is his ball carrying ability that I like the most. He is really smooth on the half turn and he knows how to break lines with his dribbling ability and more often than not he releases the ball at the right moments. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

One of the other areas of Alex’s game that I really admire is his work rate and toughness, but sometimes that aggressiveness lacks control and he can go into challenges erratically. In order for him to stay on the field more by not accumulating cards and injuries, I’d like to see him be a little more precise and measured with his tackles. 

#10 | RB, Justin Che, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Justin Che is a German-American and a really challenging player to grade and is a player that a lot of USYNT pundits disagree on because of it. Justin came through the Dallas Academy and also had a loan stint with Bayern Munich’s U19s. He played half of a season with Dallas last year at RB and then went on a 18-month loan with Hoffenheim where they have an option to buy. At Hoffenheim he has played as a right wing-back and a right center-back in a back line of three. A big part of what makes Justin a tough grade is that his position is unclear. Unfortunately, it seems that the loan with Hoffenheim isn’t going to plan and it is unclear where Justin could go from here given he has a full season left on the loan deal. He could return to Dallas and likely get a decent amount of playing time there, or he could look to get another deal to Europe. 

What makes him special? 

Justin has as much talent as anyone on this list. He is big, strong, fast and he is pretty impressive on the ball as a dribbler and a passer. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

The big question scouts and managers have had with Justin is his defensive instincts and awareness. He has really struggled to track runs over his young career and if the state of the Hoffenheim loan is any indication, it doesn’t seem to be improving at a fast enough rate. Justin has all the tools, but if he can’t be trusted defensively it is going to be tough for him to get minutes anywhere. As of right now, I think right-back is where he is best suited to make a positive impact on the pitch. 

#11 | AM, Diego Luna, Real Salt Lake

Diego Luna is Mexican-American and another star from the Concacaf U20 tournament. Diego has taken a different path to get to where he is at. He started in the San Jose Earthquakes Academy and then moved to the Barca Residency in Arizona. From Barca, he went to USL club El Paso. After a very impressive first season at El Paso and a promising start to the 2022 season, Diego moved to Real Salt Lake in MLS. Diego went on trial with a few clubs in Portugal as well before moving to RSL. Diego is slowly working his way into the RSL rotation. He has made six appearances and one start. It looks like it is going to take a little time to adjust to the higher level of competition. 

What makes him special? 

Diego is a really unique player and not just because of his body type, but because he is a very cerebral and creative player. It’s that creativity that stands out to me. He sees things and tries things that a lot of other players might miss and a lot of times that leads to numerical advantages and great opportunities for his team. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

It’s the easiest and obvious thing to say, and I apologize for that, but he doesn’t have the typical body type of a professional soccer player — and that is more than okay — but he will need to maximize his fitness levels to reach his highest ceiling. 

#12 | LW, Dante Sealy, Jong PSV (FC Dallas)

Dante is Trinidadian-American and another Dallas Academy prospect that has been highly regarded for a long time. Dante is a left footed winger with a ton of physical and technical ability. Dante is currently on loan with PSVs U21 team and on a homegrown contract with Dallas. He debuted for Dallas in 2020, but did not play much in 2020 or 2021 before going on loan to PSV. His first season at PSV had a very high peak with a hat-trick performance, but he did not score the rest of the season (he played in 18 more games). It’s that inconsistency that has been the biggest criticism of him, he tends to disappear. If PSV is going to consider keeping him and giving him an opportunity with the first team, he is going to need to be a lot more consistent and have a big season for Jong PSV. 

What makes him special? 

Dante has a rare combination of quickness, strength and dribbling ability that make him a lot to handle in 1v1 situations. In an interview, Paxten Aaronson said that Dante was the most impressive player in camp during the initial U20 camp late in 2021. The talent is absolutely there. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

This was noted above, but I’ll say it again, Dante needs to show that he can deliver high level performances more consistently. Is it a focus thing? Effort thing? I don’t know but this will determine how high he can take his career. 

#13 | RW, Jonathan Perez, LA Galaxy

Jonathan Perez is a Mexican-American that has come up through the LA Galaxy Academy and signed a homegrown contract in 2020. Unfortunately for US soccer fans, Jonathan is reportedly very committed to Mexico and it is pretty unlikely he suits up for the Red, White and Blue, but he fits the criteria for this list and he is a very good player. Johnny has not played for the US since the U16 level and has been a fixture for Mexico youth teams from that point on. Mexico did not qualify for the U20 World Cup or the Olympics, so that means Perez won’t have any competitive tournaments with Mexico for the remainder of his youth career, so his next decision will be his biggest decision, if and when that comes, and that will be at the senior level. At the club level, like many Galaxy products, he hasn’t received a ton of opportunity, only 18 league minutes — most of his time lately has come with G2 in USL. 

What makes him special? 

Perez is a coveted left-footed winger that plays on the right side which allows him to use his very good ball manipulation and ball control to beat defenders 1v1 and cut in on his strong left foot and he does have a good left foot. He is also good at going to the end line with a nice burst and getting dangerous crosses in. He is a pretty polished winger that can be very dangerous in the attack. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Jonathan can get bodied by bigger and stronger defenders, so adding a little bit of muscle to his frame will help him sustain longer play against more physical competition. 

#14 | RCB, Jalen Neal, LA Galaxy

Jalen is a LA Galaxy Academy product who has yet to receive his first team debut in MLS. He is in his third season for LA Galaxy II. Each season he has played more and more minutes at the USL level and this year he has been a starter whenever he is available. The LA Galaxy manager, Greg Vanney, spoke very highly of Jalen in the preseason which led me to believe that Jalen might get a chance to breakthrough with the first team this year. So far, there has been no sign of that. He has only made the bench twice all season. Hopefully Jalen will get a chance at some point this season or next. 

What makes him special? 

Jalen is a very well-rounded center-back prospect. There aren’t many big holes in his game, but there aren’t a lot of superlatives either. He has pretty good size, good mobility, he is aggressive, he has pretty good instincts and awareness and he is above average as a passer. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

I think the biggest thing keeping Jalen from getting a shot with LA Galaxy is his strength and projection to be able to handle grown men attackers consistently. Remember that center-backs tend to breakthrough much later than other positions and the physicality of the position is a big part of it. He has shown growth in this area in USL where he does face grown men, but further filling out his frame will definitely help his case for MLS minutes. 

#15| WING, Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes

Cade is a Mexican-American and a San Jose homegrown that is in his third season with the first team. He had a breakout season of sorts last year with 5 goals and 5 assists in only 1,600+ minutes, a pretty impressive output rate. He has been in and out of the starting lineup this year and has been contributing at a slightly lesser clip. There was a time when Cade was much higher on my 2003 list, but the development curve seems to be flattening out a bit, which is the big concern. There is still a good amount of interest overseas because of the elite physical profile — San Jose recently turned down an offer from Reims in Ligue 1. The best thing for Cade might be a change of scenery. Perhaps it is San Jose that hasn’t helped in his development? Not sure, but San Jose wants to cash in on Cade so they are likely waiting for his stock to pop back up a bit. Cade is still a very intriguing prospect with a high ceiling. 

What makes him special? 

As mentioned earlier, Cade is a very elite prospect physically. He does not look like most teenagers. I believe he was offered a football scholarship from San Jose St, but chose soccer instead. Cade is strong, quick and has good long speed, very few players can keep up with him in space. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

The biggest thing keeping Cade from being an elite prospect is his ball control and touch. Right now, he doesn’t have a lot of ways to beat defenders 1v1 outside of using his speed and power and that approach won’t work at the highest levels. He needs to develop his technical ability on the ball and have a more of a diverse plan to beat defenders. 

#16 | RB, Kayden Pierre, Sporting Kansas City

Kayden Pierre is an ascending player on this list. I was not super impressed with him in his early U20 camps and appearances, but he’s hit a different level this year and Sporting KC has taken notice. He has been starting pretty regularly for a struggling KC team. He started his Academy career at Vardar before joining KCs Academy in 2018. This is his first season in the MLS after receiving a homegrown contract last year. The big change I have seen in Kayden is that he appears to have added muscle and he seems a lot more confident on the ball. Kayden has the looks of a late bloomer that could end up having one of the better careers from this class. 

What makes him special? 

Kayden is another with a well-rounded game, but doesn’t do anything at an elite level quite yet. He has a really nice physical profile for a RB, especially know that he has added some strength. He has always had great speed. I like his offensive skillset as well, he is tidy with the ball and he is an accurate passer/crosser. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Kayden is a pretty good defender, maybe not concretely above average, but he is getting there. I’d like to see his positioning and awareness continue to improve as a weak side defender. 

#17 | CM, Moses Nyeman, DC United

Moses Nyeman is a DC homegrown who was considered an elite prospect in his earlier academy years. The trend line for Moses hasn’t been great lately, mainly due to injuries. Moses is in his third season for DC and after starting the first two games of the season, he has not made an appearance since. He was injured for a while, but recently his absence have been due to coaches decisions. I still believe Moses can be a good professional player, but he needs to stay fit and get more consistent minutes to continue to develop. Moses has not yet played with the current U20 cycle due to availability and fitness, but I still think he has a chance to get into that squad and make the U20 World Cup roster. 

What makes him special? 

Moses has always been able to control the ball really well. He is a player that can beat a press or breakdown a defense with his quickness and his dribbling ability. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Moses will never be the biggest guy on the field, but that shouldn’t hurt him too much because he is very skilled and quick. He has also added some muscle in recent years. The biggest thing for Moses is to stay healthy and get minutes. 

#18 | CF, Quími Ordóñez, FC Cincinnati

Quimi is a Guatemalan-American who has only represented Guatemala at the Youth International level, most recently at the Concacaf U20 tournament where he was a standout, scoring 5 goals in 6 games. Quimi started at the Columbus Academy but moved to Cincinnati’s Academy in 2019. Last year he was signed to a homegrown deal. This is his first season where he has received first team minutes, but he is getting the majority of his minutes in MLS Next Pro and that is where he caught my eye. He was never invited to a US U20 camp from what I know and I think that was a mistake. Without Pepi, the U20 group was thin on strikers and I think Quimi would have been a really good option for the team, and he justified that thought in the U20 tournament. 

What makes him special? 

What first caught my eye with Quimi is his composure in the final third. He seems to make really good decisions and is pretty clinical when executing on those ideas. He is smooth on the ball and he is a good passer in tight spaces. He has also shown that he can score in a variety of ways. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

The biggest thing Quimi needs is more game time against higher competition so he gets more experience understanding how he can beat more experienced and higher quality defenses. Unfortunately right now there are a lot of really good options at striker for FC Cincinnati so he isn’t getting a ton of opportunity. 

#19 | DM/CM, Danny Leyva, Seattle Sounders

Danny Leyva is a Mexican-American and a Seattle homegrown and was one of the first 2003s to receive a pro deal in 2019, the same year he made his MLS debut, but he didn’t really start getting minutes until last year. Danny has been considered a top 2003 for a long time, but his start has faded a bit over the last couple of years. He is still a very good prospect with some really impressive tools. He has struggled to carve out a significant role in Seattle, and frankly, Seattle has struggled to give young talents a significant role. This year, he was surpassed in the midfield depth chart by 2005, Obed Vargas, who recently has been sidelined due to a back injury. That has given Danny a little bit more of an opportunity, but not as much as I would have like to see. It’s possible that Danny may need a move to get more of an opportunity because the midfield group is pretty crowded in Seattle right now. 

What makes him special? 

Danny has a similar profile to Jack McGlynn, but his technical tools are not quite as elite and his physical tools are a little bit better. Danny has a really nice touch and ball control and he is a very, very good passer. He can play both the 6 and the 8, though he needs an athletic partner in midfield to be most effective. 

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

Danny can look like a liability at times defensively and while he may never be more than average physically, he can up his reading of the game so he is one step ahead of his opponents to make up for a lack of quickness. 

#20 | DM, Daniel Edelman, New York Red Bulls

Danny Edelman started with PDA and moved to the RB Academy in 2020. He received his homegrown deal at the beginning of this season. Danny is a true Red Bulls type of player: high energy, aggressive and a non stop motor. Danny profiles as more of a destroyer type as a 6, but his ball skills have improved in the last year or two. Danny has received spot minutes this year which I think is appropriate for where he is at. He was part of the Concacaf U20 championship team and split time with 2004, Rokas Pukstas as the 6 for that team. That is a position that should have a good amount of competition heading into the U20 World Cup between Vargas, Leyva, Edelman, Pukstas and even Alvarado who can play there. 

What makes him special? 

Like a lot of Red Bull prospects, I love Danny’s motor and aggressiveness. He does a great job of managing danger on counter attacks and triggering counters himself. He has a nice athletic profile and his mentality on the pitch is one a manager will love.

Biggest opportunity for improvement? 

In order for Danny to move from a good prospect to a very good prospect, he needs to continue to improve on the ball. Right now he is efficient and makes the smart and safe plays, which is nothing to complain about, but if he can become a more dangerous and brave passer, he could become a very good player from this age group. 

Honorable Mentions: RB, Mauricio Cuevas, Club NXT / GK, Alex Borto, Fulham U21 / WING, Vaughn Covil, Hull City / CB, Casey Walls, San Jose Earthquakes / CB, Marcus Ferkranus, Phoenix Rising FC (LA Galaxy) / AM, Tyler Wolff, SK Beveren (Atlanta United) / WING, Tyler Freeman, Loudoun United / WING, Edson Azcuna, El Paso Locomotive (Inter Miami)