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A breakdown of the 2003 age group



In the last two segments of this series we took at look at the 2001 and 2002 age groups. Today we are going to take a look at the 2003 age group. This age group will comprise the core of the 2023 u20 World Cup cycle where they will be looking to not only make a deep run in the tournament, but go on and win the entire thing. The 2003 age group is potentially the best age group that the United States has produced and is on track to be even better than the 2000’s who produced players such as Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah, Sergiño Dest, Chris Richards, Richie Ledezma, Alex Mendez, Chris Gloster, and more. In this article we will take a look at the cycle’s strengths and weaknesses, highlight the top players in this age group, take a look at the depth chart for the 2003 age group, and rank the top 25 players in the age group.


The 2003’s are the creme de la creme for youth national team age groups. Every single position does not have just one good player but at least two or three players who will have very good professional careers, some positions are even four or five players deep. The age group has numerous players with the ability to go overseas and play in the top European leagues and the players that are in the second or third string of the depth chart even have the potential to become stars in MLS and a few may actually develop into European level players. Players that are in the top 15 of this age group would likely be top four or five players in other age groups, this age group is that talented. A few players to particularly pay attention to in this cycle are Moses Nyeman, Jonathan Gomez, Ricardo Pepi, Daniel Leyva, and Elton Chifamba but there are other prospects that have some serious promise as well which will be highlighted later on.

The attack for this age group in particular is notable compared to other cycles. The strikers have four players will special talent in Ricardo Pepi, Patrick Weah, Sam Sarver, and Matthew Roou and are only matched by the depth of the 2000 cycle. The wingers are even deeper than the forwards with Dante Sealy, Chris Garcia, Fabrizio Bernal, Kevin Paredes, Patrick Bohui, Cade Cowell, and Tyler Freemann. Cade Cowell has already made his Major League Soccer debut which would make him a guaranteed starter for most age groups and is not even a top five winger for this age group. When the cycle is at full-strength, they will be impossible to keep out of the back of the net.

The midfielder also have extraordinary depth compared to other youth national team age groups. The attacking midfielders are also very deep with Moses Nyeman, Jonathan Perez (who is also an amazing winger), Paxten Aaronson (who may end up being even better than his older brother and USMNT player, Brendan Aaronson), and Selmir Micsic. The center midfielders are stacked with Elton Chifamba, Caden Clark, Javier Casas, and Colby Quinones while the defensive midfielders are equally deep with Daniel Leyva, Tarun Karumanchi, Jack McGlynn, and Sota Kitahara.

The depth does not fall at all with the defenders who are also loaded with talent. The fullback strength for this age group is easily the best of any youth national team age group with Jonzathan Gomez, Mauricio Cuevas, Anthony Sorenson, Noah Hall, Michael Halliday, and Jacob Greene. The center backs are the one spot that does not have notable depth yet but yet again has more potential players than any other age group with Casey Walls, Justin Che, Dante Huckaby, Eric Kizner, Marcus Fernakus, Jalen Neal, Jalen Calloway, Israel Carrillo, and Niklas Dossmann.

What is truly remarkable about the age group is that there is only one foreign based player relevent in the cycle in Niklas Dossmann who is already pretty low in the center back depth chart. There are currently no other players in Europe that have emerged in this age group which means that over the next three years there will be even more players with high ceilings that will break out and stake their place in the 2003 player pool. You can typically bet on one or two foreign based players to break into a youth national team age group’s depth chart.

Of the u20 eligible age groups, the 2003’s are the best age group that the United States has and it is not even close. What matters now is these players breaking into their first teams and getting minutes in Major League Soccer or heading abroad to Europe and finding minutes in a major European league. When you take a look at the 2003 age group and add in the best 2004 and 2005 players then you are looking at a team that has a very realistic shot at winning the 2023 u20 World Cup and should be disappointed if the team does not reach at least the semifinal. The 2023 u20 cycle at full strength would likely beat the five previous u20 cycles (three of them who made quarterfinal runs in 2015, 2017, and 2019) by two or three goals at least. The 2003 age group went undefeated during their u16 cycle during 2018 and 2019 with a record of 8-3-0 (w-d-l) and is showing no signs of slowing down from there. Nothing is a guarantee for youth players, but USMNT fans should be very excited about the potential of this age group long term as they will be relevant in USMNT rosters all the way until the 2034 World Cup.


For such a strong age group, there is a weak spot for the 2003’s and that is the goalkeepers. The United States has historically produced amazing goalkeepers but this age group is the outlier in a negative way for the post millennium age groups. Eliot Jones, Anthony Ramos, and Gavin Krenecki are the three best goalkeepers in this age group but it is very likely that none of the three will be relevant for 2023 u20 cycle or the USMNT long term. The best goalkeeper that has played in a 2003 youth national team game has actually been Gabriel Slonina who is born in 2004 who is a very deep goalkeeper age group. When your only weak spot is in a position that has historically been the USMNT’s strength and is very deep in other age groups then the lack of depth in this age group is something fans should not be worried about.

Players to watch in the 2003 age group

Moses Nyeman

Moses Nyeman has long been regarded by many as the best prospect in the 2003 age group. Moses is a Liberian born player who is currently in the process of getting his American citizenship while currently playing for DC United in the MLS and Loundon United in the USL. Moses is an attacking midfielder who is fast, strong for his size, an elite passer, an elite dribbler, has a nose for goal, has an elite soccer IQ, and also is very adept defensively. Moses is a player who has a ceiling of being a true star in Europe and a floor of being a very good player in Europe.

The only weak part of Nyeman’s game is his size. Moses currently 5’5 135lbs so he is likely going to be the smallest player on the field in every game he plays in. Moses will be a late bloomer as DC United will be tentative of playing Nyeman and risking an injury until he ads more muscle to his frame. Even as a late bloomer fans should not cool down on Moses as a prospect, this kid could very well be the solution to the USMNT’s long problem at the 10 position. Realistically, even though Nyeman is undersized, he is ready for first team action with DC United as he will very quickly prove to be too good for the USL as he dissects opposition defenses every single game. Expect Moses to be a regular in the DC United squad by the end of the 2020 MLS season regardless of how short it may be due to COVID-19. Moses will take longer to develop and won’t be a USMNT player by 2022 but this kid is on track to be one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet for a very long time.

Jonathan Gomez

Jonathan Gomez is a player who many consider to be the USMNT’s best left back prospect along with Kobe Hernandez-Foster. Jonathan Gomez is another superstar in the making that has been developed by the FC Dallas academy. Gomez has every tool that you could dream about having in a left back. He is quick, smart, an elite 1v1 defender, an amazing dribbler, can play a pin point cross, and is the best attacking fullback in the youth national team system. The only difference between Gomez and Kobe Hernandez-Foster is that Kobe is a bit better of a defender and more athletic while Gomez is a better attacker and cleaner on the ball.

Jonathan Gomez has recently left the FC Dallas academy and has signed with Louisville City FC in the USL Championship where he will be playing under former u17 national team coach, John Hackworth. Gomez was punished by FC Dallas for making his intentions known that he was going to leave for Europe when he turns 18 and was played at the u17 level where he is age eligible but far above the level of play. As a result of that Gomez decided to leave his childhood club and sign for Louisville City where he will play at a higher level for the next year and a half then he would have at North Texas SC who is in the USL League One. FC Dallas is playing checkers while Jonathan Gomez is playing chess.

European clubs are hot on Jonathan’s trail as he will be a first team ready player when he turns 18 in 2021 and will instantly improve any Bundesliga side that he is in. Jonathan Gomez is not likely to be a USMNT player for the 2022 World Cup cycle as it will likely take him until 2022 to break through in Europe but he constant call up in the 2026, 2030 and 2034 World Cup cycle rosters. Jonathan Gomez and Kobe Hernandez-Foster should give USMNT a sense of relief as we finally have some true left back talent in the pipeline.

Ricardo Pepi

Ricardo Pepi burst onto the youth national team scene in 2018 when he scored an absurd 19 goals in 8 games in the Development Academy. Ricardo Pepi is a tall, lanky striker from FC Dallas with a goal scoring ability rarely seen in prospects worldwide. Ricardo Pepi was a locked in starter at striker for the 2019 u17 World Cup cycle while playing a year up. It does not matter what level Pepi is playing in, he is going to find a way to score goals if his team can get him the ball. Pepi is fast, strong, makes intelligent runs off of the ball, and is a lethal finisher within 30-yards of the net. My favorite quality of Ricardo Pepi’s is his work rate. Pepi will be one of the hardest workers that you see in a game whenever he is on the field and has routinely been lauded by coaches and teammates for his work rate over the last three years.

Ricardo Pepi has the second highest ceiling in the USMNT striker pool after Josh Sargent. Pepi will be a key player for the 2021 u20 World Cup cycle and should he find MLS success in the next two years could potentially break into the USMNT who’s striker depth is very thin while there are very few quality forwards in good form. Pepi turns 18 in January next year and will likely have clubs be bidding for his services the day he turns 18 and could very well be playing in Europe in the later half of 2021 as FC Dallas have the striker depth to be able to sell Pepi and still stay afloat. Ricardo Pepi will be playing in the MLS this year backing up Zdeněk Ondrášek (also known as Cobra) and could very well win the starting position for FC Dallas if he can score goals at the same rate that he has in the USL, DA, and youth national teams.

Daniel Leyva

Daniel Leyva was the other 2003 born player to have a major impact in the 2019 u17 World Cup cycle while playing up a year. Danny is a defensive midfielder at the Seattle Sounders and while he may not be the most exciting player, can control the entire flow of the game with the ball at his feet. Danny was a consistent call up for the u16 youth national team in 2018 but really burst onto the scene after a very successful preseason with the Seattle Sounders. Leyva was brought along to the Sounders preseason training camp with nine other academy players and was the only academy player to remain with the team for the last half of the preseason and was quickly signed to a homegrown contract by the Sounders.

Danny is a extremely intelligent defensive midfielder with a large passing range, veteran level composure, and the natural defensive instincts needed to succeed as a defensive midfielder at the highest level. When on his game, Danny can take control of a game no matter what level he is playing at including against full-grown men at the MLS level. Danny’s main weakness is a lack of athleticism which was exposed at the recent u17 World Cup. Danny is not the quickest player, or is even quick at all. To succeed, Danny needs to be paired with a center mid who can cover a lot of ground in a game (like Elton Chifamba… hint hint) while Danny stays central, puts out fires, and pulls the strings. When Danny was paired with Adam Saldana at the u17 World Cup it quickly showed that you need to have a more athletic midfielder next to him or your team will get overrun quickly. Luckily for Danny, the USMNT has numerous young players like that in Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Paxton Pomykal, and more.

Elton Chifamba

Imagine a combination of Tyler Adams and Darlington Nagbe, that is how you can describe Elton Chifamba. Elton is a athletic midfielder who plays in the Columbus Crew academy. Elton has a great passing range, has a high soccer IQ, can put out fires anywhere on the field, and is press resistant. While Chifamba still has a ways to go until he is at the defensive level of Tyler Adams and doesn’t quite have the same engine that Adams or Nagbe do, the potential is there.

When a team wants to deploy a midfielder that can quickly win back and keep possession then Chifamba should be one of the first names in the roster. While not a player who can go in and pick apart a defense, Chifamba is a good offensive player who is capable of making deadly plays in the final third while helping his side dominate in possession. The largest barrier for Chifamba’s development is his club situation. His future intentions are relatively unknown and the Columbus Crew do not have a USL team so Chifamba will be stuck playing at the u19 DA level for the time being which he will soon outgrow this year. Chifamba will have Darlington Nagbe ahead of him in the Crew’s depth chart if he chooses to sign for the MLS side so he should realistically be looking to head over to Europe because Nagbe will be a very tough player to push out of the lineup. For more information, check out Dillon Payne’s article going even more in depth on Elton Chifamba here.

Jonathan Perez

Jonathan Perez currently represents Mexico but has been in United States youth national team camps in the past so until he completely rules out playing for the USA, he belongs in this list. Perez is currently the best player for the Mexico 2003’s and has the definite potential to push either Moses Nyeman or Dante Sealy out of the 2003’s first choice lineup. Perez also is great friends with dual nationals Uly Llanez and Alex Mendez who currently side with the United States so there is a chance that they can persuade him to come back to the USA youth setup. Even though Moses Nyeman is the best prospect in this age group currently, Perez is a player who could very quickly jump up the ranks as his potential is limitless. Jonathan Perez has recently signed a homegrown contract with the LA Galaxy and is yet another superstar prospect that was groomed by Brian Kleiban.

Jonathan Perez is a versatile player who is an amazing winger and even better as an attacking midfielder. Perez is a super skillful player on the ball, can fleece defenders 1v1 at will, can routinely pick out dangerous passes from out wide or centrally, and also has an incredibly accurate shot from anywhere inside 30 yards. Perez’s only weakness is that like Nyeman, he is one of the smaller players on the field and will need to put on some muscle to succeed at the next level.

Perez does have a major career roadblock in front of him because he signed a contract with the notoriously youth unfriendly LA Galaxy. The Galaxy have a long standing track record of being terrible with developing young players so this is a worry seeing Jonathan Perez, Mauricio Cuevas, and Cameron Dunbar all sign first-team contracts. Perez does have the talent to break into the LA Galaxy first team but Guillermo Schelotto will have to break the Galaxy coaching trend of never giving youth a real chance and actually let Perez do his thing at the MLS level which is will soon be ready for before the end of 2020. Even though Perez currently ranks 6th in this age group currently, he should be looked at as a player that could very well move up to the top over the next few years.

Mauricio Cuevas

Mauricio Cuevas is the other top tier 2003 prospect that Brian Kleiban has produced out of Los Angeles. Cuevas has an even larger uphill battle than Perez because not only is he in the same position as being in the notoriously youth unfriendly LA Galaxy, he also has Julian Araujo ahead of him in the right back depth chart which is a massive obstacle where one of the two will have to move to a different club either domestic or abroad if they both want to reach their ceilings. Cuevas and Araujo are very different right backs and both affect the team in different ways. While Julian Araujo is a more natural defender who is an average player going forard, Mauricio is a fantastic player going forward and is an average defender.

Mauricio’s strengths are in his skills on the ball and his athleticism. Mauricio is without a doubt the best crosser in the full back pool in the youth national team system. He can hit a cross on a dime on 99 out of 100 attempts. Cuevas is also a very good dribbler and is pacey enough to get up and down the right flank with ease. Cuevas will have to work on becoming a better 1v1 defender and his defensive positioning if he ever wants to overtake Julian Araujo in the LA Galaxy and USMNT depth chart. Both should not necessarily be viewed as weak points in his game as they are very common for players his age and will develop over time. Mauricio Cuevas has a higher ceiling than Julian Araujo but it all depends on how LA Galaxy handles the development of both players. Realistically, Mauricio Cuevas needs to head over to a lower table Bundesliga side when he turns 18.

Caden Clark

Most hardcore followers of the Development Academy are familiar with Caden Clark after he lit up the u19 DA playoffs with Barca Academy while playing three years up. Clark was named to the USSDA Playoffs Best XI by TopDrawerSoccer after scoring three goals in three games while playing up an age group. Clark used his hot streak over the last year to leverage a move to the New York Red Bulls where he signed a USL contract with NYRB2 where he will spend the next year playing before he moves up to the first team. The most notable part of Clark’s game is his soccer IQ. Clark is good with his feet and knows how to find the right pass but his ability to read the game and process what to do before he receives the ball is what makes him truly stand out. Clark’s time at Barca Academy was well spend rounding out his game to make him a player that you can count on playing as an attacking mid, center mid, or forward.

Clark could be a starter for the 2003 age group depending on the type of team they play against. While Elton Chifamba is a player who you can count on to help you beat a team that is more offensively talented, Clark is a player that this age group could rely on to come in and unlock a packed in defense. Clark being at New York Red Bulls is what makes him a prospect to watch as the Red Bulls have a great track record of properly developing young players (see Matt Miazga and Tyler Adams as recent examples). Clark is a player who could break out over the next two years and emerge as a top USMNT prospect.

Dante Sealy

Dante Sealy is the son of former FC Dallas Scott Sealy and the apple did not fall far from the tree. Dante oozes with skill and has the IQ of a player who’s father was also a professional soccer player at FC Dallas like Dante currently. Dante was the standout for me at the most recent 2003 youth national team tournament where they won the 2019 Nike International Friendlies where Sealy led the team to beat the USA u17 b-team and the Turkey u16 national team and draw against the Netherlands u16 national team. Sealy is a skillful dribbler, makes intelligent runs off of the ball, an incredible athlete, a good finisher and has a fantastic passing range due to a high IQ and vision which is a result of being under his father’s tutelage for many years.

Sealy like Jonathan Perez, has a very good chance to climb the ranks in this age group but has to become more consistent in his performances. At the youth levels he has looked like a man among boys over the last year and at the USL level he has looked like a boy among men. Part of this does result from him being so young and still developing physically so his play in 2020 will need to reflect that he can handle playing against much older and stronger competition. Sealy is a player that has a good chance at playing up a u20 cycle for the current u20 national team as he is the best winger in the 2003 age group and is better than all of the 2002 wingers except for Gio Reyna who is almost a guarantee to not have any involvement for a youth national team ever again except at the Olympics in 2020 and 2024. If Sealy can keep producing like he does at the youth levels in the USL this season then Luchi Gonzalez will no doubt let him prove himself at the MLS at the first opportunity. Because of his club situation, Dante should be viewed as a top tier USMNT prospect.

Casey Walls

Casey Walls is currently the best center back in the 2003 age group. His combination of size, soccer IQ, and technical skills for a center back are what help him stand out. Casey signed a homegrown contract with the San Jose Earthquakes in November 2019 and is the highest ceiling prospect in the clubs system currently. What truly stands out about Casey’s game is his passing from the deep position, Casey is the best passing center back in the entire youth national team pool.

The weakness in Casey Walls’ game is that he is not the fastest player. He makes up for this weakness by being very intelligent with his positioning but he is not a player that you should expect to run down a pacey forward. Casey does have a good shot at breaking into the Earthquake’s lineup sooner rather than later as Matías Almeyda does have the mentality of if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. If Walls can prove in minutes with Reno 1868 in the USL in 2020 then don’t be shocked if Walls is pushing for first team minutes in mid-2021 or early 2022. Walls should be a consistent call up for the 2003 age group and is one to watch as he develops long term.

Chris Garcia

Chris Garcia is a player who just appeared on many fan’s radar as he recently signed a first team contract with Real Salt Lake earlier this year. Chris is a lightning fast winger with the dribbling skills to roast a fullback consistently throughout a 90 minute match. Out of all of the top players in the age group, Chris is the most raw but also has a very high ceiling as he has all of the key qualities that you would want to see in a winger. Chris also is very physically gifted for his age so he could push for minutes quickly at a club who historically has been very good with playing their homegrown players.

Chris Garcia’s weakness is that like Dante Sealy, he can be inconsistent. This is something that is very common for a 17 year old player as he still has to get down the mental side of the game which will come as he becomes a more experienced professional. With Chris being at a club with numerous other homegrown players who will help show him the way, fans should be very optimistic about Chris’ future.

Patrick Weah

Yes, you were correct when you looked at that last name and thought “is he related to George and Tim Weah?”. Patrick Weah is the nephew of George Weah and the cousin of Tim Weah and is good enough to represent the family name with pride. Like both George and Tim, Patrick’s first quality that you will notice is that he is an eye popping athlete. Patrick has the combination of both size and speed that coaches dream of having in a striker. To put it lightly, Patrick is too good for the u17 DA where is currently playing. He literally looks like a man among boys. However, being a physically gifted athlete is not only why he is rated so high, Patrick also has the skill to back it up. Patrick is a fantastic dribbler and a competent finisher just like both George and Tim Weah.

There is one major weakness in Patrick’s game which is his movement off of the ball. Like most 16 year old players, Patrick has not quite figured out how to efficiently move off the ball and playing at a level where he is physically and technically superior than everyone else, he doesn’t have to which is detrimental to his development. Once Patrick has been at the club for a year which will happen next summer, Minnesota need to immediately sign him and loan him to a USL team where he can play against players that can actually give him a challenge. If Patrick is kept at the u19 level next year, then Minnesota United is failing him. Check out Dillon Payne’s article breaking down Patrick Weah here.

The depth chart for the 2003 age group

USYNT 2003 03 Best XI

The best defensive back line for this age group is Mauricio Cuevas on the right, Jonathan Gomez on the left, and Justin Che and Casey Walls as the center backs. Cuevas and Gomez will provide an extra spark out wide that will take this team’s attack from being great, to being fantastic. Walls and Che will anchor the back line and will boss the opposition’s forwards while also being able to comfortably keep possession for the team. Should any of the back four need to be subbed off then their backups could all come on and the team would not lose a step as the depth is that good. Even if any of the first two options among any of the back line positions are hurt then there is no reason to worry as Jacob Greene, Jalen Neal, Markus Fernakus, and Michael Halliday can step in with no problem.

The best midfield to run out is Daniel Leyva as the 6, Elton Chifamba at the 8, and Moses Nyeman as the 10. This is a midfield that would dominate in possession, cover the back line well, and create danger in the attack. If you want a team that will be more dangerous in the other team’s half against a team that will sit back and defend, then you could start Caden Clark at the 8, or move Moses Nyeman to the 8 and start Jonathan Gomez as the 10. There are numerous ways that you could set this midfield up, all will likely lead to success. Javier Casas, Jack McGlynn, and Paxten Aaronson are right on the bubble for this roster and fans should not be surprised to see any of them be included in a first choice roster for this age group.

The attack for this age group is what I really think is significant. The best forward trio to run out is Dante Sealy and Chris Garcia on the wings with Ricardo Pepi up top. Both Sealy and Garcia can create danger out wide with ease and feed Ricardo Pepi all the service he needs to put the ball in the back of the net multiple times a game. This attack would have pace, would be technically sound, and if any of them needed to come off the pitch, then Fabrizio Bernal, Kevin Paredes, and Patrick Weah would be able to come on and be equally dangerous in the final third. Not only is the second string good for this roster but the third string players (Patrick Bohui, Sam Sarver, and Cade Cowell) are all good enough to be a threat for the other team if they step on the field. Cade Cowell has already made his MLS debut and is the fourth choice right winger (Jonathan Perez would be played over Cowell at right wing).

The 2003 age group should have the highest expectations that a youth national team cycle has ever had. In 2023, if this group does not make it to at least the semi final then USMNT fans should be relatively surprised. Not only is the first choice roster for this age group good, but the second and third strings would are also filled with incredibly talented players. This age group’s depth all around is abnormally good for a youth national team.

When you move the best 2004 and 2005 players like Antonio Leone, Evan Rotundo, Fede Oliva, Malik Sanogo, Nati Clarke, Chris Brady, Gabe Slonina, Allan Rodriguez, Kenan Hot, Gage Akalu, Leo Torres, and more into the cycle then you are looking at a group that will likely be favored to win in any game that they are in regardless of the competition’s skill level. This age group is special and is likely to yield numerous USMNT players in the future.

I would like to give both Charlie Kennan (@charlie_kennan) and ChuckMe92 (@ChuckMe92Soccer) for collaberating with me to create both the lineup and the top 25 ranking. If you are not following either of them then you are missing out, both of these guys are are two of the most knowledgeable sources for information on the domestic and foreign USMNT youth player pool. I highly recommend that you give them a follow.

The Top 25 Ranking for the 2003 Age Group

  1. Moses Nyeman- Attacking Mid/Center Mid (DC United)
  2. Jonathan Gomez- Left Back (Louisville City FC)
  3. Ricardo Pepi- Striker (FC Dallas)
  4. Danny Leyva- Defensive Mid/Center Mid (Seattle Sounders)
  5. Elton Chifamba- Center Mid/Defensive Mid (Columbus Crew)
  6. Jonathan Perez- Attacking Mid/Winger (LA Galaxy)
  7. Mauricio Cuevas- Right Back (LA Galaxy)
  8. Caden Clark- Center Mid/Attacking Mid (New York Red Bulls)
  9. Dante Sealy- Winger (FC Dallas)
  10. Casey Walls- Center Back (San Jose Earthquakes)
  11. Chris Garcia- Winger (Real Salt Lake)
  12. Patrick Weah- Striker (Minnesota United)
  13. Justin Che- Center Back (FC Dallas)
  14. Fabrizio Bernal- Winger (San Antonio FC)
  15. Tarun Karumanchi- Defensive Mid/Center Mid (San Jose Earthquakes)
  16. Kevin Paredes- Winger/Attacking Mid (DC United)
  17. Sam Sarver- Striker/Winger (Columbus Crew)
  18. Matthew Roou- Striker (Shattuck-Saint Mary’s)
  19. Dante Huckaby- Center Back (Philadelphia Union)
  20. Patrick Bohui- Winger/Striker (Philadelphia Union)
  21. Noah Hall- Right Back (Columbus Crew)
  22. Anthony Sorenson- Left Back (Philadelphia Union)
  23. Cade Cowell- Winger (San Jose Earthquakes)
  24. Paxten Aaronson- Attacking Mid (Philadelphia Union)
  25. Tyler Freeman- Winger/Attacking Mid (Sporting Kansas City)

If you enjoyed this article, check out our breakdowns on the 2001 and 2002 age groups and follow @dkerr0118 on twitter for more information and updates on the USMNT’s youth prospects!

Club News

The Top 10 Americans in Europe this Season



The season is over for most of the major European leagues and compared to last season, this was a better season for Americans in Europe.  The US had several Americans win a trophy this season or were promoted with their club.  Both Tim Weah and Weston McKennie won the Coppa Italia, while Cameron Carter-Vickers won the double in Scotland.  You also had Nick Gioacchini, Gianluca Busio, and Tanner Tessmann gain promotion to Serie A in their respected clubs.  In this article we will cover who we consider to be our top 10 Americans this season in Europe.  The stats information for each player comes from FotMob.

Lennard Maloney

Few Americans played in the Bundesliga this season and even fewer had a good season in the German topflight.  Lennard Maloney was one of those Americans who had a successful Bundesliga season.  Maloney was the main central defender for the newly promoted club Heidenheim.  Last season, he helped them win the 2. Bundesliga to get their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga.  This season, he helped Heidenheim qualify for the UEFA Conference League, their first ever continental competition.  Few American soccer players can say they have that accomplishment.  It was only until this season did Maloney get his first call-up to the USMNT.  Maloney was spectacular on the stats sheet, but it was what he did off the ball that made him one of the best American players this season in a top European league.  At one point during the season, Maloney was leading in distance covered.  His ability to stop the opposition’s transition to the attack helped Heidenheim to have 1.6 goals conceded per match and a possession of 42.1%.  Maloney outperformed 97% of Bundesliga midfielders in aerial duels won and 90% in defensive actions.  Between the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal, Maloney started in 29 matches out of 31 matches played with 2 goals and 1 assist.  He also had an 83.5% passing accuracy, 69.4% long ball accuracy, 29 tackles for 80.2%, 79.1% aerial duels won, 29 interceptions, and 144 recoveries.  For me, Maloney barely makes it in the top 10 list due to his low stats.  His accomplishments for Heidenheim and being a major piece to their successful season can’t be ignored.

Chris Richards

April 21, 2024: Crystal Palace v West Ham United Premier League 21/04/2024. Chris Richards 26 of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park, London, England on 21 April 2024. Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See , Copyright: xNigelxKeenex PSI-19528-0101 (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

It took a while for Chris Richards to get a start for Crystal Palace and it was worth the wait.  When Richards began getting minutes this season, it was at defensive midfielder.  He took people by surprise with his solid performances in the position.  With the injury of Marc Guehi and Crystal Palace moving to a back 3, Richards became a lock starter in the defense.  It was rocky at first for him, but that all changed when Oliver Glasner took over the club.  In the first match under the new manager, Richards got a goal.  Richards became one of Crystal Palace’s best CBs.  In the 30 matches played, Richards started in 27.  Richards finished ahead of 83% of the CBs in the Premier League in aerial duels, and 66% in both defensive actions and goals.  Across all competitions, Richards had 1 goal and 1 assist, 85% passing accuracy, 59.2% tackles won, 54.5% duels won, 37 interceptions, and 106 recoveries.  There is hope next season for Richards.  Guehi is gathering interest from other EPL clubs once again and Glasner will be returning next season.  If Richards retains his starting role next season, we could see Richards be one of Palace’s best defenders.  Due to not appearing in every match, having some inconsistent matches before the Glasner Era, and not unlocking his full potential this season until Glasner took over is why Richards is 9th on my list.

    Josh Sargent

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    One of the US’ most prolific scorers this season came from Josh Sargent in the English Championship.  Missing 22 matches due to an ankle injury did not stop him from scoring double-digit goals, but it did stop him from winning the league’s golden boot.  Sargent finished 6th in goals scored with 16 in 26 league matches played with 2 assists.  If Sargent had not sustained the injury, he would have been in the argument for the league’s golden boot.  Across all competitions, Sargent started in 25 matches out of 28 matches played.  When you compare his traits to other strikers in the English Championship, Sargent finished ahead of 65% strikers in chances created, 83% shot attempts, and 96% goals.  In league play, Sargent had an 81.8% passing, 23 chances created, 47.5% dribbles completed, 45.4% duels won, and 39 recoveries.  Even with the injury, there have been rumors that Premier League clubs are monitoring him.  Maybe we will see him back in the EPL next season.  The reason he falls just short of the top 5 is because between the months of May and April, he had only 2 goals and 1 assist.  As a striker, you cannot have only 3 G/A in 2 months.  The injury also allowed others, mainly Haji Wright, to pass him in the top 10 Americans in Europe this season.  If he was not out for 4 months and was in contention for Championship Golden Boot, he would have been a top 5 American.

      Johnny Cardoso

      Johnny would be much higher on this list if he had played a full season in Europe based on his form with Los Verdiblancos since joining in January when you compare him to the other Americans in a top 5 league.  Johnny took LaLiga by storm and quickly took a starting role in just his second match, which happened to be against Barcelona.  He also received how praises from Manuel Pellegrini just after his first week with the club.  Johnny was awarded the LaLiga EA Sports U23 Player of the Month in February, his first full month for Real Betis.  Johnny’s quick adoption to LaLiga and excellent performances has already caused inquiries from major clubs, one of those clubs being Barcelona, and being a LaLiga U23 Player of the Season nominee.  Across all competitions, Johnny had 3 goal contributions, 72% long ball accuracy, 9 chances created, 78.9% successful dribbles, 34 tackles won for 65.9%, 51.2% of duels won, 35 interceptions, 101 recoveries between LaLiga and Europa Conference League.  In just half of a season, Johnny beat 96% of midfielders in LaLiga for defensive actions and 92% of them in aerial duels.  For playing only half a season in a top 5 league, these are very impressive numbers, and it made him one of the most exciting Americans to watch in Europe this season.  His nomination for LaLiga U23 Player of the Season, winning a U23 Player of the Month, and the quality of the teams he faced compared to other Americans in Europe is very difficult to ignore when placing him on this list.  Johnny only playing half the season in Europe does keep him from being higher up in the top.  If he can continue this form next season, he will for sure be a top 5 American in Europe.  Next season, Real Betis will be taking part in the Europa Conference League once again.

        Malik Tillman

        The American player who had one of the best loan spells this season was Malik Tillman.  After his successful loan at Glasgow Rangers last season, Malik Tillman proved that he could conquer a top 7 league after putting up 19 goal contributions for PSV in the Eredivisie.  His effort on the offense helped PSV win the league title.  Amongst all attacking midfielders and wingers in the Eredivisie, Malik finished ahead of 94% of the players in touches and 92% in chances created.  Also, he beat out 90% of them in defensive actions and 71% in goals.  Malik started in 24 matches out of 39 across all competitions with a total of 21 goal contributions (his one match with Jong PSV is not included).  Tillman also had 71% shots on target in league play; 81.6% passing accuracy, 67.8% long ball accuracy, 61 chances created, 47 successful dribbles for 47.8%, 3 penalties won, 36 tackles for 81.2%, 48.2% duels won, 25 interceptions, 9 blocks, 171 recoveries, and 39 possessions won in the final third.  On May 10th, PSV made the announcement at the end of the season that they had acquired Tillman permanently through 2028 and Bayern retained their buy-back clause.  PSV were not the only club that was pleased by his performance this season.  His parent club, Bayern, was reportedly to be very happy with his season as well.  Maybe we will see Tillman back in a Bayern shirt in the future.  Tillman not being higher on this list was due to his inconsistent performances in the Champions League and early in the Eredivisie season.

          Segiño Dest

          The player with arguably the best loan spell of the Americans in Europe was Sergiño Dest.  After appearing in only 14 matches for Milan AC last season and his second season with Barcelona under Xavi Hernández.  A step back to the Eredivisie was the right move for Dest to rejuvenate his career.  Due to Jordan Teze being PSV’s RB, Dest played LB this season and was successful at it, showing he can play on both sides.  In the Eredivisie, Dest made it on the Team of the Month on multiple occasions.  There are still improvements that need to be made in his defensive game, and that was evident in the UCL matches.  In the Eredivisie, Dest finished ahead of 90% of other fullbacks in chances created, 88% in touches, and 90% in shot attempts.  Across all competitions, Dest finished with 9 goal contributions, 86.9% passing accuracy, 69.1% long ball accuracy, 52 chances created, 62.4% dribbles completed, 58.5% ground duels won, and 163 recoveries.  Dest played a critical role in PSV winning the Eredivisie this season.  He did make some mistakes in the UCL matches, but he was still one of PSV’s better players in the competition.  Even though the Eredivisie is not a top 5 league in Europe, Dest was one of our top performers and most informed American players in Europe.

            Haji Wright

            Arguably one of the top 3 Americans in England this season, it did not start well for Haji Wright in his record transfer to Coventry City.  In his first 3 months at the club, Haji only had 2 goals and 2 assists.  Things did not start to turn around for him until November when he scored 3 goals in 4 matches.  By the end of the 1st half of the season, Haji had 12 goal contributions.  What changed for him?  Manager Mark Robins moved Haji to LW and occasionally as a left striker.  That move in position helped provide Haji Wright his best season of his career and one of the best American players this season.  His most iconic goal in my opinion this season was scoring the winning goal at the last minute against Wolves to help get Coventry City into the FA Cup Semi-Final followed by his goal against Manchester United.  By the end of the season, Haji had 25 goal contributions across all competitions, tying him with Christian Pulisic for most goal contributions by an American in a top 10 European league.  In league play, Haji and Sargent tied for 6th in goals with 16.  Haji was better than 93% attacking midfielders and wingers in aerial duels won, along with 97% in goals, and 98% in shot attempts.  Haji finished the season with 75.9% in passing, 32 chances created, 4 penalty goals, 36 completed dribbles, 49 fouls won, 63.9% tackles, 47.8% aerial duels won, and 114 recoveries.  If Haji Wright can recreate this season again next year in the English Championship, I will have no doubt he will be linked to a move to the Premier League.

              Weston McKennie

              Another player who was consistent for his European club this season was Weston McKennie for Juventus in the Serie A.  McKennie was one of the most informed players for Juventus this season and their leading player in assists with 7.  There has been discussion by Serie A media since January that McKennie deserves to be on the Serie A Team of the Season.  He spent a good amount of the season at RWB and was very successful.  He did not move to his natural position (central midfielder) until later in the season due to injuries.  Even with being one of Juve’s best players this season and being in discussion for Serie A Team of the Season, Juve refused to give the salary raise that McKennie asked for, leaving his future with the Italian giants in doubt.  McKennie started in 33 matches out of 38 matches.  He finished the season with 10 assists. 77.4% passing accuracy and 64.4% long ball accuracy across all competitions.  He also created 46 chances, 60.8% completed dribbles, 31 completed tackles for 80.2%, 168 duels won for 42.3%, 20 interceptions, and 128 recoveries.  When you compared McKennie to other Serie A midfielders, he outperformed 87% of them in chances created and 65% for aerial duels won.  After how things went last season for him, he had one of the biggest improvements in performance for an American along with Christian Pulisic.  The reason he finishes behind Pulisic is because he did not score a single goal and he was beginning to struggle in form towards the end of the season.  He was one of the few Americans to win a trophy this season by winning the Coppa Italia.

                Christian Pulisic

                It is a close call between Pulisic and Weston McKinnie for the 2nd best American this season and even 1st between Pulisic and Antonee Robinson.  I must give it to Pulisic because of his offensive work rate and productivity, and his European competition performance this season.  Pulisic finished the season with 15 goals and 10 assists across all competitions (1 goal being in the Champions League (UCL), and 2 goals and an assist being in the UEL) bringing a total of 25 G/A, the most he has had in a single season.    In Serie A, Pulisic tied for 4th of all players in the league for goals and assists.  For Milan, he was their 2nd highest goal scorer and had the 2nd most assists.  Pulisic started in 44 matches out of 55 matches played across all competitions.  Pulisic was nominated by the league for best midfielder of the season.  When compared to attacking midfielders and wingers in Serie A, he scored more goals than 91% of other players in those positions.  He also had an 83% passing accuracy, 60 chances created, 28.5% crossing accuracy (in the league, Pulisic was in the 72.7% ranking), 66 successful dribbles for 49%, 181 touches in opposition box, 71.3% tackles won, 198 ground duels won for 46.3%, 24 blocks, 11 interceptions, and 138 recoveries.  Since becoming a professional athlete, this was Christian Pulisic’s best season of his career.  People would argue he only performed as well as he did because he took a step down.  Even with Serie A not being at the level that the EPL is at, it is still a top 5 league in the world and Milan is one of the biggest clubs in Europe.  The reason why he is not the #1 American for this season is because Pulisic was not being consistent, especially against major opponents.

                Antonee Robinson

                  It was a tight decision between Antonee Robinson and Christian Pulisic for best American player in Europe this season, but I must hand it to Antonee.  Antonee Robinson was arguably the best LB in the English Premier League this season and even argued to be the best fullback this season.  This is very challenging when talking about the best league and the world where you have the likes of Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Andrew Robertson.  For the USMNT, he was perhaps the most consistent American in Europe this season.  Antonee started a total of 42 out of 44 matches.  He had a total of 6 assists this season, making him one of the top EPL defenders in assists this season.  He also finished with the most interceptions in the EPL with 80, 15 more than Lewis Cook, who had the 2nd most in the league.  This does not just include the EPL, but Jedi also had the most interceptions across Europe’s top 7 leagues.  In the top 7 European leagues, he came in 3rd in possession won in defensive 3rd with 145.  When comparing him to other fullbacks in the EPL, he outperformed 95% of the league’s fullbacks in defensive actions, 80% in touches, and 68% in aerial duels won.  Across all competitions, Antonee had 35 chances created, passing accuracy of 76.5%, 23% crossing accuracy, 49 successful dribbles for 60.3%, tackles won, 56.5% duels won, and 264 recoveries.  Antonee has made it on several reviewers’ EPL Team of the Season and is being monitored by top clubs for this summer by the likes of Liverpool and Bayern.  Compared to other Americans in Europe this season, Jedi made it on more continental stats leaderboards and competing in this best league in the world making him the best American in Europe this season.

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                  Winter 2023 Transfer Window Preview



                  In a couple weeks we enter silly season. During the month of January, the global football market will open up to leagues across the world and we can expect there to be a lot of action involving American players. 

                  Why? There are lots of reasons for players to change clubs: 

                  1. Not getting enough playing time to develop / stay sharp
                  2. Not playing at a high enough level of competition
                  3. Not a good tactical fit

                  Here is a list of players that I believe could benefit from a chance in scenery starting with the most urgent:

                  IT’S DIRE, GET OUT

                  WING, Christian Pulisic, Chelsea

                  Is really dire? Maybe not, but he’s clearly undervalued at Chelsea and Pulisic is too good to not be playing a significant role somewhere. Chelsea is once again linked with every attacker on the transfer market, so clearly he really isn’t in the plans. Newcastle seems to be the favorite to land Pulisic in January and I love the fit. 

                  WING, Konrad de la Fuente, Olympiacos

                  Konrad de la Fuente moved to Greece thinking he could get regular playing time after a managerial change at Marseille. Instead, Olympiacos signed a thousand foreign players even though only a set amount of foreign players (5) can make matchday squads, and de la Fuente has been an odd man out. Konrad isn’t in training with Olympiacos or Marseille right now and is instead looking for a new loan for the remainder of the season. 

                  AM, Richie Ledezma, PSV

                  Ledezma had the choice to stay at PSV or find a loan this summer and he chose to stay, likely thinking he’d get more minutes than he has. He has the same choice to make in January and hopefully this time he chooses to leave — he needs more minutes to grow. 

                  RB, Reggie Cannon, Boavista

                  Cannon is starting every week and that is good, but he is also playing center-back and I just don’t think he’s developed much since moving to Boavista. He didn’t make a World Cup roster which featured four right-backs, so maybe that is a sign that a change is needed? I think it is. 

                  CM, Gianluca Busio, Venezia

                  There was a brief moment in time when Busio’s move to Venezia looked like a great one. That seems like a long time ago and now he is struggling to find starts for a club in the bottom third of Serie B. I am sure the market for Busio has weakened, but there still might be interest in Serie A or other leagues where he could benefit from a career reset. 

                  CM, Eryk Williamson, Portland Timbers

                  I think it’s very likely Williamson played his last match in Portland. It’s been reported that LAFC would look to trade for him to replace Jose Cifuentes who is likely heading to the Premier League. There has not been a lot of reported interest abroad for Williamson, so a move within MLS is most likely. 

                  RB, Justin Che, Hoffenheim

                  Che’s 18-month loan with Hoffenheim looked promising last year when he was getting some appearances towards the end of the season, but with a managerial change he has fallen out of favor and has been stuck with Hoffenheim’s reserve team. I am sure Dallas and Che can end the loan early and hopefully find a better opportunity in Europe. Another half season in MLS wouldn’t hurt either, but I don’t think Che and his team want to go that route. 

                  THE RIGHT TIME FOR A CHANGE

                  LB, DeJuan Jones, New England Revolution

                  It’s not like his situation at New England is bad, he just hasn’t been able to get the attention of USSF. Perhaps a successful move overseas helps energize his stock.

                  LB, John Tolkin, New York Red Bulls

                  I don’t think Tolkin has anything left to prove at NYRB and he is ready to make the jump to Europe. Last summer he was connected Anderlecht in Belgium — that level feels like the right next step for him. 

                  CF, Brandon Vazquez, FC Cincinnati 

                  Vazquez had a breakout season last year and I think both he and FC Cincinnati should strike while the iron is hot. A top third club in the English Championship could be a great next step for him. 

                  CB, Joshua Wynder, Louisville City

                  Wynder was a full-time starter in USL at the ages of 16 and 17 last season and of the top American prospects born in 2005. In order for him to continue to push himself and develop I think he should look to move to Europe or MLS this season. There has been lots of interest reported from both. If it is Europe, he will have to wait until he turns 18 in May, but he could sign a pre-deal like fellow LouCity player Jonathan Gomez did. 

                  SS, Quinn Sullivan, Philadelphia Union

                  Sullivan likely isn’t happy with his usage rates last season, but Curtin and company were in a tough spot trying to find their young players minutes while pushing for a MLS title. With Cory Burke gone, there might be more striker minutes available within Curtin’s two striker system. That could be enough to entice Sullivan to stay, but my hunch is that he’d like to get his European career started this winter. 

                  WING, Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes

                  New San Jose Earthquakes manager and former FC Dallas manager and USMNT assistant coach Luchi Gonzalez says he has big plans for Cade Cowell. Are his plans to move him to right-back? Probably not, but I am not convinced another season in the South Bay is the right move for Cade. His development has stalled over the last two seasons and I think a change of scenery would be useful. Joe Scally’s club, Borussia Mönchengladbach has reportedly been interested as have some Premier League clubs. 

                  CB, Sam Rogers, Rosenborg

                  Rogers is a former Seattle Sounders Academy player that has spent the last two seasons in Norway. He had a breakout season of sorts for third place finishing Rosenborg playing as the LCB in a three back system, scoring an impressive six goals and one assist. It would be nice to see Rogers see if he can elevate his game to an even higher level of competition. 

                  DM, Danny Leyva, Seattle Sounders

                  The Seattle Sounders will have Leyva, Obed Vargas, Josh Atencio and João Paulo competing for midfield minutes next season which leads me to believe that one of the younger guys should leave to get the time needed to advance their career. Vargas and Paulo are coming off serious injuries, so it’s possible that Seattle holds on to all of the guys until the summer when there are less health concerns, but one could go in January. My bet would be Leyva because he is a more attractive prospect than Atencio, but Seattle seems to rate Vargas more. 

                  CB, Jalen Neal, LA Galaxy

                  Neal is one of the most first team ready, young center-backs in MLS, but I am not sure he is going to get an opportunity from the Galaxy on the first team this year and it might not come next year either. I think it is time to move to another club within MLS or go abroad where he can play in a more competitive reserve league. Galaxy 2 won’t be in the USL next year, they will be in MLS Next Pro, a big step down in competition, so a loan to a USL club is also a decent option though I’d prefer a higher level than that. 

                  HEAR ME OUT

                  WING, Tim Weah, Lille

                  Weah does not need to be playing right-back and I think there are better clubs and better fits for him out there. I’d like to see him leave even though I don’t think Lille is keen to move him, nor does the market seem to be too hot on him right now. 

                  CF, Josh Sargent, Norwich City

                  I am tired of watching Josh play on the wing when he is the best striker on the team. It’s a waste. 

                  GK, Matt Turner, Arsenal

                  Matt probably stays at Arsenal to continue their FA Cup and Europa League campaigns, but I think Matt has proven he should be a starting goal keeper for a pretty good club. I’d like to see him do that sooner rather than later. 

                  CB, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic

                  CCV has achieved great success and stability at Celtic, but I also think he runs the risk of stagnating. I would like to see Carter-Vickers move to a better league as soon as he can so he can continue to grow. 

                  CF, Haji Wright, Antalyaspor

                  What more does Wright have to prove in Turkey? He clearly can rack up goals in that league. I’d like to see him move to a better league and see if he can continue to be an efficient goal scorer. 

                  I’M INDIFFERENT

                  All of the guys are in pretty good club situations because they all have key roles and the competition level is fine based on where they are at in their career. 

                  CM, Yunus Musah, Valencia

                  There are some big clubs after Musah (Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter Milan), but he’d likely take a hit in playing time initially so I am not sure that is best for him right now. The counter is that nothing is certain and maybe Musah needs to take this opportunity while it is here. 

                  CM, Weston McKennie, Juventus

                  Juventus seems like a turbulent situation and perhaps a move to the Premier League would be best for McKennie. Tottenham has been after McKennie for what seems like multiple years. 

                  LB, Jedi Robinson, Fulham

                  Robinson and Fulham have been a great story in the first half of the Premier League season, but will they be able to keep it up? Newcastle is reportedly preparing a 15M offer for Robinson and that could be a better long term play for him. 

                  CM, Johnny Cardoso, Internacional

                  Cardoso is coming off his best season as a pro and his club finished second in the Brazil. Spanish and Italian clubs seem in on him and a move seems inevitable, but another year in Brazil would not be the worst thing. 

                  DM, Tanner Tessmann, Venezia

                  Tessmann is playing some of the best football of his life right now and the new manager trusts him as Venezia fight for their lives in Serie B, but there is reported interest from Serie A clubs. My gut tells me Tessmann should stay and help keep Venezia in Serie B, ride the form that he is in and perhaps he will have even stronger interest in the summer. 

                  CF/AM, Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas

                  Ferreira and Dallas are in an interesting position. Ferreira had a great season last year and Dallas looks like an emerging side in MLS as well. Ferreira also signed a designated player contract last year so his options are more limited in finding clubs abroad that will meet his salary requirements, but Ferreira is at a very critical age for development and he may not be able to grow much more in MLS, so, he likely needs to leave at the end of the next season at the latest. My guess is Dallas is going to go for a MLS Cup this year and then look to rebuild in 2024. 


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                  Summer 2022 Transfer Window Preview



                  The summer transfer window is a historically more action packed window where clubs tend to spend more than they do during the winter window. This year it will be an even more important window for players fighting for a spot on the World Cup roster. Gregg has made it clear that for players that are not considered “locks”, how a player establishes himself with his club during the preseason and early parts of the season leading up to the final September camp will be incredibly important. In this article we will look at three categories of US players:

                  1. Players looking to take the next competitive step
                  2. Players looking for situations that give them a chance to play more consistently
                  3. Players who have been rumored to be on the move that I think should stay put

                  Before we look at potential transfers, let’s catch up on movement that is already planned this summer: 

                  Planned Moves

                  GK, Matt Turner, New England Revolution → Arsenal FC

                  Matt is moving to Arsenal on July 1. Will the move to the Premier League raise his technical level? Or will he get rusty as a backup that rarely gets time in competitive matches.

                  CB, John Brooks, VfL Wolfsburg → TBD

                  There hasn’t been a lot of news to report on potential destinations for Brooks this summer. The only credible news I have seen is John being linked with Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim will have a new manager next season and reports are that John’s agent has a good relationship with the club and he is well thought of there. Chris Richards likely won’t be back with Hoffenheim, but young Justin Che is (fellow German-American). Even if it is not Hoffenheim, I think John will have demand from mid table teams in one of the top 5 leagues, but the Bundesliga is where he’ll likely end up.

                  CB, Kobi Henry, Orange County SC → Stade Reims

                  This move had been rumored a while ago by ESPNs, Jeff Carlisle. I was starting to wonder if it was just agency smoke, but the deal has been made and Kobi will deliver the largest USL transfer fee in league history at 700K. Kobi is 18 and will likely throttle between the reserve team and the first team. I think he is a few years away from being first team ready. Physically he is close, but he still has a long ways to go tactically and mentally. Be patient with Kobi, it could be a while before we see him play first team minutes with Reims.

                  RB, Bryan Reynolds, AS Roma → KVC Westerlo

                  Bryan is headed back to Belgium on another loan from Roma, this time with recently promoted KVC Westerlo. It’s been reported that there will be an option to buy for 7M€. I thought Bryan would be able to get loaned to a slightly stronger club, but I do believe the Belgian top flight is a good level. He was pretty good for Kortrijk FC last year after a Winter loan. I am excited to see what Bryan can do with a full offseason and season with a club that has plans to play him. It can be challenging playing for a recently promoted club, but it looks like Westerlo is looking to make moves and the middle to lower half of the Belgian league is typically more competitive than other leagues.

                  CM, Luca de la Torre, Heracles Almelo → TBD

                  What was widely assumed has been confirmed, Luca has an agreement in place to be moved this summer from Heracles, with one year left on his contract so Heracles can get some transfer money from the move. We have learned that this was going to happen whether Heracles get relegated or not. It will be very interesting to see where Luca ends up. He is a player that you really have to watch to understand how good he is and you have to think that clubs in the Eredivisie, that played against him will be excited to have the chance to sign him. Additionally, clubs in top 5 leagues with smart scouting departments will also be interested in him. He is a very skilled player that will be a bargain signing. His G/A stats have never been impressive, but he does so many things to help a midfield.

                  CM, Taylor Booth, Bayern Munich II → FC Utrecht

                  This is the planned move I am most excited for this summer. Taylor did not get a loan this year after refusing to extend his contract, so he played at too low of a level with Bayern’s reserve squad. Fortunately, Utrecht saw the talent and signed him on a free. Taylor will have competition in the midfield at Utrecht next year, but if he can breakthrough, he could be a sleeper pick to make the plane to Qatar. 

                  AM, Brenden Aaronson, RB Salzburg → Leeds United

                  Brenden is joining former manager and fellow American Jessie Marsch at Leeds United. He is trading European competition for more consistent top level competition in the Premier League. Brenden and Jessie know each other well from their days in Salzburg. It’s a great system fit and Leeds will likely have a lot of roster turnover with pending sales of Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips.

                  CB, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic FC Tottenham Hotspur Celtic FC

                  CCV has decided to return to Celtic after having the best season of his young, but winding career. I love the decision. He’s highly valued im Glasgow (13M transfer!!!), he’ll be in European competitions year in and year out and he’ll be able to continue to develop on the pitch. He won’t be in the most competitive league, but a couple of successful years at Celtic could turn in to bigger offers during the prime of his career.

                  Players LOOKING FOR A HIGHER LEVEL

                  GK, Gaga Slonina, Chicago Fire

                  Gaga’s move to Chelsea seems all but complete as the London club has out bit Real Madrid for young American keeper. It has been said that Gaga will be loaned back to Chicago for the remainder of the season or longer, similar to Caden Clark’s deal with RB Leipzig/NYRB. Gaga has struggled recently for Chicago, but clearly he has shown enough for the biggest clubs in the world to be bullish on his future potential.

                  LB, DeJuan Jones, New England Revolution

                  DeJuan is turning 25 this summer and he is one of the better left-backs in MLS. He has not been able to get a real chance from Gregg Berhalter and he needs to try something else to get on his radar. I think if he’s ever going to test himself in Europe, the time is now and New England seems to be in the middle of selling spree.

                  LB, John Tolkin, New York Red Bulls

                  John isn’t the splashiest prospect, but he’s really well rounded, mature and he is young. If he can string together some goal contributions this season, I think there will be a good amount of demand abroad. There has been reported interest from RB Salzburg. 

                  CM, Timothy Tillman, SpVgg Greuther Fürth

                  Fürth exercised their club option to extend Timothy another year. With Fürth heading to 2. Bundesliga, I am expecting mid-low Bundesliga clubs to come calling and for Tim to get a chance with another club this summer.

                  CM, Gianluca Busio, Venezia FC

                  I would be comfortable with Gianluca in this category or the “stay put” category. Venezia spent a lot of money on Busio, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him grind it out and help Venezia get back to Serie A for the 2023-2024 season. There has been reported interest in other Serie A clubs and I would also be happy to see him stay at that level and develop. Either way, Busio needs to continue to develop and figure out what role will be most effective for him. Is he a 6, 8 or 10? He played all of those positions with Venezia last year. I think he his best suited long term to play the 6 if he can manage the defensive responsibilities that comes with it.

                  AM, Djordje Mihailovic, CF Montreal

                  Next to Gaga Slonina, Djordje is probably the hottest American commodity in the MLS. There is a lot of reported interest from big clubs and it seems likely that Djordje’s time to go to Europe is now. He just received his first call-up to the USMNT, if the camp goes well, you have to wonder if now is the right time to move to Europe or if he should stay where he is a known commodity and move after the World Cup?

                  WING, Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes

                  Cade is starting to get into a good rhythm for the post-Almayda San Jose Earthquakes. He is starting consistently at LW and contributing consistently. He’s still raw and the technical aspects to his game have not developed as quickly as you’d like to see. Does he need a move abroad to better develop those skills? Does MLS allow him to rely too much on his athletic ability? If he continues to put him numbers, I could definitely see big name clubs trying to facilitate a move and betting on his rare physical profile. There have been reported interest from Everton.

                  ST, Jordan Pefok, BSC Young Boys

                  I don’t think there is much more for Jordan to prove at the current level after winning the golden boot in first year in the Swiss Super League. Jordan is in his prime and needs to see what he can do in a top 5 league. There have been reported interested from Bundesliga clubs with Borussia in their name: Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Both moves would likely be for a substitute role, which I think is fine. I can see Pefok doing well as a 60 or 70 minute sub looking to poach a late goal.


                  GK, Zack Steffen, Manchester City

                  It’s become very clear that being GK2 at Manchester City isn’t benefiting Zack’s career. He needs to request a loan or permanent move where he can have a better chance to play consistently. 

                  GK, Ethan Horvath, Nottingham Forest

                  Ethan Horvath and Nottingham Forest are headed to the Premier League after a magical season. Ethan is the clear #2 at Forest behind Brice Samba. It has been reported that Forest is looking to move Samba, most likely because they are looking to sign a proven Premier League keeper. It would be better for Horvath and the USMNT if he was loaned out where he could be the #1 option, but I just don’t see that happening.

                  LB, Jonathan Gómez, Real Sociedad 

                  Real Sociedad B is getting relegated to the third tier of Spain. That’s not a great level for JoGo. Will he get a chance to have a role on the first team or will they look to loan him to a lower table LaLiga club, or potentially a LaLiga 2 club? A strong start to the 2022-2023 season at a good level could be enough to get JoGo into the September camp with an opportunity to take the LB2 job for the World Cup.

                  RB, Brandon Bye, New England Revolution

                  Brandon is having a very strong season in New England and has had a couple of nice seasons in the MLS. He is in the prime of his career and has yet to get a cap for the United States. Like DeJuan Jones, the time is now for Bye to test his skills overseas. There is reported interest from Fulham and Lille.

                  CB, Chris Richards, Bayern Munich

                  Chris Richard’s 2022/2023 club situation is one of the most important to monitor. Bayern is losing a starting CB, but will Chris earn the right to be a starter? It has been reported that Bayern is going to give Chris a strong look this offseason to have a bigger role with Bayern this year. If that does not manifest itself, Chris has options elsewhere for a loan or permanent deal in Crystal Palace, Southampton and Hoffenheim, where he has had two successful loan spells in the last two years.

                  CB, Kik Pierie, Ajax

                  After a solid year with Twente last season, this year has been brutal for Kik. He was injured for the majority of the season and struggled once he returned to the squad. He will be back with Ajax this summer and likely looking for a move. 

                  CB, Matt Miazga, Chelsea FC

                  Matt’s loan to Alavés was not a successful one. He had some bright moments early in the year, but lost his starting job and never really recovered. He’ll be heading back to London this summer and looking for a new loan or permanent deal. Is it time for him to come back to the MLS? Or does he go back to the Netherlands or Belgium where he has had the most success?

                  DM, Johnny Cardoso, Sport Club Internacional

                  So far this season, Johnny has taken a step back in minutes for Internacional. There has been reported interest in Johnny from the MLS and perhaps some interest from Europe. Maybe it’s time for a new start where he can potentially have a better opportunity to play more and develop?

                  AM, Malik Tillman, Bayern Munich

                  Malik is the newest dual-national player to commit to the USMNT and he received his first chance with the team in the June camp. Malik showed flashes of talent, but also looked like a player that needs more senior minutes at the Club level. Malik made his senior team debut with Bayern, playing in both cup, league and European competitions, mainly because of injuries in the squad. i would love to see him get a loan to a lower table Bundesliga team, perhaps one of the newly promoted clubs Schalke or Werder Bremen?

                  AM, Richard Ledezma, PSV Eindhoven

                  Richie had a very challenging season in 2021/2022 coming back from a torn ACL injury. He throttled between Jong PSV and the first team, but saw very few minutes with PSV. He did end the season with the longest run-out of the season and contributed his first goal. This is a big summer for Richie. His chances of doing enough to displace Paul Arriola for a World Cup spot, in Gregg Berhalter’s eyes, will be very difficult, but a great preseason with PSV and a key role with the prestigious club would turn some heads. If it does not look like Richie is going to be a key player for PSV next year, he needs to look elsewhere so that can develop on the pitch.

                  AM, Caden Clark, New York Red Bulls

                  2022 has not gone to plan for Caden Clark. Many thought he’d be a locked in starter for NYRB this year, but he was used as more of a super sub role early in the year. That was going okay and then he injured himself at a US U20 camp. He is just now getting back into fitness and playing for NYRB. It’s been reported that he isn’t happy with how much time he is getting and that RB Leipzig likely isn’t as well, so it’s possible that Caden goes to Europe this summer on a different loan deal where he can get a fresh start. I think that might be good for him. I am not sure the current NYRB system suits his game very well.

                  WING, Alex Mighten, Nottingham Forest

                  Alex Mighten, along with Horvath will get his first chance in the top league in the world. Mighten started the season as a starter when Forest was really struggling. He then was moved to the bench where he was regularly used. In the middle of the season Alex was injured and when he came back he had more diminished role. Alex will train and fight to become a more utilized part of the attacking rotation next year and Forest will likely look to make a lot of moves to strengthen their roster as they head to the Premier League for the first time in decades. It’s possible Mighten gets loaned to a Championship club where he has a better chance to develop on the pitch.

                  ST, Matthew Hoppe, RCD Mallorca

                  I don’t think any 2021 Summer transfer turned out worse than Hoppe to Mallorca. He has had 127 minutes in 4 appearances in LaLiga. I was very optimistic about this transfer when it happened, but clearly I was misguided. There have been reports of MLS interest, which I think would be fine, though I think he can play at a higher level. The most important thing for Matthew is to go somewhere and play and build his confidence back.

                  ST, Folarin Balogun, Arsenal FC

                  Folarin Balogun is a high priority dual-nat that is currently focused on England, but Gregg is in communication and will continue to leave the door open. Flo received his extended opportunity with a senior team during his loan to Middlesbrough. It was up and down but he showed flashes of his potential. He’ll be heading back to Arsenal this summer and he will most likely look for a new loan deal. There are rumors that Fulham is interested on a loan with an option to buy. 


                  RB, Reggie Cannon, Boavista FC

                  Reggie lost his right-back job last season and was moved to right center-back in Boavista’s back three formation. This role is better suited for his skillset right now, but it’s not helping him develop his offensive game. Boavista has also been in financial crisis for a few years. I am not sure if there is a strong market for Reggie, but I do think a move could help him develop a bit more. As of right now, his offensive limitations are limiting what he can bring to the USMNT. 

                  Players who have been rumored to be on the move that I think should stay put

                  RB, Sergino Dest, FC Barecelona

                  Xavi loves him. Xavi doesn’t rate him. Xavi rates him. Xavi wants to sell him. I don’t know what the hell is going on in Barcelona, but what we do know is Serg loves being a Barca player and he is going to fight like hell to be an important player there. It has been recently reported that Dani Alves will not return to Barca, but it’s possible that they are still looking to acquire Cesar AzpilicuetaI — thought I don’t think he would be tough for Dest to fend off for playing time. I think he should stay and continue to fight. 

                  RB, Shaq Moore, Tenerife 

                  Shaq Moore is the only American that hasn’t finished his European season. He has one more match to try and help Tenerife get promoted to LaLiga. They play at home in the second leg of the promotion final after a 0-0 draw on the road. MLS clubs tried to acquire Shaq during the Winter transfer window, with the most publicized club being Nashville. Those reports have persisted and it sounds likely that Shaq will be heading to the MLS no matter what happens in the promotion match. I do wonder if Tenerife and Shaq’s position would change if they win and get the promotion to LaLiga. Do they feel Shaq could help at that level? Shaq may never get another chance to test himself at that level. We’ve seen how tough it is as a bottom level club in a top competition. I don’t feel strongly either way. I do think Shaq is still in the mix for a World Cup spot after underwhelming performances in the June window by Reggie Cannon, DeAndre Yedlin and Joe Scally, so a summer transfer to the MLS where he can show what he can do might be the best move for him. 

                  DM, Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig

                  Tyler’s playing time took a significant dip when Tedesco took over midseason and pivoted to a more composed, possession based system. Many think Tyler should move on where he is more likely to be an every day starter. I agree, but his place on the USMNT is not in question, so I’d prefer he stayed at Leipzig, try to boost his stock at the World Cup, and then move in the winter. It’s also not the worst thing that Leipzig need him to be better in ball progression to get more time, that is where he needs to develop. As of now, Tyler has been linked to Leeds United and Sevilla. I really like the Sevilla option. 

                  CM, Weston McKennie, Juventus FC

                  Juventus is about to sign Paul Pogba, does that mean Weston is on his way out? Not necessarily, though there has been off and on reported interest from Champions League bound, Tottenham. Wes was in the midst of the season of his career before his leg injury. I’d like to see Wes stay with Juventus and play alongside Pogba. That midfield would be fun as hell and I trust Wes to fight and win minutes no matter who is there. 

                  WING, Christian Pulisic, Chelsea FC

                  I do not enjoy Chelsea fans as much as the next guy or gal, but they are a top club and I do not prioritize Pulisic being an every match starter. I prefer the load management he gets at a super club like Chelsea. Would I be upset if he want to say, Liverpool, absolutely not. Anytime you can play for a manager like Klopp, you do it, but if Pulisic does stay at Chelsea through to the winter window, I would be fine with it. 

                  WING, Konrad de la Fuente, Olympique Marseille

                  Konrad has immense talent, but does Konrad have the drive to be great? I have no idea, but he had an up and down first season as a consistent senior player and there were reports of a lack of work ethic and desire. Marseille will be in the Champions League next year and I would prefer Konrad work his tail off to get back in the rotation at the club that gave him his first big chance. 

                  ST, Haji Wright, Antalyaspor

                  Haji’s successful loan ends with Antalyaspor at the end of June at which point he will return to SönderjyskE, but that is almost certainly temporary. Antalyaspor will certainly be interested in retaining Haji’s services on a permanent move, but there will likely be competition. It’s been reported that one of the biggest clubs in Turkey, Galatasaray, has interest and will likely drive the price up. I would love to see Haji return to Antalyaspor and build off of a career year with one of the more promising young managers in Europe, Nuri Sahin. 


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