Welcome to the first edition of the MLS 2022 American U21 impact rankings. Every two weeks, on Monday, we’ll update the top 25 Americans born in 2001 or later who are having the biggest impact on their club. The rankings are based on a combination of minutes, goal contributions and key positional metrics.

After two weeks, there are a couple of storylines to track, though I’d caveat this by saying it’s early and we should not conclude too much from what we have seen thus far.

A few things I am tracking: the kids in Philly aren’t playing as much as they should, the 05s in Seattle appear to have a role early in the season, and the Red Bulls have four youngsters that are currently in the rotation.

#1 | GK, Gaga Slonina, Chicago Fire (2004)

180 minutes
GA/90: 0.00
PSxG +/-: +0.10

Two games, two clean sheets. Gaga didn’t have a ton to do this weekend, but he made some key saves in week 1. His distribution has also been good. The problem for Chicago is that they also haven’t scored in 2 games.

#2 | LB, John Tolkin, New York Red Bulls (2002)

180 minutes
xGoals: 0.2
xAssists: 0.3
Shot Creating Actions: 5
Goal Creating Actions: 1

John has played the full 90 in both matches thus far and NYRB has 6 points to show for it. John has been very good in both games, providing a good amount of danger from the LWB position and he has been his usual, solid self on defense. 

#3 | CM, Caden Clark, New York Red Bulls (2003)

57 minutes
xGoals: 0.2
Assists: 1
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Starting the year coming off the bench, but I don’t expect that to last long. He had an assist in the first game and created a big chance in the second. Looked more in form and getting back to his dangerous self in the second game. 

#4 | DM, Obed Vargas, Seattle Sounders (2005)

279 minutes between CCL/MLS
*xGoals: 0
*xAssists: 0
*Shot Creating Actions: 2
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Obed has started both CCL matches, matchday 1 in MLS and subbed in matchday 2. He’s looked more than comfortable in Seattle’s midfield. Here is a little flash of what he can do as a ball carrier. 

#5 | WING/AM, Griffin Yow, DC United (2002)

156 minutes
xGoals: 0.3
xAssists: 0.4
Shot Creating Actions: 4
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Griffin has started the first two games for DC at the RAM/RW position. He has yet to log a goal or an assist, but he’s had some big chances. I am very worried about how he is going to hold up over the course of the season. He’s very small. 

#6 | AM, Tyler Wolff, Atlanta United (2003)

154 minutes
xGoals: 0.2
xAssists: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 5
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Tyler is benefitting from a depleted attack in Atlanta. He’s had two starts and has looked more than competent in both matches. He was very close to his first goal of the season in matchday 2. 

#7 | LB, Caleb Wiley, Atlanta United (2004)

41 minutes
Goals: 1
xAssists: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0

It doesn’t get much better than a goal in your senior debut at a club where you have come up through the academy. Caleb looks like he’ll be a consistent contributor off the bench. 

#8 | WING, CADE COWELL, SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2003)

110 minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0.1
Shot Creating Actions: 4
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Cade started the first match and came on at half time for the second. No excuse for him to not start every game for a very mediocre San Jose side. Cade looked in dangerous attacking players 1v1 and created some danger in a big comeback 3-3 result against Columbus. 

#9 | RB, TayvON GRAY, New York City fc (2002)

260 minutes across CCL/MLS
*xGoals: 0
*xAssists: 0
*Shot Creating Actions: 1
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Tayvon has started both CCL and MLS matches this season. While he hasn’t been too involved in the attack, he’s been okay defensively. He unfortunately left the last match in the 22nd minute due to a muscle injury. It’s uncertain how serious it is. Stay tuned. 

#10 | CB, George campbell, atlanta united (2001)

153 minutes
xGoals: 0.1
xAssists: 0.1
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

George started the first match at RCB and the second at CDM as the injuries are mounting for Atlanta. I think he is in a position battle with Franco at the RCB next to Miles. George has a lot of skill, but still makes more mistakes than you want at CB. Please no more time at the 6. 

#11 | CM, Leon Flach, Philadelphia Union (2001)

157 minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

More of what we saw last year with Flach, a steady defensive presence in the midfield, but not adding a ton in terms of danger. 

#12 | DM, Moses Nyeman, DC United (2003)

144 minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Moses has started both matches for DC and has been inconsistent. I like what I have seen defensively. He’s been very active and getting stuck in. Offensively he has been too sloppy. Too many turnovers when passing the ball. He also had a red card and will miss the next match. 

#13 | LB, NOAH Allen, Inter Miami (2004)

123 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

With Gibbs out, Noah Allen has started both matches at LWB. He’s looked most competent, but did fall asleep a few times against Austin where he was pulled at half. 

#14 | RB, Andres jasson, new york city fc (2002)

115 Minutes across CCL/MLS
*xGoals: 0
*xAssists: 0
*Shot Creating Actions: 3
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

One of the bigger surprises on this list so far. He is transitioning from being a winger to a right-back. He’s the primary backup to above mentioned Tayvon Gray. He’s looked more competent in the attack than Gray, but his defense is work in progress. He should get more of an opportunity with Gray sidelined with an injury. 

#15 | RB, nathan harriel, philadelphia union (2001)

90 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Another surprise on this list. Harriel started matchday 2 after Mbaizo had a poor performance in matchday 1. I thought Harriel was very good defensively, but didn’t add much on the offensive end. 

#16 | AM, reed baker-whiting, seattle sounders (2005)

90 Minutes
xGoals: 0.2
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Reed had an up and down performance in his start against Real Salt Lake this week. He got into a couple of good positions. He scuffed one shot and got better contact on the second (video above in Vargas’ section), but it was saved. He looked a little rusty, but showed some signs of why people are so high on him.

#17 | wing, matko miljevic, cf montreal (2001)

72 Minutes across CCL/MLS
*xGoals: 0.1
*xAssists: 0.1
*Shot Creating Actions: 1
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Matko looks like he’ll be a commonly used sub for Montreal. He’s created a little danger, but nothing too notable thus far. 

#18 | DM, sebastian berhalter, vancouver whitecaps (2001)

52 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Sebastian, son of USMNT manager, Gregg Berhalter, has made two sub appearances for Vancouver. He’s a defensive minded, steady presence in the middle of the pitch. 

#19 | CM, harrison robledo, fc cincinnati (2002)

43 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0.1
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Harrison was a late homegrown signing for Cincinnati and looks to have a key role as a sub for the struggling franchise. 

#20 | AM, brian gutierrez, chicago fire (2003)

37 Minutes
xGoals: 0.2
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Brian has had a couple of nice goal scoring opportunities and has provided a spark off the bench. If Chicago continues to struggle to score, I would expect Brian to get more of an opportunity as a starter. 

#21 | cm, ben bender, charlotte fc (2001)

29 Minutes
xGoals: 0.1
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

I got my first look at the #1 overall Super Draft pick this week. I was impressed! He’s a smart and technical player that was as positive offensively as anyone for Charlotte. I’d bet his first MLS start is not too far off. 

#22 | DM, aidan morris, columbus crew (2001)

23 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0

The biggest thing with Aidan is that he is back and he looks healthy. He hasn’t lost his quickness and fearlessness after a major injury that wiped out his 2021 campaign. 

#23 | cm, jack mcglynn, philadelphia union (2003)

22 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Long sub cameo in matchday 1, nothing in matchday 2. He was very useful in his first appearance as shown here. 

#24 | am, paxten aaronson, Philadelphia union (2003)

16 Minutes
xGoals: 0.1
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Paxten also did not get the call in matchday 2. He flashed danger in matchday 1 and I wouldn’t expect him to be this low on this list for very long. Apparently he had a really nice half-volley attempt that was blocked by his own teammate. 

#25 | WING, Serge Ngoma, New York Red Bulls (2005)

20 Minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 0
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Our third 2005 on this list! Serge hasn’t done a whole lot in his two appearances, but the fact he is getting minutes ahead of others, like Cameron Harper, shows you what Struber thinks of him. 

My projected top 25 by the end of the year >