This weeks rankings catch us up on the events from matchday 3 and 4, the third and fourth games for each MLS team. After four weeks of play there are a few storylines that have caught my eye. First, it’s going to be tough to dethrone Gaga Slonina if he continues to perform as a top end goalkeeper in the MLS at the astonishing age of 17. Ben Bender has been the surprise of the group and looks like a player to pay attention to. Ben is the only American U21 with multiple score contributions. On the concerning side, some of the big name prospects are struggling to carve out consistent roles for their clubs, most notably: Caden Clark, Cade Cowell, Moses Nyeman, Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan. We’ll see if that changes over the coming weeks. Here are the updated American U21 Impact Rankings in MLS 2022: 

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

Previous Ranking: 1

360 minutes
GA/90:
0.25
PSxG +/-: +2.0

Gaga conceded his first goal in matchday 4, but Chicago is looking really good, especially defensively and Gaga continues to play very well. If he continues to be a top level keeper in the MLS, it’s going to be hard to knock him off the top spot. We’re lucky to be witnessing a star in the making.

#2 | CM, Ben Bender, Charlotte FC (2001)

Previous Ranking: 21

196 Minutes
1 Goal
2 Assists
Shot Creating Actions: 11
Goal Creating Actions: 2

The #1 overall pick in this year’s Super Draft skyrockets to number two after back to back fantastic performances in his first two starts as a pro. The Charlotte offense changed when Ben entered the starting lineup. His first assist was off of a cross and his second in open play, followed by his first career goal, a really nice finish. Ben leads this entire category in goal contributions (3) and shot creating actinos (11). Ben is a very smart and skillful player that’s going to start getting US Soccer’s attention if he keeps this up. 

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

Previous Ranking: 2

360 minutes
xGoals: 0.3
xAssists: 0.4
Shot Creating Actions: 8
Goal Creating Actions: 1

John has played every minute of the season for the Red Bulls and continues to look like one of their better players. He hasn’t yet contributed to the scoreline, but he’s had some dangerous chances and he’s been solid defensively and as part of the offensive build up. It’s a matter of time before he gets his first goal or assist this year. 

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

Previous Ranking: 11

336 minutes
xGoals: 0
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0
Dual Success Rate: 68.8%

Leon continues to be a key piece to a high performing Union side. He has yet to get too involved in goal creating activities, but he’s a duel monster and is having another solid year, picking up right where he left off last year.

#5 | RB, Nathan Harriel, Philadelphia Union (2001)

270 Minutes
1 Assist
xGoals: 0.1
Shot Creating Actions: 5
Goal Creating Actions: 1
Dribbles: 7/7 (100%)

Harriel moves up the list after a couple of weeks of strong defensive play and his first assist of the season. Harriel has taken the starting right-back job and doesn’t appear to be looking back.

 

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

Previous Ranking: 4

485 minutes (CCL + MLS)
*xGoals: 0.1
*xAssists: 0.2
*Shot Creating Actions: 7
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Obed has been a consistent starter for Seattle between both CCL and MLS. He has the most minutes from any American U21. He’s been up and down, which you’d expect from a 16 year old, but he’s been solid defensively and learning how to make himself more available as an outlet and in the attack. I want to see him continue to drive the ball forward and get more involved in build up. 

#7 | CB, George Campbell, Atlanta United FC (2001)

Previous Ranking: 10

288 minutes
xGoals: 0.1
xAssists: 0.3
Shot Creating Actions: 4
Goal Creating Actions: 1
Long Pass Success Rate: 51.5%

George started matchday 3 with Miles Robinson out with a red card and came in at half for a poor performing Alan Franco in matchday 4. Atlanta has been a bit of a mess defensively this year and George is not without fault. He still has too many mental errors, but he’s outplayed Franco and he’s been an asset sending balls forward. I would expect him to get a chance to start alongside Miles going forward.

#8 | RB, Andres Jasson, New York City FC (2002)

Previous Ranking: 14

465 Minutes (CCL + MLS)
1 Assist
xGoals: 0.1
*Shot Creating Actions: 5
*Goal Creating Actions: 1

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

With NYCFCs first choice RB out with injury, Tayvon Gray, Andres Jasson has been getting the majority of those minutes. He is converting from winger to right-back and you can see that in his play. He is effective on offense, but struggles defensively. He did get an assist in matchday 3, but he struggled defensively in the CCL collapse and in matchday 4, where he was subbed at halftime. 

#9 | AM, Tyler Wolff, Atlanta United FC (2003)

Previous Ranking: 6

252 minutes
xGoals: 0.3
xAssists: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 7
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Tyler has started every match while Atlanta’s high priced Designated Player, Thiago Almada, gets up to speed and fellow DP, Araujo, is out. He hasn’t fully taken advantage of the opportunity. His minutes are likely to soon decrease and while Tyler was solid, I am not sure he made the most of his starts.  

#10 | LWB, Adam Armour, Charlotte FC (2002)

Previous Ranking: NR

66 minutes
1 Goal
xAssists: 0.1
Shot Creating Actions: 4
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Adam Armour goes down in history as the first ever Charlotte FC player to score a goal. It was a header that came off of a corner kick from Ben Bender. Adam has yet to get a start for Charlotte, but has been an impact player off the bench. 

https://twitter.com/SiriusXMFC/status/1503135355205206018?s=20&t=wvX1GWazvXafyYkwWJxF-w

 

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

Previous Ranking: 3

94 minutes
1 assist
xGoals: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 3
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Caden got extensive sub minutes in matchday 3, but Lewis Morgan was not interested in passing and struggled to get in the game. He did not come off the bench and matchday 4. Struber’s use of Caden is becoming quite frustrating. 

#12 | AM, Brian Gutierrez, Chicago Fire (2003)

Previous Ranking: 20

95 Minutes
1 Assist
xGoals: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Brian Gutierrez has yet to get a start this season but he has been Chicago’s best attacking option off the bench and I think he’s now pushing for some starts. The recent U-20 call up continues to improve and is becoming a legit prospect for the US. Here is his assist on matchday 4: 

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

Previous Ranking: 5

183 minutes
xGoals: 0.4
xAssists: 0.4
Shot Creating Actions: 6
Goal Creating Actions: 1

Griffin started the first two matches, did not come off the bench in matchday 3 and subbed in and didn’t do much in matchday 4. With Ted Ku-DiPietro back in the mix, we could see Griffin continue to trend this way. 

#14 | WING, Matko Miljevic, CF Montreal (2001)

Previous Ranking: 17

259 Minutes (CCL + MLS)
xGoals: 0.5
*xAssists: 0.1
*Shot Creating Actions: 3
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Matko is a regular off the bench in both MLS and CCL, but has yet to make a major impact. His expected goals are high at this point in the season after missing a couple big chances. 

#15 | WING, Cade Cowell, San Jose Earthquakes (2003)

Previous Ranking: 8

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

Cade Cowell was sick during matchday 3 and came off the bench on matchday 4 in what was a very tough game for San Jose. San Jose and Miami are probably the two most dysfunctional clubs in the MLS right now and Cade is not benefitting from that. It’s surprising to me that he hasn’t started since the first game and I wonder if big changes are coming for San Jose, most notably at the managerial position. 

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

Previous Ranking: 7

41 Minutes
1 Goal
xAssists: 0.2
Shot Creating Actions: 1
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Caleb did not see action in matchday 3 or 4. 

#17 | RB, Tayvon Gray, New York City FC (2002)

Previous Ranking: 9

260 minutes (CCL + MLS)
*xGoals: 0
*xAssists: 0
*Shot Creating Actions: 1
*Goal Creating Actions: 0

*Stats are only from two MLS matches

Tayvon was out with injury the last two weeks. Reports are that he should be back soon. 

#18 | CM, Cameron Duke, Sporting Kansas City (2001)

Previous Ranking: NR

133 Minutes
xGoals: 0.3
xAssists: 0
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

After recording very few minutes in the first two weeks, Cameron has started the last two matches for Sporting KC. He’s had some chances, but yet to impact the team in a major way.

#19 | LB, Noah Allen, Inter Miami (2004)

Previous Ranking: 13

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

The good news is that Noah Allen was recently awarded a homegrown contract, the bad news is that he’s taken a dip in impact the last couple of weeks. He had a DNP and sub appearance where he was bullied in the air by Brandon Vasquez for a goal.

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

Previous Ranking: 12

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

Moses received a red card on matchday 2 and may have lost his starting spot as a result. He did not start matchday 3 and was an unused sub on matchday 4. 

#21 | AM, Paxten Aaronson, Philadelphia Union (2003)

Previous Ranking: 24

39 Minutes
xGoals: 0.1
xAssists: 0.5
Shot Creating Actions: 2
Goal Creating Actions: 0

Paxten has shown the flashes that we’re used to from him in the few minutes he’s had. The Union are playing well and he’s yet to find big minutes, but rest assured, he looks ready when the time comes. 

#22 | AM, Reed Baker-Whiting, Seattle Sounders (2005)

Previous Ranking: 16

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

Did not see action on matchday 3 or 4.

#23 | DM, Sebastian Berhalter, Vancouver Whitecaps (2001)

Previous Ranking: 18

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

Did not play on matchday 3. He started matchday 4, but struggled to find the game.

#24 | CM, Harrison Robledo, FC Cincinnati (2002)

Previous Ranking: 19

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

Did not see action on matchday 3 or 4.

#25 | CM, Jack McGlynn, Philadelphia Union (2003)

Previous Ranking: 23

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

Did not see action on matchday 3 or 4. 

Dropped from the list: DM, Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), WING, Serge Ngoma (NYRB)
Matchday 2 Rankings >