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USMNT Positional Analysis: Right-Backs



Dating back to last summer, many of us believed that our RB depth was going to be much better than it has been. Sergiño Dest is far and away the most talented of the group and the clear first choice RB. It seemed like Reggie Cannon was solidifying himself as the #2, while DeAndre Yedlin was the reliable veteran that could fill in when needed. Julian Araujo was also viewed as an up and coming RB prospect, but he chose to commit to Mexico. Bryan Reynolds was a player that a lot of people were excited about after signing with Roma. 

Reggie was scheduled to be the starting RB in the Gold Cup, but injuries limited his availability and Shaq Moore was given the opportunity and played well. 

Additionally, Joe Scally, a 19 year old that was not expected to impact Borussia Mönchengladbach, had a very successful start to the 2021 – 2022 season after injuries thrust him into the starting lineup. 

All of these events led to a somewhat jumbled mess and now we have a clear competition for RB2 heading into the summer before the World Cup. 

Look Like Locks

Sergiño Dest (Barcelona)

Without a doubt Sergiño Dest is the starting RB. He’s had some brilliant moments in WCQ, most notably the golazo against Costa Rica and locking up Tajon Buchannon in Canada. He’s also had some not so great moments, but overall, he’s been a real bright spot. His creativity in the attack is a dynamic element that USMNT needs. There is a noticeable gap when he is not in the lineup. The biggest challenge has been his availability. His reemergence at Barcelona is also a reason to be optimistic heading into the World Cup. 

WCQ Stats:
436 minutes played
1 goal
1 assist
3.1 crosses per 90, 33% accuracy 
9.1 dribble attempts per 90, 52.3% success rate
31.79 ground duels per 90, 46.1% success rate

In the Mix

DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami)

DeAndre is one of two players that are in the mix from the 2014 World Cup squad. DeAndre is one of the few “veterans” in the pool and Gregg has relied on that during qualifying. He’s participated in a lot of big matches, including both Mexico matches in WCQ. DeAndre is what he is at this point in his career. He’s not a game changer, but he’s reliable and tough on defense. To me, if none of the younger, more talented RBs emerge over the next several months, Yedlin is your reliable contingency plan that will bring World Cup experience and grit. 

WCQ Stats:
393 minutes played
1 assist
2.52 crosses per 90, 54.5% accuracy 
1.2 dribble attempts per 90, 40% success rate
19.47 ground duels per 90, 62.4% success rate

Reggie Cannon (Boavista)

Reggie has had a pretty rocky past 9 months dating back to the 2021 Gold Cup where he was supposed to be the starting RB, but was limited by a knock. That knock stuck around and limited him at Boavista for the first few months of the season. During that time another RWB emerged and Reggie has since predominantly played at RCB in a three back system. He’s been in and out of the USMNT setup during WCQ and hasn’t stood out, good or bad. Reggie still has a very good chance to make the World Cup roster, but I think it will take a strong finish to this club season and a strong start to make it happen. 

WCQ Stats:
113 minutes played
4.78 crosses per 90, 16.7% accuracy 
0.8 dribble attempts per 90, 100% success rate
13.5 ground duels per 90, 47.1% success rate

Shaq Moore (Tenerife)

Shaq is a very interesting player for me and how his club situation pans out over the next several months will be interesting to evaluate. Shaq impressed me in the Gold Cup. He had a poor performance against Panama in Panama and an impressive performance at home against Panama. His club season has been up and down. He’s been in and out of the starting lineup for a second division Spanish club, Tenerife, who are fighting for a promotion to LaLiga. MLS teams were in hot pursuit of Shaq this winter, but Tenerife wanted to keep him around for the promotion push. What I am curious about is what will happen with Shaq if Tenerife gets promoted? Do they keep him around for LaLiga next year? That would be a great challenge for Shaq. Do they upgrade and that means Shaq pursues MLS interest? If they don’t get promoted, you have to think a move for Shaq is inevitable. 

Like Reggie, Shaq will really need to impress from now until November for him to win a spot on the World Cup roster. Rumor has it that Shaq will head to Nashville this summer, which will give him more of a chance to impress this summer leading up to the World Cup. This is a trend you might see a lot of with players looking to get on Gregg’s radar ahead of the World Cup.

WCQ Stats:
217 minutes played
4.15 crosses per 90, 10% accuracy 
2.1 dribble attempts per 90, 80% success rate
20.3 ground duels per 90, 61.2% success rate

Keep an Eye On

Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

I think it’s fair to say that the number one complaint of USMNT fans, at least on Twitter, is Gregg’s evaluation of Joe Scally. Let’s be real, Joe was ahead of schedule in terms of having an impact in the German Bundesliga. That caught a lot of us by surprise. Joe was called into one camp and apparently Gregg was not impressed, and he hasn’t been called back since. 

I don’t always agree with Gregg’s evaluation of players, but to his credit, he doesn’t usually give up on players forever, especially young players and I think we’ll see Joe get another chance. Anyone can have a bad camp. My hope is Joe gets a chance with USMNT this summer and at that point it is on him to change Gregg’s opinion. He can’t completely rely on his performances in Germany. He has to show up in camp as well. I think he needs one big time performance this summer to have a shot. 

Joe has shown the highest level of play within this group outside of Dest, so hopefully he can rise in the eyes of Gregg this summer.  Gregg usually takes a little longer to get to player evaluations that are aligned with the fanbase, but he does usually get there. Let’s hope that happens here.

Bryan Reynolds (Kortrijk / Roma)

Offensively, Bryan might have the highest ceiling at RB outside of Sergiño Dest. Unfortunately for Bryan, the Roma transfer has not been positive and so Bryan wasn’t able to show Gregg much for the entire first half of the season. Bryan was loaned to Belgian side, Kortrijk and has been a positive player for them. Bryan was invited to December camp, but did not start over Brooks Lennon, which was concerning, but did come in and look bright. 

I would imagine Bryan and his camp is looking for a permanent move out of Roma this summer and with the right move and strong growth, Bryan has an outside chance to make some noise. 

Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United)

I wouldn’t keep my eye on Brooks Lennon because I think he is a pretty limited player and below the quality of the rest of the guys in this group, but he has been called in recently so I feel compelled to have him on the list. 

My way too early prediction: Sergiño Dest, DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scally


USMNT’S Next Great Location



Where the USMNT Should Play Next and Why?


The largest USMNT home attendance of 93,869 took place at the 1994 World Cup in a 1-0 loss to Romania at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The U.S. men’s national team announced last month that their only January Camp 2024 Friendly match would be played in the nearly 8,300-seat Toyota Field, home of the USL Championship team San Antonio FC. This marks only the third time USMNT has played a match in a USL venue, the last match was in March 2018, at WakeMed Soccer Park, in Cary, North Carolina. It also marked the 16th time that the USMNT will be playing a match at a venue with a capacity of less than 10,000 (USMNT have played 13 matches at 10,000 seat capacity). 

How and where USMNT decides to play matches has recently been scrutinized by fans who live in areas of the United States where matches are rarely — or never — played. Back in March 2023, the USMNT played their final Concacaf Nations League match in Orlando, making its sixth appearance in Orlando since Exploria Stadium opened in 2017. The USMNT has also played seven matches in the state of Ohio since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, four of which have been played in Cincinnati, which is tied for the second most matches played in a city since 2018. USMNT fans nationwide who haven’t been able to attend a local or regional match recently continue to ask why the same handful of venues continue to be selected, even for Friendly matches.  

Since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, the USMNT has played 62 home matches at 28 venues, but 10 of those venues have hosted three or more times. The USSF doesn’t have control over which venues the USMNT will play their Gold Cup and Nation League Finals matches, but it does with friendlies, World Cup Qualifiers, and all home Nations League matches. 

During the Gregg Berhalter era (yes, I am counting the six-ish months when Anthony Hudson and B.J. Callaghan coached) the USMNT played the second- and third-longest consecutive home match stretches; 15 consecutive home matches in 2019 and 14 consecutive home matches in 2023. Both were years when the Gold Cup was played. The longest stretch was in 1994 when the USMNT hosted the World Cup and played 17 consecutive home matches. As we look forward to 2024 it is possible that the USMNT could reach 16 consecutive home matches played if they can play the maximum amount of Copa America matches and don’t schedule any road or neutral location matches during the September and October windows.

When posting on X (formerly Twitter) about the match at Geodis Park in Nashville, Tennessee, the USMNT account said, “Another stadium to cross off the list,” which appears to be a jab at the USMNT fans about venue selection. The recently scheduled January Camp match scheduled in San Antonio isn’t the first time the USMNT has played in this city. They beat Costa Rica 1-0 in 1988 at Alamo Stadium and in 2015 beat Mexico 2-0 at the Alamodome.

Breaking Down Recent USMNT Home Matches

Below are the US Cities in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle up through the group stage matches of Copa America 2024.

Kansas City, Kansas*5
Orlando, Florida5
Arlington, Texas4
Austin, Texas4
Cincinnati, Ohio4
Nashville, Tennessee4
Carson, California3
Paradise, Nevada3
St. Louis, Missouri3
St. Paul, Minnesota3

Below are the US States in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle through the Copa America 2024 group matches.


*All three 2021 Gold Cup Group Stage matches were played at the same location.

In the past, locations and venue selection for World Cup qualifiers haven’t been ideal to ensure a true home-field advantage for the USMNT (see the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey). The US Soccer Federation has started to rely on the same 7 or 8 venues for critical matches. But, with the USMNT not needing to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, USSF has a great opportunity to play in locations they have never played before, or at least in recent memory.

As it currently stands, the USMNT hasn’t played a match in 22 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) and there are seven states in which the USMNT hasn’t played a match in nearly 10 years. Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the four most populated states to never host a USMNT match, and very much overdue to get matches scheduled at those locations.

One of the seven locations that haven’t seen the USMNT play in over 10 years is Michigan, which has seen two of the largest crowds to watch International Club soccer, the largest attendance of 109,318 in 2014 when Manchester United defeated Real Madrid 3-1 and the 2nd largest attendance of 105,826 in 2016 saw Real Madrid defeat Chelsea 3-2 both were played at the University of Michigan Stadium aka “The Big House”.

Which State or Venue Should the USMNT Play at Next?

Here’s a look at 10 locations/venues where I would like to see the USMNT play over the next couple of cycles. There are some challenges in getting matches scheduled in certain states and venues due to the playing surface not being grass or the venue not being the required size, which is the case in many of the NCAA football fields. 

The below graphic shows the regions where the USMNT has played or already scheduled  457 home matches, up through the Copa America 2024 group stage.


Protective Stadium Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham Legion FC – USL Championship & UAB Blazers – NCAA Football
Capacity – 47,100


Under the management of Bruce Arena, the USMNT played three matches in Alabama during the 2002 and 2006 cycles, but haven’t returned in almost 18 years. 

Last three Matches played in Alabama

March 30, 2005 – 2-0 win vs Guatemala – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – World Cup Qualifier

March 10, 2002 – 1-0 win vs Ecuador – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly

March 12, 2000 – 1-1 draw vs Tunisia – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly


War Memorial Stadium – Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Rangers – USL2 & Secondary Home of Arkansas Razorbacks – NCAA Football
Capacity – 54,120

WholeHogSports - In UA's view, War Memorial in need of $10M update

Neither the US Men’s nor Women’s National teams have played a soccer match in the state of Arkansas. Another option could be to play at the recently announced expansion USL Championship team to be located in Northwest Arkansas. 

Last three Matches played in Arkansas

No matches played


New Aloha Stadium (2033 – 2038) – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii – NCAA Football
Capacity – Expected 25,000 – 30,000


With a new Aloha Stadium expected to be built and hopefully finished in the next 10 years, playing a match in Hawaii seems more likely an option for the USMNT in the future, the perfect opportunity for a January camp location.

Back in 2015, the USWNT had a scheduled victory tour match at the current Aloha Stadium but was canceled on the day of the match because the artificial turf surface at the stadium was deemed unplayable. 

Last three Matches played in Hawaii

No matches played


Albertsons Stadium – Boise, Idaho
Boise State University – NCAA Football
Capacity – 36,387

Neither the USMNT nor the USWNT has ever played a match in Idaho, or any of the other surrounding states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. However, in 2015 a friendly match was scheduled at the home of Boise State University at Albertsons Stadium, which is known for its blue surface, aka “Smurf Turf.”  The Basque Soccer Friendly featured Athletic Bilbao of La Liga against Club Tijuana of Liga MX in front of a crowd of 21,948 with Athletic Bilbao winning 2–0.   

Last three Matches played in Idaho

No matches played


Future – Indy Eleven Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Indy Eleven – USL Championship
Capacity – 20,000


The senior USMNT has never played in the state of Indiana. The B Team, however, has played Olympic qualifying matches there for the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as the 1987 Pan American Games, with games not counting as full international caps

Last three Matches played in Indiana

May 10, 1992 – 3-1 win vs Canada – Bloomington, Indiana – Bill Armstrong Stadium – Olympic Qualifying 

August 15, 1987 – 0-2 loss vs Argentina – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium- Pan American Games

May 25, 1987 – 4-1 win vs El Salvador – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium – Olympic Qualifying


Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville City FC – USL Championship
Capacity – 11,700 (Expandable to 15,304)

It was nearly a full capacity crowd at Lynn Family Stadium Saturday on a hot evening as LouCity took on visiting Memphis. The boys in purple won, 3-0. June 12, 2021

Louisville City FC has been one of the more successful and popular USL teams in recent seasons and has an amazing fan base. This spurred the building of their soccer stadium in 2018. It is a logical location for a USMNT match. 

Last three Matches played in Kentucky

No matches played

New York City

Future – New York City FC – Bronx, New York
New York City FC – MLS Team
Capacity – 25,000

The US Men’s National Team hasn’t played in the New York City area in nearly 40 years, even though they have played matches at the home stadium of the New York Red Bulls which is in New Jersey. 

Last three Matches played in New York City Area

November 30, 1984 – 0-0 draw vs Ecuador – Hempstead, New York – Hofstra Stadium– Friendly

September 15, 1968 – 3-3 draw vs Israel – Bronx, New York – Yankee Stadium – Friendly

May 27, 1964 – 0-10 loss vs England – Randall’s Island, New York – Downing Stadium – Friendly

New York (Upstate)

Future – Buffalo Bills stadium (2026) – Orchard Park, New York
Buffalo Bills – NFL Team
Capacity – 62,000

Buffalo Bills unveil first design images of their new $1.4 billion stadium

The US Men’s National Team has never played in Upstate New York and with the new stadium being built for the Buffalo Bills — expected to be finished sometime in 2026 — the area would have a good venue for the USMNT to play.

Last three Matches played in Update New York

No matches played

New Mexico

Proposed – New Mexico United Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico United – USL Championship
Capacity – 12,000

Another stadium option for the USMNT in New Mexico would be University Stadium also in Albuquerque, which had a seating capacity of over 30,000, however the overall attendance in the only three matches played there wasn’t impressive.

Last three Matches played in New Mexico

March 19, 2005 – 1-0 win vs Honduras – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

April 30, 1994 – 0-2 loss vs Chile – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

June 7, 1988 – 0-1 loss vs Ecuador – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly (Clasico International Cup)


Providence Park – Portland Oregon
Portland Timbers – MLS
Capacity – 25,218

It’s been 10 years since the USMNT has played in Oregon and with the Pacific Northwest being a soccer-crazed region, is time for the USMNT to return, while the stadium is currently using field turf they would have to make the necessary accommodations to support a grass service.

Last three Matches played in Oregon

July 9, 2013 – 6-1 win vs Belize – Portland, Oregon – Jeld-Wen Field – Gold Cup-Group Stage

May 24, 1998 – 2-0 win vs Kuwait – Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – Friendly

September 7, 1997 – 1-0 win vs Costa Rica Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – World Cup Qualifier

Other venues and locations considered were Paladin Stadium at Furman University in South Carolina, Memphis 901 FC recently announced a new 10,000-seat stadium to be built in Memphis, Tennessee in the next several years, and Riccardo Silva Stadium home of the USL Championship team Miami FC. Louisiana is another state which has two venues, the Tad Gormley Stadium and the Superdome both of which the US Women’s National Team has played at in the past and could be suitable options for the USMNT in the future.

What are the next and necessary steps for the US Soccer Federation?

With so many high-profile soccer tournaments to be played in the United States over the next six years, this is a great opportunity for the USSF to expand its reach and bring the USMNT to places it’s never been. As it relates to attendance and ticket pricing, the USSF needs to figure out the formula that would allow for maximum capacity at all home matches while allowing for the federation to bring in the necessary revenue desired. Here’s hoping that the United States Soccer Federation sees it the same way and acts accordingly. 

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Away From the USA



Away From the U.S.A.

The US Men’s National Team just wrapped up their 2023 campaign with yet another Gregg Berhalter road loss to Trinidad and Tobago in a critical match, but this time the USMNT was able to qualify for the 2024 Copa America.

For decades the philosophy for the US Men’s National Team when playing in FIFA competitive Concacaf road matches was to play for the draw, which doesn’t really provide the necessary mindset or winning culture for a nation that has more money & resources that most of the 41 teams of Concacaf.

I am not suggesting that it’s easy to play road matches in Concacaf, there aren’t a lot of challenges that the team encounters from the field conditions, fans surrounding team buses on their way to the stadium and the passionate fans yelling and cheering against their team’s opponent.  

It’s rare for the USMNT to play road Concacaf Friendly matches. Here’s a breakdown of those matches played since the 1990 cycle.

2022 Cycle – 2 Wins, GF-10, GA-3
2 Neutral Match Friendlies played at Wiener Neustadt, Austria

2018 Cycle – 2 Wins, GF-5, GA-1
2 Road matches against Cuba & Puerto Rico

2014 Cycle – 2 Wins & 1 Draw GF-2, GA-0
3 Road matches against Canada, Mexico & Panama

2010 Cycle
No Matches played

2006 Cycle – 1 Win, GF-2, GA-1
1 Road matches against Jamaica

2002 Cycle – 1 Draw GF-2, GA-2
1 Road matches against Jamaica

1998 Cycle – 1 Win, 1 Loss, GF-3, GA-1
2 Road matches against Jamaica & Trinidad & Tobago

1994 Cycle – 1 Win, 2 Draws & 3 Losses, GF-5, GA-9
6 Road matches against Jamaica & Trinidad & Tobago

1990 Cycle – 2 Wins, 1 Loss, GF-2, GA-1
3 Road matches two against Guatemala & the other against Bermuda

USMNT Managers Concacaf Road Results

Below is a look at the road result for World Cup qualifying for the USMNT by cycle, with the 2022 and 2018 cycles being two of the worst performance from the USMNT, with the 2006 and 2010 cycles being the only ones where the USMNT had the winning road record, however, both of those years Concacaf qualify only provide byes for top teams for the 1st round of qualifies and saw the USMNT playing the 2nd Round and beat Grenada at home 3-0 and 3-2 on the road during the  2006 cycle and also beat Barbados at home 8-0 and won 1-0 on the road in the 2010 cycle.

2022 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Gregg Berhalter
1 Win, 3 Draws & 3 Losses, 6 pts, GF-5, GA-7

2018 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Jurgen Klinsmann (1-1-2) & Bruce Arena (0-3-1)
1 Win, 4 Draws & 3 Losses, 5 pts, GF-10, GA-11

2014 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Jurgen Klinsmann
3 Wins, 2 Draws & 3 Losses, 11 pts, GF-11, GA-12

2010 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Bob Bradley
5 Wins, 1 Draw & 3 Losses, 16 pts, GF-12, GA-11

2006 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Bruce Arena
4 Wins, 3 Draws & 2 Losses, 15pts, GF-13, GA-10

2002 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Bruce Arena
2 Wins, 3 Draws & 3 Losses, 9 pts, GF-8, GA-7

1998 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Steve Sampson
2 Wins, 4 Draws & 2 Losses, 10 Pts, GF-10, GA-8

1990 – WCQ Road Results – Managed by Bob Gansler (2-1-1) & Lothar Osiander (0-1-0)
2 Wins, 2 Draws & 1 Loss, 8 Pts, GF-2, GA-1

A look at the past USMNT managers road World Cup qualifying results from the 1990 cycle to 2022 cycle.

Gregg Berhalter

1 Win, 4 Draws & 5 Losses, GF-7, GA-12

-USMNT score zero goals in their 4 losses & 2 goals in their 3 draws

1 Win, 0 Draws & 0 Losses, GF-4, GA-0

Jurgen Klinsmann

4 Wins, 3 Draws & 5 Losses, GF-17, GA-18

Klinsmann had 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses in road matches during the 2018 cycle before being fired.

Bob Bradley

5 Wins, 1 Draws & 3 Losses, GF-12, GA-11

Bruce Arena

6 Wins, 9 Draws & 7 Losses, GF-25, GA-23

Arena’s road record after replace Jurgen Klinsmann during the 2018 cycle was 0 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss.

Steve Sampson

2 Wins, 3 Draws & 2 Losses, GF-8, GA-6

Bob Gansler

1 Win, 2 Draws & 1 Loss, GF-1, GA-1

1 Win, 0 Draws & 0 Losses, GF-1, GA-0

USA vs. Concacaf and their struggles.

Here’s a breakdown of the road World Cup Qualifying results for most common USMNT opponents from 1990 through 2022 cycles. The USMNT has a road record against the below Concacaf teams of 13 Wins, 21 Draws, and 19 Losses with a GF-51, GA-62, and having never won a World Cup qualifier at Costa Rica or Mexico.

In an effort to prepare themselves for the smog and high altitude of Azteca, the USMNT has taken many measures to prepare one of which has been the use of hyperbaric chambers leading up to the matches. While other road Concacaf venues have different challenges this is the only known extra preparation the USMNT has taken to try and give themselves an advance and I have wondered why we don’t see more of an effort to do things like this for other road Concacaf opponents.

Costa Rica
0 Wins, 0 Draws & 10 Losses, GF-6, GA-25

El Salvador
2 Wins, 2 Draws & 0 Losses, GF-6, GA-3

1 Win, 5 Draws & 1 Loss, GF-5, GA-6

3 Wins, 1 Draw & 1 Loss, GF-11, GA-7

1 Win, 5 Draws & 1 Loss, GF-5, GA-5

0 Wins, 4 Draws & 3 Losses, GF-3, GA-6

2 Wins, 2 Draws & 1 Loss, GF-8, GA-5

Trinidad & Tobago
4 Wins, 2 Draws & 2 Loses, GF-7, GA-5

What this means

Everything the USMNT has experienced over the last 30-plus years suggests that the mindset, preparation, and mentality for road matches especially in Concacaf needs to greatly improve if US Men’s Soccer is ever going to become a consistent elite nation on the International stage.

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American Youth Soccer Media Survey



 Welcome to the American Youth Soccer Media Survey! 

13 analysts were tasked with the following task: Rank the top 10 players in each age from ‘01-’09. Points would be awarded on a scale of 10-1. 10 points for 1st place, 9 for 2nd place, 8 for 3rd place, 7 for 4th place, and so on. Each analyst contributed to assessing as many age groups as they felt knowledgeable for. The age groups that each analyst contributed for are listed below. The total points were tallied up for a composite ranking. The goal of this is to give a “combined rankings” of the media, yet to also show where opinions diverge from analyst to analyst.

For ties, the first tiebreaker was how high the “high” vote for the tied player was, and if still tied, the second tiebreaker was how many of that “high” vote players had. There wasn’t a need for a third tiebreaker.

The following players were deemed ineligible to be ranked having been provisionally cap-tied to another nation: Luca Koleosho, Devan Tanton, Noel Buck, Adrian Pelayo, Cole Campbell, Fidel Barajas, Alejandro Granados, and Christian McFarlane, along with plenty of others who are provisionally cap-tied to another nation. 

Analysts were asked to give some quotes to explain their views. Not all did so, but roughly half did, and their quotes will help you understand how the results ended up being what they were.


@chai_asc (all age groups)
USMNTrev/@Eyesandvibes (‘01-’07) 
Alex Calabrese (‘01-’08) 
Matt Hartman/@MattSHartman: (‘01-‘08)
Filippo Silva/@ManagerTactical (‘01-’03)
NoHammies/@NoHammiesJozy (‘01-‘05)
@joshua_reports (‘01-‘06)
Zach McCabe/@zjmccabe (‘01-‘07) 
Justin Moran/@kickswish (‘01-‘06)
@yscentral (‘06-’09)
Marcus O’Malley/@Chasingacup (‘01-‘06)
Lucas Aguirre
Matt Hartman/@MattSHartman: (‘01-‘08)
Filippo Silva/@ManagerTactical (‘01-’03)
NoHammies/@NoHammiesJozy (‘01-‘05)
@ProspectsUSMNT (all age groups)
@nico_ricoo (‘01-‘05)

2001 (13 ballots)

1. Folarin Balogun: 130

2. Johnny Cardoso: 108

3. Taylor Booth: 107

4. Bryan Reynolds: 80

5. Tanner Tessmann: 69

6. Duncan McGuire: 59

7. Aidan Morris: 48

8. Konrad de la Fuente: 27

9. Patrick Schulte: 18

10. Matthew Hoppe: 16

11. Aziel Jackson: 15

12. George Campbell: 10

13. Leon Flach: 5

14. Johan Gomez: 4

15. Sebastian Berhalter: 4

16. Indiana Vasillev: 3

T17. Ben Bender: 2

T17. Bryce Duke: 2

18. Cole Bassett: 1

The highest ranked player in 2001 was unanimous: Folarin Balogun. 

As one analyst put it: “I selected Balogun as a 2026er in the 2019 Scuffed Future Draft for all the same reasons the USMNT recruited him so heavily post-COVID – his talent is simply undeniable and has been for quite some time. Balogun is the type of striker the American development system simply doesn’t produce, complete footballers with positional intelligence.”

Put another: “Unquestionably the number 1 here”

The vote for second place was very close with Johnny Cardoso beating out Taylor Booth by one point. 

The case for Cardoso: “If it wasn’t for Balogun committing to the US, Johnny would be the #1 player in his year group.  People are still getting used to him because they don’t watch Brasileiro, but we have seen what he can do for us so far this year.  A bright future for Johnny and keep in mind, Brazil was looking at him before he was cap-tied.”

The case for Booth: “Very versatile and dynamic player. Been one of the top 01’s for like 7 or 8 years.”

The fourth player who made all ballots was Bryan Reynolds. He placed no higher than 3rd yet no lower than 6th. All the analysts saw him in a similar range.

Summed up one analyst: “All the tools in the world but he switched to right back relatively late and still is undergoing some growing pains as a result. He is beginning to really put it all together, but faces stiff competition for the USMNT RB spot.”

One player that had some volatility in how the analysts viewed him was Konrad de la Fuente. He only made 7 of the 13 ballots, but 2 of the ballots had him in the top 4. 

One of his proponents sold him this way: “One of the most, if not the most, promising player in this year before his move to Marseille. He has had a difficult time since that 1st season ended with Marseille where he may never live up to the hype, but if can sort things out, he can be a top LW option for the future.”

2002 (13 ballots):

1. Gio Reyna: 129

2. Yunus Musah: 117

3. Malik Tillman: 102

4. Joe Scally: 90

5. John Tolkin: 58

6. Ted Ku-DiPietro: 52

7. Kristoffer Lund: 50

8. Gianluca Busio: 45

9. Bernard Kamungo: 29

10. Damian Las: 14

11. Max Dietz: 6

12. Nico Carrera: 5

13. Agustin Anello: 4

14. Josh Atencio: 3

15. Jonathan Tomkinson: 2

T16. George Bello: 1

T16. Peter Stroud: 1

T16. Julian Gaines: 1

It was nearly unanimous for Gio Reyna. 12 of 13 ballots had him #1. 1 ballot didn’t. 

The analyst who didn’t said: “Controversial opinion, Musah over Reyna. Will get 100+ caps without major off-field/injury questions. Can’t question Reyna’s ability. We don’t produce many as good. For various reasons, can he be trusted long-term?”

The many Reyna proponents had this to say: “Another unquestioned #1 and the highest ceiling in our national team pool currently.”

“Most talented player the U.S. has ever produced to this point, full stop.”

“The player with the highest ceiling of all the players right now. Injuries have sadly limited his minutes, but whenever he plays, he is one of the best if not the best player on the pitch.”

The other four player to be on every ballot were Malik Tillman, Joe Scally, John Tolkin, and Kristoffer Lund. The analysts had the following to say about them.

Tillman: “Has beaten out Saibari at PSV as a loanee. That should tell you what the coach sees in him.

Scally: “He’ll get 100+ caps without ever being one of our 5 best players. He’s reliable. I’ll take it.”

Tolkin: “The question with Tolkin was always if he’d be able to hold his own on the defensive side of the game. Tolkin spend 2021 and 2022 proving he could before exploding as an offensive contributor for the Red Bulls in 2023. The Red Bulls won’t let him go cheap.”

Lund: “After just a few matches, he has become a starter for Palermo, who are in position for promotion to the Serie A. He has looked good so far in the 2 matches for the US, best so far for the #2 LB spot. Only time will tell if he retains that spot, goes up to #1, or falls down.”

2003 (13 ballots):

1. Ricardo Pepi: 130

2. Kevin Paredes: 99

3. Paxten Aaronson: 88

4. Brian Gutierrez: 82

5. Jalen Neal: 75

6. Jack McGlynn: 61

7. Jonathan Gomez: 47

8. Diego Luna: 47

9. Alex Alvarado: 28

10. Cade Cowell: 24

11. Justin Che: 13

12. Daniel Edelman: 8

13. Caden Clark: 6

14. Dante Sealy: 5

15. Danny Leyva: 3

Ricardo Pepi got first place votes from every voter in the 2003 category. One of only 3 to be the unanimous 1st place in their age group.

Put one analyst: “Best ‘03 by some distance.”

Kevin Paredes got second place. He made every ballot, was 2nd on seven ballots, and wasn’t lower than 7th on any of them.

Said one analyst: “Technically good enough, but needs to match his competitors physically. Ceiling just as high as anyone in the pool.”

Paxten Aaronson got third place. He also made every ballot. He placed no higher than 3rd, but no lower than 8th.

One analyst stated: “Already showing more promise than his older brother, but he does need to bulk up if he wants to improve his game. We might see a situation where Paxten makes it on the 2026 World Cup roster and not Brenden.”

Brian Gutierrez finished 4th. He placed on 12 of 13 ballots, and had two votes for 2nd place.

One analyst was a huge fan: “One of my favorite MLS guys to watch and an absolute mystery as to why he’s still in MLS. A European move should be coming.”

2004 (12 ballots):

1. Chris Brady: 106

2. Gaga Slonina: 94

3. Caleb Wiley: 87

4. Rokas Pukstas: 86

5. Brandan Craig: 51

6. Owen Wolff: 41

7. Noah Allen: 37

8. Antonio Carrera: 35

9. Quinn Sullivan: 25

10. Alex Freeman: 22

11. Zach Booth: 18

12. Damion Downs: 17

13. Darren Yapi: 14

14. Jackson Hopkins: 7

15. Jack Panayotou: 7

16. Kobi Henry: 4

17. Korede Osundina: 4

18. Cody Baker: 3

19. Thomas Williams: 2

20. Joel Imasuen: 1

Chris Brady finished in 1st place. He placed on all 12 ballots, was 1st on 6 of them, and no lower than 5th on any.

One analyst was very enthused about Brady’s potential: “His upside is as high as any young American. Not unreasonable he’s a top 10 Goalkeeper in the world eventually.”

Another who was just as enthusiastic said: Best goalkeeper in the pipeline, dramatically underrated at this point. One of the better goalkeepers in MLS, and should be close to the senior National Team picture. 

However, not everyone agreed Brady was the best ‘04, let alone the best GK in the age group. Finishing second was Gaga Slonina. He placed on every ballot, had three first place votes, and finished no lower than 8th.

Said one analyst who ranked him first: “Our highest-rated GK in the youth pool and perhaps the one to succeed Tim Howard. He does have great competition in Diego Kochen. The race for the future #1 GK for the USMNT will be exciting.”

Placing in third was Caleb Wiley. He placed on 11 of 12 ballots, including one first place vote.

Put one analyst about Wiley: “Look, his defense is a major work in progress, but he’s very athletic and has technical quality.”

The last to place on all ballots in this age group who placed on all 12 ballots was Rokas Pukstas. He placed no lower than 9th on any, had a first place vote, and overall finished 4th.

His first place voter stated: “I believe he stands a shot of making our 2026 World Cup roster as a midfielder. That’s how high I am on this kid’s potential.” Another high on him stated: “Stillwater, Oklahoma’s Pukstas flashes fearlessness and crafty play from the 8 that reminds me of a young Weston McKennie. A strong second half to his year at Hajduk Split and Pukstas should have plenty of suitors in bigger leagues.” 

Two players who had some big proponents, although not everyone, were Brandan Craig and Alex Freeman. Each had a second place vote, although they only finished 5th and 10th respectively.

One analyst on Craig: “Passing is a difference maker. Very good defender. Just needs his chance in MLS.

One analyst on Freeman: “Amazing athlete and he’s technical. He has so much potential. Can do things going forward at RB no other American fullback can.”

2005 (12 ballots):

1. Benja Cremaschi: 97

2. Josh Wynder: 84

3. Obed Vargas: 82

4. Reed Baker-Whiting: 79

5. Esmir Bajraktarevic: 71

6. Kristian Fletcher: 56

7. Niko Tsakiris: 55

8. Rodrigo Neri: 39

9. Serge Ngoma: 25

T10. Marcos Zambrano: 9

T10. Grayson Dettoni: 9

12. Miggy Perez: 9

13. Brooklyn Raines: 7

14. Brandon Marshall: 6

15. Nolan Norris: 6

16. Santiago Suarez: 5

T17. Gavin Beavers: 3

T17. Emi Ochoa: 3

19. Wyatt Nelson: 2

20. Sergio Oregel: 1

21. Chris Thaggard: 1

Finishing first was Benja Cremaschi. He placed on every ballot, had 5 first place votes, and was no lower 7th on any ballot.

Said one of his first place voters: “The first touch is rough, but man can he play. Work rate and off-ball-movement is special.”

2nd through 4th was extremely close, separated by only 5 total points. Josh Wynder finished second. He placed on every ballot, including two first place votes, and placed no lower than 7th on any ballot.

Said one of his first place voters: ““Doing well in Benfica from the games I’ve seen. Just awaiting his opportunity with the first team, which will come eventually.” 

Obed Vargas finished third. He had 3 first place votes, and was no lower than 9th on any ballot.

One of his first place voters made the case for him as the best ‘05: “One of the highest, if not the highest-rated 8 the US has for a U20 player. He can become a very important player for the US. The only thing stopping us from having him for the senior team is Mexico.”

Finishing fourth was Baker-Whiting.

Said one analyst high on Baker-Whiting: “A two footed outside back with the strength to muscle off veteran players and the skill to play devastating crosses. It’s no wonder he’s watched from Europe.”

The last 2005 to place on all ballots was Kristian Fletcher. While he placed no higher than 3rd on any ballot, all analyst were fans of him.

Said one: “We have so few quality wingers. He’s one of the better ones. 

Another player that had a few big proponents was Serge Ngoma.

Said one: “Has looked bright but injuries held him back in 2023. 

Said another: Athleticism and a sneaky good right foot. That’s Ngoma’s game in a nutshell and like is the case with Cade Cowell, it’s often enough to cause nightmares for MLS defenders. He’ll have to round out his game to get into the Men’s National Team picture.”

2006 (11 ballots):

1. Pedro Soma: 104

2. Diego Kochen: 95

3. Keyrol Figueroa: 65

4. Noahkai Banks: 61

5. Matai Akinmboni: 60

6. CJ Olney: 42

7. Matthew Corcoran: 31

8. Adrian Gill: 22

9. Taha Habroune: 21

10. Oscar Verhoeven: 14

11. Owen Presthus: 9

12. Cruz Medina: 11

13. Aiden Harangi: 9

14. Byce Jamison: 9

15. Jude Wellings: 7

16. David Vazquez: 6

T17. Chris Aquino: 5

T17. Adem Sipic: 5

T19. Dylan Borso: 5

20. Tyler Hall: 4

T21. Shakir Nixon: 3

T21. Julian Eyestone: 3

T21. Paulo Rudisill: 3

T24. Micah Burton: 1

T24. Tahir Reid-Brown: 1

T24. Bajung Darboe: 1

T24. Lalito Moreno: 1

Finishing 1st in 2006 was Pedro Soma. He was the only player in the 2006 age group to place on every ballot. 5 ballots had him 1st, and 6 had him 2nd. The other player garnering first place votes was Diego Kochen. He also got 6 place votes, yet he was 3rd on one ballot, and left off another altogether. 

Third place through fifth place was very close. Keyrol Figueroa finished 3rd. Other than Soma and Kochen, he was the only player to get a 2nd place vote. He was however left off two ballots. CB’s Noahkai Banks and Matai Akinmboni and Noahkai Banks finished a point apart, with Banks edging it. Both were featured on 10 of 11 ballots, and had a high finish of 3rd.

2007 (8 ballots):

1. Peyton Miller: 60

2. Caden Glover: 59

3. Nate Worth: 50

4. Santi Morales: 27

5. Axel Perez: 24

6. Adyn Torres: 22

7. Axel Kei: 17

8. Justin Ellis: 12

9. Zack Campagnolo: 12

10. Zavier Gozo: 11

11. Kyrome Lumsden: 10

12. Neil Pierre: 9

13. Ben Manfroy: 7

14. Nelson Hernandez: 6

15. Jonathan Shore: 6

T16. Brady Boulanger: 5

T16. Ruben Ramos: 5

17. Davi Alexandre: 5

T18. Luis Rivera: 4

T18. Drew Baiera: 4

T21. Stiven Jimenez: 3

T21. Zeke Soto: 3

T23. Gavin Turner: 2

We had a very close race for first place. Peyton Miller and Caden Glover finished one point apart. Miller placed on all ballots, had 3 first place votes, and a low of 8th place. Glover also placed on all eight ballots, with a low of 6th and 1 first vote. 

Close behind them in 3rd place was Nate Worth. He was placed on 7 of 8 ballots, and had two 2nd place votes. 

Interestingly, Justin Ellis was able to finish in 8th place from only placing on two of eight ballots. That’s because those analysts placed him 3rd and 7th.

2008 (6 ballots):

1. Maximo Carrizo: 54

2. Nimfasha Berchimas: 53

3. Jude Terry: 41

4. Julian Hall: 40

5. Luca Moisa: 21

6. Jamir Johnson: 21

7. Ramiz Hamouda: 17

8. DeCarlo Guerra: 17

9. Jack Mize: 17

10. Pedro Guimaraes: 15

11. Chris Cupps: 11

12. Gio Villa: 7

T13. Tanner Rosborough: 3

T13. Camron Estala: 3

14. Aidan Stokes: 3

T15. Tanner Adams: 2

T15. Ollie Tan: 2

17. Dylan Judelson: 2

18. Isaac Tortola: 1

First place in 2008 went to Maximo Carrizo. He placed on all 6 ballots, including two first place votes. No ballot had him lower than 3rd. 

Second place in 2008 went to Nimfasha Berchimas. He only finished one point behind Carrizo. He placed first on 4 ballots, was featured on every ballot, and had a low placing of 6th. 

Third place went to Jude Terry. He had a second place vote, and no ballot had him lower than 7th.

Fourth place went to Julian Hall. He placed on 5 of 6 ballots, and had two second place votes. 

Finishing fifth was Luca Moisa, in a tiebreaker over Jamir Johnson. Moisa placed on 4 of 6 ballots, and had a high finish of 2nd place. Johnson placed on 4 of 6 ballots, and a high finish of 5th place.

2009 (4 ballots):

1. Cavan Sullivan: 40

2. KK Spivey: 33

3. Linkon Ream: 27

4. Omar Hassan: 21

5. Adri Mehmeti: 20

6. Chelo Avalos: 19

7. Mathis Albert: 16

8. Ethan Degny: 9

9. Tobias Szewczyk: 6

10. Nick Morella: 6

T11. Javier Martinez: 4

T11. Warren Boyce: 4

T13. Van Parker: 3

T13. Peter Molinari: 3

T13. Daniel Wright: 3

T17. Tyson Espy: 2

T17. Jakob Garcia: 2

T19. Duncan Green: 1

T19. August Nystrom: 1

Cavan Sullivan joined Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi as the only players to win their age group unanimously. Sullivan placed first on all four ballots for 2009. 

Second place was KK Spivey. He finished second on three of four ballots, and 5th on the other. 

Linkon Ream finished third. He finished 3rd on three of four ballots, and 8th on the other.

Fourth through sixth was separated by two points. Omar Hassan finished fourth. He placed on all four ballots. He placed no higher than 4th, but no lower than 9th. Adri Mehmeti finished fifth. He placed on only three of the four ballots, but that included a second place vote. Sixth place was Chelo Avalos. He placed on only three of the four ballots, but that included a 3rd and a 4th place vote. 

The following players made every ballot sent in for their age group: Balogun, Johnny, Booth, Reynolds, Reyna, Musah, Scally, Tillman, Tolkin, Lund, Pepi, Paredes, Aaronson, Brady, Slonina, Pukstas, Cremaschi, Vargas, Wynder, Baker-Whiting, Fletcher, Soma, Miller, Glover, Carrizo, Berchimas, Terry, Sullivan, Spivey, Ream

Highest Ranked Per Vote: This shows how high each player was ranked per vote for their age group. Of course, the initial comparison was to players in their own age group, not to players in any age group, yet it does give you an idea, on average, of who the absolute highest-rated players were. There was a statistical tie for the first two players, but the rest where tied tiebreakers were capable of breaking the tie.

T1. Folarin Balogun: 10

T1. Ricardo Pepi: 10

3. Cavan Sullivan: 10

4. Gio Reyna: 9.92

5. Pedro Soma: 9.45

6. Maximo Carrizo: 9

7. Yunus Musah: 9

8. Chris Brady: 8.83

9. Nimfasha Berchimas: 8.83

10. Diego Kochen: 8.64

11. Johnny Cardoso: 8.31

12. KK Spivey: 8.25

13. Taylor Booth: 8.24

14. Benja Cremaschi: 8.08

15. Malik Tillman: 7.85

16. Gaga Slonina: 7.83

17. Kevin Paredes: 7.62

18. Peyton Miller: 7.5

19. Caden Glover: 7.38

20. Caleb Wiley: 7.25

21. Rokas Pukstas: 7.17

22. Josh Wynder: 7

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