Top 10 Most Promising MLS Players
Top 10 MLS Youngsters
Major League Soccer is definitely not the most watched sports league in the United States right now. The main question surrounding American soccer always remains the same. Why, with such a large population and youth participation rate, does soccer in the U.S. flounder? The answer to that question is simple, but the solution is somewhat grainy.
Growing up as a small child, you play youth soccer to experience what it's like to be a part of a team, but you don't really learn specific soccer skills when you're seven years old. You see kids out there pushing each other around and trying to get the ball in the back of the net by any means possible. Coaches don't really take the time to instill an understanding and love for the game in these young children. By the time they're in middle school, these kids see LeBron James, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter as iconic American figures through media representation. Therefore, the major problem comes from the fact that soccer is not one of the main sports in America. You wouldn't expect the soccer league in America, the MLS, to be stacked with world-class players when certain countries have only soccer as their primary sport of choice. In the U.S, there are so many different sports: basketball, baseball and American football being the most popular.
Despite the mass followings towards these sports, the U.S. has managed to strengthen the MLS with young prospects from outside of the country and inside of the country. These external countries are generally Africa and small Central American countries, such as Costa Rica and Honduras. As the MLS and U.S. is gathering young talent, the league itself, and soccer as a sport, is steadily gaining popularity in the States. Here are my top 10 MLS youngsters that display the boundless promise of American soccer.
10. Jack McBean
Jack McBean has a great deal of raw offensive talent, so playing on a veteran team like the LA Galaxy should help the 18-year-old striker develop his game further. McBean hails from Newport Beach, California, and he came up from the Galaxy's youth squad. He has a lot of years ahead of him ... we can only wait to see how his career turns out.
9. Soony Saad
The American-born Lebanese forward Soony Saad recently ended his long scoring drought with a two-goal performance against Toronto FC on July 14. The Sporting Kansas City forward is 20 years old with a rocket shot and great closing speed. Hopefully, he can muster up a strong performance for the rest of the 2012-2013 season with Sporting.
8. Omar Salgado
Omar Salgado joined the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011 after playing two years at C.D. Guadalajara in Mexico. The El Paso native is an instinctive player, while his 6-foot-4 frame makes him a perfect target for headers and allows him to plow through defenders on the wing. Salgado could exceed expectations.
7. Luis Gil
Luis Gil began playing for Real Salt Lake when he signed a Generation Adidas contract at 16 years old. Being from California, the 19-year-old midfielder plays his international soccer for the U.S., and he exhibits expert vision and a playmaking ability that few kids his age posses.
6. Jose Villarreal
Jose Villarreal grew up in Inglewood, CA, and began playing professional soccer across town for the LA Galaxy in 2012. The midfielder shows flashes of superb attacking skill, and being only 19 years old, Villarreal has a long career ahead of him.
5. DeAndre Yedlin
Rookie defender DeAndre Yedlin, a 19-year-old homegrown player from Seattle, WA, has been a huge asset to the Seattle Sounders' defense this season. The 2013 MLS All-Star boasts exceptional speed, tenacity on the back line and an ability to push the ball forward from his own end. All of these characteristics should serve him and his team well in the future.
4. Fabian Castillo
Fabian Castillo is the oldest player on this list, and he's only 21 years old. The quick Colombian is always dangerous when lurking in opponents' ends because of his magnificent speed and technical ability on the wings. He has big shoes to fill with Brek Shea's departure to Stoke City in January, but I am confident that Castillo can fill FC Dallas' empty void.
3. Diego Fagundez
Speedy midfielder Diego Fagundez is only 18 years old, but he has already displayed his fantastic abilities for the New England Revolution, tallying a team-best six goals this season. Fagundez is playing for the Uruguayan U-20 team, but he grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, a large town about an hour away from Gillette Stadium. Diego was one of six Revolution players to be elected to the 2013 MLS All-Star Game.
2. Juan Agudelo
Juan Agudelo has enormous potential. The 20-year-old striker has made several appearances for the U.S. men's national team and was a product of the New York Red Bull Academy. The Colombian-American has all the intangibles of a complete striker: the size, speed and finishing ability. He has netted three goals for the Revolution in only five appearances but has recently been sidelined by a sprained ankle.
1. Jack McInerney
Jack McInerney has been the best young forward in the MLS this season, ranking fourth in the MLS in goals scored. The 20-year-old grew up in Tennessee and was the Philadelphia Union's seventh overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Since 2010, McInerney continues to mature and improve. His intelligence and comfortability on the pitch is way beyond his years, as he often positions himself in a way that allows him to time his runs perfectly. It seems as though this young man always finds a way to spring free from the defense. McInerney deserves to be No. 1 on this list.