The pool of American footballers under age 25 is as deep as its ever been. Young players plying their trade abroad are breaking into first-team situations at unprecedented rates. Duly, there are a few MLS sides who’ve really made a concerted effort to integrate their young players into the mix (if only every franchise would operate like Luchi Gonzalez and FC Dallas).
This piece will look at the best young American players. While there are some young athletes at established clubs in Europe, we tried narrowing down the list between those who’ve earned first-team experience, as well as those who appear to be truly elite prospects.
Notable omissions: Ricardo Pepi, Cristan Roldan, Emmanuel Sabbi, Haji Wright, Nick Taitague, Matthew Olosunde, Michael Edwards, Gio Reyna, Jack Imperato, Jordan Morris, Corey Baird, Jackson Yueill, Marky Delgado, Russell Canouse, Jonathan Amon, Jonathan Lewis, Julian Araujo, Chris Durkin, Edwin Cerrillo, Mark McKenzie, Taylor Booth, Ben Lederman, Christian Cappis, Cole Bassett, Brendan Hines-Ike, Mukwelle Akale, Tim Tillman, Julian Green, James Sands, Auston Trusty, Kellyn Acosta, Miles Robinson, Emerson Hyndman, Ayo Akinola, George Bello, Luca de la Torre, Lynden Gooch, Chris Mueller, Brooks Lennon, Aaron Herrera
*Malik Tillman, Efra Alvarez, Jordan Siebatcheu, Kik Pierie, and Folarin Balogun are all eligible to represent the United States in official competitions — though all appear destined for other national teams at the moment. Tyler Boyd needs a call-up ASAP.
30. Jesús Ferreira — FC Dallas (MLS)
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Ferreira (born in Colombia) technically isn’t yet a United States citizen — though that process is just about wrapped up. It appears as if he’ll narrowly miss being eligible for the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster. It’s quite a shame, considering his immense talent. He’s started the last four matches for FC Dallas. During this time, he’s notched two goals and two assists.
Ferreira links up quite well, has uncanny timing with his runs into dangerous spots on the pitch, and even tracks back when needed to help defensively. Couple that with a tricky willingness to attack in the final third, and the United States is looking at a potential difference-maker down the line. He is the son of former MLS MVP David Ferreira.
29. Gianluca Busio — Sporting KC (MLS)
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Busio teetered back-and-forth between Sporting KC and the reserves last year. However, he’s seen his play take a gigantic leap — both in terms of minutes played and from a productivity standpoint. Busio has scored in three-straight games for Peter Vermes’ side. He’s also accumulated an assist during this six-game stretch.
Busio is quite good at positioning himself advantageously. He’s not yet strong enough to consistently bully people off the ball — nor will he necessarily look to beat someone off the dribble. However, there’s something to be said about Busio’s nose for the goal. It won’t be long until he’s across the pond at a major European club. Interest continues to swell for the precocious attack-minded player.