I have roots for chaos. I’m looking for good stories. I want young players to be successful.
The calendar dictates that we’re obsessed with young North Americans overseas (or on their way there) right now. Matthew Hoppe is next, Amirite ?! Bryan Reynolds is about to seal a dream move … please let me know when it’s official. Jonathan David finally chooses Lille to keep hopes for the Ligue 1 title alive. Weston McKennie enchants with and about Italy and the old lady.
Halcyon days for Americans and Canadians abroad, really.
The same applies to the youth movement in MLS. There are more and better 22 under 22 eligible players than ever before. The #PlayYourKids movement only gets bigger if the financial and athletic rewards for it continue to rise. Just look at the tens of millions the Philadelphia Union just pocketed and the Supporters’ Shield they gave their fans. Dallas FC plans to sell two right-backs for allegedly eight numbers in a year.
Watch: The Extratime crew discusses the young players they chose in 2021
The talent is there and I want the “children” to be successful. Here are 10 whose 2021 seasons I am personally invested in.
James Sands (New York City FC)
Enjoy Sands and his pragmatic, effective style of play for as long as you can. MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reported last November that a move to Europe within a year is the expectation for the 20-year-old midfielder / center-back. The work he does is not a heading. Sands bothers opponents the heck, both by reading the game and by timely physicality, and he knows when, where and how to move the ball. He’s consistently and consistently good.
He was also unlucky. He broke his arm and collarbone in 2019. Season over. In 2020, a broken foot was the only thing keeping him away from Ronny Deilas XI. We hope for a healthy and happy 2021 for the club’s first local club.
Frankie Amaya (Cincinnati FC)
Pretty much two years to start your professional career. Four head coaches, -68 goal difference, a revolving door from teammates and almost constant changes. Oh, and then there was / is a pandemic. Rough might be a way of putting it. I’m not trying to rub it, fans of Cincinnati FC, but I do say that despite the chatter, the club only made four additions (and only one accepted starter) to add to the team that last ended in 2020.
Amaya was number 1 in the SuperDrafts two years ago. He is only 20 years old. He’s already one of the best players in the FCC. In a perfect world, his performance and profile would rise quickly, benefiting both the club and the country and the player. It can’t be done without consistency and structure, and I want to see what Amaya (and Cincinnati FC) can do when they have these things. So … do you have it? We hope so as a fan of the two-way game played by the US youth international.
Moses Nyeman (DC United)
The hiring of Hernan Losada was good news for DC United’s growing core. As Losada told us on Extratime, he believes in the academy, encourages young players and understands what it takes to cultivate and support the latest generation. Nyeman has just turned 17. He has a young, passionate head coach who compares his approach to Marcelo Bielsa, Diego Simeone and Marcelo Gallardo: “My style of play requires a lot of energy and commitment.” That sounds like an opportunity to jump from the elite perspective to the basic midfield. I hope he does … and the same goes for Griffin Yow, Kevin Paredes, and Donovan Pines.
Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy)
Take a deep breath all around. He is only 18 years old. Yes, what Alvarez does with the ball is often magical. No, that didn’t happen that often. Yes, he seems to be maturing and Greg Vanney should give him a better platform to reach his potential. No, we still have no idea what he can or will be. Deep breaths.
But come on, ~ 15 starts and 2,000 minutes of all comps would be fun. I am not greedy! I just want to see some magic (and all the more mundane too)!
Jeizon Ramirez (real salt lake)
I’m not going to pretend to know much about Jeizon Ramirez, but I want to know. Eighty minutes. That’s all the Young Designated Player got in his first season in Utah, which was strange given that he was a reliable contributor to Deportivo Tachira. Real Salt Lake have a track record of finding and developing Venezuelan wingers (Jefferson Savarino) but we will never know if Ramirez will reach his potential if he never plays. Corey Baird is on his way to LAFC, and the opportunity is there. Get it, Jeizon. Show us what you did at Tachira (five goals, seven assists) to deserve the move.
Jesus Ferreira / Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas)
I have only one wish for this duo: bring us all back to 2019. I can’t get this carefree life back, but I remember how the promise of Ferreira and Pomykal paid off before our very eyes. The earlier bagging targets, templates and the January camp begin. The latter apparently do everything at a high level across competitions. National team … Europe … falling form and another injury. Take me back guys Let’s get back to your 2019 self.
Michael Baldisimo (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Noted Extratime Crush. The child can spray and quickly became a bright spot for Marc Dos Santos. Would I like to see him play game-in, game-out behind someone like Otavio? Yes I would.
Thomas Chacon (Minnesota United)
Play it or move it. Minnesota signed Uruguay’s U-17 regulars for a Young DP deal and then buried him in a snowdrift. The kid is on hold, 257 minutes in two years. I’m not a chaconista, but I want him to either break in or carry on. The Loons didn’t get much out of the deal in their current form, and neither did Chacon. If they believe in his talent, he has to play. If not, the writing is on the wall.
Anthony Fontana (Philadelphia Union)
Playing in front of Jamiro Monteiro and Alejandro Bedoya worked out pretty well for Brenden Aaronson. I’m not saying Fontana is in the same shape. I say he is in an ideal situation to develop and thrive. All he has to do is convince Jim Curtin to add it to the lineup and not to remove it. Six goals in 509 minutes in 2020 was a good / likely unsustainable start – some of those results … hoo boy, the man is an entertainer – and hopefully just the starter for a main course of minutes, options and exposure.
(I cheated a bit here as Fontana isn’t technically suitable for a couple of months.)
Andres Perea (Orlando City)
I had Perea 21st on my 22-under-22 vote, but he missed the overall list. He did his thing, formed a critical part of an Orlando City team with championship aspirations and made a one-off move to the USA. Gregg Berhalter gave Perea a serious vote of confidence and I can’t think of a better coach for his development than Oscar Pareja, but the midfield is overcrowded. Push someone out of the way, Andrew.