Yangel Herrera, (19), CM, New York City FC
Perhaps the player with the most impressive international resumé on this list, Yangel Herrera has also made a massive impact in Major League Soccer. For Venezuela, Herrera led his U-20 squad on a fantastic run in the World Cup, before ultimately falling 0-1 to England in the final. Later in the year, Yangel also made appearances for the Venezuelan senior team in their recent CONMEBOL qualifiers against Columbia and Argentina. For New York City FC, Herrera has proved to be Andrea Pirlo’s very capable replacement. Patrick Vieira has changed his midfield from the trio of Pirlo/Alex Ring/Maxi Moralez to Herrera/Ring/Moralez. Herrera’s defensive mobility has allowed his midfield partners, especially Maxi Moralez to play in a much freer offensive role, significantly boosting the team’s attack. As NYCFC finish out the regular season and continue their march toward the playoffs, few players are as important to their team as Yangel Herrera.
Alphonso Davies, (16), LW, Vancouver Whitecaps
Canadian soccer is looking up. Great records by the Canadian MLS teams, an exciting performance by the Canadian Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, and the news of the future Canadian Premier League should have Canadian soccer fans excited. But there is one more thing that fans should be excited about: the rapid rise of Alphonso Davies. At 16, Davies is the fourth youngest player in Major League Soccer and the youngest to have started more than five games this season. He also became the youngest Canadian senior national team player ever earlier this summer. The teenager has great pace and excellent technical skills, making him one of the most well-developed youngsters in MLS. Canadian and Vancouver fans alike will be keeping an eye on Alphonso Davies as he continues to grow and adjust to life as a professional player.
Andrew Carleton, (17), LW/RW, Atlanta United
While Andrew Carleton has only made one appearance in Major League Soccer this season, it would be completely ridiculous to leave him off this list. In addition to making his first Major League Soccer appearance, Carleton starred for the United States U-17 team that qualified for the October U-17 World Cup. Like Davies, Carleton has insane skills and solid pace, making it a difficult task to shut him down on the wing. With fewer United States Youth National duties next year, due to the World Cup taking place this year, and another year of development, there is no reason that Andrew Carleton should not be making more consistent appearances for Atlanta United next season.
Tyler Adams, (18), CM/WB, New York Red Bulls
Versatility is an extremely valuable commodity in soccer. Players who can be used at multiple positions are almost always prioritized over those who can only play one position. Enter the king of versatility, Tyler Adams. Adams has played 4 different positions over the course of this season. At the international level, Adams played both center defensive midfielder and center attacking midfielder for the Tab Ramos led United States U-20’s at the World Cup earlier this year. For Jesse Marsch and the New York Red Bulls, the 18-year-old has spent most of his time at right or left wing-back in an extremely high pressing 3-3-3-1 formation. Impressively, Adams has become an everyday starter for the Red Bulls and he will almost certainly be a big-time player for the USMNT at some point in the near future.
Brooks Lennon, (19), RW, Real Salt Lake
Lennon, the fifth and final player on this list, is probably the least well known of the five. Like Tyler Adams, Brooks Lennon was a big part of the United States U-20 World Cup squad, consistently putting excellent crosses in the final third. For his club team, Real Salt Lake, Lennon has made 20 appearances and a dozen starts. Brooks Lennon is not nearly as flashy as Alphonso Davies and Andrew Carleton, but he is still able to produce from the wide areas of the field. He has scored two goals and provided three assists for Salt Lake, clearly putting himself in Mike Petke’s favor. Even though Lennon’s path to the senior national team is somewhat murky, due to the depth of wing talent in the American player pool, we should certainly see the nineteen-year-old make many more starts for Real Salt Lake in MLS next season.