Wolfsburg’s Ulysses Llanez starred for the USMNT in their 1-0 win against Costa Rica. He represents a growing number of prospects for the national team that fans should be excited about.
A glimpse of what is to come was on display on Saturday as the United States Men’s National Team fielded a squad that had some of the best young talent in the player pool.
One of the young stars was Wolfsburg’s Ulysses Llanez. He scored the match-winning goal from the penalty spot. At just 19, his performance and calm nerves on his senior team debut impressed the coaching staff and supporters alike.
Llanez has thrived since joining Wolfsburg’s youth teams. The California native has been in Germany for less than a year but has been a regular in the club’s U-19 squad. To date, he’s scored 10 goals in 11 appearances in the Bundesliga U-19 League.
He is one of the club’s top prospects and is in the running to join the senior team in the summer for a chance to be considered for the 2020/21 Bundesliga season. If all goes well, he would be one of the latest USMNT players to make the jump from youth team to senior team.
One of the aforementioned players making the transition to senior level football is Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund. The forward had spent the first half of the season with Dortmund’s U-19 team but has since been a regular in the senior team after the Bundesliga’s winter break.
Reyna is quickly becoming the next top prospect for the USMNT. His emergence at Dortmund, now having made three league appearances for the Germans in a hotly contested Bundesliga title race, proves his tremendous potential. There haven’t been many in U.S. soccer history to make appearances for a top club like Dortmund at such a young age, with one obvious and hugely significant exception.
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But Reyna and Llanez are just the tip of the iceberg. Malik Tillman is another player to keep an eye on in Germany. The attacking midfielder is eligible to play for both Germany and the U.S. Thus far, he has chosen Germany, playing for their youth teams instead of the U.S., but that could change in the future. Tillman has scored 11 goals in 14 appearances in the Bundesliga U-19 League this season.
Lastly, a player who has recently made headlines in the USMNT player pool is Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuente. The 18-year-old just recently trained with Barcelona’s senior team and scored for the Barcelona B team. And as we all know, if there is a club that knows how to nurture talent and produce elite senior players, it is the Catalan giants.
And this is to overlook the emerging young American talent in MLS. Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal at FC Dallas, Brenden Aaronson, Jackson Yueill and Sam Vines all regular players for MLS teams. Obviously, not all of these players will make the jump to senior stardom, but the more that are breaking through, the greater the probability that you might just hit on something special.
The performance by Llanez highlighted the growing excitement of the future of the USMNT. There is a burgeoning young crop of players breaking into the senior ranks and they could have an era-defining impact in the years to come.