1. A new wave
One of the few things the program has done well in recent times has been to integrate youth players into the first team. Christian Pulisic was the first to make this breakthrough, and the likes of Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams have followed him since then. And it wasn’t just European based players making the jump up either as MLS academy products Reggie Cannon and Paxton Pomykal got their chance at the senior level as well.
And now there is another fresh batch of youngsters ready to make their mark. This will be the first real cycle for Sergino Dest, who chose the United States over Holland at the end of last year. The full-back has been a revelation for Ajax and seems set to make a big-money move one day. He will be key in helping the USMNT at the back. It has been an area where the team has really struggled in past games.
Ulysses Llanez was the star of the show in the USMNT’s most recent outing. Making his debut for the first team, the 18-year-old never looked out of place against much older opposition. Llanez was confident on the ball, got on the scoresheet, cooly converting from the penalty spot to grab the winning goal, and was a primary threat throughout.
Meanwhile, Giovanni Reyna hasn’t even made his first appearance at the senior international level but is already making waves. It will only be a matter of time before he starts getting consistent minutes with the USMNT. Rising through the ranks at Bundesliga powerhouse Borussia Dortmund, he recently scored a screamer in the DFB-Pokal versus Werder Bremen and has solidified himself as a first-team player for the club, even coming off the bench to provide an assist against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Son of USMNT icon Claudio Reyna, fans are now excited to see if the younger Reyna can live up to his incredible potential.
Those are just a few names, with many more players on the fringes, ready and waiting for their chance to shine. The United States might have it’s the deepest player pool in a long time. And more than anything else, that is a reason for hope, in 2020 and beyond.