It is safe to say that MLS has officially entered a new era when it comes to developing and acquiring younger talent. It seems that each year clubs within the league put more and more young players on their rosters. Whether they are homegrown signings, young designated players, or highly touted draft picks, MLS has clearly put an emphasis on developing and transferring players at a young age.
However, it can often be hard to predict which players will pan out, which means there are many prospects within the league who are overlooked or underrated. Let’s look at three young players who could have a breakout 2021 season:
The 21-year old striker has seen limited MLS action with the Vancouver Whitecaps but when he has played, he has shown flashes of attacking creativity. At 6-foot-3, he has the profile for a pure number 9, but before he can start earning regular minutes, he needs to beat out Cristian Dájome or Lucas Cavillini, the latter of which he is considerably less likely to do.
Another young striker that has the potential to grab some headlines this year, Cal Jennings has scored goals everywhere he has been so far. The 23-year old made a name for himself with the University of Central Florida men’s team, where he scored 18 goals in their 2019 campaign. He would later be drafted by FC Dallas in the first round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, but never signed with the club. Eventually he would find himself in the USL Championship with Memphis 901 FC where he would score nine goals in a mere 14 appearances. After a brief stop with Indy Eleven, Jennings was signed by LAFC where the striker position is anything but cemented.
The 20-year old homegrown right back For FC Cincinnati is entering his second season in MLS. He has looked promising at times and it is feasible that he could have the starting right back spot before the season’s over, but he’ll have to win it from a veteran in Joe Gyau. Bailey has what it takes to eventually become a top full back in this league in terms of his defensive responsibilities but also his ability to overlap