The past several weeks have seen several Americans make major leaps while featuring abroad. Keaton Parks recently made his Benfica debut while Shaq Moore appears to have locked down a more consistent role at Levante. Luca de la Torre is making waves at Fulham with several consistent appearances while future stars in Weston McKennie and Jonathan Gonzalez continue to be backbones for their respective teams.
Still, there’s always one important question on everyone’s mind: Who’s next?
Several Americans have vaulted themselves into first team contention throughout the start of the 2017-18 season, and there are several looking poised to join them at some point in the near future.
It’s important to realize that some face tougher roads than others as several remain longshots to break out at their current club. Still, there’s always room for surprises, even at the top level, as a few lucky breaks could sometimes be all that separates a player from a bit of momentum.
With that, here’s a look at some of the top young Americans that could earn first team minutes in the near future:
MUKWELLE AKALE (VILLARREAL)
Mukwelle Akale was one of the more surprising absences from the U.S. U-20 roster this summer, but the Villarreal product is still a player with promise.
The forward has been a part of several teams throughout Villarreal’s youth system and even featured in a first team friendly last year. It’ll be hard to break into a forward pool for a La Liga regular, but at 20-years-old, the forward/left winger has time on his side.
JONATHAN KLINSMANN (HERTHA BERLIN)
Goalkeepers always take time to develop, and Jonathan Klinsmann is no exception.
Klinsmann, son of former USMNT boss Jurgen, has been a fixture for the Hertha Berlin youth teams since joining the club earlier this year. However, when the club experienced an injury crisis early in the season, Klinsmann was named to the bench with the first team. A true first team push may be a ways away with veterans Rune Almenning Jarstein and Thomas Kraft in his way, but Klinsmann appears to be doing fairly well with his new club.
MATT OLOSUNDE (MANCHESTER UNITED)
Despite having several homegrown prospects break through in recent years, it certainly isn’t easy for youngsters to make waves at Manchester United. Matt Olosunde, though, appears to be on the precipice of a senior push.
The gifted fullback has traveled with the first team on several occasions and has been a staple of Man United’s youth sides. A former residency teammate of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, Olosunde could develop into the next top player to emerge from that class.
JOSH SARGENT (WERDER BREMEN)
Josh Sargent hasn’t even officially joined Werder Bremen, but it’s quite clear that the club has high hopes for him once he does make the move to Germany.
Sargent will not join the club until February, when he will link up with the U-23 team. The current plan is for Sargent to begin with the first team in the summer but, with the club floundering towards relegation, Sargent could be in line for a couple minutes later in the year. If Werder Bremen’s relegation is sealed early, it could spell the beginning of Sargent’s real run with the club.
KYLE SCOTT (CHELSEA)
First team minutes are always a longshot for young players coming up through the Chelsea system, including Kyle Scott. However, the young midfielder has already made some sort of progress with the team this season.
Scott was named to the club’s UEFA Champions League roster earlier this season and, while it remains unlikely he’ll see the field, it was a positive gesture for a player rising through the academy. The U.S. youth international, who is also eligible for England, traveled with the team in preseason and even earned several bench appearances early in the season.
JOEL SONORA (STUTTGART)
Formerly a part of the Boca Juniors academy, Joel Sonora is nearly two years into his time with Stuttgart, where he’s primarily been a part of the club’s reserve team.
In 19 appearances in the German third division this season, Sonora has provided four goals and three assists from an advanced midfield position. He was named to the club’s bench several times in 2. Bundesliga action last year and, with Stuttgart’s senior group is firmly in midtable in Bundesliga play this time around, the door could open for a push towards the first team after the winter break.
NICK TAITAGUE (SCHALKE)
Following behind Weston McKennie and Haji Wright, Nick Taitague is the youngest member of Schalke’s promising American contingent, and he’ll look to follow the duo’s differing paths towards first-team action.
Taitague has scored twice for Schalke’s U-19s this season after signing for the club back in February. The midfielder earned a taste of the professional game in the NASL during his time with the Carolina RailHawks and, with the winter break looming, he’ll hope to earn a look like McKennie and Wright did before him.
TIMOTHY WEAH (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)
After shining at the U-17 World Cup with one of the best goals of the tournament, Timothy Weah could be on the verge of a breakthrough.
The forward is a key member of the PSG youth teams and recently trained with the Brazilian national team during the group’s stay in Paris. A recent report says that Weah is among the more likely PSG products to earn a cameo or two before the end of the season and, with the club set to make several sales next summer in accordance with Financial Fair Play, Weah could be a major beneficiary of the team’s overhaul.