With the game of soccer currently on hold around the world, it is a good time to take stock of the U.S. Men’s National Team talent pool as we wait for the sport to resume.
SBI is taking a closer look at each position in the USMNT player pool, ranking the top options, based both on recent form, and potential.
It is time to talk about the wingers. The top spot on the winger list is pretty well solidified, but the rapid emergence of Gio Reyna has shaken things up near the top of our rankings.
Here are the Top 20 winger prospects in the USMNT talent pool:
The best player in the USMNT pool, with the only real question being whether he plays on the wing or centrally. He’s the best option in both areas, with the wing looking like a better bet for him, at least until some of the young prospects in the pipeline show they are ready to be called upon. Injuries have kept him sidelined for almost all of 2020, and Berhalter will be hoping Pulisic can be healthy when World Cup qualifying begins later in the year.
The 17-year-old sensation has enjoyed a breakout start to 2020, going from academy player to regular contributor off the bench for Borussia Dortmund’s first team. He has already made an impact in important matches, and was due to make his USMNT debut in the March friendlies before they were canceled.
A year ago, Morris wouldn’t have been seen as a top winger prospect, but he really took to the position in 2019, blossoming for both club and country as he made full use of his speed and improving service to become a serious wing threat. He was off to a strong start in 2020, and should be a starter whenever the USMNT returns to action, though Gio Reyna’s rapid rise could pose a challenge to that.
The 18-year-old LA Galaxy academy product has terrorized the Bundesliga U-19 level since joining Wolfsburg earlier in 2019. He showed his ability to make an impact at the Under-20 World Cup, and now the question is when will he break through with Wolfsburg’s first team? His speed and technical ability make him an enticing USMNT prospect, which he showed in his national team debut in January.
It has been an extremely tough European season for Weah, who impressed at the Under-20 World Cup earlier in the year only to have an early-season injury with Lille cost him four months and a chance to break though with the USMNT. A new injury cost him was set to cost him the second half of the season. Despite all that, he still has too much talent to drop much further down this list.
Konrad De La Fuente
Another player still waiting for his first-team club debut, the 18-year-old De La Fuente started for the United States at the Under-20 World Cup, and showed some good qualities, but he will need to start earning first-team minutes if he is going to get a look from Berhalter in 2020. He’s eligible for the next Under-20 cycle, which should give him another chance to show American fans what he’s capable of.
The New Zealand-born winger filed his one-time change of association to tie himself to the USMNT and quickly made an impression at the Gold Cup. He wasn’t able to build on his impression early flashes, at least not as well as some would have hoped, but the Besiktas winger is 25 and sure to have his chance to keep fighting for USMNT minutes in 2020.
A move from Real Salt Lake to Liga MX side UNAM Pumas helped boost Saucedo’s career, as he earned regular playing time in Mexico, and played his way onto the Olympic qualifying team. A skillful winger who can also play centrally, Saucedo can earn a USMNT look if he can continue to earn regular starters in Mexico.
The 22-year-old has established himself as a regular goal-scorer for Swedish side Hobro, and has generated transfer interest in the process. A former U.S. Under-20 World Cup striker, Sabbi has the versatility to play in multiple positions, but has looked like a real threat as a winger.
On talent alone, Taitague would be much higher on this list if he could stay healthy, but persistent injury issues have hampered his development for several years. The 21-year-old has the speed and attacking qualities to be a special player, and he earned a chance to train with Schalke’s first team during the winter break, and could be a serious breakout candidate next season.
The second-youngest American to ever player in the English Premier League, Vassilev made his league debut for Aston Villa early in 2020 to continue his recent rapid rise. The left-footed Georgia native has entered the new year with serious momentum, showing off the speed and skill to pose a threat at a high level.
The 18-year-old should play a key role with the next U.S. Under-20 cycle, though the Under-17 World Cup veteran will have to wait for a USMNT call until he starts seeing more first-team minutes.
Another player who Berhalter has had in a few times, Lewis has shown himself to be a viable speed option off the bench, but his question for consistent club minutes continues. His move from New York City FC to the Colorado Rapids has had mixed results, but the 22-year-old got off to a fast start to the new season, and was named to the Olympic qualifying squad.
The 22-year-old has seen more playing time as a fullback than winger on the club level in the past year, and that looks likely to stay the same at Atlanta United, which has made a point to label him as a defender since acquiring him from Real Salt Lake. He’s still a better USMNT wing prospect than fullback prospect, though if he starts playing regularly as a fullback then a move to a different list in these USMNT depth charts is likely.
A player who Gregg Berhalter gave multiple looks in 2019, Baird enjoyed a solid season with Real Salt Lake and while he doesn’t have the game-breaking speed of some of the other names on this list, he is a player Berhalter rates, and can play his way back into the USMNT picture by taking on a bigger role at RSL.
After making the impressive career resurrection by climbing from the Swedish third division to Swedish power Malmo, Gall found minutes tougher to come by in 2019 and 2020. That has cooled his USMNT prospects for the moment, but the 25-year-old has the goal-scoring ability to play his way back into the conversation once he finds a new club, and more regular playing time.
A bit of a forgotten man in USMNT circles after Sunderland’s collapse from the Premier League to League One, Gooch is a winger who was just a week short of being eligible for the current Under-23 Olympic qualifying cycle. He has been a force for Sunderland this season, emerging as the leading American goal-scorer in Europe.
The 23-year-old midfielder is plying his trade in Argentina with Arsenal Sarandi, and while he may not be on the radar of most USMNT fans, earning minutes in a league as solid as the Argentine first division merits some consideration. A member of the 2015 U.S. Under-20 World Cup team, Sonora will be worth a closer look if he can earn more consistent minutes with his club team.
The 20-year-old German American recently completed a transfer from Bayern Munich to 2. Bundesliga side Gruether Furth after an unsuccessful year spent on loan with FC Nuremberg. It remains unclear if he is ready to fully commit to the United States on the international stage, but he is worth keeping tabs on given his lofty status as a top attacking prospect.
The D.C. United veteran has been around for a while, but is still just 25 and he’s a player who Berhalter has shown confidence in. Arriola’s ability to play either wing, and combine well with teammates, made him a top option for 2020 before he suffered a torn ACL in MLS preseason. That is likely to keep him out until 2021, when he can begun working to climb back up this list.
Injuries have plagued Amon in recent years, keeping him from realizing his considerable potential. The 20-year-old has game-changing speed, but was raw as a prospect even before the injuries began to cost him playing time. He hasn’t played for Nordsjaelland since September, and hasn’t started a match since May.