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USA Soccer Talent Continues To Shine

Whereas in the past there may have been a handful of young Americans coming up through the youth ranks of the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Ajax, the current crop of USA soccer talent are seeing regular playing time with the first team and growing influence within their respective clubs. 

By Greg McKay 

But even though some have gone so far as to crown a new “golden generation” of American soccer, it will be a longtime before USMNT fans can call the latest crop of American talent its greatest generation. 

With the exception of possibly Pulisic, none of the aforementioned players has truly established themselves as a “first-name-on-the-team-sheet” type key player for their respective clubs. 

For all the big moves it is also telling that as these players came through the U.S. National Team youth ranks, the results left much wanting. The 2015 U-17 World Cup team featuring Pulisic and Adams failed to get past the group stage and the 2019 U-20 World Cup team containing Dest, Richards and Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuenta only reached the quarterfinals. 

Also at work is a certain amount of short-term memory in the growing excitement around the current crop of U.S. talent. If you’ve followed the USMNT long enough, there are a number of players that had established themselves in top flight European football.


The likes of Claudio Reyna, John O’Brien, Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey come to mind as outfield players that, though they may not always have played for the biggest clubs in the world, had every bit of quality to compete at a very high level.

More recently, DaMarcus Beasley competed in the semi-finals of the Champions League for a strong PSV squad and Michael Bradley was breaking through at Roma before he chose to sign a lucrative deal in Major League Soccer.

At least over the past twenty years, there have been a number of talented American outfield players with the quality to excel at the highest level, though in some cases their opportunities may have been limited due to bias against, or unfamiliarity with, American soccer. 

Even if the current young stars have yet to prove their chops for the USMNT, there is cause for celebration and excitement with the recent moves by McKennie and Dest, as well as the growing presence of American soccer talent playing at the world’s biggest clubs.


For one, it puts players in difficult, pressure-filled situations where they will either improve or falter. In terms of the development of players between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, earning playing time in title deciding fixtures and Champions League knockout stages can only help when it comes to improving on recent USMNT results. 

A less tangible, but no less important, impact of the growing profile of American soccer talent can be seen in parks and playgrounds across New York City. Where once you may have caught a kid wearing Chelsea jersey with “Hazard” on the back, you can now see the number 10 “Pulisic” jersey on the backs of kids kicking the ball around Brooklyn.

If only a handful of the current players develop into truly world class talents but the group as a whole inspires a whole new generation of American talent to aspire to the highest level, this could be a generation that writes an entirely new chapter in the USMNT history books. 

USA soccer talent
Chris Richards. Photo:
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