5 MLS stars of tomorrow you should be following now
By now, if you follow MLS, you know all about the potential of rising prospects like Alphonso Davies, Brooks Lennon and Tyler Adams. They are the poster boys of the league’s youth movement, and deservedly so.
But here are five other teenagers who could have an equal or greater impact in the years to come.
Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas, age 17
“He could be our Messi in the United States. He could be our Messi at FC Dallas. He has the tools to be able to do it.”
This comparison roiled a segment of American soccer Twitter a few weeks ago. What was Fernando Clavijo thinking when he compared a wet-behind-the-ears high-schooler from little Highland Village, Texas, to the greatest player of the current century, and quite possibly of all time?
Given the United States’ well-established pattern of hyping then discarding its most talented prospects, Dallas’ technical director wasn’t doing his young playmaker any favors. Then again, Pomykal’s stature within a club that has blazed the trail for U.S. youth development should make us sit up and take notice.
Pomykal possesses lavish creativity in the attacking third, a keen nose for space and the panache to exploit it at speed. Though he signed with the first team last fall, in April he and his teammates Jesus Ferreira and Reggie Cannon rejoined their under-18 cohort to compete in the prestigious Gordon Jago Super Group at the Dallas Cup tournament. Their team became only the second U.S.-based team to win the competition
Pomykal scored key goals in both the semifinals, vanquishing Brazilian side Coritiba, and final against Mexico’s Monterrey, showcasing his skill and savvy in front of an international audience. Earning regular minutes on FCD’s stacked senior squad is a tall task, but as Clavijo noted, the sky’s the limit with this one.
Yangel Herrera, New York City FC, age 19
An unheralded teenager supplanting the iconic Andrea Pirlo in the starting lineup? Surely you jest!
But that’s exactly what the young Venezuelan international appears to have done. Herrera was handed his first start during NYCFC’s April 29 visit to Columbus, and all he did was score one goal and create another in a captivating 3-2 road win.
The box-to-box greyhound has added a sharp edge to the City midfield, with the absence of Pirlo’s celebrated distribution hardly missed amid a marked upswing in the team’s tempo. Herrera’s range, bite and tidy (if generally uncomplicated) passing prompted immediate and lavish media praise, and it’s not hard to see why.
This one might fall into the “ringer” category, given that Herrera was signed by NYCFC’s parent club, Manchester City, over the winter. The Premier League outfit promptly sent to Herrera on loan, not only for seasoning but also because a British work permit looked nigh impossible. Presently he’s gone to represent his country at the U-20 World Cup.
He might be a one-year visitor on these shores, but that would only underline his massive potential. Should we be comparing him to MLS mainstays like Seattle pitbull Ozzie Alonso? Or will the likes of N'Golo Kanté prove a more apt comparison?