Curb Your Enthusiasm: US Youth National Teams, Prospect Hype, and Youth Development Thread [The DA is DEAD updates]

Titans Bastard

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It's wild that a U-20 center back (Brandan Craig) is literally the best set piece taker in the entire USMNT pool.
 

Titans Bastard

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This makes four U20 quarterfinals in a row for the US U20s, which is a pretty nice record. Next up is the winner of Gambia-Uruguay, which for some reason is being played on Thursday so the US will have two extra days of rest.

The US were already the only team in the group stage not to concede a goal, and now that streak has been extended.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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This makes four U20 quarterfinals in a row for the US U20s, which is a pretty nice record. Next up is the winner of Gambia-Uruguay, which for some reason is being played on Thursday so the US will have two extra days of rest.

The US were already the only team in the group stage not to concede a goal, and now that streak has been extended.
Gambia-Uruguay is a match of two countries with a combined population less than the Boston CSA
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Obviously the keeper whiffed but seeing a back post run result in a goal nearly brought a tear to my eye.

I don’t know if Cowell’s rep is as a right foot only guy, he kind of gives the vibe for some reason. But he has two goals off the left foot in this tourney, both well struck especially today’s which showed really nice technique.
 

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The US were already the only team in the group stage not to concede a goal, and now that streak has been extended.
NZ came out with 2-3 nice opportunities on the counter in the first 15', one of which forced some tidy intervention in the box, but they were basically done with offense after the first goal went in.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Obviously the keeper whiffed but seeing a back post run result in a goal nearly brought a tear to my eye.

I don’t know if Cowell’s rep is as a right foot only guy, he kind of gives the vibe for some reason. But he has two goals off the left foot in this tourney, both well struck especially today’s which showed really nice technique.
He definitely wants to cut in and shoot on his right, but his left is already stronger than like a Jordan Morris's at the same age (unfair comparison probably, as the later was suiting up for Stanford and not for his 100th pro game at the time)
 

rguilmar

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The U-20s are out at the QF stage yet again, which is a bummer because they were fun to watch. Final result was 2-0 Uruguay but it was one of those equal games where one team took better advantage of their chances. I thought maybe Mikey got it wrong in starting both Wolff and Halliday as the lack of creativity in the final third hurt, but overall it was a good tournament. It does burn knowing that the next opponent would have been Israel with the winner going to the final, but really what we need to see is 4-5 guys per cohort who can make a difference for the senior squad keeping in mind the absences.

I was super impressed by Craig’s passing. If he has at least some speed and can defend at a passable level, we might have something there. Che’s passing was impressive too but not to the Craig level. McGlynn looked decent but will need to be better in tight spaces to really become a difference maker. Luna remains my favorite prospect* (maybe ever) and I almost feel compelled to apologize for questioning his fitness. Vargas looks like he will be a player too.

Weaknesses in guys like Sullivan and Halliday were already known. Wolff didn’t look great but he was playing much more advanced than he does for Austin. Edelman is what he is, a traditional ball winning 6 who hopefully will improve on the ball. Wiley had his moments but really needs to clean up his crossing or he will be Jedi 2.0. Not saying he will get to that level but have similar deficiencies in his game. I’d love for him to get as good as Antonee.

*Favorite prospect in terms of players to watch. I’m fully aware the he might not ever amount to much in terms of the USMNT but he’s hella fun to watch play soccer.
 

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Wynder had a disasterclass. Arguably principally responsible for both goals.

The first one was a breakaway where Che attempted a slide tackle and missed, and Craig fell asleep and let his guy (Duarte) get behind him. The guy with the ball, De Los Santos, who had beaten Che on attacker's left, was coming in at a pretty narrow angle. The only other attacker in the play, Duarte, was middle of the box, and Wynder was the only defender between him and the net. So DLS looks like he's going to have to drive right at Slonina and take a narrow-angle shot (which would be low-percentage). But instead, Wynder leaves Duarte, slides over towards DLS to I guess force the shot sooner, but instead DLS squares it past Wynder right to Duarte at the penalty spot. Tap-in for 1-0. If DLS blasts a cannon past Slonina at a wide angle, fine, that's on Che, but Wynder leaving the centering pass available turned it from like a 0.1 xG to a 0.5 xG kind of situation.

Second one, I hardly need to describe. Centering pass to basically nobody, Wynder is waiting in the middle, stabs at it and deflects it neatly into our own corner. Slonina gets a fingertip to it but just not enough. Sometimes, own goals are a situation where if he doesn't make an attempt at it, failure means the attacker has a tap-in. Sometimes it's a freak deflection where the defender had no time to react. Not here; Wynder had a brain fart, in a position where this happens 10% of the time, and wouldn't-cha-know-it, it happens.

We had a lot of other near-goals and near-goals-conceded, but those were the moments that decided the game. Tough place to be. Craig and Che definitely saw their stock rise more than Wynder I'm afraid. Would be curious what those who watched the games would say for players who most helped themselves with how they showed out. Cowell and McGlynn seem to be leading most lists, perhaps followed by Craig and Obed.
 

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BJ Callahan says some nice things about Jalen Neal, who really impressed in his game and a half so far. Two years ago, Miles Robinson used the Gold Cup to prove that his standout CB performance in the Nations League (especially vs Mexico) was no fluke, and he essentially became part of our top choice CB pairing in WCQ until he got injured. Neal may be en route to repeating the feat that made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

https://www.goal.com/en-us/lists/jalen-neal-usmnt-gold-cup-rising-star-american-soccer/blt1e3958e12c49e542
 

rguilmar

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18 year old Espanyol winger and Connecticut native Luca Koleosho will play for Italy at the U-20 Euros. I’ll never really understand why the good folks at US Soccer did not rate him highly or give him more of a look. He’s eligible for the US and Canada but would need to file a one time switch on the future.
 

Titans Bastard

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I don't know that much about him.

I would have some concerns about his ability to play for the USMNT. Japan has very strict dual national laws. People who acquire a new nationality are required to forfeit their Japanese citizenship. People like Suzuki who were born with multiple nationalities are required to choose when they turn 22.

My understanding — and if someone has confident knowledge here, please speak up — is that Japan does not actually enforce the age-22 choice all that strictly. However, suiting up for a foreign NT might draw some unwanted attention in this regard. There have been a number of Japan-raised Japanese-Americans that I have tracked over the years, but none have ever been part of the USMNT or USYNT system, so I've never seen a real test case.
 

67YAZ

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I’ll admit that Paunovic’s performance in Chicago was probably more due to the club than his coaching ability. But man, he’s a prick. I think he’s been hated - by players and directors - at every job he’s ever had.

hopefully Mitrovic doesn’t take after that aspect of his mentor.

Also, no surprise we ended up with a guy who was already living in Chicago. How much interest was there in the job?
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I’ll admit that Paunovic’s performance in Chicago was probably more due to the club than his coaching ability. But man, he’s a prick. I think he’s been hated - by players and directors - at every job he’s ever had.

hopefully Mitrovic doesn’t take after that aspect of his mentor.

Also, no surprise we ended up with a guy who was already living in Chicago. How much interest was there in the job?
It's a manager for a single tournament for an age-bracket team that we otherwise basically do not have as part of the national team setup, so the U19s manager seems as good a choice as anyone else and I can't imaging there was a huge influx of resumes. Only other option that I could have seen would have been having Mikey Varas do it since he coached the U20s who qualified and will make up a major chunk of the Paris roster, but if they think he's more useful on the senior team staff (which is where he was just moved to), then that takes precedence. Olympics are cool, but the Copa America is cooler.
 

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The Olympics squad is going to be a lot of fun though. Firstly we can roll out our U-20s but bolster with a couple of the senior-teamers who end up not quite making the Copa America cut, but want to join in (3 over-agers plus anyone born 1/1/2001 or later).

So beyond the U-20 WC roster, from the senior pool, consider who is at least age-eligible:

GK Gaga Slonina
GK Chris Brady
CB Jalen Neal
RB Joe Scally
RB Bryan Reynolds
LB Kristoffer Lund (the guy Gregg unearthed yesterday, to much consternation)
LB / LWB Kevin Paredes
DM Johnny Cardoso
DM Aidan Morris
CM Yunus Musah
CM Gianluca Busio
CM Benja Cremaschi (he is eligible for the 2028 olympics!)
CM Noel Buck (him too!)
AM Malik Tillman
AM Gio Reyna
AM Brian Gutierrez
RW Taylor Booth
CF Ricardo Pepi
CF Folarin Balogun

...leaving aside that many of them will be doing Copa America if healthy (June 20 - July 14, same as the Euros), with few if any pulling double-duty with the Olympics (July 24 - Aug 9) a la Miles Robinson 2021 (NL + Gold Cup). Even aside from injury risk, many of their club seasons will be starting up (UEFA), or resuming (MLS). And yeah, sure, Gio and Musah aren't going, no matter how awesome they think it would be. But I'd bet at least half of the list above won't make the Copa America squad, maybe more, so that leaves a LOT of potentially bolstering of that U-20 squad, if we want to really send the best realistic squad we can. And that U-20 WC squad had some respectable names: Wynder and Craig at CB, Wiley at LB, Luna McGlynn Edelman etc in MF (Obed Vargas is 2028-eligible!), Cowell on the wing, Paxten Aaronson up front, etc. Throw in some senior over-agers (your Acosta / Roldan / Arriola types who would kill for another chance to wear the crest, and/or your Auston Trusty / Sam Vines types who aren't going to make a healthy A-team roster but are next down the depth chart) and pretty soon our olympics roster could be pretty frisky, given that France will deploy, at best, their D-team.

And then remember that the Olympics is something that will bring in American viewers who would normally never watch soccer. It's a chance to actually swing for the fences, have the whole country watching you, maybe even win an olympic fuckin' medal, and by the way, you know what goes on in the Olympic Village after dark, right? So overall, I feel like the gig might be appealing to many coaches and players, even if its prestige is lower among most of the footballing world. At least, it ought to.
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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Helps get him on front of more parochial English scouts, which might be useful for his likely winter transfer.
 

Titans Bastard

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The U17 World Cup began a couple of days ago and the US won its first group stage game today against South Korea, by a 3-1 scoreline. My viewpoint is that it's generally not worth obsessing about U17 results because there's a lot of variance and uncertainty at this age level. However, it can be fun to see the general tactical and technical level of what's going on.

The most hardcore observers of high level youth soccer are mostly in agreement that the US pipeline appears to have a mini-dip in talent coming through the pipeline. The 1998-2003 birth years have mostly been a real upgrade on cohorts in the past (esp 98, 00, and 03). 2004 has never been rated very highly and the 2005 and 2006 years appear to have had a lot of COVID-related attrition with a lot of players who stagnated and fell off the radar.

These same observers are considerably more bullish about the 2007-2009 classes, so while unfortunate this isn't necessarily cause for enormous concern.

Anyway, the current U17 World Cup primarily consists of players born in 2006. Guys "playing up" a year or two is much rarer at the U17 level than at the U20 level, where it is common. This team has three 2007s in the squad (including a highly rated Revs LB/LWB prospect: Peyton Miller of Unionville, CT, as well another one who is the son of freaking Javier Morales). It also has one 2008 playing two years up, which is quite rare for the U17s. That 2008 is Nimfasha Berchimas, a Burundian-American winger playing for Charlotte FC, and he scored a brace today against South Korea.

Nobody expects this time to challenge for the title or anything, but winning this game puts the US in good position to advance. If they beat Burkina Faso next, they're likely to clinch and the last game against France (which presumably will be a nightmare) won't matter.
 

Titans Bastard

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The US U17s beat Burkina Faso 2-1 this morning. It was a 4am game (ET), so I did not watch. That was enough to clinch advancement as (at worst) one of the third-place finishers who move on. France subsequently beat South Korea, so now the US is guaranteed a top-half finish in the group. Gonzalo Segares has already rotated the squad a fair bit over the first couple of games so now he can continue to rotate with more of a priority placed on the R16 game.
 

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Jed Zeppelin

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Keyrol scored 1, whiffed on a sitter a few minutes later but 15 year old Berchimas was waiting behind him for the finish with the keeper out of position. Berchimas has 3 goals through 2. The brace against South Korea was a more impressive pair of goals.
 

rguilmar

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Keyrol scored 1, whiffed on a sitter a few minutes later but 15 year old Berchimas was waiting behind him for the finish with the keeper out of position. Berchimas has 3 goals through 2. The brace against South Korea was a more impressive pair of goals.
Just to add that Berchimas was heavily involved in the third goal against South Korea as well. It was his shot that he created that was saved directly to Cruz Medina (I think) who tapped it in. He’s been very impressive for being so young.
 

67YAZ

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USA hung in for most of the first half Vs France, but gave up an injury time goal and have been chasing the game in second half.
now 2-0 les bleus.
Only saw the second half, but thought the US looked good through the midfield. The final 3rd passing was poor, but there was some good control. Until late when things got scrappy. Should be a lesson learned for the kids.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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US is in trouble for the round of 16 because they brought 3 CBs, one picked up a second yellow and one picked up a DOGSO red in the 96th minute.

That’s probably gonna kill ‘em unless a DM or FB plays a great emergency CB match.
 

rguilmar

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Tyler Hall and Noahkai Banks being the two CBs unavailable. Hall has absolutely been a leader for this squad going back to qualifying. Banks has been fun to watch. He has the look of a kid who is still getting used to his size but with some tricky skills for a guy with his height.

Harangi looks like a FB who can play CB in a pinch. Soma has been playing a lot in the pivot but should not be pulled back to play CB as he is the only midfielder who can control the game with his passing.

It’s just for the Germany game, so no big deal.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Looks like we lost on a bad giveaway, which was the bete noire of this team in the matches I saw, so fair enough.

Hopefully we get a few national team players out of the squad. By comparison the disappointing 2019 group stage crash out got us Gio, Pepi, Scally, Busio and Bello (and it also helped get @67YAZ two years of Wicky).

Improved pool circumstances make it pretty unlikely we see any of these kids in the 2026 picture, but Berchimas in particular looked exciting for the future if he continues to develop.
 

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Heck, I think it's unlikely anyone from the U-20 squad from the U-20 WC this summer ends up impacting our 2026 roster, except for the ones already getting senior caps (Kevin Paredes, Paxten Aaronson). I still have high hopes for a bunch of them - Pukstas has been getting first-team minutes by the bushel since he was 17, Obed Vargas usually looks like one of the best players on the field when he's healthy, a mini-Musah. Luna obviously has the mentality of a high-class professional in the body of a rec league player and has been making the most of that, I could see him getting the big move that he wants, but him making our senior midfield still seems a ways out. But it just seems really unlikely that anyone is going to force themselves into senior-team squad player, much less sub, much less starter, in the next 2.5 years. I'm not even sure who would have the shortest odds of doing so, besides Paredes and Paxten who are already seeing the field.
 

rguilmar

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Given the age and talent of the current squad, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to force their way onto the senior squad anytime soon. Ream will age out and the current GK depth chart can be improved, but beyond that it’s tough. A defensive minded CM is a need, but Johnny is off to Real Betis and Maloney is in the Bundesliga, so a player like Soma (who I really like) needs to jump them both plus other youngsters like Vargas. It’ll be tough to do. Left back is another need, but there is already a list of youngsters coming up- Tolkin, Wiley, JoGo and so on. Keyrol is another player I like, but he has to really advance to surpass a 20 year old Pepi or a 22 year old Balogun. Fans might be disappointed by the trickle of young players compared to the last few years, but those guys had a clean slate more or less.

This is a good thing.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Heck, I think it's unlikely anyone from the U-20 squad from the U-20 WC this summer ends up impacting our 2026 roster, except for the ones already getting senior caps (Kevin Paredes, Paxten Aaronson). I still have high hopes for a bunch of them - Pukstas has been getting first-team minutes by the bushel since he was 17, Obed Vargas usually looks like one of the best players on the field when he's healthy, a mini-Musah. Luna obviously has the mentality of a high-class professional in the body of a rec league player and has been making the most of that, I could see him getting the big move that he wants, but him making our senior midfield still seems a ways out. But it just seems really unlikely that anyone is going to force themselves into senior-team squad player, much less sub, much less starter, in the next 2.5 years. I'm not even sure who would have the shortest odds of doing so, besides Paredes and Paxten who are already seeing the field.
Of course, Luca Koleosho is the #1 breakthrough candidate amongst current teenaged prospects in the pool, with the tiny complication that he is currently swimming in a different pool.
 

Titans Bastard

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Yeah yeah yeah but when is Cavan Sullivan going to get the U-23 call for the Olympics?
Tragically, he will miss out on the Paris Olympics. But the good news is that as an '09 he's eligible for the next two Olympic tournaments! LA 2028 is sitting pretty for him to play up a cycle as an 18 year old.

I'm excited for his age cohort. We seem to be going through a moderate dip in the '04-'06 range, perhaps in part due to these guys missing crucial time due to COVID, but the '07-'09 generation is looking intriguing, if all the hardcore prospect-watchers are to be believed.
 

67YAZ

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The U-23s have a camp and just announced the roster. I think they’re playing against Guinea(?) and France. Good mix of players from MLS and abroad, but the question must be:

Does the Chicago Fire organization hate America?

https://x.com/usynt/status/1768626644409848098?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
Heitz does have a spiky relationship with the USMNT but local reporters are saying that Guti & Brady didn’t get the call, not that they wouldn’t be released. Not sure the sourcing on that.
 

rguilmar

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Does the USYNT hate Chicago then?

Maybe I should walk it back though having given the roster another look. I haven't watched as much MLS this season as usual (I usually watch more during the summer tbh), but it looks like Schulte is on the rise and someone is trying to drum up transfer rumors for him, so I can see giving him additional exposure over bringing Brady. I don't understand what they don't see in Guti. That being said, there is a ton of attacking talent and I would struggle with who to leave off the roster. I imagine that there is no reason not to add either player though?
 

67YAZ

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Does the USYNT hate Chicago then?

Maybe I should walk it back though having given the roster another look. I haven't watched as much MLS this season as usual (I usually watch more during the summer tbh), but it looks like Schulte is on the rise and someone is trying to drum up transfer rumors for him, so I can see giving him additional exposure over bringing Brady. I don't understand what they don't see in Guti. That being said, there is a ton of attacking talent and I would struggle with who to leave off the roster. I imagine that there is no reason not to add either player though?
Brady has been even better so far this season - he’s much more varied and intentional with distribution. Schulte has been fanatic, too, so I can’t argue his inclusion.

Gaga has had a very rough go of it in Belgium - 52 allowed in 27 matches. He’s playing behind a pretty bad squad. Eupen are 7th in the league, but -30 GD and 45pts off the league leaders. Gaga is playing a lot more with his feet, so that’s good development. And I guess he’s getting a lot shot stopping practice, too.

Guti has been great so far this season - a really great goal, a clever assist, and a PK in 3 matches. But Klopas has him on the left wing, where he doesn’t have the legs to keep up with wingers and FB. And since Shaq is still doing his no-defense #10 routine, it puts a ton of extra work on Guti’s plate while also clogging up the spaces where his creativity is most valuable.

If the 23s are going to play a hard charging 4-3-3, I can see how Guti is a poor fit. He’s a playmaking 10. But I’d still argue he’d be a really valuable sub when the US is chasing a goal against parked defenses.

Edit: my favorite little Guti moment so far this season was against Cincy. The Fire were being pressed deep, so Guti dropped back and central to the top of his own box to receive a pass under heavy pressure. He one touches a simple but perfect diagonal back pass to Pineda, who has plenty of space because Guti drew in his marker. Pineda then send a long ball up to Cuypers in an acre of space. Guti is so smart and aware. He plays a wonderful game.
 

rguilmar

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The hype train is going to be damn near impossible to stop for this kid. He’s only 14 so I would definitely caution about getting too invested in him.

EXCL: Manchester City are closing in on deal to sign American wonderkid Cavan Sullivan, deal agreed!

2009 born talent set to join #MCFC in the next years from Ph. Union despite Real, BVB, Bayern interest.

City Academy, doing excellent job on talents.

Here we go, soon.

https://x.com/fabrizioromano/status/1769370582787797031?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
 

Titans Bastard

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There are signs that this kid could be a Pulisic/Reyna level prospect (or maybe even a touch better!), but you don't want to set expectations too high until kids get through puberty and it becomes clearer how their athleticism stacks up as an adult. Pulisic was always a very good prospect, but he became truly elite at age 16/17 when he gained a little extra burst. Other guys obviously flatline in their athletic development and can no longer create separation from defenders or close down opposing attackers as easily.

The good news for Sullivan on both a physical and psychological level is that he comes from an experienced and talented soccer family, and that he's excelling right now because he's really good and not because he's some sort of early-developer man-child who is bowling over a bunch of U15 players. His older brother Quinn is a solid prospect for the Union, who would have played at the COVID-canceled 2021 U17 WC, did play at the 2023 U20 WC, and has recently shifted to a CM role and taken a starting spot in Philly's lineup. His cousin is Chris Albright, a longtime MLS pro, fringe USMNT player, and current GM at FC Cincinnati. His father played professionally in the A-League (US second division) in the late 1990s and his mother played NCAA DI soccer. So the genetics bode well for athleticism and family experience with the game usually bodes well for a player's mentality (especially because his family's name isn't "Reyna").
 

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I watched a video of him playing against an Arsenal U15 side in some tournament and he looked dominant.

At this point he looks to have excellent technique, exceptional quickness, and mentality to express himself. He isn’t bigger than the other kids but he was faster than everybody else, especially short area quickness. I think the biggest issue for him will be whether he maintains that kind of advantage over peers as he moves up and how he adapts his game if he can’t skip past players with relative ease.

It’s so hard to project any 14 year old for stardom but I can see why every big club wanted to sign him.
 

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Remember that even 3 years ago, Jim Curtin was getting calls from Bayern Munich and Real Madrid about the kid.

"This is the start. I think it’s going to get crazy. The European market is seeing just how good these young kids are. We know we have a lot of work to do, but I can go to academy games now and see kids doing things that I didn’t learn until I was 28.​
"Anecdotally, I have a 10-year-old in our academy who Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are talking about. We’re fighting off those kinds of clubs for 10-year-olds now. That’s the way it’s moving, and that’s just in Philadelphia."​

I've been hearing the prospect-heads (over on the Scuffed Discord, whose YNT / prospects channel regulars includes some professional MLS scouts) talk about him in basically hushed tones. These are the guys who are not hype merchants, and don't hesitate to talk about a player's weaknesses or why a skillset won't translate to the next level. They all say Cavan Sullivan is the best prospect they've ever seen.
 

rguilmar

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Remember that even 3 years ago, Jim Curtin was getting calls from Bayern Munich and Real Madrid about the kid.

"This is the start. I think it’s going to get crazy. The European market is seeing just how good these young kids are. We know we have a lot of work to do, but I can go to academy games now and see kids doing things that I didn’t learn until I was 28.​
"Anecdotally, I have a 10-year-old in our academy who Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are talking about. We’re fighting off those kinds of clubs for 10-year-olds now. That’s the way it’s moving, and that’s just in Philadelphia."​

I've been hearing the prospect-heads (over on the Scuffed Discord, whose YNT / prospects channel regulars includes some professional MLS scouts) talk about him in basically hushed tones. These are the guys who are not hype merchants, and don't hesitate to talk about a player's weaknesses or why a skillset won't translate to the next level. They all say Cavan Sullivan is the best prospect they've ever seen.
I see a lot of the same, likely from the same sources. They do emphasize a few things:
1. Take it easy though because a lot can happen. Development is not linear. He’s entering an age where a lot of physical and mental maturation takes place.
2. Their excitement comes from his technical quality. Physically he is not extremely mature. He’s no Cade Cowell. Not a knock on Cade, he was just a super athlete who could physically dominate kids his same age and is still an extremely athletic player.

It’s a different world for these kids now where people on a baseball message board in Boston are talking about a soccer phenom who would be a going into his freshman year at high school.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Olympic draw has been made:

Group A
7/24 vs. France
7/27 vs. New Zealand
7/30 vs. Guinea/AFC #4

Starting against France in France is very tough, but advancing out of this group is doable.