And that's very fair on both points, Jimy. Either way, the striker problem is one that isn't already solved, but has so many potential solutions that you can't help but bet that one (or more) will come good.
(And then, for the true sickos, there's Rodrigo Neri
over at Atletico Madrid U18, who got run with our U19 YNT recently...)
Left-back, though, I kinda got nothin'. Certainly no levels of confidence anywhere close to that of Striker. Just stay healthy and marginally improving, Jedi. Because our other options, at any reasonable age for 2026, include:
- Sam Vines basically played his way off the team in September and has looked... OK-ish for Antwerp, but you'd hope for more than that for the USMNT at this point
- George Bello had a chance to impress in the Bundesliga right away at Bielefeld, and then he kinda didn't, his team got relegated, and he's had mostly sub duty in the 2.BL. Youth dev guys like Matt Hartman have harsh words for how Atlanta's youth academy failed him at a technical level.
- Jonathan Gomez, at Real Sociedad B. They take the long view on player development and so it's no disaster that he hasn't won a starting job in La Liga yet at age 19, but he was USL Best XI last year as an 18yo so you have to say the potential is there. He's also only provisionally cap-tied to the US and could still choose Mexico.
- Kevin Paredes is playing meaningful first-team minutes (in the Bundesliga, at age 19!) after Wolfsburg bought him from DC United... but they're mostly playing him as a winger. Whether he'd go back to a LWB or even LB role for us is still TBD.
- Caleb Wiley, age 17 at Atlanta United, is the first-choice LB for our (awesome) U20 squad, looked OK vs Brazil and Mexico but not special. And Atlanta may yet ruin him. He's been getting interest from abroad, though, so might move once he turns 18.
- DeJuan Jones, 25yo LB for your New England Revolution, won't be too old to potentially be a factor in 2026. He's shown a lot of panache since becoming the Revs starter in 2021, but if he's at the MLS level for the next 4 years it'll be hard for me to really see him upgrading over the likes of Jedi Robinson.
It's pretty thin after that (Jacob Greene, Noah Allen, John Tolkin?!), and I've largely written off the first two already, even though I shouldn't.