New York Red Bulls

England’s Jude Bellingham, USMNT’s Yunus Musah named most promising U21 players


The CIES Football Observatory has issued a new report ranking the Top 200 U-21 players in the world, and there’s plenty to discuss for both Premier League and United States men’s national team fans alike.

More than 26,500 players were observed for the study, including 567 players from the United States, meaning less than one percent of players made it into the top 200.

The study uses what it calls “experience capital” in official adult matches played in 2022 to rank the top 10 players in 20 different categories.

Eighteen-year-old Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina is ranked fourth on the table for goalkeepers, two slots behind Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu, and is the first USMNT player to forge his way into the discussion (by virtue of the CIES study listing ‘keepers first!).

[ MORE: Erling Haaland makes Premier League history ]

It comes as little surprise that RB Leipzig and Croatia star Josko Gvardiol is named the top ball-playing center back, while current Burnley and former Man City back Taylor Harwood-Bellis is also among the top ten in that category.

New York Red Bulls left back John Tolkin is 20 years old and is listed as the most promising “defensive left back” amongst U21 players, ahead of Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde. Mexico’s Emilio Lara makes the top ten promising “defensive right backs,” while Brentford’s Aaron Hickey is the third-rated two-way left back under 21.

Two-way right backs have two huge pats on the back for New York City FC’s academy, as Borussia Monchengladbach’s Joe Scally is ranked behind only Salzburg’s Amar Dedic and current NYCFC man Tayvon Gray is just two spots behind Scally (who made the USMNT’s World Cup roster but did not play). Colombian international Juan David Mosquera of Portland Timbers is fourth amongst attacking right backs.

Back to the USMNT, Valencia’s Yunus Musah is ranked fourth in attacking midfielders, behind Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala, and Gavi but ahead of Liverpool duo Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho.

Leeds’ Wilfried Gnonto is named as a top 10 promising shot-oriented right winger, while Man United’s Anthony Elanga is fourth amongst all-around left wingers. Another NYCFC talent, Talles Magno, makes the latter list.

Is there hope in the center forward pool for the USMNT? It seems so, as 18-year-old Jackson Hopkins of DC United is listed as the fifth-best all-around CF.

Top Twenty “experience capital” U21 players (via CIES Football Observatory)

  1. Jude Bellingham, CAM, Borussia Dortmund — 58.3
  2. Gavi, CAM, Barcelona — 51.2
  3. Pedri, CDM, Barcelona — 46.6
  4. Josko Gvardiol, CB, RB Leipzig — 45.2
  5. Jamal Musiala, CAM, Bayern Munich — 43.9
  6. Piero Hincapie, CB, Bayer Leverkusen — 42.0
  7. Marcos Leonardo, CF, Santos — 37.8
  8. Nuno Mendes, LB, Paris Saint-Germain — 35.1
  9. Quentin Merlin, LB, Nantes — 31.3
  10. Pablo Maia, CDM, Sao Paulo — 34.3
  11. Castello Lukeba, CB, Lyon — 34.4
  12. Yunus Musah, CAM, Valencia, 31.3
  13. Eduardo Camavinga, DM, Real Madrid — 31.0
  14. Adam Hlozek, LW, Bayer Leverkusen — 29.3
  15. Taylor Harwood-Bellis, CB, Burnley — 29.1
  16. Nicola Zalewski, CM, AS Roma — 28.4
  17. Ansgar Knauff, LW, Eintracht Frankfurt — 28.3
  18. Arsen Zakharyan, CAM, Dynamo Moscow — 28.3
  19. Valentin Gomez, CB, Velez Sarsfield — 27.6
  20. Nico Williams, LW, Athletic Bilbao– 27.3

RB Leipzig sign 18-year-old USMNT prospect Caden Clark


Another bright young American prospect is headed to Europe (eventually), as 18-year-old attacking midfielder and USMNT hopeful Caden Clark has signed with RB Leipzig from the New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: USMNT’s World Cup qualifying schedule revealed ]

Clark, who scored a stellar goal on his Red Bulls debut last October, will remain with New York for the remainder of the 2020 season before completing his transfer to RB Leipzig in January — the same timeline which saw Brenden Aaronson make his move to Red Bull Salzburg midway through the 2019-20 European season.

In 8 appearances for the Red Bulls this season, Clark has 4 goals and an assist as he quickly approaches 30 games played as a professional. He was recently named as one of 60 players on the USMNT’s provisional roster ahead of the 2021 Gold Cup.

Clark isn’t the first player to follow the path from the Red Bulls to Leipzig, following in the footsteps of current USMNT star midfielder Tyler Adams, who in 2019 jumped to Germany after two seasons in the Red Bulls’ first team.

The folks at RB Leipzig are clearly big fans of Clark (no word on a transfer fee yet, given the intra-organization nature of the deal), with commercial director Florian Scholz and technical director Christopher Vivell speaking very highly of him already.

“In Caden Clark, we have once again pulled off the signing of a highly talented young player and have been able to tie him down for the long term. This signing completes another piece to our puzzle for our squad planning at an early stage. We decided that a loan back would allow Caden, at just 18 years old, a whole season in the MLS before he joins us here at Leipzig.”

“Caden Clark has fantastic skills and enormous potential. He can play anywhere across attacking midfield and is incredibly adaptable in his playing style. As well as that, he is a scoring threat, has great passing quality and strikes the ball well, allowing him to score goals from range. These skills make him a perfect fit for our playing philosophy.”

Follow @AndyEdMLS

USMNT, New York Red Bulls mainstay Aaron Long tears Achilles tendon


There’s been a shot across the boss of Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT — let alone the New York Red Bulls — as fiery leader Aaron Long is set for a lengthy absence after tearing an Achilles tendon against Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Long, oft-linked with a move abroad, has played 140 times for the Red Bulls and has 21 caps for the United States men’s national team.

Long had captained the USMNT in three of his last five caps and his loss to the Yanks for the Gold Cup is similar to that of the Red Bulls.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Are there replacement-level players who can fill his role in terms of tackles? Yup. Are there those who can orchestrate a back line as efficiently as Long? For sure. In fact, there will be a number of players who can upgrade the team in terms of ball movement.

But Long has that fire, pride, and — for lack of a better term — competitive gumption can be terribly difficult to find in a team or program. And that stings quite a bit.

Also, that mullet was pretty remarkable, wasn’t it?

Long nearly went to West Ham in 2019 and revealed last year that he had hoped to go on loan to Red Bull Salzburg or RB Leipzig but did not have his wish granted by RBNY. Whether this puts a wrench in his future or not, we’re wishing the best for the USMNT man.

Follow @NicholasMendola

MLS: 17-year-old Cade Cowell, Caden Clark star in SJ, RBNY wins (video)

Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

It’s early but Major League Soccer’s first few weeks of the 2021 season have been dominated by the letter C.

There’s Chicharito, the Mexican star with five goals through two matches heading into the LA Galaxy’s third match, a 9pm ET Sunday tangle with Seattle.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Then there’s a pair of 17-year-old USMNT prospects in San Jose’s Cade Cowell and New York Red Bulls’ Caden Clark, who both delivered the goods again on Sunday.

Throw in the CONCACAF Champions League and we’re well above ‘C’ level (insert Fozzy Bear gif).

San Jose Earthquakes 4-1 DC United

Major League Soccer’s assist leader is a 17-year-old Mexican-American for the San Jose Earthquakes, as Cade Cowell scored his second goal and collected his second and third helpers of the season in a 4-1 win over DC United.

He’s not 18 until October.

That’s good stuff, but let’s talk about Jackson Yueill.

The 24-year-old was one of the only standouts of the U.S. Olympic qualifying campaign and showed his attacking side Saturday with a pair of goals, the first a sensational tally from distance.

Matias Almeyda’s third season with the Quakes

New York Red Bulls 2-0 Chicago Fire

Clark turns 18 later this month and the midfielder’s second goal of the season gave the Red Bulls their first win.

The teenager leapt into focus when he turned an outstanding USL Championship run last season into three goals in eight MLS appearances including one of RBNY’s goals in a 3-2 playoff loss to Columbus.

Apparently he’s intent on only scoring terrific goals.

MLS Week 3 schedule

Real Salt Lake 3-1 Sporting KC
CF Montreal 0-0 Columbus Crew
Houston Dynamo 1-1 LAFC
New England Revolution 2-1 Atlanta United
Orlando City 3-0 FC Cincinnati
Philadelphia Union 0-2 NYCFC
FC Dallas 4-1 Portland Timbers
Minnesota United 0-1 Austin FC
Nashville SC v Inter Miami — 1pm ET Sunday
Seattle Sounders v LA Galaxy — 9pm ET Sunday
Vancouver Whitecaps v Colorado Rapids — 10pm ET Sunday

MLS demands your attention with series of stunning Week 1 goals (video)

New York City FC v DC United
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Major League Soccer’s Opening Day had a lot to do to break into the world headlines given a later start to the season that coincides with major European league run-ins, Lionel Messi starring in a Copa del Rey Final, and Chelsea upending Man City in the FA Cup semifinals.

MLS opted for the golazo route.

[ MORE: Sheffield Utd relegated | Norwich promoted ]

A series of outstanding goals drove the weekend in America, with big names, new faces, and under-the-radar kids delivering a wild amount of fun around MLS (and we’ve still got Vanney v Neville, a Cascadia Cup match, and a match-up of the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup winners).

How good were some of these goals? We left out one from Friday which may well win Goal of the Month anyway (though we must say that Randall Leal seems likely to have a hold on that).

Chicago Fire 2-2 New England Revolution

Since we’re about to see a lot of individual brilliance, let’s start with a team goal that would have Pep Guardiola raising a glass.

It isn’t surprising to see Chicago’s Robert Beric involved with a goal and an assist as Raphael Wicky’s Fire took a 2-0 lead on Bruce Arena’s Revs after just 11 minutes, but the lead up to his opening goal has just about everyone touching the ball.

This just fills the heart with joy.

New York Red Bulls 1-2 Sporting KC

Yes, Peter Vermes’ men got the last laugh, but allow us to include RBNY’s lone goal for a few reasons:

  • Caden Clark is 17 years old for another month and a week.
  • He has four goals in nine MLS matches after posting three goals and five assists in 12 USL Championship games.
  • He may be heading to RB Leipzig after the season
  • It’s a really good goal in a tight spot.

Nashville SC 2-2 FC Cincinnati

Let’s start in Tennessee, as Costa Rican star Randall Leal returns from giving the U.S. Olympic qualifying team a bunch of fits to deliver an audacious whirling ball into the upper reaches of the goal.

And with a crowd in Nashville, we also get the return of “Wait this could be…. yeah it’s going to be… dear God, he’s done it” glee from fans.

DC United 2-1 NYCFC

Ronny Deila’s gonna need some time to get his new pieces up to speed at NYCFC, but Hernan Losada’s got things a bit more settled as he begins life with the Black-and-Red.

Brendan Hines-Ike and Russell Canouse scored the goals for DC United after Valentin Castellanos put NYCFC ahead, and both of the hosts’ goals deserved to be part of a winning performance.

Hines-Ike went to Creighton and South Florida in college soccer before playing for Orebro and KV Kortrijk abroad. Whatever he needed to do to produce stuff like this, on loan from the latter, well, it was worth it.


Houston Dynamo 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle Sounders 4-0 Minnesota United
Orlando City 0-0 Atlanta United
LAFC 2-0 Austin FC
FC Dallas 0-0 Colorado Rapids
CF Montreal 4-2 Toronto FC
DC United 2-1 New York City FC
Chicago Fire 2-2 New England Revolution
Inter Miami v LA Galaxy — 3pm ET Sunday
Columbus Crew v Philadelphia Union — 5:30pm ET Sunday
Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers — 10pm ET Sunday