22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR is a list of the top 22 players in MLS under the age of 22 – as voted on by an expert panel consisting of select MLS staff and MLS Season Pass talent.
- 14 of the 22 players are from an MLS NEXT academy
- Average age: 20
- 4 players are age 18: Noel Buck, Benjamin Cremaschi, Caleb Wiley & Owen Wolff
- Alan Velasco is the third straight FC Dallas player to top the list after Ricardo Pepi (2021) and Jesús Ferreira (2022)
- 3 players from Inter Miami CF
- 2 players from Chicago Fire FC, FC Dallas, New England Revolution & New York Red Bulls
- Age cutoff: Players have to remain 21 or younger before the end of the 2023 MLS regular season, which is Decision Day on October 21. Or, in other words, they must be born after October 22, 2001.
- Voting period: Sept. 5 - Sept. 7.
Velasco, whether he's playing as a winger or No. 10, is a constant threat for FC Dallas in the final third. He's come good on his reported club-record $7 million transfer fee upon joining from Argentine side Independiente in February 2022. Velasco, who earned an Argentina national team call-up last month, has his brightest days ahead.
Cremaschi, like his Inter Miami teammates, has benefited from playing alongside Lionel Messi – but don't lose sight of how he often features alongside another FC Barcelona legend, Sergio Busquets, in the Herons' midfield. A box-to-box player, Cremaschi has shown sky-high potential in his first MLS season and even made his US men's national team debut in September.
From being the youngest-ever starter in an MLS Cup (2020) to tearing his ACL (2021) to becoming an MLS All-Star (2023), it's been quite the journey for the Columbus Crew's homegrown star. Morris has leveled up this year while playing under manager Wilfried Nancy, adding some attacking punch to the tune of 4g/7a in 29 games. Morris is also a rising US international.
Buck makes the difficult look routine, whether it's spraying long balls, winning the ball in midfield, hitting line-splitting passes, or providing a timely goal. That profile has resulted in several England U-19 call-ups, though the US are chasing his services too. The left-footed youngster is New England's top homegrown since their Diego Fagúndez days.
Gutiérrez, now in his fourth season with the Fire, has leaped forward in 2022-23 while tallying 4g/16a across 64 games. The jury's still out on the US youth international's best position – he can play as a playmaking winger, as a No. 10, or as an in-the-hole attacker. But if famed Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri isn't keeping Chicago's attack humming, they need not fret when Gutiérrez is on the pitch.
An MLS All-Star in 2023, Tolkin is among the best attack-minded fullbacks in the league – and his 2g/6a in 26 games would likely be even higher if the Red Bulls were more clinical around goal. The US international's all-action style is a perfect fit for New York's high-pressing game model, but he doesn't neglect defensive duties either. He's been an entrenched starter for three years now.
Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin heaps praise on McGlynn's passing ability, and it's easy to see why. The US youth international's cultured left foot can thread the needle, picking out through-balls – slow the game down or speed it up – with the proper weight and timing. McGlynn has surpassed 1,500 regular-season minutes in 2023, seizing more of a starting role.
Cowell's been a regular on 22 Under 22 lists in recent years, bringing a north-south style that's a nightmare for defenders to stop. The US international has added more subtleties and all-around elements to San Jose, both in attack and defense, but his 10g/15a in 103 games most stand out. It's no wonder reports of European transfer interest continue to follow Cowell.
Some of Wiley's most eye-popping highlights came when he played as a winger for Atlanta, but his future seems set as an attack-minded left back. European clubs have identified him as a modern-day wingback/fullback, one who's contributed 5g/6a in 55 games. Given Wiley's trajectory, it's not hard to envision a future where he adds much-needed depth for the USMNT alongside Antonee Robinson before the 2026 World Cup.
Everything seemed to click at the FIFA U-20 World Cup last spring, when Luna was arguably the best US player during their quarterfinal run. Upon his return, the midfielder became a bigger part of Real Salt Lake's attack and has supplied 3g/3a so far this season. Luna doesn't fit the traditional American mold, but craftiness, vision and creativity on the dribble make him an exciting prospect.
Farías is one of three U22 Initiative players Miami signed this summer, and the club paid a reported $5.5 million transfer fee to acquire him from Argentine sign Colón. He's quickly adapted to life in South Florida, operating as a second forward, winger and No. 10 – even taking the final-third reigns when Messi has missed games. It's no wonder insiders made Carlos Tevez analogies when providing a scouting report on Farías.
Is he a striker? Is he a winger? The answer depends on who you ask, but one thing's clear: Magno has boatloads of talent and might be the most skilled player on this year's 22 Under 22 list. The Brazilian star is now in his third season with NYCFC and has produced 13g/13a in 78 games, showing flashes of being a $10+ million player – especially given the doors City Football Group can open in the global soccer world.
Were it not for the torn ACL he suffered in late April, would Borrero be a top-five player on #22u22? That hypothetical is realistic, considering the Revolution's U22 Initiative signing is a rising Colombian international and projects as following in Tajon Buchanan's footsteps, i.e. his profile typically garners a seven-to-eight-figure transfer fee from a European club. The question is what level Borrero hits upon recovery, having produced 5g/3a in 20 games thus far.
Fun fact: Neal made his USMNT debut before appearing in an MLS match for the Galaxy. That helps explain why the homegrown center back is so highly regarded and why he played in all but one USMNT match during their Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal run last summer. Neal, who's recovering from a sports hernia surgery, has huge potential and could be the player who gets LA's academy pipeline back on track.
Mosquera, an emerging Colombian international, thrives in the final third. The attack-minded right back has supplied 2g/6a in 28 games this season, reportedly drawing interest from European clubs and providing a one-two punch on the Timbers' flanks alongside Argentine left back Claudio Bravo. Portland initially acquired this U22 Initiative player in July 2022 from Independiente Medellín.
When in form, Vite has an inevitability factor about him – as evidenced by twice scoring inside the first minute of games this year. He's a U22 Initiative player acquired out of famed Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle, developing since his mid-2021 arrival. What level could Vancouver's young attacker reach long-term?
Chicago could have reasonably expected a drop-off at the goalkeeper position when transferring Gaga Slonina (for up to $15 million) to Chelsea FC last winter. But the club knew they had a more-than-adequate replacement lying in wait. Step in Brady, another top American goalkeeping prospect who's also a product of the Fire Academy. Brady's eight clean sheets in 29 games this year only begin to tell the story.
Playing under his father at Austin FC, Wolff has gone from an encouraging prospect to a locked-in starter in the span of a year. That's sometimes how fast life changes for a young professional, and the US international won't turn 19 until late December. Wolff's a true two-way midfielder who will surely garner inquiring European teams if he improves 5-10% in a few areas.
Kamungo's story is hard to encapsulate in a short blurb, so we suggest you seek out deeper dives like those here and here. The short version: Kamungo has gone from a Tanzanian refugee camp and settling in Abilene, Texas at age 14 to an open tryout for FC Dallas' MLS NEXT Pro team and scoring against Messi for the club's first team. 'Storybook' probably isn't a strong enough word; he simply finds ways to contribute at every level he's encountered.
A full-fledged Paraguay international, Gómez is both a key part of La Albirroja's future and the Herons' broader project. A U22 Initiative signing from Libertad, Gómez brings youthful energy, combativeness and link-up play to the heart of Miami's midfield. In 2024, MLS fans will more regularly see his full potential.
Are the Sean Davis 2.0 comparisons accurate, misguided, or somewhere in the middle? Odds are Edelman won't care, even if that's making a straight-line analogy to the New York Red Bulls' former captain and fellow homegrown. The US captain at last spring's U-20 World Cup, he brings plenty of tools beyond being a terrier-esque No. 6.
Before his departure, ex-D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney called Ku-DiPietro "one of the best young American players." That proclamation was backed up, to some degree, as the homegrown attacker enjoyed a breakout 2023 season with 5g/3a in nearly 1,200 minutes played. Ku-DiPietro regularly creates danger in the final third; he just needs the opportunity to provide service and be inventive.