Cristian Casseres - New York Red Bulls - training

The full 2018 22 Under 22 list is live, with players from 12 different MLS teams named to this year's list.


With a growing crop of young players getting playing time in the league, competition is fierce and there were quite a few players who just missed out this year. As always with these kinds of lists, attention turns almost immediately to who's next, and that's the question we're asking this time around.


We got answers from Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle, Senior Editor Nick Rosano, Senior Host & Producer Andrew Wiebe, New Media Editor Ben Baer, National Writer Sam Stejskal and contributors Charles Boehm and Alicia Rodriguez.


Which player that's not on the list in 2018 is most likely to make it on in 2019?


DOYLE: It's tough to pick just one, since there are at least a half-dozen obvious guys from this list who'll be on 22 Under 22 next year. I guess just go with the most obvious? Ok then: It's Djordje Mihailovic. There aren't too many domestic attacking midfielders getting regular playing time anywhere in the world, and so he stands out for that. He also stands out for his productivity since returning from last year's ACL tear – 1g/3a in 400 minutes is a very nice ROI, especially considering that the goal was a freaking banger. #PlayYourKids


WIEBE: Forget making the list, how about the next Alphonso Davies? Davies jumped from unranked to No. 4 between 2016 and 2017. Atlanta United’sGeorge Bello has the potential to make the same sort of leap. The 16-year-old left back just became the eighth youngest player to ever start an MLS game. He looked like he’d been doing it for years, shutting down Jefferson Savarino (No. 5 on this year’s list) and combining with Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez in attack. He’s ready. My guess is "Tata" Martino, or whoever is coaching the Five Stripes, won’t be able to keep Bello off the field. 


BOEHM: Who's next?! Maybe readers should take a look at my 2018 22U22 list! It featured plenty of talent snubbed by others this year, but whose names will be in many mouths in 12 months' time. But setting that future-brag aside, I'm watching the San Jose Earthquakes and their academy closely these days. 


Arguably no MLS team has made less use of a talent-rich backyard than the Quakes traditionally have, though there are signs of positive change over the past year or so. Gilbert Fuentes and Jacob Akanyirige are extremely legit prospects; will they get the chance to show it with the first team?


STEJSKAL: I suspect I'll be going a bit off the board here, but give me Cristian Casseres, Jr. With Tyler Adams looking set to move to RB Leipzig this winter, the Red Bulls will likely have a huge hole to fill in their central midfield next season. Enter Casseres. Though he's only played in one MLS match in 2018, New York are very high on their 18-year-old Venezuelan. He's super athletic, has a big-time work rate and I'm guessing he'll get first crack at replacing Adams in the middle of Chris Armas' high press. He's unproven, but he could thrive next season.


RODRIGUEZ: The highest player on my ballot who wasn't on the main list was Nouhou Tolo, but he'll be too old for next year. Same for Bofo Saucedo. But Mihailovic will be eligible, and if he gets playing time (a big if, admittedly, given his position and Chicago's struggles this year) I expect big things from him next year.


BAER: With Adams likely heading to Germany come the winter, the Red Bulls will need someone to replace the midfielder who finished second in this year’s rankings. Enter Casseres. RBNY acquired the young Venezuelan prior to the season and he’s been plying his trade mostly with NYRBII this year. We know in the past how successful the club has groomed players from the USL team to the first team and Casseres Jr. seems like a perfect choice to be next in line.


ROSANO: I like the look of a few of this summer's South American imports that the voting panel might be a little more familiar with at this time next year. We've had a few shouts for Casseres, but I'm most intrigued by Portland's Tomas Conechny. I'm won't to pretend I'm an expert on him based on the 72 MLS minutes he's played, but his pedigree is inarguably intriguing. With extensive experience for his age at a big club in Argentina (San Lorenzo) and the Argentine youth national teams – and with Diego Valeri turning 33 next May – he seems primed for a chance to break through in 2019 and get himself on next year's list.