For over a decade, MLSsoccer.com has spotlighted the top up-and-coming talent from Major League Soccer through the 22 Under 22 presented by BodyArmor content series.
To be eligible, players must remain 21 or younger through Decision Day, also known as the end of the regular season. Players are assessed by voters (MLSsoccer.com editorial staff, MLS player department, external media) based on their technical, tactical, physical and potential abilities.
Here’s a running list of every winner, stretching from 2010 through the present day. Two notes:
- The list, up until 2018, was previously known as 24 Under 24.
- Winners are listed with the club they competed for at the time.
The new #22u22 leader, Pepi’s the latest shining example of why the FC Dallas Academy is so well-regarded across global soccer. From El Paso, Texas, to a homegrown contract – with several important developmental steps in between – he’s become a highly sought-after prospect. Now also a key, emerging piece of the US men’s national team, this No. 9 has a bright future and plenty of suitors.
Aaronson went from a Philly homegrown player to a reported $6 million (plus incentives) transfer to Austrian club RB Salzburg. The midfielder has become an important US men’s national team contributor, making him a flagship example of the Union’s player development pathway. Aaronson was a Best XI talent in 2020, helping his hometown club lift that year’s Supporters’ Shield.
LAFC set a single-season points record (72) upon winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2019, and Rossi was a key reason why. Between arriving from Peñarol and departing the Black & Gold on a loan (and likely permanent transfer) to Turkey’s Fenerbahçe this summer, the Uruguayan winger also won the Golden Boot presented by Audi and MLS Young Player of the Year awards in 2020.
Davies is a bonafide superstar for Bayern Munich and the Canadian national team, but first came his rapid rise with Vancouver. He rose through MLS as a left winger, only to catch the Bundesliga powerhouse’s eye as an attack-minded left back – quickly creating a lengthy trophy list. Davies originally departed MLS for what could rise to a reported $22 million.
Almiron, much like Atlanta United’s introduction to MLS, rose to prominence in short order. The Paraguayan international formed an immediate and devastating partnership with the likes of Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, earning Best XI honors in 2017-18 before bringing the Five Stripes their first MLS Cup in 2018. That drew the attention of Premier League side Newcastle United, who signed Almiron for a reported MLS record outgoing transfer of $27 million.
Larin has emerged as a star for club and country, scoring goals for both Besiktas and the Canadian national team. The forward’s ascension started with Orlando City SC where he was the first overall pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft – the first Canadian to be taken No. 1 overall – before scoring 17 goals, breaking the rookie scoring mark at the time, en route to winning the MLS Rookie of the Year Award. Larin transferred to Besiktas for an undisclosed fee in January 2018.
After beginning his professional career with Deportivo Cali in his native Colombia, Fabian Castillo signed with FC Dallas ahead of the 2011 season. The attacking standout enjoyed his most productive stretch of his professional career to date in Texas, scoring 34 goals and adding 30 assists in 159 appearances for then-head coach Oscar Pareja before a move to Turkey's Trabzonspor in 2016.
Long before Jordan Morris, Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio, DeAndre Yedlin was the Seattle Sounders' original Homegrown signing in 2013. His first season in MLS was a memorable one, with Yedlin becoming the first rookie since Michael Parkhurst in 2005 to be named to the MLS All-Star Game. A regular for the US men's national team, the right back signed with Tottenham Hotspur before starring with Newcastle United. He’s since remained as a USMNT regular, while currently suiting up for Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray at the club level.
Since arriving as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft to the Portland Timbers, Nagbe has established himself as one of the league’s most technically gifted, tempo-setting midfielders wherever he’s been. The University of Akron product has three MLS Cup victories to his name with Portland (2015), Atlanta (2018) and most recently with Columbus in 2020, where he remains a vital cog for the Crew.
Another former University of Akron star who went No. 2 overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Mattocks started his MLS career with the Vancouver Whitecaps where he would feature until 2016, scoring 19 league goals. The Jamaican also racked up 50 caps at the international level, where he has 18 goals for his country, while also featuring for Portland, D.C. United and FC Cincinnati. Mattocks currently suits up for Phoenix Rising, one of the USL Championship's top clubs.
Shea began his professional career as an FC Dallas mainstay after arriving as the 2008 MLS SuperDraft's No. 2 pick, making 98 league appearances, scoring 19 goals and earning plaudits as a bright young prospect for the USMNT. He’s been something of a journeyman in the years since his 2013 move to Stoke City that saw him make only three first-team appearances for the then-English Premier League side and also have brief stints on loan with Barnsley and Birmingham City. Shea returned to MLS in 2015 with Orlando City, before moves to Vancouver, Atlanta and Inter Miami CF, where he’s been a reliable veteran presence for the MLS newcomers.
Seattle have been a perennial playoff participant ever since their 2009 expansion season, and the goal-scoring exploits of Montero were a huge part of laying that foundation in those early years. The Colombian became a club legend for carrying much of the attacking load during his first stint in Rave Green from 2009-14 before his departure, first to Sporting CP (Portugal) and then to Tianjin Tigers (China) eventually returning to MLS for two separate runs with Vancouver in 2017 and from 2019-20. Montero made his return to Seattle ahead of the 2021 season, where he’s continued his productive form.