22 Under 22

Top 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR future candidates


Every year voting for 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR gets more and more difficult. There aren’t enough spots to go around.

Take a look at the 2022 edition…  here we’re looking at some teenagers who are likely to be on the list in the coming years.

Chicago Fire FC have agreed to transfer Gaga Slonina to Chelsea for January 2023, but they have plenty of young talent still at the club, including a potential replacement US youth international goalkeeper.

Chris Brady, 18, is yet to make his MLS debut, but won the Golden Glove at the U-20 Concacaf Championship, has already signed a contract extension with the Fire and was the subject of a rejected bid from UEFA Champions League side Club Brugge earlier this year. Not bad before an MLS debut.

Jhon Duran, meanwhile, has taken the starting center forward role during his debut season in Chicago after arriving as a highly-touted 18-year-old from Colombia.

Duran has 6g/3a this season and is one of the league’s biggest talents. Oh, yeah, he’s currently with the Colombian senior national team. Bright future.

Brian Gutierrez, 19, just signed a new contract extension of his own with the Fire and has played just under 1,500 minutes already this year. The USYNT attacker will look to build on a solid season ahead of 2023.

One of the names who came up most often when talking to various MLS technical staffers about who should have been on this year’s 22 Under 22 list was Daniel Edelman, the New York Red Bulls' homegrown defensive midfielder.

Edelman, 19, is also the US U-20s captain. He has won a more regular role in RBNY’s midfield of late, with eight starts this season.

Edelman's teammate and fellow homegrown Serge Ngoma, 17, looked a livewire in his limited minutes this year, including scoring a game-winning goal against Atlanta United, but then he picked up a hamstring injury that halted his season.

The future is bright for the USYNT winger, with two goals in only 112 MLS minutes across seven appearances.

The Philadelphia Union had three players on this year’s 22 Under 22 list and could have realistically had as many as six. In the coming years, expect Quinn Sullivan (18) and Brandan Craig (18) to be on the rankings.

Both players were regulars with the US U-20s as they won a third straight Concacaf Championship, qualifying for both the U-20 World Cup and Olympics. Craig is currently the top backup to Philly's Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott, two center backs who will be on most Best XI and Defender of the Year ballots.

Sullivan and Craig have both been with the USYNT for a while and perhaps would have many more minutes had they not been playing for the East’s best team.

The Colorado Rapids' US youth international duo of Darren Yapi (17) and Yaya Toure (18) both started to break into the first team this year, with each having bright futures. They trained at clubs in Europe last offseason and have been USYNT regulars.

Unfortunately, Toure suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the summer that will likely cost him the beginning of next season, too. Yapi has just 79 minutes spread across nine MLS appearances, with the bulk of his time coming in MLS NEXT Pro.

Acquired by Real Salt Lake from USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive this June, Diego Luna is completing his second full season as a professional.

Luna, who just turned 19 this month, had 13g/7a with El Paso and was a standout with the US U-20s this spring. He hasn’t quite made his mark with the RSL first team, but there’s plenty of time.

Atlanta United left back/wingback Caleb Wiley was thrust into a regular role this year as a result of injuries in the first team and impressed over 24 appearances (so far). The Five Stripes have already rejected a transfer offer that eclipsed what homegrown left back George Bello was transferred to Germany's Arminia Bielefeld for last January, too. He’s got a bright future.

The 17-year-old was voted on some folks’ 22 Under 22 ballot this year. That will continue with minutes in the future.

It might be a little early for Cruz Medina, who just signed a homegrown contract and hasn’t made his MLS debut yet. But the 15-year-old midfielder is really highly rated and the San Jose Earthquakes academy is quietly producing a steady stream of talent.

Austin FC homegrown Owen Wolff, 17, has amassed 23 appearances (11 starts) in his second professional season. The versatile midfielder looks right at home for one of the Western Conference’s top teams. Like many others on this list, he’s a US youth international.

Inter Miami left back Noah Allen has made eight appearances in MLS this year, though most of them came at the beginning of the year when the Herons were low on numbers. Still, the experience was invaluable for the US youth international.

Allen, 18, has been a constant starter in MLS NEXT Pro since the first team got more options as planned, so he’s continued to develop and get professional minutes.

I mean, the kid made his first MLS start at center back at 15 years old!! Depending on when Decision Day falls in the future, he could be eligible for this list for the next six years.

Akinmboni is a product of D.C. United’s academy and spent time training with Bayern Munich when he was 14. He’s currently with the US U-17s.