National Writer: Charles Boehm

Top young-player performances in MLS Week 16

Three of FC Dallas’ prized pups led the way in a head-turning win over one of the league’s best. A dual-eligible teenager bossed his team’s 4-1 win from the right-back spot. And a 20-year-old Brazilian forward helped orchestrate another beatdown in the Bronx.

These are your top young-player performances of MLS Week 16.

As relentlessly neutral and evenhanded as we try to be in all our evaluations, it gives the YPPOTW front office great joy to watch PaxiPomy stride into this week’s selections following an excellent outing in a 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City. A high-upside talent and all-around good person whose progress has constantly been hampered by injuries, it’s encouraging to see the Texan midfielder stringing together solid starts this summer – and it's no coincidence that FCD are suddenly a tough out, with back-to-back wins over the LA Galaxy and SKC.

Pomykal set the tone with a viciously-struck goal from distance in just the 3rd minute, then hared around making trouble as Dallas thrived in transitions all night, playing two key passes and stalking Sporting’s buildups.

With a 4-1 rout of the Portland Timbers, the Galaxy rebounded from last week’s hiding in Frisco in fine style, and Araujo’s fingerprints were all over the home victory. In addition to his usual defensive work rate and steel in the tackle, the Mexican-American right back took powerful and productive jaunts forward to deliver pinpoint crosses for two of his team’s goals and completed 84.8% of his passes. His 0.18 goals-added number is one of the week’s best among young players.

This guy is fun to watch, and with three goals and one assist in his first seven matches, he’s stacking up some pretty decent end product for being brand-new to MLS.

Thiago bagged the second goal in New York City FC’s 4-1 rout of the Columbus Crew with a genius long-range (and first-touch) chip over Eloy Room – where a round of applause is due to erstwhile USMNTer Alfredo Morales for that visionary ping that sent him clear. The ex-Bahia attacker then laid on a casual nutmeg assist to Keaton Parks for their third. He was also 17-of-18 passing. Keep an eye on this kid.

Supporters of the North Texas club are surely cheered by the sight of Ferreira, Pomykal and fellow homegrown Ricardo Pepi putting in such good work at the top of the formation, because they seem to have the potential to magnify one anothers’ abilities as they craft chemistry and understanding with more and more minutes together. Can they sustain this turnaround and get climbing up the table?

Ferreira was instrumental in what was not only FCD’s first road win of the season, but first points away from home as well, lashing home the winner and putting in plenty of work on both sides of the ball.

We’re ready to start using “Cifu” as Brazilian-style shorthand on first reference around these parts, because the Ecuadorian is becoming a perennial protagonist on these pages.

The do-everything center mid who made Mark-Anthony Kaye expendable for LAFC got on the scoresheet yet again this week, latching onto a Minnesota United turnover in midfield and wisely playing in Carlos Vela with an early ball that the Mexican star took to the proverbial house in Wednesday’s dramatic 2-2 draw with the Loons. Cifu served up four key passes on the night and his 0.43 goals added were among Week 16’s best.

Honorable mentions

Szabolcs Schön: As I understand it, it’s pronounced “saw-bolch” – and if his last two matches are any indication, we should all get comfortable saying it. The 20-year-old Hungarian international was tricky and incisive in Kansas City, notching his second assist in as many weeks.

Taty Castellanos: It often appears that as the Argentine No. 9 goes, so goes NYCFC – for better and for worse. He scored for the second straight week (one of his whopping nine shots) as the Cityzens victimized the Crew, and now stands at 6g/4a in 2021.

Wiki Carmona: The New York Red Bulls had the league-leading New England Revolution dead to rights on Saturday before letting them wriggle off the hook, and the 18-year-old Venezuelan was a big part of that, covering ground, playing one key pass and opening the scoring with a vicious long-range strike after a lovely turn between the lines.

Auston Trusty: If you've lost track of the Philadelphia Union academy product, here’s the catchup: He’s quietly been stacking up 90-minute runouts for the Colorado Rapids that range from serviceable to sterling, and the road win at Austin FC might have been his best so far in 2021. In the wise words of YPPOTW patron saint Freddy Adu, never put a period where God put a comma – in Auston we can still trust(y).


Audi Goals Drive Progress

MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $500 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.