Toronto FC homegrown Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty received an honor reserved for 60 select players Thursday, being named to The Guardian's Next Generation list, honoring the world's best young players born in 2004.
Two American players currently with Bundesliga teams, Schalke's Evan Rotundo and Union Berlin's Malick Sanogo, are also on the list of recognized players. But Marshall-Rutty got some special billing, teased in the article as "the next Alphonso Davies" – referencing the current Bayern Munich standout who developed with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Back in February, MLSSoccer.com reported that the winger caught the attention of Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City, Porto and Bayern Munich scouts looking to add North American talent to their rosters. And in January 2020, when he was signed to a TFC homegrown deal, the club's GM, Ali Curtis, noted: "Jahkeele is the top player in his age group across Canada and the U.S, and he is among the top young players in all of North America. He is an incredibly talented young man. While he’s only 15 years old, he plays the game in a very mature way.
"He had interest from many top clubs in Europe," Curtis went on to say. "It’s important that we are both patient and aggressive with Jahkeele’s development, but he has the potential to be an incredible player moving forward. We’re also very proud of Jahkeele as he’s done a lot to get to this moment. Happy for Jahkeele, happy for his family, and we are excited about working with Jahkeele moving forward.”
The Guardian article noted, "Most young players emerging from Canada are likely to be likened to a certain Alphonso Davies, especially if they beat the Bayern Munich player’s record as the youngest player to have been called up for the national team (even though it was only by 10 days). A fast right winger, his crosses are exceptionally accurate and he can also turn inside and set up the forwards."
Marshall-Rutty's seen limited first-team minutes this season, getting 85 minutes spread over five sub appearances. However, those included an assist in an April 17 battle against cross-Canadian rivals CF Montréal, helping Richie Laryea get a consolation goal in a 4-2 loss.
The article also showcased the two Americans selected from the global top 60 with 2004 birthdays. According to the article, "Rotundo grew up in San Diego where he also played futsal, something that no doubt contributed to his excellent first touch and control. He has also been praised for his vision and passing, and clearly does not lack in self-belief: 'My ultimate goal is to be the best American player of all-time,' he told Soccer Nation in 2020."
Also spotlighted is Sanogo, who "is considered one of the most promising young strikers in Germany, and his 22 goals in 25 games for Union Berlin’s under-17 side last season were enough to persuade the team to sign him to a long-term contract. In addition to his strength and pace he can create goals too, finishing last season with eight assists."
While both players have U.S. eligibility, they can also feature elsewhere: Rotundo can play for France via his mother's connection, while Sanogo could commit to Germany or Ivory Coast per FIFA stipulations.