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The US men’s national team had the second-youngest squad at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, fueled in part by MLS homegrown exports like Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) and Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union).

Sticking with that MLS homegrown theme, let’s break down which players could enter the roster after rising through academies across the league. This is not to suggest/guarantee they’ll make the USMNT roster for North America 2026, but rather to forecast who might reach that World Cup level.

The below group is broken down by tiers, starting with 1) who we might see soon and then getting into 2) high-potential teens and 3) U-20 players whose outlook could improve. Almost all of these players are yet to make their USMNT debut, and plenty more will enter the discourse in seasons ahead.

A quick note: MLS homegrown exports like Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Justin Che (Hoffenheim), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg) and more aren’t spotlighted because they’re already in Europe.

Who we're likely to see soon

These players have played first-team soccer in MLS for a couple of seasons, and seem ready to factor into the USMNT in some capacity.

Only 22, Pomykal has over 100 MLS games under his belt with 4g/12a along the way. The FC Dallas homegrown product has stayed healthy the last two seasons, a massive win considering his injury stops and starts in recent years. He earned his first (and only) senior USA cap in September 2019, though could/should be integrated more.

Tolkin might be in Europe as soon as this winter, emerging as one of MLS’s best left backs the past two seasons. The 20-year-old Red Bulls youth product thrives in their high-pressing system and could feasibly reach MLS All-Star status if he’s around for the 2023 season.

The Crew homegrown missed the 2021 season with a torn ACL, but bounced back to his no-nonsense self last campaign. The 21-year-old will now be coached by ex-CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy and, internationally, could help add some much-needed depth to the No. 6 spot.

The Union have no hesitations with starting McGlynn in high-pressure games, including in MLS Cup 2022 at LAFC last month. A tempo-setting, left-footed No. 8, the 19-year-old is one of the league’s better passers and puts in the necessary defensive work as well.

Bassett’s been in the Dutch wilderness the past year, never quite breaking through during loans to Feyenoord and Fortuna Sittard. Now back in Colorado, the box-arriving No. 8 already has one USMNT cap (and goal)… so 2023 is all about recalibrating the 21-year-old's promising career.

The 19-year-old forward has the physical profile to play senior international soccer, and last summer he reportedly drew interest from Ligue 1 side Stade de Reims. He’s got 9g/12a in 81 Earthquakes games, showing bits of skill (this through ball; this volley) that spotlight his potential.

High-potential teens

These players have either broken through or may soon reach USMNT camps if they keep progressing as hoped.

It’s no stretch, at least in this scribe’s view, to call Vargas one of the biggest teenage talents in MLS. The Sounders homegrown was fantastic as they won the 2022 Concacaf Champions League title, and would be discussed more if not for a troublesome back injury. The 17-year-old is also eligible for Mexico.

Injuries gave Wiley the runway to play more than 1,500 minutes last year for Atlanta United. Featuring mainly at left back, there were instances where the 17-year-old was one of ATL’s most dangerous attacking players (his defensive game needs some fine-tuning, but signs are promising).

I’ll point to Matt Doyle’s 2026 World Cup roster prediction, which had Medina as his “wishcasting” pick. That’s how well-regarded the 16-year-old San Jose product is before he plays one MLS minute; the attack-minded midfielder is a big-time prospect. Keep an eye on homegrown midfielder Niko Tsakiris, too.

Black-and-Red head coach Wayne Rooney has labeled Hopkins a future USMNT player, offering high praise for the super-versatile D.C. homegrown. It’s unclear exactly what Hopkins’ long-term position is, especially after his club's struggles in 2022, but the 18-year-old is definitely one to watch.

Bajraktarevic has often played up with US youth national teams, plus arrived in New England from Wisconsin (of all places) to eventually earn a homegrown deal. The 17-year-old left-footed playmaker is silky-smooth on the ball and sees passes/plays at a high level. Fellow Revs homegrown midfielder Noel Buck deserves a shout, too.

Baker-Whiting is currently training with German Bundesliga side SC Freiburg and has been linked to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, placing on The Guardian's Next Generation list in September. The 2005-born homegrown midfielder isn’t yet in the USMNT fold, but that seems his final destination one day.

It’s been a wild few months for Cremaschi, starring in Inter Miami’s youth system before earning a homegrown deal and getting call-ups to both Argentine and US youth national team camps. The 17-year-old is entering his inaugural MLS season and will hope for a first-team breakthrough under manager Phil Neville.

Evaluate after U-20 World Cup, Olympics

In July, these players were part of the US U-20 side that booked dual qualification to the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Indonesia and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. They’ve got potential, though let’s circle back down the road.

This one's a cheat pick given our framework, as Luna isn't technically a homegrown player for RSL. But he created goal-dangerous chances for RSL last year, compiling 310 minutes after transferring in from USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive. Expect a leap forward from the 19-year-old in 2023.

Gutiérrez came on strong last year, ultimately finishing with 2g/7a for a Fire side that struggled to score. The 19-year-old has shown flashes as both a central playmaker and wide attacker, setting up plays and carving up defenses. Gutiérrez is Mexican-American.

Sullivan, 18, has proved productive for the US U-20s, playing up top after usually slotting in midfield for the Union. He’s got 3g/1a in 761 minutes for Philadelphia, often being a late-game sub for the perennial MLS Cup contenders.

The son of Austin FC manager Josh Wolff, the 17-year-old looked at home in Austin’s high-intensity midfield – a tactical system that employs similar principles to the USMNT. He amassed roughly 900 first-team minutes during his first true pro season, a strong building block.

Edelman looked super comfortable after breaking into RBNY’s starting lineup midway through last season. We’ll see if the 19-year-old has the physical/technical qualities to reach the USMNT level, but there’s a lot the US U-20s captain/No. 6 does well.

With Gaga Slonina off to Chelsea, does Brady step into Chicago’s starting goalkeeper spot? The 18-year-old seems to have pole position, starring for the US U-20s and reportedly drawing interest from Belgian side Club Brugge.