When the 22 Under 22 list drops later this week, a notable name will be absent: New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark. In 160 minutes (three appearances), he has two crucial goals that have catapulted him to national attention.
Why is he omitted, you might ask?
The answer’s rather simple: When votes were initially solicited, the 17-year-old was still playing in the USL Championship for New York Red Bulls II. It wasn’t until Oct. 10 that he signed an MLS deal, and RBNY acquired his rights from Minnesota United FC in exchange for $75,000 in General Allocation Money.
Even still, MLSsoccer.com experts have offered up where Clark would’ve landed on their ballot had he been eligible. Check out their thoughts below, and a quick reminder that candidates must be under the age of 22 as of the end of the 2020 regular season (i.e. 21 or younger before November 8).
Matt Doyle: Top 5
If this was based on pure potential Clark might’ve been No. 1 overall, but of course it’s not. You need somewhat of a body of work to climb that high. He’s working toward building an irrefutable body of work pretty rapidly, though! He was impressive in the DA in 2018 & ‘19, was great in USL earlier this year and obviously has hit MLS like a thunderbolt all before the age of 18. I probably would’ve had him top five, just ahead of Brenden Aaronson.
Watch: Caden Clark's golazo vs. Toronto FC
Tom Bogert: 10-15
Somewhere around 10-15 is where Caden Clark could’ve gone on my list if the voting was now. I tend to value a bit larger of a sample size for players to crack the top 10, even though Clark’s talent is undeniable and plenty of people smarter than me have raved about him. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of 2020 and 2021 plays out for the rising teenager.
David Gass: No. 16
If Caden Clark had spent the year at the MLS level, I think he would have landed at No. 16 on my list. I would expect a jump like Cole Bassett next season for Clark as he establishes himself. He is an extremely active high IQ/technique player, and I think his versatility to play across five different spots will get him more time on the field to grow. He spent half the year in USL as an ironman for an undermanned NYRBII squad, leading their attack and finishing tied fifth in the league on assists while missing the last six weeks of the season.
Charles Boehm: 10-15
I would probably have Clark in the 10-15 range. I'd be leery of his small sample size, but his age, technique, trajectory and soccer IQ make him too big a talent to ignore. He's got all the hallmarks of a prodigy and precious few red flags or warning signs to date.