Major League Soccer

Five underrated under-22 talents in MLS right now

Chris Smith
Wiley has made a strong start at just 17 years old.
Wiley has made a strong start at just 17 years old. / Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
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Major League Soccer revealed its '22 Under 22' list on Tuesday, with some of the league's very best young talent featured.

Another FC Dallas player took top spot in Jesus Ferreira, following on from former teammate and strike partner Ricardo Pepi achieving the same feat in 2021. Meanwhile, Thiago Almada and Talles Magno completed the top three, with the likes of Gabriel Slonina, Julian Araujo, and Alan Velasco all featuring high up the list.

But even beyond this 22-name list of talent, MLS has plenty more rising stars coming through. Here, we take a look at five underrated U-22s you should keep an eye on, as well as a few honorable mentions:


5. Frankie Amaya (New York Red Bulls)

He's suffered from injuries as the campaign has gone on, but Frankie Amaya started 2022 like a house on fire for the New York Red Bulls.

At his best, Amaya - who only turned 21 earlier this month - is a high-energy, tough-tackling midfield engine perfect for the Red Bull system, but with an underrated level of refinement on the ball.

Amaya has long been on the radar of many USMNT supporters and a fully fit season in 2023 could see him move up the pecking order and attract some watchful European eyes.

4. Danny Leyva (Seattle Sounders)

Like Amaya, Danny Leyva has suffered injury problems across his short career so far but over the last two MLS seasons, he's been able to stay consistently fit.

This has resulted in a midfielder who can read play excellently in the No.6 position, can progress the ball as a No.8, and is capable of creating further forward when required.

Leyva is currently weighing up his international future and we don't think it'll be long before he's deciding on his next club, too. The Seattle Sounders have a gem on their hands.

3. Jhon Duran (Chicago Fire)

Jhon Duran definitely hasn't been consistent during his first year in MLS but when he's at his best, it's truly terrifying for defenders.

At just 18 years old, Duran has hit five goals in 25 MLS appearances for the Chicago Fire, including three in his last two appearances.

Right now, it feels like Duran's best moments are coming in fits and starts but give him another off-season and he should be fully adjusted to MLS. Then watch him go.

2. Gabriel Pereira (NYCFC)

Gabriel Pereira has only been in MLS since March, joining a championship-winning NYCFC side, but one that lost head coach Ronny Deila and star striker Taty Castellanos mid-season.

Even so, the Brazilian has still managed seven goals and two primary assists in 24 appearances.

Pereira was named NYCFC's player of the month for August after putting in a string of top-class performances and we can't wait to see how he does in his second MLS season - and this year's Playoffs for that matter.

1. Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United)

It really is wild that Caleb Wiley wasn't named on the 22 Under 22 list.

This is a 17-year-old who was thrust into the Atlanta United team due to injuries and played out of position as a winger, but still scored on his debut against Sporting Kansas City.

Since then, he's moved back into his preferred left-back role and has 24 MLS appearances under his belt so far.

Wiley is raw and very inexperienced. But it's clear he has as much talent as anybody else in MLS, if not more.

A big 2023 with the Five Stripes could bring huge opportunities for Wiley - already a seven-time United States youth international.

Honorable mentions: David Ayala, Andres Perea, Tayvon Gray, George Campbell, Ralph Priso, Cameron Duke, Josh Atencio.


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