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Major League Soccer’s best young talent: Where did they come from?

Major League Soccer‘s newest generation is on the rise. Players like Julian Araujo, Ralph Priso and Cade Cowell are turning heads already, showcasing the fresh young talent the American league has to offer. But how did they get here?

Take a look as we explain how some of Major League Soccer’s rising young stars made their way to all the action.

Efrain AlvarezEfrain Alvarez

Efrain Alvarez is a key prospect for the Los Angeles Galaxy. / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Club: LA Galaxy
Age: 20

The Mexican international player has long been destined for success since leading the LA Galaxy academy’s Under 17 side to the USSDA Championship.

Alvarez made himself known, scoring in the team’s quarter final, semi final and championship matches. He immediately signed with the senior team after lifting the trophy, joining the American league as the seventh-youngest player ever to sign a contract at just 16 years old. He’s played alongside the MLS greats, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic categorizing him as “the biggest talent from everybody in MLS”.

He’s recorded five goals and 11 assists in 75 appearances since debuting in 2019, and his link up with Chicharito up top gets bigger and better every single game.

Leon FlachLeon Flach

Philadelphia Union’s Leon Flach continues to shine for the team. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Club: Philadelphia Union
Age: 21

Leon Flach: a silent but deadly figure.

The Philadelphia Union player had a unique introduction to Major League Soccer. Flach is a result of German team’s F.C. St Pauli youth system, where he played in the Under-17 and Under-19 sides before signing to their senior roster in 2020. He made his professional debut for the club in September 2020 and would go on to make nine appearances before transferring to the Philadelphia Union in 2021.

Cade CowellCade Cowell

San Jose Earthquakes’ Cade Cowell is on the rise. / John Todd/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Club: San Jose Earthquakes
Age: 18

It’s hard to overlook Cade Cowell.

The player had a breakout 2021 season for the San Jose Earthquakes, leaving little to the imagination on what he is capable of achieving. His technical skills translate best in the final third, finding a pocket of space to set up teammates for success.

He first joined the San Jose Earthquakes in 2018, taking part in their academy. Cowell also spent time with the team’s USL Championship affiliate club Reno 1868, making his debut in 2019 before working himself up to Major League Soccer. The forward finally signed as a homegrown player, kicking off his senior season in 2020.

Julian AraujoJulian Araujo

20 year-old Julian Araujo is on the rise with the Los Angeles Galaxy. / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Club: LA Galaxy
Age: 20

It’s hard to believe Araujo is just 20 years old with all he’s already accomplished.

The LA Galaxy right back became a key figure for Greg Vanney in the rebuild of the five-time MLS Cup champions. He first made his way to the Western Conference giant after signing with LA Galaxy 2, where he made his professional debut in a 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders 2. Araujo worked his way into the senior team just one year later, staying with the greats ever since.

He’s managed one goal and 15 assists for the Galaxy in 86 overall appearances since 2019. His MLS career has propelled him to earn a place in the Mexican national team. The player is on the rise.

Ralph Priso (97) seen in action during the MLS football...Ralph Priso (97) seen in action during the MLS football...

Ralph Priso is turning heads. / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Club: Colorado Rapids
Age: 19

The current Colorado Rapids standout is a product of the Toronto FC academy. He first tried out for the program at the age of 11, but failed to make it until he was 14. Once training with the Canadian academy, Priso impressed. He went on to feature for Toronto 3, in the semi-professional League 1 Ontario and Toronto 2 in the USL League One before finally joining the senior squad in 2020.

He began to show his worth for Toronto FC in 2021, propelling his trade to the Colorado Rapids in July 2022. The Rapids exchanged Mark-Anthony Kaye for Priso, and received $1.025m in General Allocation Money, and an international roster slot in the trade.

DC United v Philadelphia UnionDC United v Philadelphia Union

Aidan Morris is a Columbus Crew homegrown player. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Club: Columbus Crew
Age: 20

Aidan Morris is slowly making himself known in Major League Soccer. The Columbus Crew midfielder is a homegrown player, after being recruited by the team’s Academy in 2017. He featured for the Crew Academy for two years, before going off to play collegiate soccer with Indiana University. He returned to the MLS side in 2020, signing the homegrown contract on January 14.

He has since gone on to make 24 appearances for the team. His recent performance against D.C. United gained attention, as he supported newest signing Cucho Hernandez and Lucas Zelarayan up top.

DC United v Philadelphia UnionDC United v Philadelphia Union

Jhon Duran is turning heads with the Chicago Fire after just 14 appearances. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Club: Chicago Fire
Age: 18

Jhon Duran just recently joined the Chicago Fire from Colombian side Envigado FC. The Colombian player arrived ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign, and has already turned heads with his fast-paced runs towards the box and a powerful frame. 

The player has managed three goals and three assists in just 14 appearances for the Fire, recently scoring twice against Toronto FC to inspire his side to the 2-0 victory.

Jack McGlynnJack McGlynn

Jack McGlynn is on the rise with the Philadelphia Union. / Ira L. Black – Corbis/GettyImages

Club: Philadelphia Union
Age: 19

He kicked off his career with the team’s academy, working himself up before playing for the USL Championship affiliate Union 2 in 2020. He finished the season with five goals in 14 games for the second team, turning heads. 

He signed a pre-homegrown player deal with Philadelphia in 2020 while with the affiliate squad, but joined the senior squad in 2021. He’s made 29 appearances with the Union since, featuring in MLS and Concacaf Champions League action.

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