MLS analysis

Wiley, McGuire, & Bassett top MLS YNT report, Crew extend Nancy, RBNY injuries mount

ASN's Brian Sciaretta offers up his thoughts on the MLS weekend including a detailed look at how top young Americans performed in his weekly YNT report. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 17, 2024
6:05 PM

WE ARE MIDWEEK and in MLS it is a hybrid time to both look back and look forward. Overall, it was a good weekend for teams including the LA Galaxy and Montreal while San Jose and Minnesota had rough times. But as always, we look at the MLS Youth Report with two important tournaments coming up for the U-20 and U-23 national teams.

But on top of that, there was a bunch of other news to break down and thoughts to offer. First, let’s start with a look at young American players in MLS.


MLS Youth Report

U.S. U-23 team

It terms of total numbers, it hasn’t been a groundbreaking start to the season for young Americans in the league, but the top U-23 players are doing well heading into the Olympics. With an 18 player roster for Paris 2024, competition is tight, much will be decided on form, and there are few players who can be considered locks.

Here are a few players who caught my eye over the past week.

Caleb Wiley: The Atlanta United left back hadn’t had a standout performance this season until Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Philadelphia when he scored and put-up big numbers. Wiley, 19, is in a very tight battle with John Tolkin for a spot on the Olympic team. With only 18 players on the roster, there might not be room for both as back-up players need to cover at several positions. Wiley needs to continue to show progress every year and he needs more outings like this for both him, Atlanta, and the U.S. U-23 team. If he keeps playing like this, Tolkin will need to respond.

Duncan McGuire
: The Orlando City forward has a very good habit of outplaying designated players. Orlando wasn’t expecting it, but he’s irreplaceable and after a 15-goal season in 2023, he’s still effective. Against DC United, McGuire came into the game in the 73rd minute with Orlando trailing 2-1. After an equalizer in the 82nd minute, McGuire scored in stoppage time. Part of it was a DC mistake playing such a high line, but McGuire showed how dangerous he is in the open field. He now has three goals in 419 MLS minutes (along with another goal in 112 CONCACAF Champions Cup minutes). He’s quickly put to rest any fears of a sophomore slump. He’s in good shape heading into the Olympics.

Cole Bassett
: The Colorado playmaker performing well for the Rapids, and he consistently has put up solid numbers for his hometown club. On Saturday, he scored his third of the season (and second in two games) in a 3-0 away win over a bad San Jose team. This was coming on the heels of his equalizer against Miami. Bassett is trying to make the U.S. Olympic team in a very competitive position, but his raising his game at the right time. If he keeps it up, a June call-up for the final Olympic camp could be in order for him to have another shot.

George Campbell
: The Montreal central defender had his best game of the season and one of the best games of his young career in a 2-1 win over Cincinnati. Central defense is thin on the U.S. U-23 team and it’s very possible 2/3 overage picks will go to central defenders. Still, they will need to bring one age-eligible player at that position. Campbell is in the mix, and performances like Saturday will help him. He was 4/4 in ground duels, 1/1 in aerials, 3/3 in tackles, committed no fouls, and had nine passes into the final third. He needs more outings like this, but this game helped his Olympic dreams and it helped Montreal continue to impress under its new coaching staff.

Nathan Harriel: The Philadelphia homegrown fullback is also starting off the season well and was good on the defensive end on Sunday as the Union traveled to Atlanta and came away with a point from a 2-2 draw. After a good March camp with the Olympic team, he’s also trending upward is a competitive spot. He’s probably not a starter, but he can contribute if needed at a few different positions.

Jack McGlynn: The Philadelphia central midfielder started off slowly against Atlanta but was one of the better players on the field in the second half. He hasn’t dominated a game, and that might not be in him. But this season it was important for him to add some consistency, and he’s done that. He’s been steady on a team that is consistently strong.

Aidan Morris: The Columbus central midfielder missed out on the club’s historic second leg against Tigres due to a suspension. As a result, he started in the game against Real Salt Lake but played with many backups as Wilfried Nancy rotated his squad heavily. Overall, he was good – again. He’s consistently good for the Crew and it is interesting to watch him heading into the big games ahead – for both club and country. He’s close to being a lock for the Olympic team.

Diego Luna: Started in the game against Columbus and was held in check for his 71 minutes. He had just 31 touches, 13 completed passes, and one shot. It hasn’t been a great start to the season for him and his Olympic chances become tricky.

Chris Brady: The U.S. U-23 goalkeeper is in an uphill climb to make the Olympic team but he had a cleansheet against the New York Red Bulls in a 0-0 draw. He made five saves, including three good ones.  The goalkeeping race to make the Olympic team is tight and Brady, Patrick Schulte, and Gaga Slonina are all doing well.

John Tolkin: It was a tough game for the Red Bulls in the 0-0 draw with Chicago as the Red Bulls suffered a first half red card. But Tolkin did his part to defend in a tough situation while also helping the Red Bulls have a decent attack – creating five scoring chances.


The U-20 team

The U.S. U-20 team continues to see a decent number of players earning minutes more than a year away from the 2025 World Cup. Of course, getting there is always tricky and the qualifying tournament will take place this summer.

Taha Habroune: The Columbus Crew central midfielder made his first start for the Crew in place of the resting Darlington Nagbe. The Crew have big plans for the recent U.S. U-17 World Cup midfielder, and it was a good first step for him – completing 22/25 passing, creating a pair of scoring opportunities, and handling his own physically. The U.S. U-20 midfield is competitive but Habroune is in the mix.

Kristian Fletcher: The DC United attacker earned the starting against Orlando but struggled before being pulled at halftime. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

Noah Cobb: The Atlanta United central defender made his fourth start of the year for the five stripes in the 2-2 draw with Philadelphia. It wasn’t always smooth and he had some rocky moments (one bad turnover and tough numbers on duels) – but also some good moments too. He’s not a lock to make the U-20 team this summer, but he’s getting great chances in Atlanta to play in meaningful games and showcase himself well.

Obed Vargas: The Seattle central midfielder is still in the mix for the Olympic team, but he’s most likely a U-20 player for this cycle. He played 89 minutes in Seattle’s 0-0 away draw at FC Dallas. He can potentially be the U-20 captain this cycle. It was probably his best game of the season for his work on the ball and in defense.

Benja Cremaschi: The Miami homegrown came into the game in the 67th minute with his team even 2-2 away at Kansas City. Miami later found a winner and while Cremaschi wasn’t part of the winning goal, he still looked promising for a player who missed the first four months of 2024 with an injury.

Esmir Bajraktarevic: The talented winger played the final 28 minutes of New England’s 2-0 loss away to NYCFC. It continues to be a terrible season for the Revs. Bajraktarevic is playing regularly, although he’s not always starting. But it is certainly frustrating when he’s in a team that sits in last and struggles to get results.


Tough week for RBNY


The New York Red Bulls have had a nice start to the season, but this week has been extremely difficult on the club’s homegrown front as it involves surgery on three significant local players.

Peter Stroud earned the starting central midfield job and had a very good start to the season. The Chester, NJ native was a big reason for the club’s early success. But he picked up a major injury to his ankle against Chicago and could miss the remainder of the season following Tuesday’s surgery. The Olympics were never in play for him given his newness to the pro game, but if the games were in 2025, he’d be in the mix. This is a big loss for RBNY and fellow homegrown Daniel Edelman will likely return to the XI.


Serge Ngoma latest injury is very concerning since he underwent knee surgery this week and could also moss the remainder of the season. The problem for Ngoma, who is U-20 eligible, is that he simply cannot stay healthy. Since he made the RBNY first team, it has been one injury after another.

Roald Mitchell made two first team appearances with RBNY but had eight goals in five appearances with the second team in 2024. He picked up a knee injury and is slated for surgery which could end his season.

RBNY should withstand these significant blows, but everyone else must stay healthy. As for the players, serious injuries likes these always make things concerning. For Ngoma, it’s even worse given the repeated nature of injuries – which are often different.


Nancy gets contract extension


In what was a no brainer of a move, Columbus signed Wilfried Nancy to a contract extension. The France-born Nancy has been the best coach in the league in recent years and is seeing his stock soar.


Nancy will probably want to explore different opportunities down the road, but he’s in a good place and the Crew are much better with him. This will keep Columbus at or near the top of the league in terms of quality.


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