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Top 20 United States Prospects Born in 2005

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June 2024
The 2005 class isn't deep and it lacks star power, but there are players that are moving through the U.S. system quickly and successfully who look like they could become senior team contributors at some point. 

This class has a big 2024 and 2025 ahead of them as the senior class that will lead the next U20 cycle. They'll have a chance to make the mark at the Concacaf Championships this summer, and if they qualify, the U20 World Cup in Chile next year.
Esmir Bajraktarevic, U.S. U23 winger/attacking-midfielder for New England Revolution

2005 Class at a Glance

C-
Class Grade
DM/CM
Positional Strengths
GK/LB/AM
Positional Weaknesses


#1 | WING, Esmir Bajraktarevic, New England Revolution (↑5)

Other Citizenship: Bosnia
Last International Cap: USA U-23
Prospect Tier: High 2
Esmir Bajraktarevic jumps up to the number one spot in my latest rankings. Bajraktarevic’s combination of technical ability, creativity and confidence as an attacker make him a compelling prospect for the future.

He has gotten off to a slowish start for New England in league play this year, but that may be more of a product of a struggling club. He recently had his best performance of the year,scored his first career league goal and had a goal to pair with three assists in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

USSF clearly values him and sees him as a potential senior player in the future. He was the youngest player brought to January camp this year and he shined in his 30 minutes appearance off the bench. He has also looked mostly bright when playing for the U23 team and is one of two 2005 born players that have the opportunity to make the Olympic team.


#2 | CM, Benjamin Cremaschi, Inter Miami (No change)

Other Citizenship: Argentina
Last International Cap: USA U-23
Prospect Tier: High 2
Benja Cremaschi retains the number two spot for the second update in a row. Cremaschi is still a little rough around the edges, but his physicality, work rate and ability to make plays in the final third are enough to be excited about his future.

Cremaschi started the 2024 MLS Season injured, but has started to become more of a factor for a very deep Inter Miami team. His speed of play and tactical intelligence will certainly continue to improve after training and playing with some of the smartest the sport has seen over the last twenty years. 

Cremaschi already has a senior USMNT cap and is a tailor-made box to box midfielder for Gregg Berhalter’s 4-3-3 pressing/possession based system.


#3 | CM, Noel Buck, New England Revolution (↓2)

Other Citizenship: England, Wales
Last International Cap: England U-20
Prospect Tier: High 2
Buck burst onto the scene last season and was looking like a real ascending talent. That talent hasn’t gone anywhere, but his inability to win over new manager Caleb Porter is a little bit of a cause for concern. His confidence seems to have taken a hit when he has been given an opportunity. It will be interesting to see if New England deals him this summer given they don’t seem to have a place for him in their rotation and there has been interest from Europe in the past. His market value has certainly taken a hit due to his lack of impact this year, but being an England Youth International does help. 


#4 | RB, Reed Baker-Whiting, Seattle Sounders (↓1)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: High 2
Whenever Reed Baker-Whiting has received minutes for Seattle Sounders in MLS he has looked the part. He struggled with injuries down the stretch of last season and that also impacted the beginning of this season. He has started to get regular minutes off of the bench and he has looked good. His ability to play with both feet and his one on one defense have really stood out and I think he has the physical profile needed to play full-back at a high level. 
Obed Vargas, USYNT defensive-midfielder from Seattle Sounders


#5 | DM/CM, Obed Vargas, Seattle Sounders (↑3)

Other Citizenship: Mexico
Last International Cap: USA U-23
Prospect Tier: High 2
Vargas is having the most success of any player in the 2005 class. He has become a consistent starter for Seattle this year and is playing at a very solid level. This speaks to the maturity of his game and his ability to add value in different ways. I still have some questions about his ceiling, but I am starting to have a little more belief that he can play at a high level. 

Vargas was selected to the latest U.S. U20 team but turned it down in favor of focusing on his play with Seattle. He mentioned that he was aiming for the U23 team, but it’s not looking likely that he will be selected, unless a few defensive midfielders in front of him are not released. It’s likely that we may not see Vargas back in a USA shirt until he pushes for a senior spot or perhaps the next Olympic cycle.


#4 | CM/AM, Niko Tsakiris, San Jose Earthquakes (↓2)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-20
Prospect Tier: High 2
Tsakiris, like Vargas was a key part of the last U20 cycle, but unlike Vargas he appears to be open to playing with this age group again as he joins  his first U20 camp of this cycle. If released for the U20 Concacaf Championship, Tsakiris should be a key player for the group. 

I thought Tsakiris would be a locked in starter by now, as well as a pivotal contributor. While he is playing consistently, and he does look competent, he's started both seasons with an injury. Those injuries, and San Jose's struggles, have caused a plateau in his ability and growth. I still believe that Tsakiris has a bright future in MLS and potentially in Europe, but he needs to stay healthy and start to produce more impactful moments, more consistently for San Jose.  


#7 | RB, Leo Duru, Blackburn Rovers (New addition)

Other Citizenship: England, Nigeria
Last International Cap: N/A
Prospect Tier: High 2
Duru makes this list for the first time, not because he wasn’t deserving in the past, but because I had never been able to study him in great detail until recently. I really liked what I saw. Duru has exceptional pace and a relentless attacking mindset, playing more as a wing-back than a true full-back. I am shocked he has not yet been called into a USYNT camp. From my research, he hasn’t been called into any youth national team camp for any country he is eligible to represent. I can’t imagine that continues for much longer. 

Duru made the first team bench four times for Blackburn in EFL Championship league play, but has yet to make his first team debut. It doesn’t look like Blackburn is overly strong at right-back on the first team, so his debut could be coming next season. Once that happens, expect the larger United States fanbase to get more interested in this player. 


#8 | W, Kristian Fletcher, D.C. United (↓1)

Other Citizenship: England
Last International Cap: USA U-20
Prospect Tier: 2
Fletcher continues to be a player that intrigues me. He has a unique combination of power, athleticism, final third potency and confidence, but he cannot seem to breakthrough at D.C. United. He went on loan last fall/winter to Swansea’s U21 team and absolutely lit it up. I was hoping that would lead to a breakout season in MLS this year, but that has not materialized so far. Their current tactics don’t suit him all that well and he hasn’t been given much of a chance to impact the team outside of five to ten minute cameos off of the bench. 

Fletcher will be a critical attacking piece to this U20 cycle and that will give him the opportunity to impress clubs outside of MLS.


#9 | CB, Josh Wynder, Benfica (↓4)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-20
Prospect Tier: 2
It wasn’t too long ago that Wynder looked like the most promising player from this age group. He was playing very well as a very young center-back in USL and signed a deal with Portuguese giants, Benfica. Unfortunately health has been a massive issue since moving to Benfica and he also struggled some at the U20 World Cup, raising questions about his ability in space. 

I still believe he has the potential to be a high quality center-back. He needs to get fit and get minutes with Benfica’s B team next year to get back on track.
Gavin Beavers, USYNT Goalkeeper for Real Salt Lake


#10 | GK, Gavin Beavers, Real Salt Lake (↑5)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Beavers is the only goalkeeper on this list and a rising prospect. He has started four matches in goal for Real Salt Lake and has looked more than ready to be a starting keeper in MLS, which is quite impressive for a 19 year old keeper. 

He isn’t the preferred choice for the U.S. U20 team at this time, that spot belongs to Diego Kochen from Barcelona. However, Beavers might get a chance to lead this team at the Concacaf Championship if Kochen is not released by Barcelona. This is a strong possibility considering that the first team preseason for Barcelona will be happening around the same time.


#11 | CB, Drew Murray, SC Freiburg (↑3)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Murray has all of the tools to be a high quality center-back. He has size, mobility, passing range and developing defensive instincts. My hesitation in having him higher on this list is that I have not had a chance to see him apply those skills enough at a high level of competition. It’s unclear how much and what level he is playing at for Freiburg and so I have really only seen him with the U.S. U20s and in MLS Next Pro, well over a year ago. Murray is likely to turn some heads at the U20 Concacaf Championship if released and he likely will be. 


#12 | W, Tarik Scott, FC Dallas (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Jamaica
Last International Cap: Jamaica U-19
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Scott is a player I have admired for a long time, but he wasn’t in the last edition because he was recovering from a season long leg injury and I hadn’t seen him play much beyond academy ball. That’s changed this year, he is off to a sizzling start in MLS Next Pro with six goals and one assist in their first 10 matches. He can play on both wings and as a striker and uses his blazing speed to great effect. He is eligible for both Jamaica and the United States; and has been in camp with both, more recently with Jamaica and it that looks like that it is going to be who he represents for the time being. 


#13 | CF, Rodrigo Neri, Valencia CF (↓4)

Other Citizenship: Venezuela, Spain
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Neri is another player that I wish I could see more when playing for his club, but Spanish academy film is hard to come by. Neri had a brilliant goal scoring record for the United States U19s in recent years, but was inconsistent at the PanAm games last year. It looks like he is currently sitting as the third choice center-forward for the U.S. U20s, behind Marcos Zambrano-Delgado and Keyrol Figueroa. I like his ceiling a little more than Zambrano, but he needs to start playing and producing against adults soon. 


#14 | DM/CM, Brooklyn Raines, Houston Dynamo (↓4)

Other Citizenship: Liberia
Last International Cap: USA U-23
Prospect Tier: High 3
I have been hoping that Raines will turn into a dynamic player for the last couple of years, but I am starting to wonder if that is in the cards. He has a very solid, box-to-box profile, but doesn’t do anything at an elite level. When he plays with a little more aggressiveness and confidence on the ball, there are reasons to get excited, but that doesn’t happen enough, and until it does, I am tempering my outlook. Raines should be a core player for the upcoming U20 Concacaf Championship and I would expect Houston to release him because he isn’t playing a ton for them right now.
Nolan Norris, USYNT Left-Back/Defensive-Mid for FC Dallas


#15 | LB/DM, Nolan Norris, FC Dallas (↑1)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: High 3
Nolan Norris is another solid player that lacks elite tools, but he can play a lot of positions and he has a nice left-foot — that’s a combination that will get you opportunities. He hasn’t solidified a key role with Dallas yet, only getting spot minutes when covering for unavailable players. On the USYNT side, he is looking like the starting left-back for the time being, but it will be interesting to see if that changes if/when Reed Baker-Whiting comes back to the group. 


#16 | CB, Santiago Suarez “Tiago”, New England Revolution (↑2)

Other Citizenship: Uruguay
Last International Cap: N/A
Prospect Tier: High 3
Tiago has a really interesting profile. He is about 6-5 and moves really well for a player his size. He is competent on the ball as well as in the build up and can be very disruptive defensively. Curiously, New England played him primarily at right-back last year, which kind of made it a wasted year in my opinion. He is back to playing center-back this season and is looking good in MLS Next Pro, though the underlying metrics don’t love his output. Tiago has the profile of a player that may put it all together later in his development.


#17 | CF, Marcos Zambrano-Delgado, Vitória Guimarães (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Ecuador
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: High 3
Zambrano-Delgado is an interesting evaluation for me. Last season when he was for Benfica’s U-23 team, he looked a little too small and slow to play at a high level, but he looked more physical in the last U-20 set of friendlies and I thought he thoroughly outplayed Rodrigo Neri. He is now at Vitória Guimarães and it will be interesting to see if he can move through their pipeline. He has always been a very technical and intelligent striker with good instincts in the box. A highly effective cycle with the U.S. U-20s could see his stock rise. 


#18 | W, Luke Brennan, Atlanta United (↓5)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: N/A
Prospect Tier: High 3
Brennan is a player that I have really enjoyed watching over the last season and a half in MLS Next Pro. He is the kind of winger that I appreciate: direct, technical, brave and relentless in one on one situations. His final third decision making and precision need work, but I feel has the tools to contribute to Atlanta United right now in certain situations. 


#19 | AM, Tyler Pasnik, Nashville SC (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Scotland
Last International Cap: N/A
Prospect Tier: High 3
Pasnik is a former Ranger’s academy product that struggled to get playing time this past season after moving up to their second team. He has found a new home with Nashville’s second team, Huntsville SC. Pasnik is a Scottish-American with an excellent technical profile and good agility and quickness. He is a playmaker that does his best work in the central parts of the field. In just three games for Huntsville he has established himself as a very impactful player and looks well above the level. I would not be surprised if Nashville offered him a first team contract next season.


#20 | DM, Ethan Kohler, Werder Bremen (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Indonesia
Last International Cap: USA U-19
Prospect Tier: High 3
I’ve always been intrigued by Kohler’s game dating back to his academy days with the San Jose Earthquakes. He has a solid physical profile and does a lot of things well. He has played both defensive-midfield and center-back in the past and the United States have recently experimented with him at right-back where he also looked pretty good. That could be his long-term position if he doesn’t show enough tactical evolution as a defensive-mid. I am not sure Kohler has what it takes to get to the first team at Bremen, but he is getting good development in the meantime and a lower level league in Europe or an eventual return to MLS might be his path. 

Additional notes

I was not able to acquire film from the last six months on Bora Aydinlik, Luken Kesner, Chris Mbaï-Assem, Hudson Davis, David Voute, Charles Demarco, Carrington Jackson and James Edmondson therefore I do not feel comfortable adding them to the top 20 list. Serge Ngoma has barely played due to injury over the last 18 months.

Scouting Approach

How I approach scouting, grading and tiering youth prospects.

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