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Top 20 United States Prospects Born in 2006

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June 2024
At one point, the 2006 class was looked at as a rebound class after a couple of COVID impacted classes. Unfortunately, this class has hit some roadblocks and there are not a lot of guys establishing themselves as professionals yet. That does not mean that this class will not add value to the USMNT, but it might be time to temper expectations with this group. 

This class was the senior class at the last U17 World Cup , a team that performed above expectations and took eventual champions Germany down to the wire with a makeshift backline. Unlike the 2005 class, this class does have some legit star power up top, two players that may not be too far away from being first team players in Europe and subsequently, options for the USMNT. The even better news there is that they play two positions of great need. 

There is a little more depth to this class than the 2005 class, but overall the group lacks elite physical tools that may limit their long-term potential.  
Diego Kochen, USYNT goalkeeper for Barcelona

2006 Class at a Glance

Class Grade
Positional Strengths
Positional Weaknesses

1. GK, Diego Kochen, FC Barcelona (No change)

Other Citizenship: Spain, Peru
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: High 1
Kochen is a true blue-chip prospect and one of the top United States prospects overall. He looks every bit of a future starting goalkeeper for the USMNT if everything pans out. He spent last year as Barcelona’s third keeper, which is exciting, but he didn’t get a lot of match reps, and the hope is that changes next year. 

The United States has not yet been able to cap-tie him. He was injured for both the Concacaf U17 Championships and the U17 World Cup and I am hearing that he likely won’t get released for the U20 Concacaf Championships this summer. 

Kochen has a unique blend of athleticism, technical ability, intelligence and shot stopping ability. There is a very long way to go, but you could be looking at your starting United States goalkeeper for the 2030 World Cup. 

2. CB, Noahkai Banks, FC Augsburg (No change)

Other Citizenship: Germany
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: 1
Banks is another player that United States fans should be really excited about. He was a top performer for the United States at the last U17 World Cup and he is moving through FC Augburg’s player pathway quickly, already playing for their second team. It is not inconceivable that he goes out on loan next year to get some first team experience or even gets a debut with Augsburg. 

If he is able to establish a high level pro career in the next year or two, he could be a player that sneaks on to the 2026 World Cup team given the lack of high level center-back talent in the senior player pool.

3. CB, Matai Akinmboni, D.C. United (↑2)

Other Citizenship: Nigeria
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: High 2
Akinmboni is another player from this class that I believe has USMNT potential. He is a big-bodied, left-footed, ball-playing center-back that already has a decent amount of professional experience. Some worry a little bit about his mobility, but I think he has enough athleticism to play at a solid level and become a USMNT level center-back given the lack of depth in that group. Akinmboni will very likely be one of the starting center-backs for the upcoming U.S. U20 cycle.

4. WING, Fidel Barajas, Chivas (↑6)

Other Citizenship: Mexico
Last International Cap: Mexico U20
Prospect Tier: High 2
Barajas has really impressed me in his first season in MLS. I wondered if he had the physical profile to compete at a high level, and I think he is showing that he does. He has looked dangerous for Real Salt Lake and is the only player from this class that has a true role on an MLS first team. He is currently cap-tied to Mexico after competing with them at the last U17 World Cup, but my instinct is that he is open to a switch that likely will not happen until he has a senior team decision to make. I wouldn’t expect him to play for Mexico or the United States during this next U20 cycle. I believe he will continue to focus on his club career. 
CJ Olney, USYNT attacking-mid that plays for Philadelphia Union

5. AM/WING, CJ Olney, Philadelphia Union (↑1)

Other Citizenship: Italy
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: High 2
Olney has been lighting up MLS Next Pro for one and a half years now and it’s time to see him in MLS. I expect that will happen with all of the international tournaments starting up this summer and the amount of players that Philly stands to lose during that time. He finally got the USYNT call-up he deserved and from what I heard he played well for the U.S. U19s in South America this month. 

If Olney is able to translate some of the success he is having to MLS pretty quickly, I may have him too low on this list. He is a true playmaker of which the United States have very few in their pipeline. He is also a December birthday, so he is much younger than most of the players on this list. 

6. CF, Keyrol Figueroa, Liverpool (↓2)

Other Citizenship: Honduras
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: High 2
Figueroa is loaded with talent. He has explosive speed, can get sky high for headers and has an absolute rocket of a right foot. He is a little raw technically, but there is enough natural ability and goal scoring prowess to be excited about what he could become as a vertical striker. 

He will be moving up to the U21 level at Liverpool next year and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he can have at a pretty competitive level. He will also be in the center-forward mix for the upcoming U20 cycle for the United States. 

7. DM, Pedro Soma, UE Cornella (↓4)

Other Citizenship: Brazil
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: 2
Soma is one of the players from this class who has earned considerable first team minutes this season, albeit in the third tier of Spanish football. He drops a few spots for me mainly because I am a little worried how his physical profile is going to project. He’s got everything else you want in a holding midfielder and he is a wonderful young man, so I am still betting on him to pan out. He was reportedly excellent in the two U.S. U19 matches against Argentina and Uruguay recently and should be a key player for their midfield, especially with the news of Obed Vargas committing to Mexico. 

This was likely his last year at Cornella and he will likely be on the move this summer. Villareal have long been admirers and there are other Spanish clubs interested as well. 

8. WING, Cole Campbell, Borussia Dortmund (↑3)

Other Citizenship: Iceland
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: 2
Campbell filed a surprising one time switch earlier this year, away from Iceland to the United States. He then featured for the U19s in friendlies against England and Morocco, scoring a brace against England. Shortly after making that announcement, he also took off for Borussia Dortmund’s U19s, finishing the season with 11 goals and 13 assists across all competitions. Campbell should be a priority attacker for this upcoming U20 cycle and is likely to be a leader on the Dortmund U19 team next year. I would expect one more year in academy ball before he starts playing for a first team.

9. CM, Taha Habroune, Columbus Crew (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Morocco
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: 2
I am slowly becoming more of a believer in Taha Habroune. The Columbus Crew rate him very highly and gave him his MLS debut earlier this year. Habroune is a super intelligent and instinctual player that knows how to get involved in the final third. He needs to get stronger and become more of a duel winner, but he has a lot of interesting tools. It will be interesting to see if the departure of Aidan Morris will create more of an opportunity for him going forward. 
Matthew Corcoran, USYNT defensive-mid that plays for Birmingham Legion

10. DM, Matthew Corcoran, Birmingham Legion (↓2)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: United States U17
Prospect Tier: 2
Corcoran had an excellent U17 World Cup and was preparing for his final season in USL before moving to Europe before suffering a torn labrum. That has delayed the transfer process, but I would still expect him to be on the move at some point this year. It will really depend on his recovery process and timing. 

11. GK, Julian Eyestone, Brentford (↓2)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: 2
This is a big time projection ranking. Eyestone is an agile 6-6 with good feet and flashes of elite shot stopping ability, but he is still a little raw and inconsistent. He left FC Dallas last fall and played one season at Duke University, graduating from High School a year early. FC Dallas had a homegrown contract ready to go for him, but instead he decided to head to England. While I don’t believe that has been officially announced, my understanding is it has been done for a while. He has been selected to both U.S. U19 rosters in this cycle after getting passed over in the last U17 cycle. 

12. WING/AM, Dylan Borso, Chicago Fire (New addition)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: N/a
Prospect Tier: 2
Borso is a player that many may not know, but like Olney, he has looked very good in MLS Next Pro, albeit with much less sample size. He suffered an injury earlier this season, but he should be back soon. There are too many ways that Borso can pan out which is why I really like his outlook. He is very two-footed, effective in the final third, pacey and he is a pressing monster. He could end up at wing, attacking-mid or even full-back. He is currently committed to Wake Forest, but I’d be surprised if he ended up there. Keep an eye on this space. 

13. RB/WING, Bryce Jamison, Orange County SC (↑4)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: United States U17
Prospect Tier: 2
Jamison is a super athletic and hard working winger that I believe has a bright future as a right-back. His attacking skill set is still a little rough, but his work rate and disruption stand out and I think it is only a matter of time before he is moved back. He has played a little full-back for Orange County, but they still primarily play him on the wings. He has started to increase his output, scoring three goals in the last three matches. 

14. CF, Aidan Dausch, Coventry (New addition)

Other Citizenship: England
Last International Cap: Not Capped
Prospect Tier: Low 2
I have only seen highlights and one full match of Dausch, but I have seen enough to add him to the list. He is a technical striker that lacks elite physical traits. He does a great job of overloading the midfield and connecting play, and his movement and ability to finish in the final third stand out. It’s notable that Coventry started to give Dausch first team squad appearances and his debut towards the end of the year. Dausch is a newly known U.S. dual-national, so it will be interesting to see if he gets any attention from USSF.
Alejandro Granados, U.S. eligible center-midfielder that plays for Club Brugge

15. CM/DM, Alejandro Granados, Club Brugge (↑4)

Other Citizenship: Spain, Cuba
Last International Cap: Spain U17
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Granados struggled at the beginning of his move to Belgium, but he started to find his footing in the second half of the season. He is still getting caps for Spain’s Youth National Teams, but I don’t expect that to continue as he moves up the age ranks. He is a solid player, but the bar to be a Spain International is high. Granados still seems more than a season away from being ready to impact Club Brugge’s first team. He will need to take a big step forward next year to start knocking on that first team door. 

16. AM/WING, David Vazquez, Philadelphia Union (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Mexico
Last International Cap: United States U19
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Vazquez continues to impress in MLS Next Pro in his second season of duty in the reserve league. He just earned his first ever first team bench and is likely to debut this summer as many first team players are on International duty. I have questions about Vazquez’s athleticism, but his left-foot is incredibly dangerous and he is an intelligent and technical player. 

17. RB, Oscar Verhoeven, San Jose Earthquakes (↓4)

Other Citizenship: None
Last International Cap: United States U17
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Verhoeven continues to rack up minutes in MLS Next Pro and while I thought he might start to get first team opportunities, it looks like that may not happen until next season. Verhoeven continues to be a tenacious defender with the ability to join in attack. He has not yet been given an opportunity with the U.S. U-19/20s, but I would not count him out of the mix just yet. 

18. RB, Ajani Nixon, LAFC (↓3)

Other Citizenship: Jamaica
Last International Cap: United States U17
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Nixon has been a consistent starter for LAFC 2 in MLS Next Pro and  has looked pretty good. I continue to believe he is a homegrown level player or a player that should be looking to move to Europe, but it is looking likely that he will head to UCLA this fall. He could end up being a player that gets signed early in his college career. 

19. CF, Julian Placias, Westerlo (New addition)

Other Citizenship: Argentina
Last International Cap: Uncapped
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Placias is a big, hard working striker that always seems to find space in the final third. After a very good U-17 season for LA Galaxy, Placias signed with North Carolina FC in USL-C and has looked competent in that jump in level. Placias will move to Westerlo in Belgium in July and begin his European career. He’ll join Americans Bryan Reynolds and Griffin Yow with the hopes that Westerlo serves as a great European jumping off point just like it has for those other two players. Surprisingly, Placias has not? been given a look by U.S. Soccer.

20. WING, Olger Escobar, New England Revolution

Other Citizenship: Guatemala
Last International Cap: Guatemala U20
Prospect Tier: Low 2
Escobar is a player that I have admired for a long time, but he continues to slip in the rankings because he has not been able to find his footing outside of Academy soccer. He does not look like the same confident and creative player in MLS Next Pro and it’s difficult to understand why. I still believe in his talent and ability, but he needs to start producing in MLS Next Pro.

Additional Class Notes

List of United States eligible players from the 2006 class that I have not had the chance to scout or have not seen play in over a year include: CB, Ian Togo (Stoke City), CB, Pablo Cucci (Atletico Madrid), CM, Luis Moreno (El Paso), CF, Alex Woiski (Mallorca), CF, Cheik Kone (West Brom)

Scouting Approach

How I approach scouting, grading and tiering youth prospects.