Who are the best teenagers in MLS right now?
This question was submitted by Jonathan P.
Thanks for the question, Jonathan! One of my favorite things about watching far too much MLS on a weekly basis is getting to see young players emerge and grow. In 2022, there have been a number of teenagers who have done exactly that.
As far as a direct answer to your question goes, I think the best teenager in MLS this season has been Mamadou Fall. At just 19-year-old, Fall has been a regular starter for the best team in MLS in LAFC. He’s not just starting, either. He’s starring. According to American Soccer Analysis, Fall is second in the entire league in goals added (g+) this season. He’s adding value in every category, including with his defending, his passing, his dribbling, and his work in the box on set pieces.
If you have the chance, sit down and watching some Fall clips this week. Or sit down and watch an upcoming LAFC game and pay special attention to their teenage center back. He’s a phenomenal young player who won’t be in MLS for long.
Outside of Fall, three other teenagers have really impressed me in MLS this season: Gaga Slonina, Obed Vargas, and John Tolkin.
Slonina has struggled pretty badly over the last two months, but some of his early-season saves were excellent.
Holding down a starting goalkeeper job as a teenager while also deciding your international future? That’s impressive.
For the Seattle Sounders, Vargas has been a key part of replacing Joao Paulo in central midfield. Vargas, who subbed on for Paulo in the CCL Final, has been getting regular minutes for the Sounders as a 16-year-old. He’s not going to drop your jaw with any especially flashy skills, but he looks comfortable in Brian Schmetzer’s midfield – and that’s notable.
reminder Obed Vargas is 16 and casually doing this stuff https://t.co/dUSCDXbFms— Sanjay Sujanthakumar (@tha_Real_Kumar) April 3, 2022
Finally, Tolkin has been a positive presence on the left side of Gerhard Struber’s defense this season. Whether he’s playing as a left back or a left wingback, Tolkin is aggressive on the left side for the New York Red Bulls. Per ASA, he’s 18th out of 67 fullbacks/wingbacks who have played at least 500 minutes this season in g+ this season.
Let’s not forget his unbelievable flow, either. This is just amazing stuff.
John Tolkin Hair Appreciation Post 💈— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) April 16, 2022
As is tradition. pic.twitter.com/Q08PkbwKWd
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