With the return of professional soccer in the MLS is Back Tournament, fans have seen the stars of today and tomorrow. We’ve witnessed the tremendous abilities of all these players, reveling in their unmatchable greatness. While it is fun to talk about the stars we know, let’s take an in-depth look into some of the younger players who have emerged in the soccer scene.
The first and probably the hottest name in the MLS right now is Brenden Aaronson from the Philadelphia Union. The young midfielder has been an integral part of his team’s midfield core, starting in five matches while providing a goal and two assists. At the age of 19, Aaronson’s performances earned him recognition amongst European teams and have put him on the radar for a possible transfer move. Aaronson has proved his worth to the Philadelphia Union despite having only played for two professional seasons.
Aaronson has been involved with the team since he was 10. He played on their academy team and in 2019, he was signed by the club as a homegrown player. Philadelphia coach, Jim Curtin, has commented on Aaronson’s progression, saying that he is starting to learn the ability to perfect the “final ball,” which in soccer means that it is often the last pass to set up a teammate for a potential goal. As an attacking midfielder, it is his responsibility and Aaronson has the confidence, talent, and drive to rise to the challenge.
“I think it’s just been staying confident on the field and just doing what I know I can do best. And just having that thought process in every game, doing what I can for the team,” Aaronson said.
Philadelphia Union is set to compete in the tournament’s semifinals against Portland Timbers. That will be a big test for Aaronson’s ability. Can he find a way to lead his team to victory? It will be an intriguing match and one that should not be missed.
Apart from Aaronson, Toronto’s Ayo Akinola has also emerged as a rising star in the MLS is Back Tournament. The 20-year-old product of the Toronto Academy has shown glimpses of brilliance in his game. Filling in for star Jose Altidore can put a lot of pressure on a young athlete, but Akinola has been able to rise to the challenge by scoring five goals in the tournament and scoring a hat trick against their rival, Montreal Impact.
Other emerging young stars in the tournament are Mauricio Pineda and Frankie Amaya. Pineda is a young defender/midfielder for the Chicago Fire, who has shown excellent defensive skills and impressive ability with the ball. On the other hand, Amaya from FC Cincinnati is equally as impressive, scoring his first goal from a distance in the tournament. The 19-year-old midfielder was drafted first overall after spending a year at UCLA. His coach, Jaap Stam, has a lot of faith in his ability despite his young age.
Chris Mueller from Orlando City has also stood out in the Tournament. The 23-year-old has taken the tournament by storm, scoring four goals, including two against NYCFC in the group stages. In 2018, Mueller was also a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award. Now in his 3rd season, Mueller finally discovered his true potential under the guidance of new coach Oscar Pareja.
There have been many thrilling matches in the tournament thus far, with more to come with the semifinals and finals. Make sure to tune in for the remaining games and check out these young rising stars. The stars of tomorrow are starting to shine today!