22 Under 22

Expert predictions: Most upside, transfer potential on 2023’s 22 Under 22


Everyone has an opinion on the 2023 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list, including MLS Season Pass talent.

So, we gave them the floor to address three youth-centric questions:

  1. Who can garner the biggest transfer fee?
  2. Who has the most upside?
  3. Who has the brightest national team future?

Below is a selection from their responses, extending far beyond FC Dallas midfielder Alan Velasco in the No. 1 slot.

Who can garner the biggest transfer fee?

Facundo Farías was a common pick, another feather in the cap of Inter Miami CF's transformative summer transfer window.

"We all know the biggest transfer fees are usually at the forward position. And in 10 games (eight starts) Facundo Farías has three goals and two assists. He’s fast, a good finisher, makes great runs and can assist as well if one of his teammates is in a better position to score. Playing alongside Messi will bring a big spotlight into the Miami team, and I will not be surprised to see the young Argentine have a great season next year and have some European clubs looking after him." – Sébastien Le Toux

"When Facundo Farías has got top players around him, he clearly shines. If you are a club looking at his sell-on potential or developmental upside, you can rest assured knowing a step up in his career and more competition will bring a step up in his play. His style and profile should attract a tier of club willing to pay eight figures for his services." – Heath Pearce

"If not for an ACL tear suffered in 2022, Facundo Farías may have already made his big(ger)-money move. Now with the added spotlight of playing with Lionel Messi on Inter Miami, Farias’ immense talent will be on global display, and he’ll earn the move that seemed inevitable 18 months ago." – Jake Zivin

"Natural talent and a difference-maker with the ball in his feet. Playing alongside Messi has its benefits, and Facu can grow much more in a year or two and command a lot of attention from European leagues or even Saudi Arabia." – Tony Cherchi

Talles Magno's production has dipped in 2023, but there's no denying the New York City FC attacker has a bright future.

"The Brazilian’s already commanded an $8 million transfer fee, and while he’s had an up-and-down MLS career so far, I’m willing to chalk 100% of that up to City Football Group's misguided desire to turn him into a No. 9. Whenever he’s played as an actual winger off of a true No. 9 – the first half of last year with Taty Castellanos, and the past month with Mounsef Bakrar – he’s been freaking awesome. Plus Talles has two other things going in his favor: 1) he’s Brazilian (they sell for more on the world market), and 2) he’s got that CFG pedigree. NYCFC just sold two players for eight figures this summer. I bet Talles goes for that much next summer." – Matt Doyle

"He came to NYC with a big transfer fee because of his potential. He has been hindered by the fact he has played as a No. 9 at times and has not had a true No. 9, when played wide in the first part of the season, to benefit from his chance creation and to play off of. But he's been a big reason why NYCFC have had a good run towards the end of the season." – Miguel Gallardo

Will a second Chicago Fire FC homegrown goalkeeper go for big money? After Gaga Slonina went to Chelsea last winter, Chris Brady might be next.

"Chicago Fire already have a history of selling goalkeepers for eight-figure transfer fees. And it looks like they could command the same for their current netminder. Chris Brady continually keeps the Fire in games with enormous saves and has improved massively from his first game. This year has given him the development he needed." – Chris Wittyngham

"The Chicago Fire staff knew what they had in Chris Brady before they sold Gaga Slonina to Chelsea for up to $15 million. Brady has lived up to the expectations and more. At 19 years of age, and already averaging a clean sheet once every three games, he hasn’t even begun to reach his full potential. A call-up to the U-23 USMNT and potential spot on the 2024 Olympic roster looms, after not being allowed by his club to participate in the U-20 World Cup this past summer. With the market set on the previous sale of Slonina to Chelsea, it’s not unrealistic for the Fire to command even more money for Brady." – Jamie Watson

Who has the most upside?

Elite center-back prospects don't come around every day, but LA Galaxy homegrown Jalen Neal might fit the bill.

"I had the pleasure of being teammates with Jalen for the last two years of my career and the upside was evident. He got a lot of experience this season with the USMNT and LA Galaxy first team, which is usually hard to come by when you are a teenaged center back. We are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Jalen still needs to fill out a little bit to deal with the bigger, stronger center forwards of the world. But his vision, reading and passing from the back can be world-class. I can see him playing for a very big European club one day." – Sacha Kljestan

"Center backs with his combination of physical, technical and tactical gifts don’t come around all that often. Now the Galaxy have to do their job and turn him into a monster." – Matt Doyle

"LA coach Greg Vanney summed it up well: 'He’s got all of the physical and technical tools, but it’s what’s between the ears that will separate him from others.' His passing range, comfort on the ball and defensive aerial presence give him the biggest upside for me. Still mostly raw materials, but something incredibly special could come of it. Wish we got to see how he stacked up at the U-20 World Cup as it would have been an even better indicator of his potential versus his peers." – Heath Pearce

Benjamin Cremaschi has burst onto the scene in 2023 for Inter Miami. The homegrown midfielder narrowly missed out on the top 22u22 spot.

"Since Messi's arrival, Cremaschi has shown he's willing to listen and adapt his game – showing his ability to grow in a short amount of time. He's good in between spaces, good on the dribble and his final-third passes have improved. Also, his confidence has shown he will be a young player that has a big resale value." – Kaylyn Kyle

"The 18-year-old already had an amazing first season with Inter Miami. He has the confidence of his coach Tata Martino and got called up to the US senior national team a few weeks ago. What will make his level go even higher is the chance to play and learn every day alongside world-class players like Messi, Busquets and Alba. If he keeps working hard, let’s see where he goes." – Sébastien Le Toux

In his second Atlanta United season, Caleb Wiley has emerged as one of North America's better fullback prospects.

"The true definition of the modern-day outside back. Extremely capable 1-v-1 defensively, but he spends most of his time in the attacking half of the field pinning back the opposing team's outside midfielders. He has the aerobic capacity to get up and down the line for 90 minutes. He has also added goalscoring to his game this season. The USMNT have a need for their future left back, and Wiley has all the tools to make that position his for a long time." – Jamie Watson

"Only 18 but another player who has quickly adjusted to the demands of first-team football. Originally introduced to the first-team football on the left wing even though a natural fullback, he’s now playing with huge confidence in the left back position. A recent USMNT call-up was well deserved and the fact he’s defensively strong while being great in attack and left-footed gives him a great upside. High-quality left backs are few and far between right now." – Danny Higginbotham

This year's No. 1 overall pick, FC Dallas midfielder Alan Velasco is far away from his ceiling.

"Checks all the boxes in terms of talent and athleticism with the ability to play with both feet and offensively reads the game at a high level. The 21-year-old has shown moments of brilliance throughout his career and he's had moments where he plays at another level. It makes you wonder what other level he can go to." – Greg Sutton

Who has the brightest national team future?

England or the United States? It's a key question around Noel Buck, the New England Revolution's star homegrown midfielder.

"He’s the best No. 8 prospect the US has produced since Weston McKennie (bear in mind we recruited Yunus Musah, we didn’t produce him), and is a level above Benja Cremaschi in terms of receiving the ball in traffic and completing significant passes through central midfield. I don’t think he’ll be good enough to crack England’s full national team set-up any time soon, but if he picks the US, I could very easily see him playing his way into the 2026 World Cup squad." – Matt Doyle

"He is so advanced in so many aspects of his game that we are already focusing on small details of his play that, if developed further, will push him from being a good two-way midfielder to being a top one." – Heath Pearce

"One of the best young midfielders in the league. Buck's passing range, vision off the ball and ability to dictate the tempo of the game at a young age – also his quality in the final third with passing – is what the USMNT needs." – Kaylyn Kyle

"Buck is so advanced physically and technically for his age; I'm confident he will hit every target in his development. Even though he has been called for the England Under-19 national team, he is the most established US-born under-22 player in MLS. It's not only his stats on balls recovered and key passes, but his maturity and the consistency to perform in one of the most challenging positions on the field that impress the most at his young age." – Jaime Macias

Jack McGlynn is part of a top-tier Eastern Conference squad, growing in strength by strength with each passing season.

"Only 20 years of age but plays like a 28-year-old. The ability to control a game from midfield and one of the best left foots in MLS makes McGlynn a player the USMNT could rely on for years to come. When it comes to knowing when to slow the game down and when to speed it up, he is one of the best at such a young age and would complement the current USMNT roster. The Republic of Ireland are also keeping an eye on him, and rightly so." – Danny Higginbotham

"I think he’s a player that the US needs. This season he won a starting position with the Philadelphia Union and what makes him special is his ability to find the perfect pass to his forwards that will make a difference. He played in every youth US national team and just got called up into the U-23s. I will not be surprised if he continues to progress and brings his vision and skills to the senior team." – Sébastien Le Toux

John Tolkin already has some USMNT experience. Does more await the New York Red Bulls' homegrown left back?

"Tolkin has shown the willingness to play in different styles and wants to learn abroad. A natural left-footer who is all action in the press and growing on both sides of the ball is exactly what’s been needed at left back for the US for a while. That position can’t fall apart with one injury to Antonee Robinson, and Tolkin can be an answer." – Chris Wittyngham

"John Tolkin gets a bump because of the position he plays – the USMNT left back pool isn’t especially deep. Tolkin is technical, confident and fearless. He has a wonderful left foot. It’s Antonee Robinson’s job, but 'next up' is up for grabs right now. Note: this could be Caleb Wiley, but Tolkin gets the nod for now." – Jake Zivin

"He has great vision and an engine to get forward and deliver quality into the box. The Red Bulls have struggled in attack, but he's been arguably their best player. I don’t think the left back position is deep in the USMNT. He has a relentless attitude and a swagger that can complement his ability." – Miguel Gallardo

Aidan Morris has leveled up massively in 2023 for the Columbus Crew.

"A central midfielder with great ability to recover the ball, but also the vision to play forward and score from outside. Morris has been key within Wilfred Nancy’s system in Columbus." – Tony Cherchi