Top 25 U.S. U-21 prospects

Terrence Boyd leads America's next group of potential USMNT contributors

Originally Published: October 16, 2012
By Brent Latham | ESPN Insider
U.S. U-21 Soccer ranks IllustrationThe future looks bright for the U.S. with prospects like Terrence Boyd (left) and Luis Gil (right).

Putting together a ranking of young, unproven prospects is never going to be an easy -- or unanimous -- undertaking. By definition, prospects are players who have yet to reach their full potential.

Determining the ceiling of that potential is a task at which even the highest-paid scouts and coaches frequently fail. In the U.S., in this day and age, the task is complicated further by a youth talent pool spread widely across the continents, as well as several age groups and divisions.

But none of that will stop us here at Insider from bringing you our first-ever American youth rankings of the Top 25 under-21 players. The main criterion is simple: Players with a birth date in 1991 or more recent are eligible. Twenty-one marks an age at which youth players generally should have completed the transition to the professional game. The ranking is based on our perception of the current potential of the player to make an impact for club and country, more than current status or past achievement.

The omission of youth national team regulars like Gale Agbossoumonde and Greg Garza is evidence that this is no easy team to make. While those players excelled in youth World Cups in recent years, and have been pros for several seasons, there's no room for them in this elite group. In fact, they are two of five notable prospects who just missed the cut.

Like the careers of youth prospects, this ranking is fluid, as the status of young players at their clubs changes constantly. Expect some shake-ups in future rankings in the coming months.

Here are the Top 25 U-21 U.S. prospects:

Terrence Boyd
AGE: 21
DOB: 2/16/91
CLUB (COUNTRY) Rapid Vienna (Austria)

No young American has seen his stock climb as quickly over the past year as Boyd, who has gone from the fringes of the failed 2011 U-20 qualifying process to a regular in Jurgen Klinsmann's plans. That national team progress has come along with a club career suddenly in overdrive, as Boyd has gone on an Austrian and Europa League scoring spree in his first few professional matches with Rapid Vienna.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.