Week one of Major League Soccer is in the books. We saw some surprisingly lopsided score lines, a few impressive performances by established stars, and some quality shifts put in by some American youngsters. In keeping with the “play your (American) kids” hashtag that we see often floating around Twitter, let’s look at some of the biggest young domestic talents who saw the field in week one.
Starting out east, let’s look at a pair of Philadelphia Union youngsters who made their Major League Soccer debut’s this past weekend. Jim Curtin started 19-year-old center back Auston Trusty and 18-year-old attacking midfielder Anthony Fontana against the New England Revolution. Overall, both players represented themselves extremely well. Fontana scored the Union’s first goal of the season and looked comfortable on the ball and capable of creating chances. Only 18, Fontana was muscled off the ball more often than Union fans would like to see, but given time, the physical development will come. Trusty was constantly sniffing out counter attacks and showed off his defensive ability in this game. Blazing fast and 6’3” tall, AT has great size for a center back. While not objectively bad, one area where Trusty’s game could use some improvement is passing out of the back. Still, props to Jim Curtin and the Union for giving these Anthony Fontana and Auston Trusty a run out in week one; they did not disappoint.
Out in Dallas, we saw a matchup of two young American defenders: Reggie Cannon and Justen Glad. Cannon started at right back for FC Dallas and played an average game. He was dangerous up and down the right flank providing speed and width in the attack, but looked somewhat suspect in his defensive positioning (a common issue with young right backs). Cannon’s biggest mistake? Allowing Joao Plata to cut in front of him and calmly slot the ball into the back of the net. On the other side of the field, USMNT January Camp call-up Justen Glad started at center back for Real Salt Lake. Glad looked like the best defender on either team. He was calm and composed on the ball, quick to eliminate dangerous Dallas attacks, and dominant in the air. This guy should have started for the U.S. in January and absolutely deserves a look for the MNT’s March friendly against Paraguay.
Moving back out east, United States Men’s National Team fans rejoiced as Chris Durkin got his first ever minutes for D.C. United with a 17 minute cameo in D.C.’s 1-1 draw against Orlando City. Honesty, Durkin did not do much of anything noteworthy. He was tasked with helping to depend D.C.’s lead (which they were not able to maintain, through no fault of Durkin’s) and play simple, low-risk passes, which he did. In that sense, the 18-year-old defensive midfielder did quite well.
Finally, in the last game of the weekend, the Los Angeles Galaxy took on Portland Timbers and 19-year-old American left back Marco Farfan. Farfan, who started and played all 90 minutes, performed admirably, despite being tasked with defending Roman Alessandrini for much of the night. He made several key tackles in the Timbers’ defensive third (a couple of which likely would have been costly fouls under most officials), played the ball comfortably out of the back, and provided width in the attack. It is safe to say that Marco Farfan has earned himself another start.