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Charleston Battery’s Fidel Barajas named to The Guardian’s Next Generation 2023

By Staff, 10/11/23, 9:15AM EDT


Mexico U-17 international picked as one of 60 top young talents from around the world ahead of FIFA U-17 World Cup in November

The Charleston Battery's Fidel Barajas has been named to The Guardian's Next Generation 2023 list, one of 60 top young talents from around the global game selected. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery

Add another accolade to the growing resume of the Charleston Battery’s Fidel Barajas.

The Mexico U-17 international was named on Wednesday to The Guardian’s Next Generation 2023 list, a collection of 60 the top young talents around the world tipped to become future stars in the global game.

Barajas is the first active player from the USL Championship to be named to the list, which is now in its 10th year. This year the California native has produced eye-catching performances for both the Battery in the Championship and for Mexico’s U-17 Men’s National Team, for which he recorded three goals and five assists in helping lead the side to the title at the Concacaf U-17 Championship in February.

Barajas has also recorded four goals and nine assists in the Championship this season, sitting third in the league in the latter category, while helping the Battery surge to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference in his first full season at the club. He is currently in camp with Mexico’s U-17 squad in Argentina preparing for the FIFA U-17 World Cup and is set to return to Charleston ahead of the club’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal to open the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs on Sunday, October 22 at 4 p.m. ET at Patriots Point.

A native of Sacramento, Calif., Barajas joined the professional ranks with the Battery late in the 2022 USL Championship season having previously been part of the San Jose Earthquakes Academy system. He is among a growing number of players who have elected to turn pro in the USL Championship in recent years, following the likes of 2021 USL Championship Young Player of the Year Jonathan Gomez (Louisville City FC) and former Orange County SC standout Kobi Henry (Orange County SC), both of whom subsequently earned their first senior United States Men’s National Team call-ups and major transfer moves to Europe after starring in the USL Championship.

The Guardian’s Next Generation List has previously featured players who have gone on to become top players in North America and around the world, including those whose pathways began in the USL Championship such as Canada’s Alphonso Davies and the United States’ Gianluca Busio. It has also served as a launching point for others including current U.S. internationals Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna and Mexico’s Diego Lainez.

Barajas is joined in this year’s list by fellow Mexico U-17 international Gael Álvarez of Pachuca, and United States U-17s duo Diego Kochen of FC Barcelona and Cruz Medina of the San Jose Earthquakes.

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