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USL 20 Under 20 – No. 11 through No. 15

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/28/16, 4:16PM EDT


A pair of U.S. youth internationals stand out as the countdown continues

The USL 20 Under 20 countdown continues with a pair of U.S. youth internationals, two young Canadian standouts, and a Cameroonian international who’s now in the Pacific Northwest.

Previously in the 20 Under 20 Series

Wednesday, July 27: No. 16 through No. 20 | No. 17 - Ryo Fujii, LA Galaxy II

15. Pierre Da Silva, Orlando City B

The U.S. U19 international was signed this preseason from Orlando’s Academy, and has quickly stepped his game up to the professional ranks to help OCB grow progressively stronger as its inaugural season has gone on. Da Silva leads Orlando with four assists and has also notched a pair of goals in 14 appearances this season to put the side in the conversation for a place in the playoffs. Scouting Report
If there’s a developmental blind spot in the U.S. in developing dangerous wingers, Pierre Da Silva is an answer to it. Over the last few years, Da Silva has grown into his own as a difficult-to-track wide player who can devastate defenses pinching in on the U.S. youth national team level. Think Angel Di Maria. When Orlando City scooped him up into their nascent USL side, he immediately became one of the cornerstones of their setup. Fast, capable on the ball and comfortable in one-on-one situations, Da Silva at least partially came of age in difficult national team matches against high-end talent. That should serve him well on the professional level.

14. Malik Johnson, Toronto FC II

After appearing as an Academy signing in TFC II’s inaugural season, the 18-year-old forward signed professionally with the side this January and has had a good rookie season so far. The former Canada U17 international’s speed and finishing has seen him score four goals in 15 appearances for the Young Reds, and his form earned a first appearance for Toronto’s MLS squad in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship in June. Scouting Report
The young Canadian scored one of the best goals in the USL in 2016, a scintillating solo effort where he dribbled the entire half of the field against FC Montreal’s defense. That moment showcased what makes the hybrid midfielder/forward an enticing prospect. Dangerous on the dribble, capable and unafraid of looking to create something positive, Johnson’s one of the most promising players in the Canadian system. The brilliant goals certainly earn Johnson the headlines, and if he can find the formula to dial up moments of magic on a regular basis, keep an eye on this dazzling 18-year-old.

13. Shaan Hundal, Toronto FC II

A second consecutive young Canadian on the list, Hundal also signed with Toronto FC II in January and has made solid contributions to the side with three goals and one assist in 20 appearances. The 17-year-old has been a consistent presence throughout the season for Toronto, with only Salvador Bernal and Brian James having made more appearances, and could take a big jump forward in 2017 with a full year under his belt. Scouting Report
Since being unearthed by the Canadian federation three years ago, Hundal has slowly matured into a forward who can change a game with his speed and agility. It’s no secret Hundal, now 17 and firmly in the Canadian youth national team mix, lists Sergio Aguero as one of his playing icons. At least in playing style he bears some similarity to the Manchester City luminary, all quickness and quality around the final third. He has three goals so far this year playing with mostly older players, and he’s gotten minutes as much for his ability to rope the players around him into the action as for his prowess in front of goal. Toronto FC, which has become known for bringing along quality forwards, has a good one on its hands.

12. Mark O’Ojong, Seattle Sounders FC 2

Already capped twice for Cameroon, the 19-year-old leads S2 in appearances this season, and is fourth in minutes played as he looks to make a quick transition to the club’s MLS squad. O’Ojong has shown a powerful engine, and came through in the clutch in S2’s most recent performance as his late goal earned a 1-0 win against Portland, and kept Seattle’s recent surge toward the playoff positions in motion. Scouting Report
Signed by S2 at the start of March, O’Ojong has bounced between S2 and a taste of the Development Academy, playing for Seattle’s U18s at the DA Playoffs. An athletic midfielder who can pop up to score the odd goal here and there, O’Ojong offers a physical and dynamic force capable of breaking up play as well as contributing to the attack. While looking raw at times and over reliant on his athleticism, O’Ojong has already made impressive strides since moving to the USL side earlier this season.

11. Coy Craft, OKC Energy FC

An FC Dallas Homegrown signing, Craft has been bright for Energy FC when sent on loan to the MLS club’s USL partner over the course of this season. A U.S. U20 international, Craft’s first professional goal was a stunning effort against Saint Louis FC earlier this season, and he has continued to shine with three goals and an assist in a little under 600 minutes of action in the USL this season. Scouting Report
Craft is a dynamic winger with pace to spare. He likes to take on defenders with a variety of moves and a quick change of pace. Craft is looking to hone his skills at the USL level while trying to break back into the FC Dallas squad, which is cluttered with talented players in the wide positions. Craft, 19 years old, also remains in the mix for the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team for the 2017 World Cup team, after helping the side claim the NTC Invitational earlier this month in Carson, Calif.

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