Any time a 16-year-old player makes a professional debut, it makes news here on topdrawersoccer.com.
The latest came on Wednesday night, in a U.S. Open Cup match in San Antonio.
Midfielder Ethan Bryant, who signed an amateur contract at the start of the 2018 USL season, made his first appearance in the Third Round of the Open Cup. Having joined San Antonio via a partnership with his local club side Classics Elite.
Taking the field against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Bryant coped well with the demands place on him. He won a penalty in the first half that Rafa Castillo converted.
With the game deadlock 1-1 after 90 minutes, Bryant ended up playing the full 120 minutes, with San Antonio advancing on penalty kicks. His coach came away impressed.
"The boy's 16 years old,” San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell said after the game. “He comes out tonight and plays 120 minutes in his first professional game and he didn't look out of place at all."
His appearance underlies the crucial piece that lower division soccer teams can play in identifying and challenging young players around the country. Bryant, who appeared at a USYNT Futures Camp in 2015, is certain to be high on the radar of the USSF if he can continue to earn minutes with San Antonio.
The 16-year-old was far from the only prospect to make an impression during Wednesday’s Open Cup action. A trio of current college players secured an upset against a professional side, as FC Golden State Force defeated Las Vegas Lights by a 2-1 score.
UCLA’s Matt Powell and Erik Holt both started, with Holt slotting into defensive midfield. Tom Smart, a New Mexico defender, played the full 90 minutes. Cal State Fullerton forward Samuel Goni played on the left flank.
Next up for the PDL side? A fourth round matchup against the LA Galaxy.
Cannon fires first pro goal
Reggie Cannon is making the most of his chance.
The FC Dallas Homegrown signed with his hometown MLS franchise after spending the 2016 college season as a regular for UCLA.
However, his first season as a pro saw him play just one minute throughout the entire MLS league slate, leaving him with plenty to prove ahead of the 2018 campaign.
So far, so good.
Through the first 10 games of FCD’s season Cannon has played 872 of a possible 900 minutes. He capped off his strong form with his first professional goal last weekend, channeling his inner-Arjen Roben.
While FC Dallas went on to draw 2-2 against the Whitecaps, the 19-year-old right back continues to emerge as one of the top talents in the league. It’s a refreshing sight to see especially in the wake of his struggles to see minutes in 2017.
Langsdorf continues hot start
Last Friday’s clash between the Portland Timbers 2 and LA Galaxy II saw Portland hang seven goals on Los Dos.
Three of those came from Foster Langsdorf. A stellar player at the collegiate level and a key piece for Stanford’s three straight national title wins, Langsdorf’s enjoyed a hot start to his professional career with T2. While not the usual high-ceiling prospect heading to college, Langsdorf is a no-nonsense hard worker that is willing to do what it takes to get the ball in the net. He’s now up to five goals in nine USL Games after missing a chunk of the season to finish his degree at Stanford.
Also notable from that clash -- LA Galaxy II midfielder Efrain Alvarez is 15, and did this:
Alvarez now has six goals from his six appearances in the USL this season and continues to light things up for LA Galaxy II.
Durkin dazzles again
This column is in danger of simply becoming an update on how Chris Durking improves every week. The U.S. youth national team veteran helped D.C. United to a 3-1 win, as he continues to look sharp as the team's No. 6. Even more impressive is the edge that he's shown breaking up play centrally, while also featuring his signature distribution.