There's no doubt that it's been a troubling time for the United States men's national team ever since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. But there is reason to be more hopeful now than ever before.
The quality of young players coming down the pipeline are better than any crop we've ever seen in the U.S., and some are already established players at major clubs. When you add players who haven't even suited up yet for the USMNT to a current group of guys like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, the future looks bright.
This team shouldn't have any trouble qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, and expectations could be much higher by the time the 2026 World Cup rolls around, especially if this crop of talent pans out.
But who, exactly, are the young guys to keep an eye on? Here are the top 10 prospects that have yet to appear for the senior USMNT "A" team but figure to before long.
1. Gio Reyna, CM
I'm not overstating this, Reyna could be a potential superstar at center midfield. That's how good he is. He's the most talented American player I've ever seen. He's so technically savvy on the ball and has the vision of a young Pablo Aimar. If you want to know just what that means, consider the fact that Lionel Messi idolized Aimar. Here's more on him.
2. Chris Richards, CB
What a talent. He kind of came out of nowhere and is now a Bundesliga champ. Strong in the air, confident on the ball and wise beyond his years. Richards has the potential to be the best American defender we've seen. He debuted for Bayern Munich last month.
3. Chris Gloster, LB
I love this kid. He's got a fantastic work ethic, is at an important position and plays smart. He knows how to get the ball forward into dangerous positions but has to improve technically. PSV has a good one here, I think.
4. Richie Ledezma, CM
He'll play for PSV's first team before long. Another player who might have trouble early on getting minutes with the USMNT due to those ahead of him, he is versatile and a rising prospect. Expect Mexico to continue to push hard for him though, and his USA chances may be limited.
5. Alex Mendez, CM
Mendez has some versatility in the middle or out on the left, and he's at a fantastic club to develop like Ajax. He is creative, quick and knows how to change a game with just one touch. The only concern early on is how many looks he will get in a loaded USMNT midfield.
6. Ulysses Llanez*, FWD
Llanez has yet to play for the Wolfsburg first team, but he has starred for their reserve team. The former LA Galaxy talent is a clinical player with as high of a ceiling any attacker in the pool. His versatility to play both wings is huge.
7. Konrad de la Fuente, Winger
If you are a teenage American at Barcelona, it speaks volumes. So does that club extending your contract. De La Fuente is quite the talented player whose expectations are higher at a club like Barca. But he's creative, quick and confident on the ball. I just wonder if he has any future with Barca's first team.
8. Bryang Kayo, CM
This kid is going places. He's got European potential and D.C. United just let him slip away. I'm hearing he is growing at a rapid pace with both size (now at 6'1) and ability, and I won't be shocked to see him explode before long. He's one to watch. Hearing his striking technique is exceeding expectations.
9. Chris Durkin, Mid
Durkin is a ball winner who knows how to transition his team to attack quickly. He's a fine passer and overcomes average speed by getting rid of the ball quickly and positioning himself well. Improving a bit since his move to Europe.
10. Taylor Booth, Mid
Bayern Munich II
Has dealt with injuries, but the potential is there. Another player in a loaded position that could benefit from some extra minutes after just 18 total appearances this season. He can command a game, knows how to hold on to the ball until the right moment and has a bright future if he can stay healthy.
*Llanez has technically appeared for the United States once on the senior level in a friendly, but here I'm considering appearances with the "A" team.
Honorable mentions: Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Owen Otasowie (Wolves), Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy II), Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa), Christian Cappis (Hobro), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas)