Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez have been named to USL’s 20 Under 20 list by the league’s Technical Committee. The list of players from both USL Championship and USL League One was released earlier this week, but we now know where both Tacoma players featured landed in the rankings. The two players aren’t a surprise to see on this list, having earned repeated calls to the US U-17 team on the way to the World Cup, being signed to first team contracts and looking the part when given the opportunity, and making important, consistent contributions to Tacoma Defiance along the way. They’re the best-known names, and we’d all expect them to be featured here.
The first of the two players to have his spot revealed was AOC, coming in at No. 17. He put his name on the 20-player list with his contributions to the US U-17 team and his impressive attacking numbers. Goals at the USL level have been a somewhat recent addition for him, as he’s notched five goals and one assist since July, but his distribution has been excellent all season long. He’s averaging an 83.6% passing accuracy, and that number only drops to 80.6% when he moves into the opponent’s half. Those passing numbers have led the way to 12 key passes, and are a significant part of AOC’s success both as a striker and as a wide attacker. With his recent run of form, it would be reasonable to expect him to be a bit higher up this list, but such is the nature of this kind of list.
Danny Leyva, the young man robbed of a glorious goal in his first MLS appearance, jumped onto the list at No. 8. Leyva’s spent a little less time with Tacoma Defiance than AOC, having only made 11 appearances with the USL team. The limited playing time can partly be pinned on Leyva’s consistent presence with the US U-17 team, helping them earn a spot at the U-17 World Cup in October and stamping his name on the Best XI for the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. In addition to missing time with the national team, Leyva has also spent a significant amount of time with the Sounders first team. The 16-year-old has made six appearances with the Sounders, four of them being starts, and has hardly looked out of his depth at the MLS level. He’s pretty consistently shown that quality in his time with Tacoma, acting as a leader on the field beyond his years. As with AOC, he’s likely headed to the U-17 World Cup with the US later this month, and his future is probably with the first team in the near future, so enjoy the time we get to see him playing with Defiance.
The full 20 Under 20 list is available here as each spot is announced. Were there any other Defiance players that you think should have made it? Did Leyva and AOC deserve to be higher? How do you feel about USL Championship players and USL League 1 players both being featured?