Who is Rodrigo Neri, the USMNT’s next big thing?
The Atlético Madrid youth forward is being touted as the finest talent to emerge in the USMNT set-up in many years after a stellar season.
Much has been made of the USMNT’s current golden generation under the guidance of Gregg Berhalter, with players such as Christian Pulisic, Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Gio Reyna and others giving rise to the belief that the USA could become a force on the world stage and go deep at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. However, one position that has often remained unfilled by a talent of the calibre of those players is centre-forward, where Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey previously reigned supreme.
Everything pointed to one of Ricardo Pepi, Haji Wright, Jesús Ferreira or Jordan Pefok being installed by Berhalter as a focal point for the team but the net has now been cast wider with a view to the build-up process for what will be the USA’s home World Cup in 2026, when they will co-host the tournament with Mexico and Canada.
Rodrigo Neri one to watch for World Cup 2026
One name that has emerged as a potential future star for the USMNT and a player who could finally fill the void as a reference point striker is 17-year-old Rodrigo Neri, who has caught the eye playing for the USA under-19s in recent friendlies against the likes of England and Norway, scoring twice against the Scandinavian side and adding another against England.
Born in Miami, Neri joined Atlético last summer from Alcorcón and managed 20 goals and 11 assists for Atlético’s under-17s, suggesting he will be fast-tracked through the ranks of the Liga side and possibly handed a debut under Diego Simeone in the next year or two. In the meantime, the USMNT set-up is increasingly convinced that Neri could play an important part at the national level before long and potentially establish himself on the global stage at the 2026 World Cup.
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