Russell Canouse (D.C. United). Wayne Rooney isn't the only reason for United's recent surge (tempered by a pair of losses in the last four days). It started winning when Canouse came back from a knee injury, going 4-0-1 in his first five starts. Another of the Pennsylvania (Lancaster) kids who moved to Europe when he was young (just 16). Decided to come home last summer after six seasons at Germany's Hoffenheim, the last on loan to Bochum. Would have captained the USA at the 2015 U-20 World Cup but was a late scratch with an ankle injury suffered in training. USMNT outlook: Lots of competition, unfortunately, in central midfield, where there's an (over)abundance of young talent: Weston McKennie, Wil Trapp, Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Marky Delgado and Adams.
Romain Gall (Malmo). Scoring goals consistently -- eight in 17 Swedish Allsvenskan games -- is going to get you noticed no matter what top-flight league you play in. The French-born Gall was a bust in MLS (Columbus Crew) but he is at 23 thriving in Sweden, where he moved to defending champion Malmo from Sundsvall over the summer. USMNT outlook: Gall can attack from both wings, positions where the USA can always use help.
Brendan Hines-Ike (Kortrijk). Another player who blossomed in Sweden, parlaying a strong showing at Orebro into a $750,000 move to Belgium's Kortrijk this summer -- a record transfer for both clubs. Named to the Jupiler Pro League team of the week for his play on Saturday against Sporting Charleroi on the road. A late bloomer who played four years of college soccer at Creighton and South Florida. Like Gall, he is 23. USMNT outlook: For now, still may be too far down the depth chart at center back, where those in the mix include Erik Palmer-Brown, whom he replaced at Kortrijk.
Aaron Long (NY Red Bulls). Makes the case why all MLS teams need second teams. Didn't play a minute in MLS in his first three seasons out of UC Riverside but was the USL Defender of the Year with the champion Red Bulls II in 2016 and has been a starter for the first team ever since. Anchors the best defense in MLS (26 goals allowed in 27 games) and started in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game. USMNT outlook: With only two MLS seasons under his belt, he's playing catch-up but is already older than all the capped center backs likely in the mix to be called in for the September friendlies -- Tim Parker, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, John Brooks and Palmer-Brown.
Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro). The fourth young player to make a name for himself in Scandinavia though at the smallest club. Born in Italy to Ghanaian
parents -- hence the comparisons to Mario Balotelli -- and raised in the Chicago area. Gave up a scholarship to play at Akron to sign at Las Palmas in Spain, where things didn't work out, but
he's a starter in his second season at Hobro, where he has already scored four goals in six games. Been part of the national youth team for a while but still only 20. USMNT outlook: Like Amon and Gall, Sabbi gives the USA a new look on the wings. With Kenny Saief likely out -- he just resumed training at Anderlecht -- at
least one of them should get a shot.
Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union). Hard to ignore Trusty, who just turned 20 and has played every minute of every game at center back for the surprise of MLS. New national team GM Earnie Stewart, the former Union sporting director, will certainly vouch for Trusty, one of four young Union academy products to play on first team in 2018. USMNT outlook: Like Cannon, Trusty is starting for the first time in MLS, so he may need to be patient. The U-23s and Olympic qualifying in a year or so may be the next step for Trusty, but if he continues to progress like he has this season, he'll overtake several players ahead of him on the depth chart at center back.