Top MLS draft pick Frankie Amaya loaned out to USL in bid to nail down U-20 roster spot

Less than two months into the 2019 MLS season, Frankie Amaya, the No. 1 pick in the SuperDraft, has returned home.

He came home for  FC Cincinnati's MLS match on Saturday at LAFC and made just his second appearance for the expansion team. It had been decided that he'd stay and be loaned out on a short-term basis to the USL Championship’s Orange County SC, not far from his hometown of Santa Ana.

At 18, the youngest player taken in the Super Draft, Amaya has played only 21 minutes in two appearances for FC Cincinnati. His lack of playing time isn't unusual. While more and more teenagers are getting playing time, most are academy products like first-year players Edwin Cerrillo with FC Dallas and Brenden Aaronson at Philadelphia.

Amaya was one of just six rookies out of college to play last weekend. Half of the top 10 picks in the 2019 SuperDraft have yet to play in MLS, leaving their only chance for playing time with loan moves to USL teams, like Amaya is on now.

MLS rookie collegiate products in action (Week 7)
Chicago: Jeremiah Gutjahr, Indiana (Homegrown), 90 minutes
Colorado: Andre Shinyashiki, Denver (SuperDraft), 23 minutes
FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya, UCLA (SuperDraft), 7 minutes
D.C. United: Donovan Pines, Maryland (Homegrown), 90 minutes
New England: Tajon Buchanan, Syracuse (SuperDraft), 18 minutes
Orlando City: Kamal Miller, Syracuse (SuperDraft), 90 min

Amaya, who played one season at UCLA after starring for Pateadores in Orange County, is in a unique situation, though. He started for the USA in the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship in its 2-0 win over Mexico but needs playing time if he is to make the final U.S. squad for the 2019 U-20 World Cup, which begins May 23 in Poland.



The 2019 U-20s are the deepest team head coach Tab Ramos has ever had. The team he had in qualifying didn't include the likes of midfielders Richie Ledezma, who was signed by Dutch club PSV in December and has just begun playing for its U-19 team after a long injury layoff, Chris Durkin, who started in D.C. United's 3-2 win at Colorado on Saturday, or even Cerrillo and Aaronson, who are regular starters in their first MLS seasons.

FC Cincinnati technical director Luke Sassano said Amaya's loan move was designed to accelerate his development and get him ready for the U-20 World Cup and for the summer when FC Cincinnati's depth will be tested.

“We’ve been very pleased with how Frankie has not only performed the pitch," said Sassano, "but also how he has adapted to being in a professional environment this season. We believe this move aligns with everyone’s best interests in both the immediate and long-term futures.”

Amaya told the Cincinnati Enquirer after the LAFC game that the loan was the best thing for him.

"I think it's a good moment for me," he said. "It's sad for me to leave FC Cincinnati but I'll be back. It's just a good way for me to get some games in and keep pushing. I feel like it's gonna put me in a better place. I really want to play here but I think it's the best thing for me."

11 comments about "Top MLS draft pick Frankie Amaya loaned out to USL in bid to nail down U-20 roster spot".
  1. frank schoon, April 18, 2019 at 7:35 a.m.

    Are going to tell me that no one ,especially those who scouted Frankie for him to come to Cincinnati, couldn’t see or rather analyze his abilities well enough to figure out that this kid would have problems is not ready for this level of play.   My suggestion is for those scouts to go get  a Talent ID License, after all this license can make one spot real talent in a jiffy....

  2. beautiful game replied, April 18, 2019 at 11:23 a.m.

    F.S.; you nailed it about "scouts" and management...the revovling door scouting criteria is still in motion.

  3. frank schoon replied, April 18, 2019 at 3:23 p.m.

    BG, are you going for your Talent ID license :)


  4. frank schoon, April 18, 2019 at 7:35 a.m.

    Are going to tell me that no one ,especially those who scouted Frankie for him to come to Cincinnati, couldn’t see or rather analyze his abilities well enough to figure out that this kid would have problems is not ready for this level of play.   My suggestion is for those scouts to go get  a Talent ID License, after all this license can make one spot real talent in a jiffy....

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, April 18, 2019 at 12:11 p.m.

    Frank, I did not watch the matches, but with MLS I wonder if it is more a case of the coach wanting to counterattack with someone else rather than a lack of readiness for the MLS level.

    The other problem I would expect for a player coming out of college is a lack of match fitness. It is a catch 22 though, because you cannot truly get match fit without starting matches.

  6. frank schoon replied, April 18, 2019 at 12:32 p.m.

    Bob,I haven't seen much either. I do think that those who are suppose to be in the know highly overestimated Frankie.
    Oh, BTW ,I saw the Atlanta vs NE play on ESPN+. I'm very impressed with Nagbe, for I was never a real fan of his. Apparently de Boer has taught him how to play #6 position. He no longer dribbles the ball and delivers it to his teammates like UPS. He one or two touches it to an open man , he moves the ball around quickly, his passes now have a purpose, he 's there when needed. He knows now his limitations and you don't really notice he's out there......He is the most improved US player...When you get a chance watch Atlanta. 
    This is what I'm hoping for that coaches like De Boer influence the US soccer DNA to a higher level.
    I've yet to see another American player the #6 position as efficient as Nagbe...

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, April 18, 2019 at 6:45 p.m.

    This comment about Nagbe doesn't surprise me. I first saw him with the national team and then I saw him with his club team. Like night and day as far as effectiveness goes. Same player with same ability. Different coaches. Different positions. Different movement off the ball by team mates.

    It reinforces my impression that we need a coach that will pay more attention to positional play. The problem is not with the player pool.

  8. frank schoon replied, April 18, 2019 at 9:45 p.m.

    Bob, just to pay more attention to just positional play is not enough ,it’s just one little element of the total package. Yes, different coaches , different players movements, different positions makes a difference. But more important is the high level knowledge and game details a former great player like Frank de Boer has learned through having played at the highest level and learned from Cruyff and van  Gaal is an added benefit for players to learn that a coach like GB lacks....

  9. R2 Dad, April 18, 2019 at 6:44 p.m.

    This USL loan is exactly why kids want to move to Germany, France or Spain. At the very least, he would be playing in the U-19 squad against top academy sides there, with the opportunity to get a few minutes in Bund1/2 or Ligue 1/2. Instead, he's getting weaker coaching and training challenges exactly when he needs to be getting more stringent demands of his soccer IQ and fitness. I'd like this kid to do well, but at 5'-4" unless he's a whirling dervish like Lucas Torriera it's going to be difficult for him to get quality time on the ball.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, April 18, 2019 at 6:51 p.m.

    It is a mistake to look at his current physical size as a limit on his development. The average male reaches full physical maturity at age 26. He is 18. 

  11. frank schoon replied, April 18, 2019 at 9:11 p.m.

    Bob, R2 both you guys make some good points about him. I’ve haven’t seen him play at an MSL level. But a kid like that should not be placed in the middle of the field but on the outside first because of his age ,size and lack of experience.  They did this with Berkamp at Ajax when he was 18 and he was bigger than Frankie .   

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications