U.S. U-17 standout leaves MLS academy to sign pro deal with USL team

Bryang Kayo, one of the top unsigned players on the U.S. under-17 men's national team, has left D.C. United, where he was playing for USL Championship affiliate Loudoun United on an academy contract, to sign a pro deal with Orange County SC.

"Bryang is a technically gifted player that I am very excited to be working with," said OCSC head coach Braeden Cloutier. "He has already shown at the youth international level that he can compete with the most talented players in his age group. It'll now be good for his progress and development to match up with full professionals on a regular basis."

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Kayo spent the last two seasons in the D.C. United academy after playing in the Development Academy for Bethesda-Olney and Bethesda SC. He made three appearances for Loudoun United this summer.

Kayo, a 6-foot-1 midfielder, has had interest from European teams but won't be eligible to sign a pro contract with a foreign club until the 2020 summer transfer window. In the past, other players have opted out of MLS academies and signed with non-MLS U.S. clubs, allowing themselves to get paid before they turn 18 and then sign abroad on favorable terms with their U.S. club. The most notable example is Haji Wright, who signed with the New York Cosmos before moving to Schalke 04. He is now at Dutch club VVV-Venlo.

Kayo isn't the first youth player to sign with Orange County SC. In 2018, OCSC signed Aaron Cervantes, who is expected to be the No. 3 keeper on the 2019 U.S. U-17 World Cup team. It recently signed 14-year-old Francis Jacobs, making him the youngest male player signing in U.S. pro history.

Kayo's signing will leave Kobe Hernandez, who plays for the LA Galaxy academy, as the only projected contributor on the 2019 U.S. U-17 World Cup team who has not turned pro. Hernandez is considered the most talented defender in the U.S. youth system and, like Kayo, won't be eligible to sign a pro contract with a foreign club until the 2020 summer transfer window after he turns 18.

Of the 21 players that took part in Concacaf qualifying, 15 of the 21 U.S. players are now signed to pro contracts, including every midfielder and forward.

4 comments about "U.S. U-17 standout leaves MLS academy to sign pro deal with USL team".
  1. R2 Dad, September 19, 2019 at 9:51 p.m.

    He will regret this decision--now he's stuck in the US, getting weaker coaching that will stunt his development. We will turn around and see him at 22, unchanged. US clubs will put a high price on him that will deter an international transfer. Forecast: Max 4 caps for the USMNT, if he doesn't get a major injury playing in these kickball USL matches first.

  2. Steven Person replied, September 20, 2019 at 9:17 a.m.

    He was already going to be stuck in the US because he is not a dual national and he is not 18.  What he has done is sign a professional contract to get paid for his services rather than an academy contract where he essentially plays for the honor of being coached.  The problem with MLS academies are not providing enough opportunities for first team playing time to prove themselves as professionals before 18. 

  3. Paul Berry replied, September 20, 2019 at 1:19 p.m.

    He "won't be eligible to sign a pro contract with a foreign club until the 2020 summer transfer window" anyway, as it explains in the story.

    Pulisic and Weah moved at 16 because they both have EU passports.

  4. beautiful game, September 20, 2019 at 11:37 a.m.

    S.P., agree with your comment. Kayo is looking for that move to Europe in 2020. Any gifted player and passion to succeed as a pro needs to move to Europe.

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