In 2004, Freddy Adu became the youngest player to ever appear in a Major League Soccer (MLS) match, aged just 14 years old.
On Saturday, 10 of September 2022, Matai Akinmboni became the third youngest player in Major League Soccer (MLS) history when he
started for DC United in a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake.
When Manchester United legend, Wayne Rooney, took over as D.C. United head coach in July, he promised to give playing chances to youth players at the club.
And on Saturday night at America First Field, he followed through on his promise by starting 15-year-old homegrown defender Akinmboni.
“I think I’m a man of my word,” “What I said to the players when I came in was ‘If you perform well in training, you’ll get your chance to play.’ He [Akinmboni] has been excellent in training and he deserved to come in.”Rooney on handing Akinmboni his MLS debut.
In this article, FootballOrbit brings you the 5 youngest debutants in MLS history.
1. Freddy Adu (14 years 306 days).
Freddy Adu was born on the 2nd of June 1989.
He became the youngest athlete ever to sign a professional contract in the United States at 14 years old, after he was selected in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft in January 2004.
Just three months later, he became the youngest player to ever appear in a Major League Soccer (MLS) match when he came on as a substitute in a game against the San Jose Earthquakes on the 3rd of April 2004.
On April 17, aged just 14; Adu scored his first professional goal in a game against the MetroStars. In doing so, he became the youngest player in MLS history to score a goal.
Due to his immense talent, the youngster was named as “the next Pelé” — with the Brazilian legend himself agreeing.
However, Adu failed to live up to the lofty expectations.
After leaving D.C. United in 2006, he began a journeyman career, playing for 15 teams in 9 countries: the United States, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Serbia, Finland, and Sweden.
Freddy Adu made his international debut for the USA at the age of 16 in 2006 and won 17 caps for his country.
He was part of the US squad at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup as well as at the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cups.
The now 33-year-old also represented the United States Olympic team at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
2. Alphonso Davies (15 years 257 days).
Born on the 2nd of November 2000, Alphonso Davies was the first player born in the 2000s to play in the MLS.
He made his Major League Soccer debut for Vancouver Whitecaps on the 16th of July 2016 — becoming the second youngest player to ever play in the MLS, behind Freddy Adu.
In September 2016, he scored his first professional goal for Vancouver Whitecaps in the CONCACAF Champions League against Sporting Kansas City in injury time to send his club through to the knockout round.
Davies joined German giants Bayern Munich in January 2019 on a contract lasting until 2023 for a then-MLS record transfer fee.
The youngster immediately hit the ground running in Germany and was named the 2019/20 Bundesliga Rookie of the Season.
At the end of his first full season with Bayern, Davies was part of the team that won the continental treble of Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and the DFB-Pokal in 2019/20.
In June 2017, Davies became the youngest player to appear for the Canadian men’s national team — aged 16.
By scoring two goals in a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup match against French Guiana, he became the youngest player to score for the Canadian men’s national team, the youngest to score at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and first player born in the 2000s to score at a top level international tournament.
Alphonso was named the 2021 CONCACAF Men’s Player of the Year.
He is widely considered as both the best player and the face of the Canadian national team.
He is also regarded as one of the best full-backs in the world due to his pace, dribbling and creativity.
3. Matai Akinmboni (15 years 329 days).
Born on the 17th of October 2006, Matai Akinmboni is a central defender who plays for D.C. United.
In 2021, the young prodigy trained for two weeks with Bayern Munich and was reportedly offered a contract the club, but ultimately did not join them.
On the 31st of August 2022, Akinmboni was signed by D.C. United to a homegrown contract with the first team.
His made his MLS debut for D.C. United on the 10th of September 2022, when he started in a match against Real Salt Lake and played the entire first half.
In doing so, he became the 3rd youngest player in MLS history.
Akinmboni was born in the USA, but through his parentage, is also eligible to play for Nigeria or Ghana. On the 16th of August 2022, he was called up to the USA U-17 team.
Matai is the nephew of legendary Ghanaian footballer Sammy Kuffour.
4. Obed Vargas (15 years 351 days).
Obed Vargas was born on the 5th of August 2005.
He made his MLS debut on the 22nd of July 2021 for Seattle Sounders in a match against Austin FC.
At 15 years and 351 days old, Vargas is the 4th-youngest player in MLS history.
The 17-year-old signed a formal Homegrown Player contract with the Sounders in December and became a starter for the team in the first matches of the 2022 season.
Seattle Sounders manager, Brian Schmetzer, said Vargas is going to be a “tremendous player” for the club.
5. Erik Dueñas (15 years 362 days).
Erik Dueñas was born on the 18th of October 2004 and plays as a right-back for Los Angeles FC.
On the 8th of July 2020, he signed as a homegrown player for LA FC.
Dueñas made his MLS debut for the club on the 14th of October 2020 against Vancouver Whitecaps.