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The state of the USMNT

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USMNT's top 21 players under age 21

Both Christian Pulisic and Matt Miazga appear to have a very bright future with the U.S. national team.
Both Christian Pulisic and Matt Miazga appear to have a very bright future with the U.S. national team.

The nature of evaluating youth players is that their standing can change almost in the blink of an eye. Indeed, much has happened in the four months since we last ranked the top 21 U.S. players under age 21.

There's a new No. 1, for starters, although having to choose between prospects employed by two of Europe's most storied clubs definitely qualifies as a high-quality problem. Good thing another much-hyped blue-chipper -- new Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris -- is no longer eligible for consideration (Morris turned 21 in October). Others have dropped out, too, for now, but could well be back next time around. This ranking isn't set in stone, after all.

And although we did our due diligence in compiling it, this list does feel a bit like a junior high-school grading of peers based on looks: great fodder for gossip, but in truth, a little bit unfair. Because these young men are only just beginning their professional journeys, it's likely -- certain, even -- that a few candidates who are equally deserving of recognition were omitted. It's not ideal, but it does speak to the abundance of quality talent coming through the American youth pipeline.

One can credibly argue that the senior national team hasn't improved significantly over the last two decades, or point out that the U.S. still has not produced a truly transcendent superstar on the global stage. But there is no disputing that there are now more quality young soccer players with U.S. passports than ever before. It makes for some tough decisions here, to be sure. That's a good problem to have, too.

Here's our rank of the top 21 U.S. players under 21. (Ages as of Jan. 29, 2016.)