Four U-23 Players to Watch This Summer
Some of the greatest moments in this summer’s international soccer tournaments could come from young talent—here are a few fresh faces to watch out for.
By Tony Maza
The international summer tournaments are around the corner, with berths to the World Cup and the Olympics on the line. Everyone knows the veteran players by now, but we wanted to highlight some of the fresh talent that could be rising through the ranks in the coming months. Here is a list of some of the best young talent to look out for, one from each competition.
Linda Caicedo – Colombia
The list of exciting young forwards in South America just keeps growing, with names like Uruguayans Esperanza Pizarro and Wendie Carballo or Brazilian Jennifer. But Linda Caicedo is standing out from even that crowd, with two Colombian titles already to her name at only 17 years old.
In 2019 she made her full debut for América de Cali at just 14, and was the top scorer in the league with seven goals. In 2021 she crossed to the other side of town, signing with Deportivo Cali and made her full debut with the Cafeteras, scoring her first goal in a friendly against Chile. You might recognize her name if you follow the USWNT since she was present in the last two friendlies, winning three fouls in the game in Utah, the most for any player in that game.
Most of Colombia’s hopes for Copa América are on Catalina Usme and Leicy Santos’ shoulders, but Linda Caicedo could prove critical to elevate the Cafeteras and clinch a return to a World Cup.
Joseline Montoya – Mexico
Liga MX is an exciting league and that translates to the national team as well. With Mónica Vergara at the helm, this team is a mix of experience and youth, and Joseline Montoya is one of those youngsters ready to take the stage. At 21, she’s an integral part of Chivas, scoring 19 goals in 80 games, which is a great number for a midfielder.
In June of 2021, a friendly against Japan was the setup for her full international debut in what was a 5–1 defeat. Montoya is slowly being trusted with more minutes on the national team; she was a starter in their friendly against Perú just last week with 81% passing accuracy and 100% of aerial duels won. Tidy and secure, she’s definitely a rising star ready to shine in CONCACAF’s W Championship.
Jule Brand – Germany
The Euros are probably the most well-covered of these summer tournaments, with many teams boasting excellent prospects in their squads, but our pick goes to Jule Brand. At only 19, she’s been a key figure at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga (8 goals in 41 matches) and has already secured a move to Wolfsburg after the Euros.
The defender/midfielder is quite versatile and that caught the eye of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg to give her a chance on the national team. And with only 16 games, she already scored five times—including a brace against Israel in the WC qualifiers—and assisted her teammates on six occasions. Jule Brand definitely is one of the young talents to keep an eye on in the European competition and will be a key part of Germany for years to come.
Sanaa Msoudy – Morocco
Morocco is probably one of the favorites to win the Women’s AFCON. With ex-Lyon Manager Reynald Pedros leading a talented team, they can go very far. One of the young talents who could help them get there is 22-year-old Sanaa Msoudy.
She first took the international stage when she was part of AFCON’s Champions League last year, scoring a hat-trick for her team, AS Far, against River Angels. That win would be key to qualifying for the quarterfinals, where they would lose to Hasaacas Ladies 2–1.
A full international since 2020, Msoudy has trickery, speed, and a knack for the goal that will complement a great Moroccan attack that includes Tottenham’s Rosela Ayane and her teammate at AS Far Ibtissam Jraidi.
Women’s soccer is evolving at a rapid pace and new stars are emerging all across the globe. So grab your TV remote and your snack of choice and enjoy a summer full of international tournaments that surely will be the first step for many of these youngsters on their road to worldwide stardom.