MLS In Focus: Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen

Jordan Allen RSL

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Beat Writer

Last week, Tab Ramos unveiled (most of) the U.S. squad for this summer’s U-20 World Cup.

The make-up of this year’s squad is unique in that it features more players who are playing  professionally than ever before. Where past American youth teams have had a significant number of college students, only one will go to New Zealand in 2015.

Seven of the 20 players on the U.S. squad are playing in MLS, and most of those are receiving regular action for their teams this season. You might already be familiar with Tommy Thompson in San Jose, or Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga.

Today I’m focusing on Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen.

Though he’s a native of Rochester, NY, Allen is on a homegrown player contract with Salt Lake. He trained with RSL’s academy in Arizona for a year before going to college at the University of Virginia. He signed with RSL in 2014, but his rookie season was limited to just nine minutes on the field before a knee injury sidelined him for the year.

And so the timing of his World Cup call-up is a shame for RSL, because Allen is healthy and has been playing his best soccer of late. The 20-year-old started two games last week and picked up his first two MLS assists on Saturday.

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For RSL, Allen has played mostly on the left wing. The U.S. roster lists him as a forward. The MLS website sometimes lists him as a defender. Whatever his position, he sure is fast. Above, that’s him blazing by AJ DeLaGarza and firing in a dangerous cross.
JAA

Against Chicago, largely the same move, this time with a better end product. Luis Gil provides the dummy, and Alvaro Saborio scored. “Running fast and crossing,” while useful, is a limited and fairly common skill set, so luckily Allen has more to his game than that.

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In just the two most recent RSL matches, Allen displayed a great awareness for the game. By the time he gets the ball, he already knows where his teammates are and what he wants to do. Despite pressure, he can make a pass like the one above instead of going backwards.

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Here he takes a touch, spots Demar Phillips in space down the left, and most importantly is able to hit his teammate in stride with the cross-field pass.

And with his right foot, no less!

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Allen’s second assist against the Fire was a great showcase of his vision and awareness. He sees Devon Sandoval making a run, and with his first touch, he plays a perfectly weighted through ball to him.

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But Allen might be most likely to end up in the highlight reels for his dribbling ability. He made Stefan Ishizaki look foolish with a spin move last Wednesday.

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Later in the game, Alan Gordon was a victim of the youngster’s skill. These are tricks, yes, but they reflect a solid first touch and overall comfort on the ball that will keep Allen and RSL in possession.


We all know by now the dangers of over-hyping young talent. Jordan Allen is probably not the much-fabled “American Messi.” He might not even be the American Aaron Lennon.

But it is a good thing that MLS is producing young talent of his caliber — and not just buying them. It’s promising to see that more and more young Americans like Allen are earning playing time in the pros. These are the processes that ultimately, we hope, will bring success to U.S. Soccer from the youth level on up.

  • Concorde

    The way you say “tricks,” implies that they are gratuitous or not strictly essential to the game.. But they are ! In your gifs Jordan Allen is using pretty classic moves that great players need in their repertoire to relieve pressure or accelerate past defenders. In America we don’t value these enough !! so it’s pretty nice to see, especially from a variety of places on the field. Tab Ramos certainly must see a little bit of himself in this player.

    And those two last moves were Zinedine Zidane’s bread and butter, so please don’t reduce them, they are not “tricks.”