While Fulham have had little to shout about after their disappointing start to the Championship season under Felix Magath, one of the obvious bright spots has been the first-team emergence of 18-year-old American midfielder Emerson Hyndman.
The grandson of former FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, the Texas-native joined the club’s youth academy in 2011 and has enjoyed a fruitful rise through the system since, being an ever-present in the under-18 side’s run to the FA Youth Cup final last season.
Making his professional debut as part of an inexperienced lineup in the season opener against Ipswich Town, before earning his second start against Milwill the following week, the former under-17 international evidently caught the eye of US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who on Thursday named him on the 22-man squad for the upcoming friendly match against the Czech Republic in Prague.
Hyndman is the youngest name on a the roster and, with a new World Cup cycle beginning, it’s clear Klinsmann is experimenting, as fellow up-and-coming talents Joe Gyau, Rubio Rubin and Bobby Wood are also included, as well as Stanford striker Jordan Morris, who could become the first college player to make his senior international bow for the States since Ante Razov in 1995.
Veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando is the lone MLS representative in the squad, with the German boss shying away from domestic-based options as the league enters a crucial phase of the season, meaning promising talents such as Wil Trapp, Harry Shipp and Dillon Powers don't feature.
Nevertheless, there are so few American teenagers making starts in strong European leagues that one would have to think Hyndman would have been in contention for a spot regardless.
Whether the youngster will ultimately make his debut next Wednesday remains to be seen but, as a technically-gifted central midfielder who’s displayed an outstanding range of passing at his age, his future for both club and country is clearly bright.
Russia 2018 is still a long way off, and a huge amount can happen between now and then, but American fans should already be gearing up to witness Hyndman become an important part of the setup over the coming years.