The much-maligned Felix Magath didn’t get much right during his seven months in charge of Fulham, but his praise of 18-year-old Emerson Hyndman was spot on.
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 ranks since, proving a core contributor to under-18s side’s run to the FA Youth Cup final last season.
Making his professional debut as part of an inexperienced line-up in the season opener against Ipswich Town, the American midfielder made three starts over the first month of the season, which earned him a surprise call-up to the senior national team for the match against Czech Republic in Prague.
Appearing as a 67th-minute substitute, big things are expected of the promising teenager at the both the club and international level moving forward, with US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann moved to sign his praises, and Magath even comparing his slick passing to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo.
‘I came to the Club last February, and like I always have done wherever I have worked I looked at the youth team,’ he told the club’s official website in September. ‘One of the players I saw very early on was Emerson Hyndman.
‘He has a wonderful range of passing, short or cross-field. He understands tactics, but at 18 years old he has a lot of time to develop and to get experience.
‘I’m sure he will be a good player. His role could be similar to the one that Andrea Pirlo plays, responsible for the forward play of the team from deep.
‘I have never seen a player of his age play like he does; he passes like an old professional,’ the German added. ‘He is very responsible with the ball and tries to make things happen.’
While those comparisons might seems outlandish, Hyndman’s passing performances so far this season have been truly outstanding for someone who only made his professional debut two months ago, as the stats from his six Championship appearances demonstrate.
|2014-15 Championship||Team||Pos||Total Passes||Pass Acc||Assists||Key Passes||Touches||Unsuccessful Touches||Poss Lost All||Dispossessed||Apps||Mins|
Hyndman is one of just six Championship players this season who have completed more than 100 passes with over 90% accuracy, with his 90.15% the third highest for a midfielder, and the best for a teenager in the division.
His nearest challenger being Derby County's Will Hughes, who sits 16th at a highly commendable 88.4%, the promising Cottager is clearly a special talent and, while his performances might not be eye-catching to the average spectator, it certainly can't be overstated just how well he has taken to the professional game.
Hyndman hasn't featured regularly in the side since caretaker manager Kit Symons replaced the departed Magath at the helm in mid-September, but that's largely understandable given his tender age, as the coaching staff looks to handle his development with meticulous care.
No doubt, the now-one-time capped US international has a bright future ahead of him and, while it remains to be seen where his club career will go if he continues to progress towards fulfilling his enormous potential over the coming seasons, US fans are certainly already envisaging him as a central part of the 2018 World Cup squad.