The next wave of Academy talent for North Texas SC

The seasons for MLS and its Academies don’t align. Because school years run when they do, the MLS Next Academy seasons run from the start of Fall to the end of Spring, give or take.

Thus every summer we got the transition of Academy kids to college teams, Homegrown deals, and MLS Next Pro teams. That transition for 2023 is now upon us.

The previous crop of Academy players – usually more U19s than anything else – is moving on to college.

College camps start up during the summer so when exactly the graduating seniors leave will vary. For example, Diego Hernandez has played his last NTX game but Julian Eyestone will be around for a few more weeks.

Moving On

Here are the names with relatively heavy participation over the last two seasons that we’ve perhaps seen the last of, for now.

Jared Aguilar – Tulsa, CM, 2005.
Will Baker – Michigan, LCB, 2004. (22-23 was a gap year)
Julian Eyestone – Duke, GK, 2006. (Graduated high school a year early.)
Santiago Ferreria – Some noise he’s going to Pitt but it’s unconfirmed, CM, 2005.
Jack Stewart – High Point (Former Dynamo Academy player but the point is the same)

Diego Pepi probably should be included on this list but I understand he’s still here and working with North Texas (4 games, 1 goal) and I know of no college situation for him. Maybe he will take a gap year?

The Next Wave

When I started writing up this Next Wave list, I included Dylan Lacy as I heard he was looking to stay and perhaps take a gap year. But it turned out he straight-up signed a North Texas contract instead.

This Next Wave list is formed from my own expectation but also from the names of players who have taken part in North Texas SC training this summer and the handful that have made their debuts already.

You may recognize several of these names from my most recent potential Academy signing list.

I put the list in alphabetical order, in case that wasn’t obvious, with a quick bio on each.

Update: Adding Michael Cortellessa

Michael Cortellessa

2007, RB, U17. Class of ’25. Frequent USYNT callup. I had been wondering why he wasn’t yet included in NTX training, I figured maybe it was just a bit too soon. Turns out he was just out of town for a while (he’s originally from Cally) and is now back in DFW and in training with NTX.

Mason Grimm

2005, D, U19. One of the rare 2005 Class of ’25 kids. SMU commit. Recently made NTXSC debut. More CB but can RB as well.

Landon Hickam

2007, DM, U17. Class of ’25. Joined FCD for the 22-23 season. He’s been in NTX camp this summer.

Malachi Molina

2006, RB, U19. Class of ’25, Jamaica U17. Occasionally gets first-team training invites. 4 games and 2 starts for NTXSC.

Niko Montoya

2007, GK, U17. He’s been in first-team training a fair bit this summer rather than NTX but he seems to be the answer to the question, “Who is next at GK after Eyestone?”

Anthony Ramirez

2005, W/8, U19. Like Grimm, the rare Class of ’24 in the 05’s. 10 games, 5 starts, 2 goals, and 2 assists for NTXSC.

Jared Salazar

2006, W/8, U19. Had a standout GA Cup for U17s. Class of ’24. 5 games, 2 starts, 1 assist for NTXSC.

Luke Shreiner

2006, CB, U19. Northwestern commit. 6’2″ going on 6’3″. Class of ’24. Recently made NTXSC debut playing right back, oddly.

Caleb Swann

2007, CM, U17. Class of ’25. Joined FCD in 22-23 from Solar. You will have heard me talk about him before.

Nayrobi Vargas

2006, F, U19. Honduras U17. Class of ’24. Signed with an agent. He already has 12 games, 4 starts, and 2 goals for NTXSC.

20230618_FCD_122615 swann
Calen Swann takes a touch in the MLS Next Cup match against Miami Rush Kendall SC at Toyota Soccer Center on Saturday, June 18, 2023. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)


  1. Long-shot, but maybe you can clarify some of Hickam’s backstory for me. Best I can tell, he’s from Louisville KY originally, joined FCD-Premier as a U15, then the Academy as a U16. That *feels* like a Tessmann situation (more recently Niko Montoya) where he gets recruited to the Academy but spends a season at the ECNL level after moving to TX to acclimatize, but I can’t prove that’s what happened.

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