The future is bright for Obed Vargas.
Major League Soccer on Tuesday named Vargas to its annual 22 Under 22 list presented by BODYARMOR, selected by a panel of MLSsoccer.com analysts, MLS Player Department staff and external media members. The youngest player on the list, Vargas was selected as the No. 15 prospect among all players, both domestic and international, under the age of 22 in Major League Soccer this season. It's an incredible achievement for the 17 year old, who progressed the club's full pathway from Sounders Academy, through the Tacoma Defiance and up to the First Team in the past three years.
After impressing with the Defiance throughout 2021 -- as well as a lone start for the First Team in the club's historic 1-0 win over Austin FC -- Vargas inked a Homegrown deal with the Rave Green ahead of the current campaign. The Alaska native hit the ground running in 2022 as he started in both legs of Seattle's Round of 16 matchup against Honduran side CD Motagua in the Concacaf Champions League. Prior to picking up a lower back stress fracture in June, Vargas had made 13 starts and 20 overall appearances for 1,232 minutes of action across CCL and the MLS regular season.
The pinnacle of Vargas' meteoric rise this season came in the CCL Final when he entered as a substitute for 2021 Team MVP João Paulo in the 29th minute. Undaunted by the historic occasion, Vargas not only survived but thrived as the Sounders ran out 3-0 winners over Liga MX's Pumas UNAM to be come the first MLS side to win Concacaf Champions League.
“Obed had to step in, but he’s done that before so we weren’t looking at him like he’s 16 years old,” Designated Player Albert Rusnák said following the match. “He’s one of us, he’s part of the team. He did great tonight, but it’s not his first game today that he did really well.”
Prior to picking up his injury, Vargas was poised to play an important role for the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team during Olympic and U-20 World Cup Qualifying despite playing up an age group.
A clever, two-way midfielder with an aptitude for quickly acquiring new skills, Vargas seemed to improve facets of his game every time he stepped on the pitch. That track record of gradual improvement coupled with his innate natural talent is what makes him such an exciting prospect for both club and country.
You can learn more about 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR here.