Former and current MLS NEXT Pro standouts make waves in Leagues Cup

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The inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup has tested the strength and depth of each Major League Soccer club. As a result, several MLS NEXT Pro stars have made the first-team jump to deliver key performances in the Leagues Cup.

Here are the top former and current MLS NEXT Pro players making waves in the Leagues Cup.

Benjamin Cremaschi - Inter Miami CF

Cremaschi, a standout player for Inter Miami II in MLS NEXT Pro last season, has impressed many in 1,152 MLS minutes this season. His contributions to Tata Martino's side have only grown with the arrival of Lionel Messi, plus an incredible midfield partner in Sergio Busquets.

The young midfielder has appeared in all six of Inter Miami's matches on the path to the final, logging 363 minutes and contributing one goal and two assists. As the box-to-box presence in a midfield engineered by Busquets' world-class passing, Cremaschi stands out as a player capable of making crucial interventions offensively and defensively.

Bernard Kamungo - FC Dallas

Kamungo launched himself into FC Dallas' first team this season after starring in MLS NEXT Pro in 2022, setting North Texas SC's all-time goalscoring record with 22 goals. He's made three starts, 12 total appearances, and scored three goals for Nico Estevez' side in 2023.

Leagues Cup presented an opportunity for Kamungo to make a memorable impression in the starting lineup, and he made the most of it. Kamungo started off the competition with a goal and an assist in FC Dallas's first match. He later helped FC Dallas come close to knocking off Leo Messi and Inter Miami in a thrilling match that ended in a 4-3 loss in Frisco.

Patrick Agyemang - Charlotte FC

Agyemang is blossoming in MLS NEXT Pro, with nine goals and one assist in 806 minutes of action with Charlotte FC's MLS NEXT Pro affiliate Crown Legacy FC. He's made a strong impression with Charlotte FC coach Christian Lattanzio, too, with 155 minutes across eight first-team appearances.

Agyemang expanded his first-team rapport, with two goals in Leagues Cup matches across only 76 minutes, all of which coming in substitute appearances. He scored in a 13-minute substitute cameo in a 4-1 win over Necaxa and added the tying goal in a substitute appearance in a comeback 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Esmir Bajraktarevic - New England Revolution

Bajraktarevic leads a deep cohort of promising young Revolution academy players. He started breaking into the first team in 2022, and has continued on a positive trend with both the first team and in MLS NEXT Pro. The forward from Appleton, Wisconsin, scored the tying goal in the Leagues Cup Round of 16, which ended 1-1 and a shootout loss to Queretaro.

Bajraktarevic raised his first-team minutes in 2023 to 461. He's made five starts in MLS, and further contributed to Revolution II's excellent standing in MLS NEXT Pro with six goals and one assist in eight appearances.

Nathan Ordaz - Los Angeles FC

Ordaz came into his own as a top prospect for LAFC during the Leagues Cup. Until the tournament, he'd made one start and played 128 minutes across 11 total appearances in MLS. But in the Leagues Cup, the 19-year-old scored two goals and had one assist in three appearances, including a goal and an assist as he started in a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

Ordaz is a strong presence this season in MLS NEXT Pro, logging 770 minutes in 10 starts with Los Angeles Football Club 2.