THE NEXT GEN FIVE
We are running for the US Soccer Athlete Council because we believe that US Soccer should look more like the people that play soccer in our country, and that includes having youth and minority voices at the highest levels.
Matt Freese was born in Philadelphia but has lived in the Midwest and the South as his family moved across the country multiple times before settling back in Philly. No matter where he was, soccer was a constant in his life growing up and allowed him to make friends in each city he lived in as a kid. Matt played recreational soccer through middle school, transitioning to a club team during high school.
After being scouted by the Philadelphia Union’s Academy, he joined their U18 team during his senior year, quickly becoming the starting goalkeeper and earning a contract offer from the first team and some Premier League clubs.
Matt opted to go to college instead to begin a degree in Economics and play two seasons for Harvard before signing as a Homegrown with the Union. During his rookie season, he started 6 games in goal for his club and was named to the Olympic Qualifying team for the U23 USMNT. If elected, he would become the only Homegrown on the Council.
Smith Hunter, from Seattle, WA, is a first-year student at Harvard University, where she plans to study Biology on a Pre-Med track. As a young woman of color from a lower-income background, she hopes to give a voice to youth with similar backgrounds directly within the U.S. Soccer Federation.
During her high school career, she played for the Seattle Reign in the US Soccer Girls’ Development Academy, where she was recognized in the Western Conference’s Best XI in 2018 and 2019 and was given the opportunity to train with the OL Reign first team. But the path to getting scouted by the Youth National Teams meant constantly having to find ways to raise funds to pay her team fees and attend big tournaments, such as selling water bottles on the Seattle waterfront or cookie boxes in Pike Place Market.
Smith has been involved with the YNT from the U16 to the U20 level. In 2018, she participated in both the U17 Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers in Nicaragua and the U17 World Cup in Uruguay.
Miguel Angel “Mikey” López was born and raised in Mission, TX, to Mexican immigrant parents but left his hometown at 13 to attend a boarding school with a strong soccer program in Austin. While there, he played in the US Soccer Development Academy for both Lonestar SC and Classics Elite.
Mikey attended the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he won the NCAA National Championship and was named the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2011, before being drafted to Sporting Kansas City with the 11th pick of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. After 3 years at SKC, 2 years at NYCFC, and 1 year at San Antonio FC, Mikey is now the captain of USL Championship side Birmingham Legion FC. His experience with the Youth National Teams includes call-ups at the U15, U18, and U20 level, most notably for the 2013 U20 Concacaf Qualifiers and the 2013 U20 World Cup in Turkey.
Mikey wants to ensure that the perspectives of Hispanic communities and USL players are represented within US Soccer’s governance, and he is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Business Administration at Southern New Hampshire University.
Nick Mayhugh, from Gainesville, VA, is a member of the United States Para 7-a-Side National Team. Nick was born with a mild form of Cerebral Palsy as a result of a prenatal stroke and other complications during his mother’s pregnancy and as a newborn.
Despite the effects of his CP on his balance, nerve function, and overall range of motion on the entire left side of his body, Nick has played soccer at the highest level at every age group. He was part of the DC United Academy, represented Virginia in ODP, and played four years of Division I soccer at Radford University, graduating as a 2-time Big South Conference Champion.
Since joining the USPNT in June 2017, Nick has scored 34 goals and provided 31 assists in just 25 games. He was part of the bronze medal-winning squads at the 2018 Copa America and the 2019 ParaPan American Games, earning the US Soccer Player of the Year with a Disability award in 2019. In addition to being a member of the USPNT, Nick was recruited to run track for Team USA and is aiming to qualify for the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo.
UNC Chapel Hill
Brianna Pinto is a rising junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Spanish. She has trained with the U14, U17, U19, U20, U23, and Senior Women National Teams, representing the United States at the U17 and U20 World Cups. Brianna became the youngest player in the modern era to make a tournament roster for the USWNT at the 2017 She Believes Cup, and she was named the US Soccer Young Female Player of the Year in 2019.
Additionally, Brianna served as US Soccer’s Youth Representative for the 2026 United Bid Committee, joining the US Soccer delegation at the 2018 FIFA Congress in Russia and helping win the rights to host the 2026 World Cup in North America. In her first two college seasons, she notched 1st team All-ACC and 1st team All-America awards. Brianna is currently training for another U20 World Cup set to be played in January 2021. After her playing career, she hopes to work at FIFA to help bring the game to underserved communities around the world.