Your Weekly USMNT Update — Feburary 26, 2019

The countdown to the MLS start is officially down to the single digits, with only four days left until the first match day, so most of our U.S. prospects will see regular action again soon. For this week’s newsletter, despite some early action in the CONCACAF Champions League for a couple of MLS teams, most U.S. standout performances once again occurred in Germany or England.

A great week for U.S. defenders: More specifically, this week was dominated by U.S. defenders. In fact, between John Anthony Brooks (Wolfsburg), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Cameron Carter Vickers (Swansea) and Matt Miazga (Reading), all Europe-based U.S. defenders that are front-runners for a call up to Berhalter’s squad in March excelled in their club games. While defenders usually aren’t huge headline grabbers, these performances leave us equally as excited as U.S. players scoring goals about the future for the USMNT on the road to 2022, as we’ll need a solid backline to support the likes of Pulisic, Weah, Sargent and others up top.

More Champions League and Europa League disappointment: Unfortunately, despite some exciting performances in domestic league play, it was also another disappointing week for U.S. prospects at the highest club level. Every U.S. player has now been eliminated from the Europa League, including Brugge’s Ethan Horvath who was able to save a penalty in Brugge’s 0–4 wrecking to Austria’s Salzburg.

STAR OF THE WEEK

John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL) — VFL Wolfsburg, Bundesliga

One of the best games this season for Brooks: Our star of the week goes to John Anthony Brooks, who had one of his best performances of the season in Wolfsburg’s 3–0 victory against 3rd place Borussia Monchengladbach. After a few shaky moments in the beginning of the first half, Brooks commanded Wolfsburg’s back-line which stood rock-solid for the remainder of the game and reduced an attack-minded Gladbach side to only a few shots from beyond the box. His aerial abilities were once again pivotal to success as Brooks single handedly accounted for six major clearances out of the back and consistently prevented any serious danger from Gladbach set pieces.

Offensive qualities having an impact; assist for Brooks: Equally as important, Brooks build-up play out of the back continues to improve, underpinned by 87% passing accuracy, which was one of the highest of the season for Brooks. He crowned his performance by clinching the assist to Wolfsburg’s final goal in the game, as Brooks was able to win a header in Gladbach’s 18 yard box, and was able to slot in Mehmedi right in front of goal for an easy tap-in. Coach Berhalter was able to see Brooks’ game live in the stadium and we are sure that he’ll be a key figure in the USMNT back line for years to come.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA) — Newcastle United, Premier League

Involved in build-up for two Newcastle goals: Yedlin marked the second standout performance from a U.S. defender this week. He was significantly less busy than Brooks at the back in Newcastle’s 2–0 win against Huddersfield, as Huddersfield conceded an early red card and was reduced to 10 men for much of the game. Nonetheless, the pacey full back stood out given his success in the attacking half, as he was involved in the build-up play in both Newcastle’s goals by making deep runs along the right wing in between Huddersfield’s midfield and defense before successfully redirecting the ball back into the center of the pitch. Further, a few dangerous crosses whipped in from the right wing coupled with 80% pass accuracy and solid defending when called into question underpin an all around solid performance for the U.S. international.

Mix of defensive and offensive abilities a sure fit for Berhalter: Taking a step back, we view Yedlin as a definitive lock for the USMNT team under Berhalter and we expect him to be a regular starter at right back. While he’s still only 25 years old, he already comes with the resume of 82 Premier League games, 56 MLS games and 26 Championship games, which should provide valuable experience in an otherwise very young U.S. side. Moreover, his offensive abilities, including taking on opponents one on one, solid passing and whipping in dangerous crosses, make him well-suited for Berhalter’s strategy that often sees full backs push up into the midfield when in possession. Lastly, while we think Yedlin has some room to grow as a defender from a positioning standpoint, his blistering speed and high-energy tackling abilities make it difficult for any defender to get past him, including at the highest level every week in the Premier League.

George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA) — Atlanta United, MLS

Starting lineup an indicator of what’s to come for Bello this season: Another U.S. defender with a successful week is the 17-year old, George Bello, at Atlanta United. In Atlanta’s first game of the season against the Costan Rican side Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League (1–3 loss), Bello immediately found himself in the starting lineup under Atlanta’s new head coach Frank de Boer. Atlanta’s defending on all three goals was questionable, particularly the first two, as a bad back pass enabled the first goal and Atlanta’s entire midfield appeared wide open ahead of the second goal. However Bello, despite his age, was a source of consistency for Atlanta up and down the left wing. While clearly only the first game in the season, we would not be surprised to see him get regular minutes this season and a second start in the return leg against Herediano would be a big sign in that direction.

Composure is remarkable: Above all, even in a heated environment such as against Herediano, Bello’s composure at left back at only 17 years old is nothing but remarkable. A technically gifted defender, Bello actively seeks to pass out of pressure and combine with teammates, almost in the fashion of a midfielder, as he did many times vs. Herediano. Further, he possesses a natural drive forward underscored by dangerous crosses and even an ability to seek out shots on goal, which could make him an ideal man for Berhalter at left back, which has historically been a problem position for the USMNT. Though clearly still very young and with much to learn, especially on defense, he is definitely one of the most exciting MLS prospects.

Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA) — Derby County, Championship

Source of inspiration for Derby: Holmes remains one of the main sources of inspiration for Frank Lampard’s side in recent weeks. In Derby’s 0–1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Monday, he was once again the man for key moments such as his skillful through ball to reach Martyn Waghorn, who missed the chance to equalize from near point blank range. While Derby struggled to get the offense going throughout most of the game, Holmes was involved whenever it did get dangerous. Following a mixed first half of the season for Holmes, he has clearly become a key figure in Derby’s offense and his ability to play virtually any attacking position including the number 10 role could become useful to Berhalter and the USMNT.

ONEGOAL.US 2022 WORLD CUP TEAM AS OF TODAY

Goalkeepers:

  • Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Not in action this weekend.

  • Ethan Horvath (23, Highlands Ranch, CO): Played 90 minutes mid-week in Brugge’s 0–4 loss vs. Salzburg (EL) and played 90 minutes in Brugge’s 2–2 tie vs. Anderlecht (Belgian Pro League).

  • Alex Bono (24, Baldwinsville, NY): Played 90 minutes in Toronto’s 0–4 loss to Independiente (CONCACAF Champions League).

Defenders:

  • John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in Wolfsburg’s 3–0 win vs. Gladbach (Bundesliga).

  • DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 2–0 win vs. Huddersfield (Premier League).

  • Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): Not in action this weekend- recovering from injury.

  • Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ): Played 90 minutes in Reading’s 1–1 tie vs. Rotherham United (Championship).

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Louisiana): Played 90 minutes in Swansea’s 1–3 loss to Sheffield Wednesday (Championship).

  • George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA): Played 90 minutes in Atlanta’s 1–3 loss to Herediano (CONCACAF Champions League).

  • Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the Red Bull’s 2–0 win vs. Atletico Pantoja (CONCACAF Champions League).

  • Walker Zimmerman (25, Lawrenceville, GA): Not in action this weekend.

  • Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Not in action this weekend.

Midfield/Forward:

  • Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Not in action this weekend, out on injury.

  • Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Played 45 minutes in Leipzig’s 1–1 draw vs. Hoffenheim (Bundesliga).

  • Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 90 minutes in Schalke’s 2–3 loss to Manchester City in mid-week (CL).

  • Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Not in action this weekend.

  • Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 0–1 loss to Millwall and another 90 minutes in a 0–1 loss to Nottingham Forest (both Championship).

  • Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX): Not in action this weekend.

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Not in action this weekend.

  • Jonathan Amon (19 Summerville, SC): Did not see action this weekend.

  • Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Played 61 minutes in Werder Bremen’s 1–1 draw vs. Stuttgart (Bundesliga).

  • Timothy Weah (20, New York, NY): Not in action this weekend.

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Not in action this weekend.

ON THE RISE / IN THE HUNT

  • Taylor Booth (17, Eden, UT), Midfield, Bayern Munich

  • Andrew Carleton (18, Powder Springs, GA), Midfield

  • Sean Davis (26, Long Branch, NJ), Midfield, NY Red Bulls

  • Jeremy Ebobisse (22, Bethesda, MD), Forward, Portland Timbers

  • Romain Gall (24, Herndon, VA), Midfield/Forward, Malmo FF

  • Jonathan Lewis (21, Plantation, FL), Midfield/Forward, NYCFC

  • Matt Polster (25, Milwaukee, WI), Defense/Midfield, Glasgow Rangers

  • Chris Richards (18, Hoover, AL), Defense, Bayern Munich

  • Danny Williams (29, North Carolina), Defense, Huddersfield Town

  • Haji Wright (20, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Schalke 04

NEWS AND TRANSFERS

Weston McKennie picks up injury in Schalke’s game vs. Manchester City. More details to follow after MRI results.

All Champions League and Europa League results with U.S. involvement from last week:

  • Ethan Horvath: RB Salzburg vs Club Brugge 0–4 (EL)

  • Timothy Weah: Valencia- Celtic Glasgow 1–0 (EL)

  • Romain Gall: Chelsea- Malmo 3–0 (EL)

  • Weston McKennie: Schalke 04- Manchester City 2–3 (CL)

Berhalter Interview on John Brooks “Huge Potential” during his current trip to Germany, where the USMNT saw Fabian Johnson, John Anthony Brooks and Josh Sargent play, among others.

Chelsea picks up transfer ban given dealings with underage players — implications for Pulisic?

Ironically, while Chelsea is in complete turmoil between the transfer ban, heavy criticism of coach Sarri and lackluster performances in the Premier League over recent weeks, the transfer ban could actually prove as a positive for Christian Pulisic next season. Make no mistake, getting playing time at Chelsea won’t be easy to come by given competition from Willian, Pedro, Hazard and Hudson-Odoi among others, but preventing Chelsea from another big signing surely increases Pulsiic’s chances to become a regular starter.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Check out Tyler Adam’s interview with bundesliga.com