Your Weekly USMNT Update— March 5, 2019
MLS is finally back! Busy week with the start of the American league while European leagues are slowly approaching the final third of their seasons.
Winners from the first MLS week: Corey Baird, Efrain Alvarez, Aaron Long and Michael Bradley.
Corey Baird: Our Star of the Week, Baird had one assist in Real Salt Lake’s 1–1 tie vs. the Houston Dynamo.
Efrain Alvarez: Our MLS Spotlight, the young 16-year-old made an immediate impact off of the bench for the LA Galaxy.
Aaron Long: Two commanding performances at center back for the Red Bulls this week, Long looks as secure as he did last season.
Michael Bradley: Following a poor performance in the CONCACAF Champions League mid week, Bradley answered with two goals in Toronto’s 3–1 win vs. the Philadelphia Union.
On Bradley: While we took notice of his strong performance against Philadelphia and don’t undervalue his past contributions to the USMNT, we continue to believe his best days are behind him. His ball distribution falls well short of some of our most promising young U.S. holding mids, as do his tackling abilities/speed of play. Further, with plenty of depth in the number 6 and even number 8 role for the USMNT including Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Will Trapp and possibly Sean Davis, we don’t see Bradley as a likely choice come 2022. All this being said, he did have a strong performance on Saturday.
STAR OF THE WEEK
Corey Baird (23, Escondido, CA) — Real Salt Lake, MLS
Assist and always dangerous: Our Star of the Week goes to Corey Baird, who started this year’s MLS season right where he left off following his impressive rookie year with eight goals and five assists. In Salt Lake’s 1–1 tie with the Houston Dynamo, Baird was instrumental in shaping Salt Lake’s offense. Almost every time it got dangerous for Salt Lake, Baird was involved. As such, it was not surprising to see him create Salt Lake’s only goal of the day with a stellar pass to Rusnak after cutting into the middle of the pitch from the left wing and cruising past a couple of defenders.
A man for special moments: More than anything, we see Baird as a man for special moments given his ability to split defenses with deadly passes, strong technical skills on the ball, and solid finishing abilities. He has some room for improvement on the defensive front, but he possesses a certain spark that simply can’t be taught and more importantly, deadly passes have been missing from the USMNT in past years.
Adding Baird to the hunt: After Baird’s impressive start to the MLS season and a solid outing with the USMNT during Berhalter’s January Camp, we are adding Baird to our players in the hunt for 2022. His ability to find the final pass along with his ability to play as a number 10 or on the wing could make him a valuable weapon for the USMNT. We see him primarily competing with Duane Holmes, Jonathan Amon, Paul Arriola and Djordje Mihailovic for a spot in the squad. If his current form continues, we would not be betting against him.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
Romain Gall (24, Herndon, VA) — Malmo FF, Sweden
Another assist for Gall: In a 2–0 Swedish cup victory over Falkenberg, Gall once again underscored that he can make something out of nothing when his powerful shot unwillingly created the assist for Malmo’s go-ahead goal.
Long range efforts a serious weapon: Probably among the most gifted players in taking long shots, we think he deserves a close look from Berhalter as another alternative on the wing.
Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY) — RB Leipzig, Bundesliga
Another robust game for the midfield engine: In a hard fought and not always pretty 1–0 victory over struggling side Nuernberg, Adams once again played the full 90 minutes as center mid for Leipzig. He continues to deliver with strong tackling (+ 4 interceptions) and passing (76.5% passing accuracy) and has now started in four out of seven competitive Leipzig games in 2019.
Competing for Champions League spot: Despite still playing in the MLS just two months ago, Adams could suddenly find himself as the only USMNT player in the Champions League next season given that Pulisic’s (future club) Chelsea and McKennie’s Schalke 04 are struggling this season. With Leipzig five points clear of 5th place Frankfurt and still in the running for the German Cup, Adams’ first half-season in Europe could not only end very positively for his personal development, but also for his club where he is already playing an important role on the pitch. His immediate rise in the Bundesliga continues to be nothing but impressive.
Sean Davis (26, Long Branch, NJ) — New York Red Bulls, MLS
Solid Outing in Concacaf Champions League: One of the most underrated players in the MLS, Davis operated as the heartbeat of the NY Red Bulls as he set the tempo for the entire game against Atletico Pantoja, deciding when to slow it down and when to speed it up. Extremely comfortable on the ball, his hallmark qualities undoubtedly lie as a ball distributor sitting deep in midfield and creating the final or next-to-final passes in front of goal.
Unusual goal scorer: We generally think of Davis as more likely to provide assists, but he did get on the score sheet against Pantoja with a long range header after he made a run into the box, underscoring his ability to read the game.
With Adams gone, look for Davis to step up: While Sean Davis already took on a leading role in the Red Bulls midfield last season alongside Tyler Adams, with Adams now in Germany look for Davis to step up to become an even greater leader on the pitch. Assuming Davis does step up and the Red Bulls are able to pull off another strong run into the playoffs this year, Davis could be an outside pick for a USMNT call up this year. Given his intelligence, ability to read the game and passing qualities, we see him as a logical candidate in Berhalter’s deep number 6 role for the USMNT, similar to Will Trapp.
Efrain Alvarez (16, Los Angeles, CA) — LA Galaxy
Out of East Los Angeles, Efrain Alvarez is quickly becoming one of the hottest youth prospects in the league. In the Galaxy’s home opener against Chicago, Alvarez stepped on the pitch in the 60th minute and effectively turned the game around. He provided a stunning outside of the boot cross to Daniel Steres to equalize and played a major role in the buildup to Ibrahimovic’s game winner. Zlatan was full of praise for Alvarez, commending his work ethic and announcing, “He’s the best talent in MLS by far.”
Though Alvarez has played for both American and Mexican national youth teams, he is yet to declare a national team for his professional career. This past summer, he mentioned, “I’m not closing the door on anyone. I could still play for the U.S. or I could keep playing for Mexico.” Alvarez’s single appearance for an American team came for the U15 squad in 2016, scoring in a 2–0 victory against Uruguay.
Don’t just take our word for it though, see what all the hype is about:
ONEGOAL.US 2022 WORLD CUP TEAM AS OF TODAY
Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Played 90 minutes in Columbus’ 1–1 tie vs. the New York Red Bulls. (MLS)
Ethan Horvath (23, Highlands Ranch, CO): Played 90 minutes in Brugge’s 1–0 win vs. Sint Truiden (Belgian Pro League).
Alex Bono (24, Baldwinsville, NY): Played 90 minutes in Toronto’s 1–1 vs. Independiente (CONCACAF CL) mid-week and played 90 minutes in Toronto’s 3–1 win vs. Philadelphia (MLS).
John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes and scored Wolfsburg’s only goal in their 1–1 draw against Werder Bremen (Bundesliga).
DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Did not see action this week.
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 2–1 vs. Ipswich Town (Championship).
Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Louisiana): Played 90 minutes in Swansea’s 2–0 win over Bolton Wanderers (Championship).
George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA): Did not play due to injury in Atlanta United’s 2–0 loss to D.C United (MLS).
Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 54 minutes in the Red Bull’s 3–0 win vs. Atletico Pantoja (CONCACAF CL) and played 45 minutes in a 1–1 tie vs. Columbus (MLS).
Walker Zimmerman (25, Lawrenceville, GA): Played 90 minutes in LA FC’s 2–1 Victory against Kansas Sporting.
Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Played 61 minutes in San Jose’s 1–2 loss to Montreal (MLS).
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Not in action this weekend, out on injury.
Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Played 90 minutes in Leipzig’s 1–0 win vs. Nuernberg (Bundesliga).
Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Not in action this weekend, out on injury.
Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in the Crew’s 1–1 tie against the New York Red Bulls (MLS).
Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 0–4 loss to Aston Villa (Championship).
Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX): Played 77 minutes in Colorado’s 3–3 tie with Portland (MLS).
Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 77 minutes in Chicago Fire’s 1–2 loss to the LA Galaxy.
Jonathan Amon (19 Summerville, SC): Did not see action this week.
Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Did not play in Werder Bremen’s 1–1 draw against Wolfsburg (Bundesliga).
Timothy Weah (20, New York, NY): Did not see action this week.
Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes and scored in DC United’s 2–0 win vs. Atlanta United (MLS).
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
Corey Baird (23, Escondido, CA), Forward, Real Salt Lake
NEWS AND TRANSFERS
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Colorado and Portland’s thrilling 3–3 draw was played out in the coldest temperatures in MLS history, with 18°F registering. The snowy conditions didn’t stop the goals from pouring in though.
John Brooks’ Goal from this weekend: