Your Weekly USMNT Update — March 12, 2019

A quick heads up: Based on your feedback, we’ve added a Youth Spotlight to our weekly newsletter, where we plan to highlight a promising U.S. youth player every week. As always, feel free to let us know your thoughts at hello@onegoal.us or give us a thumbs up at the bottom of the email.

All Eyes on USMNT March Roster Selection: As we wrap up a busy week for our U.S. soccer prospects, all focus shifts toward the USMNT squad selection for the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador (March 21) and Chile (March 26) that is expected to be announced later today.

First Squad at Full Strength: It goes without saying that the upcoming friendlies mark the real first test for our new USMNT and Berhalter’s tactical system with the full player pool at his disposal. While the January squad was exclusively comprised of MLS players, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the mix swing in favor of European based players, so Berhalter can get a firsthand look at his entire player pool.

Among some of the guys that have been off to strong start in Europe this year, we’d like to see Duane Holmes, Ethan Horvath and Romain Gall receive a call up and get a chance with the team.

A Transition Takes Time: Most importantly, while we expect the future USMNT to include many younger U.S. prospects that we cover on a weekly basis at OneGoal, a transition takes time. As such, we would not be surprised to see some veterans including Fabian Johnson or Michael Bradley be included this time around. That said, see our last newsletter on why we don’t think Bradley should play a role in 2022. And more importantly, we are excited to see the progression on our way to 2022. This is just the beginning.

But back to this week…

The Big Names in Bundesliga Perform:

  • Christian Pulisic: A goal and an assist in just over 10 minutes of playing time. Pulisic came off the bench to be the difference maker in Dortmund’s crucial 3–1 victory vs. Stuttgart, which ensured that Dortmund remained level on points with Bayern at the top of the table.

  • Weston McKennie: Back from injury and immediately the focal point for Schalke’s midfield up and down the pitch. Clinched an assist.

  • Tyler Adams: Another solid performance for Leipzig’s midfield engine. 85% pass accuracy, two won aerials, four successful tackles, and one clearance say it all.

STAR OF THE WEEK

Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey PA) — Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga

Game winner for Dortmund: Our Star of the Week goes to Christian Pulisic, who needed just over 10 minutes to decide a crucial Bundesliga game against VfB Stuttgart virtually by himself. After coming off the bench in the 79th minute at 1–1, Pulisic made an impact right away as he was able to retain the ball in the box while surrounded by Stuttgart defenders before finding Paco Alcacer who did not miss from point blank range. Just before the game ended, Pulisic got himself on the score sheet when he finished a cross from the left side, with a skillful direct take that landed in the right corner.

A man for big moments, not just for Dortmund: Between injuries, his pending transfer to Chelsea after the season, and tough competition on the wing in Sancho and Guerreiro, this year has not been easy for Pulisic. However, he’s clearly shown that he can be the guy to step up in big moments without the need for many chances given his blistering speed, an eye for teammates, and a clinical finishing ability.

In fact, despite limited minutes this season, Pulisic has averaged a goal involvement every ~130 minutes in all competitions, underscoring his efficiency. Most importantly, it seems as though Pulisic has regained his form in the final stretch of the season and ahead of the March USMNT Camp.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX) — Schalke 04, Bundesliga

Box to box domination: After recovering from injury, McKennie immediately returned to Schalke’s starting XI and took on a leading role in the center of the field. He stood out with his usual strong tackling abilities, clearances and aerial dominance, winning a staggering 12 challenges in the air.

However, in possession, he was just as valuable for Schalke as he often made deep runs from the middle of the field all the way into the box or behind Werder’s back line. This strategy was particularly successful when Schalke was in transition, as shown in the buildup before Schalke’s opening goal: McKennie was able to clinch an assist thanks to an aggressive run at the back line and winning a header before Embolo did the rest.

Similar role for the USMNT: His versatility has been remarkable for Schalke this season, as he’s played virtually every position from right back all the way to left forward. During this week’s game against Werder Bremen, however, McKennie found himself in what seems the most logical role for him: a box to box player with a clear license to join the attack.

We primarily see him operating next to Adams in a center midfield position for the USMNT. Assuming Adams is tasked with a more defensive role when the USMNT is in possession, we think McKennie could join the attack in transition and thrive on the flexibility, much like the he did against Werder Bremen for Schalke. With both players just 20 years old, an Adams/McKennie midfield duo is definitely something to get excited about.

Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA) — Columbus Crew, MLS

Penalty Kick Prowess: Zack Steffen was in top form again this past weekend. Coming up huge with a penalty kick save while the Crew were 1–0 up on the Revolution, Steffen dove to his right to parry up a shot from Diego Fagundez, catching his own rebound after. Penalty kick heroics are no anomaly for Steffen, as his efforts eliminated Atlanta in the 2017 Playoffs and DC United last year. To cap off a solid clean sheet with three saves, Steffen showed off his distribution ability by launching a long ball in the dying minutes of the game, perfectly into the path of Hector Jiminez who laid it on a platter for Zardes to finish off the Revs.

Steffen is a well rounded keeper with great shot stopping abilities, penalty saving technique, and top kicking skills — surely these qualities are what caught the eyes of Man City. He’ll be joining the blue Manchester team this summer.

As great as it will be to see Steffen in sky blue, we’re more excited to see Zack play in the red, white, and blue. He had a top performance against France in the lead up to 2018 FIFA World Cup, making seven saves including a spectacular double save at the end of the match.

Some highlights from the 1–1 match against France (DUBSTEP warning — might want to lower your volume):

MLS SPOTLIGHT

Already on Gregg Berhalter’s radar after earning a call up to January Camp, Jeremy Ebobisse finished nicely with a diving header this week, scoring the only goal in Portland’s 4–1 loss to LAFC. Although his performance might not have saved the Timbers, Ebobisse possesses excellent finishing technique, usually using his speed and finesse to put the ball in the net. He has a classic striker’s instinct by finding himself in good attacking positions to finish off crosses as well. Jeremy can score with his left, right and head.

See Jeremy’s diving header here:

Ebobisse currently plays as a central striker for the Timbers, feeding off of balls from star playmaker Diego Valeri. The two link up quite well, notably during the Timbers knockout round victory against FC Dallas last season. Ebobisse out sprinted his marking center back, drew the keeper out and turned to play the ball back for Valeri to finish. A controlled move from a young player, as Portland was away from home and down to 10 men in this playoff match.

Ebobisse also seems to have a level head on his shoulders. He mentions that he recognizes the privilege that he has to play professionally and highlights his personal drive to perform. If he continues to get minutes and finds consistency — Jeremy can become a real alternative for the USMNT’s front line.

A fun fact about Ebobisse, before playing for Duke, he played alongside Sporting Kansas City’s new signee Gedion Zelalem while in high school.

Ebobisse interview following their playoff victory vs Dallas last year:

YOUTH SPOTLIGHT

Taylor Booth (17, Eden, UT) — Bayern Munich, Bundesliga

This week’s Youth Spotlight goes to Taylor Booth, who celebrated his debut with Bayern Munich’s U19 team in a 4–4 draw to VfB Stuttgart over the weekend. A quick, intelligent, and extremely talented passer in the center midfield, we think Booth has what it takes to make it at a higher level. His ball distribution skills and movement remind us of a young Frenkie de Jong — high praise for the 17 year old USMNT prospect.

Check out a short highlight video below. By the way, Booth joined another promising USMNT talent, Chris Richards (18, Hoover, AL) on the pitch for Bayern.

OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today

Goalkeepers:

  • Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Played 90 minutes in Columbus’ 2–0 win tie vs. New England (MLS)

  • Ethan Horvath (23, Highlands Ranch, CO): Played 90 minutes in Brugge’s 4–0 win vs. Eupen (Belgian Pro League).

  • Alex Bono (24, Baldwinsville, NY): Not in action this weekend- Toronto with bye week.

Defenders:

  • John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in Wolfsburg’s 0–6 loss to Bayern Munich (Bundesliga).

  • DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 3–2 win vs. Everton (Premier League).

  • Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): Recovered from injury and immediately played 90 minutes in Wigan’s 2–3 loss to Reading (Championship).

  • Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ): Played 90 minutes in Reading’s 3–2 win vs. Wigan Athletic (Championship).

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Louisiana): Played 90 minutes in Swansea’s 0–1 loss vs. Norwich City (Championship).

  • George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA): Did not see first team action this week.

  • Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the Red Bulls 0–2 loss to Santos Laguna (CONCACAF CL).

  • Walker Zimmerman (25, Lawrenceville, GA): Played 90 minutes in LAFC’s 4–1 victory against Portland Timbers (MLS)

  • Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Played 56 minutes in San Jose’s 0–3 loss to Minnesota (MLS).

Midfield/Forward:

  • Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 12 minutes in Dortmund’s 3–1 win vs. Stuttgart (Bundesliga).

  • Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Played 73 minutes in Leipzig’s 0–0 tie against Augsburg (Bundesliga).

  • Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 90 minutes in Schalke’s 2–4 loss to Werder Bremen (Bundesliga).

  • Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in Columbus’ 2–0 win tie vs. New England (MLS).

  • Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 1–1 vs. Sheffield Wednesday (Championship).

  • Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX): Played 77 minutes in Colorado’s 0–2 loss vs. Seattle Sounders (MLS).

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 69 minutes in Chicago Fire’s 1–1 tie vs. Orlando City (MLS).

  • Jonathan Amon (19 Summerville, SC): Played 6 minutes in Nordsjaelland’s 2–2 tie vs. FC Kopenhagen (Danish Superliga)

  • Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Did not see action this week.

  • Timothy Weah (20, New York, NY): Played 12 minutes in Celtic’s 0–0 tie vs. Aberdeen (Scottish Premiership).

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 0–0 tie vs. NYCFC.

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 (30, 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

Former FC Basel manager and longtime Bundesliga player, Raphaël Vicky, named U17 USMNT Head Coach

Gossler and Soto get called up into Hannover first team squad

Berhalter Interview on going after talent like Efrain Alvarez

Antonee Robinson returns from injury and immediately starts for Wigan Athletic

LA Galaxy sign USMNT veteran Joe Corona from Club Tijuana in Mexico

FC Cincinnati sign Kenny Saief from RSC Anderlecht

Sporting Kansas City sign Gedion Zelalem from Arsenal F.C.

This week’s upcoming Champions League games with US involvement:

  • Weston McKennie: March 12, 4 PM EST: Man City vs. Schalke

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

10 minutes of Ebobisse’s skills, touches and of course, goals: