Your Weekly USMNT Update — May 14, 2019

With the English Premier League and Championship seasons already over, there are only a few European match ups left before we’ll fully turn our attention to the Gold Cup (June 15 - July 7) and the U20 World Cup (May 23 - June 15).

But for now, here are some key USMNT battles to keep an eye on for the next week or two:  

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are pushing the German title race all the way to the end. With one game left to play, Dortmund sits in second place, trailing Bayern Munich by just two points. Bayern is set to play Frankfurt, while Dortmund will look to beat Mönchengladbach in what is sure to be a thrilling end to the German Bundesliga.

Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge pulled out a critical 3-2 win vs. league leaders Genk over the weekend, solidifying their title ambitions. Club Brugge now trail Genk by three points with two games left to play.

Duane Holmes and Derby County suffered a small setback with a 0-1 loss to Leeds in the first leg of their EPL play-off promotion matchup. The Rams will look to overturn this deficit in the second leg on Wednesday.

Tyler Adams (injured with an adductor problem) still has the chance to win the German DFB Cup as Leipzig is set to take on Bayern in the final on May 25th.  

As always, please feel free to email us at hello@onegoal.us to let us know what you think about our newsletter!

Star of the Week

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

For the second week in a row, our Star of the Week goes to Christian Pulisic, who put up another man of the match performance in Dortmund’s crucial 3-2 win vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Emotional send-off in his last home game for Dortmund: It was an extra special day for Pulisic, as it marked his last ever home game at the Signal Iduna Park before moving to Chelsea this summer. As customary when big players leave the club, Pulisic had the chance to formally say goodbye to the Dortmund supporters ahead of the game. After a phenomenal five years for the USMNT star in Germany, a visibly emotional Pulisic explained that “Dortmund will always feel like home” to a roaring “yellow wall”. But perhaps the most emotional part of the night for Pulisic: in the 90th minute, fans gave him a much deserved standing ovation and chanted his name for the last time when Pulisic was given an early exit by Coach Favre.

Pulisic himself admitted there may have been “a few tears” ahead of kick-off, underscoring just how much the last few years have meant to him.

It sure will be a bit odd to see him in Blue instead of Black & Yellow, but we are excited to see what he can do on the biggest of stages at Chelsea next year.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Check out a few highlights from Pulisic’s emotional send-off from the BVB fans including his words before the game:

Keeping Dortmund’s title hopes alive with an early goal: The USMNT standout provided headlines on the pitch as well, as Pulisic clinched the go-ahead goal for Dortmund in the 41st minute. After a driven diagonal ball from Guerreiro found Delaney at the back post, the Dane re-directed the ball across the goal to find Pulisic’s head. While not a difficult header in the end, Pulisic’s determination and positional awareness enabled him to find the back of the net on this one. He also did not shy away from contact with the opposing keeper and was able to find enough space in an otherwise very crowded Dusseldorf box. For the remainder of the game, Pulisic was a handful for the defense, running at defenders with speed and completing more dribbles than any other player on the pitch (7). With a bit more luck in the final third, he could have added an assist or two, but without a doubt it was an all around very successful last home game for Pulisic, especially given Bayern’s 0-0 tie vs. Leipzig.

Other Notable Performances

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

Bright spot on both ends of the pitch for Derby: In Derby’s 0-1 loss vs. Leeds United, Holmes was a clear bright spot on both ends of the pitch. Operating primarily in a “10” role, Holmes frequently drifted out to the wings when Derby was in possession in an effort to free up space for his teammates in the final third. In fact, one of those movements jump-started Derby’s best chance of the night early on:

His dribbling skills are undeniable, but the most impressive part of this chance has to be Holmes’ run. Instead of simply passing the ball to Wilson and remaining static in the center (as most players would), he continued his run out-wide, thus creating a tremendous amount of space for Wilson to cut into. His run also opened up a passing lane to find a striker up top. Though sometimes overlooked, Holmes deserves a ton of credit for this chance.

Equally as important, Holmes did his part in defense as well by never giving up on a ball, exemplified by this play:

79% pass accuracy, three won tackles and one interception round out his solid performance on the day.

Frank Lampard full of praise for Holmes: Before the game, it was unclear whether or not Holmes would be able to start, as he is still recovering from a thigh injury that left him sidelined for the past few weeks. However, similar to Derby’s game vs. West Brom last week, Lampard decided that he simply could not miss Holmes’ explosiveness in the final third in such an important game. In fact, the Derby County manager has been full of praise for the young American after being asked about Holmes’ inclusion in the starting XI last week, despite not being at full fitness:

“Duane was out for a few weeks with a thigh strain and it was a big ask from me to play him against West Brom but I felt we needed his speed and qualities” - Frank Lampard on Duane Holmes ahead of the match-up vs. Leeds

Lampard, one of the very best “10s” of his generation, clearly sees something special in Holmes. Holmes already looked full of energy vs. Leeds. Safe to say that with another few days of training and recovery under his belt, he’ll come out swinging when Derby take on Leeds on Wednesday for the second round of this all-important promotion match-up.

Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA) - New York Red Bulls, MLS

Though the New York Red Bulls have been struggling defensively this season, individually, Aaron Long has put together several impressive performances at the heart of the defense. Though NYRB lost 1-2 to Montreal this past weekend, Long was one of the best defenders on the pitch, winning eight aerial duels and having 72% pass accuracy out of the back. For one of those duels, Long climbed above his marking defender off a set piece to nod in the first goal of the match.

Long’s impressive sprint pace, power in the air, and patience on the tackle have made him one of Berhalter’s favorites. Since his debut for the USMNT in September 2018, Long has made four additional appearances and captained the side against Panama in January. We’re confident he’ll make the Gold Cup squad and could see him make a few starts in his competitive tournament debut, especially given the looming questions surrounding John Anthony Brooks’ health.

Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX) - Colorado Rapids, MLS

Positional Development: Kellyn Acosta had one of his best performances of the season in the Rocky Mountain Cup clash against RSL. Acosta made the most of his second start as an attacking mid this season, sweeping in a loose ball to score his first goal of 2019. Another graduate of the FC Dallas Academy, Acosta seems to be slowly making his way up the pitch positionally - originally making his mark as a defensive mid, he is finding success playing behind the striker this season.

With 140 MLS appearances at only the age of 23, it says a lot to see an established player grow into a new role. Acosta’s versatility in the midfield gives him a unique advantage to some of the other midfielders in the US contingency. Barring any other major injuries, we think Acosta should be in the conversation for a spot in Berhalter’s USMNT midfield.

Learn more about Acosta’s Brazilian mentor from his youth days:

Erik Palmer Brown (22, Napoleon, OH) - NAC Breda, Eredivisie

Defensively sound:
In a close 1-2 loss to Heerenveen, Breda’s Erik Palmer Brown was among the best performers as he and his center-back partner, Menno Koch, reduced Heerenveen to just three shots on target on the day. A hard-fought game, Palmer Brown primarily stood out with last ditch challenges (two critical blocked shots) and clearances (six on the day) as Heerenveen controlled much of the ball.

Palmer-Brown on the move this summer? With NAC Breda officially relegated from the Dutch Eredivisie, it seems likely that Palmer-Brown will not return to Breda next season and instead join new club. The 22-year-old center back remains on loan from Manchester City, but we would not rule out another loan move or outright sale as his performance in the Netherlands will surely have sparked some interest across Europe. One of the more technically gifted center backs on the ball among our USMNT pool, he could fit well with a team that likes to build-up play from the back.

MLS Spotlight

Cristian Roldan (23, Artesia, CA) - Seattle Sounders, MLS  

Cristian Roldan’s right foot is on fire: For the second match in a row, Roldan has scored an absolute worldie -- this week, launching a sumptuous half-volley into the top corner of the net. Playing in his favorite defensive midfield spot, Roldan stayed on the edge of the box during a corner and chested down a headed clearance. He let the ball bounce before striking across the underside to make the ball fly up and dip right below the crossbar.

Gold Cup Bound? Roldan has been stringing together a few solid performances and has become a key player for Seattle’s success this season. Named man of the match in the 1-0 victory against the Dynamo, Roldan had 89% pass success and 81 touches mostly focused in front of the defence though he did make strides forward to provide extra support in the attack. Roldan’s engine has allowed him to cover both ends of the field, squeezing in successful dribbles and another shot, while distributing 64 passes. Roldan has had nine appearances for the USMNT since 2017, and while there are probably better midfielders in the USMNT pool, if he continues to play well, Berhalter might have a second thought on including him in the Gold Cup squad.

CR7’s sublime finish:

Youth Spotlight

Gio Reyna (17, Bedford, NY) - Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga

Son of National Soccer Hall of Famer Claudio Reyna and former USWNT player Danielle Egan, Giovanni Reyna quite literally has American soccer in his blood. Signed in January by Borussia Dortmund, the US U17 international has been impressing at the CONCACAF U17 Championship. He has scored a game-winning free kick and a penalty, leading the US to the semi-finals. Playing as an attacking midfielder or winger, Reyna is an excellent dribbler, passer, and set piece-specialist. Gio’s name itself might turn heads, but we’re sure he’d rather be known for his performances. As one American leaves BVB, can another break into the team and make his mark?

Fun fact, Gio was named after his father’s former teammate at Glasgow Rangers, former Dutch national team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Reyna’s winning free-kick:

OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today

Note: Given his early success in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven’s U19, we are excited to add Richy Ledezma to our “In the Hunt” section in place of Andrew Carleton.

Goalkeepers:

  • Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Did not play in Columbus’ 0-3 loss to LAFC due to injury (MLS).

  • Ethan Horvath (23, Highlands Ranch, CO): Played 90 minutes in Club Brugge’s 3-2 win vs. Genk (Belgian Pro League).

  • Bill Hamid (28, Annandale, VA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 1-0 win vs. Sporting KC (MLS).

  • John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Did not play due to an injury this week (Bundesliga).

  • DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Did not play this weekend due to injury (Premier League).

  • Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): No game this weekend, Championship has ended.

  • Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ): No game this weekend, Championship has ended.

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Baton Rouge, LA): No game this weekend, Championship has ended.

  • Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY): No game this weekend.

  • Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the Red Bulls’ 1-2 loss to Montreal (MLS).

  • Walker Zimmerman (26, Lawrenceville, GA): Played 90 minutes in LAFC’s 3-0 win vs. the Columbus Crew (MLS).

  • Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Played 90 minutes in San Jose’s 1-3 loss vs. the New England Revolution (MLS).

Midfielders:

  • Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Did not play this week due to injury (Bundesliga).

  • Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 90 minutes in Schalke’s 1-1 tie vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga).

  • Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in Columbus’ 0-3 loss to LAFC (MLS).

  • Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Played 70 minutes in Derby County’s 0-1 loss to Leeds (EPL Play-Off).

  • Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX): Played 90 minutes in Colorado’s 2-3 loss to Real Salt Lake (MLS).

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 61 minutes in Chicago Fire’s 5-0 win vs. New England and played 57 minutes in Chicago’s 2-0 win vs. Minnesota (MLS).

Forwards:

  • Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 90 minutes in Dortmund’s 3-2 win vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf (Bundesliga).

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes and scored the only goal in DC United’s 1-0 win vs. Sporting KC (MLS).

  • Jonathan Amon (20, Summerville, SC): Played 90 minutes in FC Nordsjælland’s 2-0 loss to Brøndby (Danish Superliga).

  • Timothy Weah (19, New York, NY): Did not play this week.

  • Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Did not play in Werder Bremen’s 1-0 win vs. Hoffenheim but was in the match day roster (Bundesliga).

On the Rise / In the Hunt

  • Corey Baird (23, Escondido, CA), Forward, Real Salt Lake

  • George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA), Defense, Atlanta United

  • Alex Bono (25, Baldwinsville, NY), Goalkeeper, Toronto FC

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

  • 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

  • Chris Gloster (18, Montclair, NJ), Defense, Hannover 96

  • Richy Ledezma (18, Phoenix, AZ) - Midfield, PSV Eindhoven

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

  • Alex Mendez (18, Los Angeles, CA), Midfield, SC Freiburg

  • Andrija Novakovich (22, Muskego, WI) - Fortuna Sittard

  • Erik Palmer-Brown (22, Napoleon, OH), Defense, NAC Breda

  • Paxton Pomykal (19, Lewisville, TX), Midfield, FC Dallas

  • Chris Richards (19, Hoover, AL), Defense, Bayern Munich

  • Sebastian Soto (18, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Hannover 96

  • Haji Wright (21, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Schalke 04

News / Transfers

Injury Update

  • Tyler Adams (Adductor injury, still out after missing 8 games)

  • Mark McKenzie (Appendicitis, expected to return soon)

  • John Anthony Brooks (Ligament strain, will not play for the rest of the season)

  • George Bello (Adductor injury, expected to miss another 2-3 months)

  • DeAndre Yedlin (Groin surgery; timeline TBD)

  • Zack Steffen (Foot injury; timeline TBD)

In Case You Missed It

Check out our recent blog post on how Pulisic, McKennie and Adams have forged a path for many future USMNT generations.

Alex Mendez has been making some noise in Germany since joining Freiburg’s U19 team earlier this year. Not only because of this stunning free kick:

Corey Baird with a fantastic first touch and outside the boot finish:

Paul Arriola’s goal against Sporting KC: