Your Weekly USMNT Update — July 16, 2019

These next few weeks are a bit of a quiet period for international soccer with the Gold Cup officially over and European top leagues still one month away from the start to their season. We do have some great MLS performances to comment on, but in addition to our normal weekly breakdown, we thought we’d also preview one key USMNT player’s upcoming season for the next few newsletters. 

We are starting with none other than Christian Pulisic, who is about to start his biggest season yet. In fact, he’s already noted that he intends to cut his vacation short in order to start work with his new Chelsea teammates as soon as possible.

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OneGoal USMNT 2019/2020 Season Player Previews

Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA) - Chelsea FC, Premier League

Coming off a superb Gold Cup in which he was named Young Player of the Tournament, Christian Pulisic has it all to prove. Pulisic is well known for his accomplishments with Borussia Dortmund and the USMNT, part of the reason why Chelsea had to pay a staggering $73 million for his transfer back in January. The most expensive American soccer player of all time now must deliver on a squad that has just sold its marquee playmaker and goalscorer, Eden Hazard. On top of that, Chelsea have been slapped with a transfer ban and relieved head coach Maurizio Sarri, who secured a Champions League football and Europa League trophy. With change there is always opportunity, and Pulisic must have this vision, as Chelsea will be limited in player selection and now have club legend Frank Lampard at the helm. 

Lampard may be the perfect mentor for Pulisic. The top all time goal scorer and assister (211 goals, 92 assists) for Chelsea, Lampard plied his trade in the center of the pitch either behind an attacking midfielder or as a number 10. Though Pulisic has spent the majority of his career as an out-and-out winger, there have been clear signs that he is developing a skillset to play as an attacking midfielder. Berhalter played Christian in the 10 role for the entirety of the Gold Cup, which saw him score and assist three times each. For the United States, Pulisic is quite clearly the focal point of the attack. Throughout the recent tournament, Pulisic had the freedom to roam, drifting out wide, swinging in crosses, driving at defenders 1v1, and even dropping back to pick up the ball near the halfway line to spark movements forward. 

For Chelsea, there have been murmurs that Lampard would like to employ Pulisic in a similar role. For a Champions League level squad, the attacking talent is more evenly distributed, so Pulisic will not have to bear the burden of being the main offensive engine. What he will have to learn is the ability to link up with his teammates and distribute a top class final pass. From a central position, he may not be able to run as freely at defenders as he is used to doing out wide. Another challenge for Pulisic is the immense physicality of the Premier League. There is a difference between running at a CONCACAF defender and at one that has won a World Cup. Just “bulking up” a little might be too obvious of an answer for Pulisic to gain a competitive edge; he will have to work off of his teammates and perfect his already impressive turning and first touch finishing. 

Let’s take a deep breath for a second though - at 20 years old, Pulisic is already one of the greatest American players ever. He will continue to be successful and Frank Lampard will surely impart some priceless knowledge on him. Though he might not score a hattrick in the season opener against Manchester United, he will continue to grow and we should all support him as he embarks on his biggest test yet.

Star of the Week

Keaton Parks (21, Plano, TX) - NYCFC, MLS

This week’s Star of the Week goes to Keaton Parks, who was a dominant figure in this week’s Hudson River derby between the Red Bulls and NYCFC (2-1). In a holding midfield role, Keaton (who wears his first name on his jersey), was NYCFC’s orchestrator in the midfield, as the young American showed tremendous abilities to play out of tight spaces. To that end, despite his 6’4 frame, Keaton looks extremely elegant on the ball and we’d already peg him more comfortable than current USMNT players in the center of the midfield. 

More than that, Keaton showed the ability to find the right teammates in the right spaces, at the right time. For a 21-year-old who is just recently working his way onto the first team, his composure and vision was beyond impressive. One area where Keaton has room to improve is in showing a bit more aggression when working against the ball, though he has a knack to drift into the right places on defense - something that is like to bolster his interception numbers. Lastly, Keaton seems like a good tactical fit for Berhalter’s possession oriented system. 

If Keaton continues to string together performances such as this one against the Red Bulls, we think he could have a future with the USMNT. Berhalter already got a first hand look at him when the U23s joined the senior team practice ahead of the Gold Cup, so we are sure he is on the radar.

Other Notable Performances

Jonathan Lewis (22, Plantation, FL) - Colorado Rapids, MLS

Jonathan Lewis and the Colorado Rapids looks to be a great fit right about now. In his fifth game for the Rapids (2-2 vs. the Portland Timbers), Lewis netted his third goal for his new club. A raw, talented player, our biggest hesitation on Lewis has been lack of consistency when he was at NYCFC in front of goal, but that trend seems to be changing with his new club, as he once again showed tremendous composure in front of goal with this volley:

Brian White (23, Flemington, NJ) - NY Red Bulls, MLS

Brian White had another impressive performance in the Hudson Derby this past weekend. Though he did not find the score sheet, White kept Bradley Wright-Phillips out of the starting lineup. Throughout the first half, White exhibited his immense work rate and nice touch on the ball. His best chance of the match came off a high floated cross, in which he timed his jump to perfection to place a beautiful curling header towards the top right corner. It only took a superb save from USMNT keeper Sean Johnson to keep NYCFC ahead. As we mentioned last week, it will be tough for coach Chris Armas to keep White out of the lineup. He may be best employed just ahead of Wright-Phillips as a target man. Regardless of formation, Armas will need to continue to rotate as the busy MLS schedule churns on, so we fully expect White to keep clocking minutes and scoring goals.

Christian Roldan (24, Artesia, CA) - Seattle Sounders, MLS

Though Roldan had a bit of a poor Gold Cup, it’s quite clear that he is at his level in MLS. Roldan had a solid performance against Atlanta United (2-1 victory). Notching an assist, Roldan played in his usual position at the center of the field. He had no issues with ball distribution or defending. Roldan even had a major chance to score after making a late run into the box, chested down a lofted through ball but struck his shot at the keeper. Roldan’s assist was a cheeky flick pass to Rui Diaz, who scored an incredible solo effort to give the Sounders the lead. Roldan will want to bounce back from an uninspiring tournament with the USMNT and his recent play against Atlanta is a sign that he is on his way.

MLS Spotlight

Jackson Yueill (22, Bloomington, MN) - San Jose Earthquakes, MLS

A bit under the radar, Jackson Yueill had an impressive game in the Cali Clasico in which the San Jose Earthquakes turned victorious (1-3). Berhalter gave Yueill his debut in the 0-1 loss to Jamaica in the friendly ahead of the Gold Cup after his great form this MLS season. Yueill had a goal and an assist against the Galaxy, and tallied an 84% pass accuracy. The defensive midfielder is known for his layoff passing and long range shooting. Yueill’s goal came off a rebound which he volleyed into the roof of the net, sealing the victory for San Jose. Note Yueill’s awareness to drift away from a defender and find open space to knock in the parry after the shot was taken. Though Yueill might not be a perfect fit for the Bradley role, he may be able to get a look into the team if he stays consistent.

One of our favorite plays from Yueill this season was his assist earlier in May against Chicago. See for yourself why we are impressed with his work rate:

Youth Spotlight

Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY) - Ajax Amsterdam, Eredivisie

Our Youth Spotlight goes to Sergino Dest, who has been spending the last few weeks with Ajax’s senior team during their summer training camp. A pacey, intelligent full back, Dest is known for his ability on the ball and joining the attack for the Dutch side, though he only featured in Ajax’s second team all of last season. However, if the current friendlies are any indication of what’s in store for Dest next season, it looks like he could become a mainstay with Ajax’s first team. Normally a right back, Dest has been playing on the left wing with the senior team and impressed in his run outs so far. We continue to think he is the most talented US full back at our disposal, and it looks like he’s ready for senior minutes this season.

OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today

Goalkeepers:

  • Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Did not play this week - no game this week.

  • Ethan Horvath (24, Highlands Ranch, CO): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Club Brugge remains in pre-season.

  • Bill Hamid (28, Annandale, VA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 2-2 draw to New England Revolution (MLS).

Defenders:

  • John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Wolfbsurg remains in pre-season.

  • DeAndre Yedlin (26, Seattle, WA): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Newcastle remains in pre-season.

  • Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): Did not play this week - no game this week.

  • Matt Miazga (24, Clifton, NJ): Did not play this week - no game this week.

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Baton Rouge, LA): Did not play this week - no game this week.

  • Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY): Did not play competitive soccer this week as Ajax remains in pre-season.

  • Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in NY Red Bulls 2-1 victory against NYCFC (MLS).

  • Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Played 28 minutes in San Jose Earthquakes’ 1-3 victory against LA Galaxy.

Midfielders:

  • Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and RB Leipzig remains in pre-season.

  • Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Did not play competitive soccer this week as Schalke 04 remains in pre-season.

  • Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in Columbus Crew’s 0-1 loss to Orlando City (MLS).

  • Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Derby County remains in pre-season.

  • Paxton Pomykal (19, Lewisville, TX): Played 90 minutes in FC Dallas’ 0-1 loss vs. Minnesota United (MLS).

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 25 minutes in Chicago Fire’s 1-2 loss to FC Cincinnati (MLS).

Forwards:

  • Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Did not play this week - no game this week.

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes in D.C. United’s 2-2 draw to New England Revolution.

  • Tyler Boyd (24, Santa Ynez, CA): Did not play competitive soccer this week as Besiktas remains in pre-season.

  • Jonathan Amon (20, Summerville, SC): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week.

  • Timothy Weah (19, New York, NY): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week.

  • Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week.

On the Rise / In the Hunt

  • Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX), Midfield, Colorado Rapids

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

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

  • Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL), Defense, FC Dallas

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

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

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

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

  • Jonathan Lewis (22, Plantation, FL), Forward, Colorado Rapids

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

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

  • 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

  • Walker Zimmerman (26, Lawrenceville, GA), Defense, LAFC

News / Transfers

  • Antonee Robinson has signed a three-year deal with Wigan Athletic

  • Gio Reyna is joining Dortmund’s first team for their summer training camp in the United States.

  • Jonathan Amon was not included in the game day roster for his current club in Denmark. A sign that a move is set to being finalized?

  • Tyler Adams has joined RB Leipzig practice but is still easing into full speed given his recent injury.

  • Timothy Weah has completed his move to Lille and joined his new team in practice.

  • Sebastian Soto netted two goals in Hannover’s recent pre-season friendly.

  • Bobby Wood has received the chance to prove himself with Hamburg, starting their most recent friendly.

  • Aaron Long has reportedly drawn interest from an unnamed Premier League side.

  • Zack Steffen’s expected transfer to German side Fortuna Düsseldorf has been officially announced.

  • Tyler Boyd has officially signed with Turkish top side Besiktas Instanbul.

Injury Update

  • John Anthony Brooks (Ligament strain; in individual practice)

  • George Bello (Adductor injury; expected to miss another month) 

  • DeAndre Yedlin (Groin surgery; timeline TBD)

  • Duane Holmes (Thigh injury; in recovery)

  • Tyler Adams (Groin injury; joining RB Leipzig for pre-season camp)

  • Ethan Horvath (Hand injury; joining Club Brugge for pre-season camp)

In Case You Missed It

Gio Reyna is off to a sizzling start with Dortmund’s U19 team in Germany. Check out this goal in his first game:

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