Your Weekly USMNT Update — July 23, 2019

On this edition of OneGoal, we continue our 2019/2020 Season Player Previews. We cover Timothy Weah, Weston McKennie, and Andrija Novakovich. 

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OneGoal USMNT 2019/2020 Season Player Previews

Timothy Weah (19, New York, NY) - Lille OSC, Ligue 1

After a promising performance in the U20 World Cup, Timothy Weah sealed a $9 million move from parent club Paris Saint-Germain to Lille OSC this summer. Weah, who has experience playing across the front three (wingers or striker), will look for first team minutes as Lille will most likely cash-in for $80 million rated winger Nicolas Pepe. Finishing runners up in Ligue 1 last season, Lille secured Champions League football and scored 68 goals in total. Historically, the club is known for nurturing top attacking talent with Nicolas Pepe, Frank Ribery, Eden Hazard, and Kevin Mirallas all spending their early years at the French club. Though Weah will have some competition with six forwards on the books, he is in the right environment to get playing time and develop as a lethal striker. 

The 19-year-old scored four goals in 17 appearances on his loan at Celtic last season, winning the Scottish Premier League and becoming a fan favorite in the process. For the last half of the season, Weah played less under manager Neil Lennon, who joined midway. Regardless, everytime Weah stepped on the pitch, he added a sense of electricity, bringing a spark of creativity and acceleration to the attack. Most of the goals he scored for Celtic were the results of one-on-one finishes, in which he used his blistering pace to pull away from defenders and finish calmly with the keeper bearing down. For Weah’s winner against Qatar to send the United States to the knockout rounds of the World Cup, he pounced on a loose ball, eliminated a defender and set up a shot in one touch and finished cleanly from close range. These goals are perfect examples of Weah’s ability to be clinical in the box. Clearly, he has the right skill set for a striker, but consistency and professional minutes are lacking. Ideally, Weah would want 25+ appearances for Lille next season, and he has a good opportunity to play as the team is competing in four competitions. 

We may see Timo get minutes on the wing next season as Leao, Ikone and Remy rotated as center forwards last season. Weah is a great dribbler and can link up very well, so playing on the wing may help him adjust to his new team and build his confidence. If he can sharpen the saw with his hold up play and consistency in finishing, hopefully he can solidify his place as the best American striker in Europe. Our prediction? Timothy Weah scores 12 goals and five assists next season, notching points both in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Let’s see it happen, Timo!

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

After extending his contract with the Royal Blues until 2024, Schalke’s new head coach David Wagner will look to McKennie as one of the leaders in a Schalke side that will undoubtedly be looking to make up for a poor performance last season. Following a year of turmoil, we think the newly appointed American coach (and USMNT player) will look to bring some stability to the German club - something that will be critical for McKennie as he looks to take the next step in his development. Specifically, the key for McKennie will be to get consistent minutes in the same position on the field, unlike last season where played literally every single outfield player position minus left back for Schalke. Sure, McKennie is by far one of the most versatile players we’ve ever seen, but we think for him to make the next step, he needs to hone in on one position. 

Ideally, we see that to be in the heart of the midfield as Schalke’s main ball winner and box to box midfielders with a license to join the attack given his aerial abilities. Wagner has already touted McKennie’s aggressiveness and danger in front of goal, so we think it is likely that he will use him predominantly in the midfield. Schalke’s goals ahead of the season are clear: the German team needs to return back to a place in the top six and McKennie’s contract extension is a clear sign that the club is banking on him to help lead them there. 

Andrija Novakovich (22, Muskego, WI) - Reading FC, Championship  

One of the more under the radar USMNT prospects, this season is an opportunity for Andrija Novakovich to claim a permanent spot with the USMNT, as the tall striker will have a chance to impress in the English Championship with his return to Reading. While he already impressed with Dutch side Fortuna Sittard (Nine goals and two assists in the first Dutch league) last year, it seems Berhalter is waiting to see Novakovich prove himself in a different league before a call up. As such, it was great to see Reading recall him from loan early this summer - a clear sign that the bosses think Novakovich is ready for the next step. 

Interestingly, we think his strengths are well suited for the English league. Strong in the air, robust 1v1 with his back to goal, and able to put the ball in the net out of virtually any position. As a player, he reminds us of a very raw Robert Lewandowski (yes, we get it - not a totally realistic comparison), and his style could be an interesting addition for the USMNT long term. If he can net 10 goals this year for Reading, his call up should become a no brainer for Berhalter. 

In fact, with the lack of depth at striker with the USMNT, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him earn a call up sooner rather than later. Maybe even in the upcoming friendly vs. Mexico in early September. 

MLS Spotlight

Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA) - DC United, MLS

Arriola has continued his good form after the Gold Cup and stood out in games against Cincinnati FC and Atlanta United. The speedy menace scored and assisted in the Cincinnati game and had several good chances in Atlanta. 

Arriola’s best qualities maintain to be his incredible use of his pace and ability to turn. Though he did put one in the net in the first match of the week, Arriola missed a huge opportunity to score on a breakaway against Atlanta. Timing his run to perfection, Arriola sprinted up to full speed to get several yards ahead of his defender, but was unable to finish one on one against Guzan. He also used his pace on a similar breakaway attempt but was unable to lay off a well timed pass to his onrushing teammates. Still only 24 and not at his peak yet, Arriola has room to improve in his final ball and finish. His speed and aggression make him one of the best American players on the counter attack. 

Youth Spotlight

Gio Reyna (16, New York, NY) - Borussia Dortmund U19, Bundesliga

One of the youngest players in the Dortmund contingency, Gio Reyna has been turning heads this preseason during Dortmund’s summer tour through the United States. Initially thought of as a marketing ploy in the media (after all, Reyna is two years younger than the second youngest player in a stacked Dortmund squad), Gio was more than capable of playing with some of the world’s best. Technically gifted beyond his age on the ball, Reyna was not afraid to get stuck into tackles during the friendly matchups vs. Liverpool and the Seattle Sounders. In fact, his persistence earned him an assist vs. Liverpool after Gio kept the ball alive in the box before finding Paco Alcacer. 

Given the caliber of Dortmund’s squad this year, we think he’ll likely stay with the U19s for the season. But he certainly made an impression on the team, coach, and fans, so a call up to the first team seems to be in the cards sooner rather than later. 

A quote from Dortmund’s keeper Roman Bürki probably sums it up best: 

“You can’t tell that he is only sixteen. His playing style is very robust and he knows what the game is all about.” High praise for the young American, whose future is undeniably bright.

OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today

Note: After a fantastic Gold Cup with the USMNT at right back, we are adding Reggie Cannon to our roster in place of Nick Lima. 

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 0-2 loss to Atlanta United, but was on the bench in DC United’s 1-4 victory vs. Cincinnati FC (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 3-1 loss to Toronto FC and played 90 minutes in NY Red Bulls 0-1 victory against Orlando City (MLS). 

  • Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL): Played 64 minutes in FC Dallas’ 0-1 victory against Sporting KC.

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 2-2 draw vs. Chicago Fire and played 90 minutes with an assist in Columbus Crew’s 2-1 win vs. Montreal Impact (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): Did not play this week - not in FC Dallas squad. 

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 57 minutes and scored a goal in Chicago Fire’s 2-2 draw to Columbus Crew and played 70 minutes in Chicago Fire’s 2-0 loss to Philadelphia Union (MLS).

Forwards:

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

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 76 minutes and notched a goal and assist in D.C. United’s 1-4 victory vs. FC Cincinnati and also played 90 minutes in D.C. United’s 2-0 loss to Atlanta United.

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA), Defense, San Jose Earthquakes

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

  • Andrija Novakovich (22, Muskego, WI), Forward, Reading FC

  • Erik Palmer-Brown (22, Napoleon, OH), Defense, Chelsea FC

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

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

  • Haji Wright (21, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, VVV Venlo 

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

News / Transfers

  • West Ham United are looking to activate Aaron Long’s $5 Million release clause 

  • AC Milan are interested in Paxton Pomykal
    Hobro IK sporting director has noted that he is willing to sell American player Emanuel Sabbi.

  • PSV Eindhoven has reportedly made an improved offer for Chris Gloster of Hannover 96. 

  • Josh Sargent has scored twice in pre-season and has been outspoken about earning a spot in the starting XI this year “I want to play more this season and earn a spot in the starting XI”

  • Christian Pulisic has officially started training with Chelsea. 

  • Matt Miazga has been linked with a move to Italian side Fiorentina.

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

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