Your Weekly USMNT Update — July 30, 2019

We continue our 2019/2020 Season Player Previews this week with Sebastian Soto, Josh Sargent, Zack Steffen, and Sergino Dest as the main features this week - given that most major European seasons are still in the offseason for the next two weeks. Some of the lower level leagues have already begun their play, with most notable USMNT involvement in 2. Bundesliga. Both Sebastian Soto (19) and Chris Gloster (19) made Hannover 96’s game day roster for the first match of the season, underscoring their likely role as first team players this year. 

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OneGoal USMNT 2019/2020 Season Player Previews

Sebastian Soto (19, Los Angeles, CA) - Hannover 96, 2. Bundesliga 

Coming off a strong U20 World Cup performance, Sebastian Soto will be looking to continue his growth in the second German division for relegated side, Hannover 96. Along with USMNT teammate Chris Gloster (who shares his birthday), Soto will be looking to gain senior minutes throughout the season-long battle to secure promotion. Though they didn’t see playing time in the season opener against Stuttgart, graduating from the U19 team to grabbing spots on the first team XI is a signal that Hannover’s coach intends on giving them minutes this season.  

The California native is well known for his composure in front of goal and dribbling ability. His positional awareness in the box was key to his four goals in the U20 World Cup, with the timing of his runs setting him apart in all of his goals. Soto’s speed is a key part of his game and could be useful running against tired defenses later in matches for Hannover this season. Soto has five other strikers in the squad to compete with, and considering he has just been promoted to the first team, he will most likely have to wait a bit before diving into a starting spot. Regardless, he will have to take his chances, but we don’t think he’ll struggle to take his opportunities. Soto’s clutch performances in the World Cup were key in victories against Nigeria and France, in which he was the star player converting difficult chances often one-on-one with the goalkeeper. It’s tough to predict when or how he will get his opportunities, but he has every ability to stay confident and make his mark when the time comes.

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Josh Sargent (19, O Fallon, MO) - Werder Bremen, Bundesliga

The 2019/2020 Bundesliga season with Werder Bremen could very well be the most important season of Josh Sargent’s still very young career, as the young American holds a very real chance of clinching a starting XI spot with one of the bigger German clubs. While we all would have loved to see Sargent at the Gold Cup (or even at the U20 World Cup in Poland), his absence did bring about one good thing: a full pre-season with Werder Bremen. Sargent has made the most out of his time with the team, having played a permanent fixture in Werder Bremen’s pre-season friendlies and routinely scoring goals. Moreover, throughout the past few weeks, it seems as though Sargent has become more versatile in the final third as Werder’s Coach Florian Kohlfedlt (a longtime supporter of Sargent) often utilized him as a right winger, a spot that we believe Sargent is likely to take on in Werder Bremen’s first competitive match of the season. 

More than that, it’s no surprise that Werder Bremen are willing to trust the 19-year-old to step up for them in the final third this year, as they recently renewed his contract. “Josh’s future is at Werder,” Frank Baumann, the general manager of Werder, said at that time. And more than that, the timing for Sargent to make his breakthrough into the first XI seems as good as ever. With Max Kruse, the longtime starting striker for the North German side, having left the club earlier this transfer season, Claudio Pizarro likely not up to play a full 90 minutes, and Werder’s new striker signing (Niclas Fullkrug) not yet up to speed, Sargent looks ready to step up. We think he’s done enough to start alongside Rashica and Osako up top in two weeks when the Bundesliga officially kicks off. Let’s hope he can build on his pre-season performances and retain his spot. The USMNT needs a Josh Sargent living up to his potential! 

And above all, Josh Sargent is hungry to make an impact and the goals have been coming: “It was a great feeling to score today. I want to play more this season and earn a spot in the starting XI” - Josh Sargent after a pre-season friendly on July 20, 2019.

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Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA) - Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bundesliga

Zack Steffen has it all to prove this year while on loan in Germany, the same league where he couldn’t make a break through earlier in his career. But make no doubt about it, during his tenure with the Columbus Crew- Steffen has developed into a keeper of international statue. So much that Manchester City was compelled to purchase the 24 year old as a long-term prospective addition to their squad. 

While Düsseldorf’s coach has still not formally assigned Steffen the starting GK role (he is instead calling for a three-way battle for number one), given pre-season friendlies, Steffen’s strong practice session and a recent injury to Düsseldorf’s starting keeper from last year, Steffen looks to have the #1 spot on lock for now. More than that, the Bundesliga will test Steffen in ways beyond what he experienced in the MLS- especially at a club like Düsseldorf, that is almost certain to be stuck in the relegation battle. Nonetheless, Steffen looks ready from a physical and mental standpoint based on his pre-season friendlies, early impressions in Germany and exceptional reflexes on the line. 

If we can clean up his aerial handling abilities and limit easy mistakes, we think Steffen could become one of the best in the Bundesliga. Drawing comparisons to another great Bundesliga USMNT keeper in Kasey Keller may be a bit early today, but just give it one season.

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

After being called to participate in the first team pre-season for Ajax, Sergino Dest has had somewhat of a meteoric rise in the past few months. Another U20 World Cup standout, Dest had several standout performances at right back during the tournament and throughout the season for Ajax’s youth squad. Following the World Cup, Dest joined Ajax’s first team training camp and impressed head coach Eric ten Hag enough for him to start in several friendlies and a preseason cup final against arch rivals PSV Eindhoven. Interestingly, Dest started in the left back position where he has some experience playing in, though he is usually fitted on the opposite side of the pitch. Dest still excelled, even striking the post in his professional debut against PSV, bringing up questions on whether his left foot can really be considered “weak”.

Excitingly enough, getting a professional debut for a Champions League semi-finalist is an incredible start for the young man, who will be looking to solidify a spot in the first team as a fullback. The starting position is locked down by Nicolas Tagliafico (a hot commodity in this transfer window) but should he be sold, there will be heavy competition as Veltman, Mazaroui, and Boston-born Kik Pierie will try and lock down the starting full back spots. Dest admittedly mentioned that he still had room to grow in his game defensively, especially against professional opponents, and we tend to agree. Dest must improve on his positioning and not rely on his pace to always recover, as sprinting to catch up and forcing last ditch tackles is not a sustainable solution to developing solid defensive skills. Without a doubt, seeing Sergino in a first team Ajax uniform is extremely exciting, and he could not be at a more perfect club to accelerate his improvement. Coach ten Hag loves giving youth an opportunity and if Dest continues to perform, Ajax will certainly commit to his development.

MLS Spotlight

Jesse Gonzalez (24, Edenton, NC) - FC Dallas, MLS

Another young star at FC Dallas, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez had five saves in a solid performance against Real Salt Lake. Gonzalez, who was called up by Berhalter for a March friendly to replace injured Steffen, became eligible for USMNT call ups after he made a one-time switch from Mexico in 2017. Though he has excellent reflexes, there is still room for improvement in his decision making and footwork. After pulling off a brilliant one-handed save off a snap header on a corner, Jesse made a poor punch clearing the ball directly to the feet of an opposing player later in the game. The player shot the ball directly at Gonzalez who deflected away, but it was an example of his room to grow. He is currently the number 1 at Dallas, who have had a great season and are in playoff contention. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez (well known for nurturing young talent) mentioned that he believed Gonzalez deserved a call-up to the Gold Cup. Luchi said (before the tournament), "I think it's warranted, Jesse's progressed very well since preseason. He's shown a high ceiling, maybe higher than others, but that's the beauty of development."

Though he has featured minimally for the US (one cap), if Gonzalez continues to perform, it would be interesting to see if he could get a look for the third goalkeeper position. The match against Mexico in September and Uruguay soon after could be a great opportunity to get some minutes.

Youth Spotlight

Chris Gloster (19, Montclair, NJ) - Hannover 96, Bundesliga

Hardly a “youth” player anymore, Chris Gloster deserves a highlight after his fantastic pre-season with Hannover 96 that saw him earn a permanent spot in the senior squad for the 2. Bundesliga side. A pacey, skillful left back, Gloster could step up into a senior USMNT role over time, with our LB spot lacking depth currently. 

Throughout the summer, Gloster has been linked heavily with a move to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, but as of now it appears he will stick with Hannover - a move that we think could be critical in his development. Who knows, with Hannover’s starting LB already on a suspension for next week’s game, Gloster could get his first professional start sooner than many expect.

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 0-0 draw vs. Chicago Fire (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 2-3 loss to Columbus Crew (MLS). 

  • Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in FC Dallas’ 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake (MLS).

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 45 minutes in Columbus Crew’s 2-3 win vs. NY Red Bulls (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 32 minutes in FC Dallas’ 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake. 

  • Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Did not play this week - not in Chicago Fire squad.

Forwards:

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

  • Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 88 minutes in D.C. United’s 0-0 draw to Chicago Fire (MLS).

  • 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 (24, 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 (19, 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 (19, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Hannover 96 

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

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

News / Transfers

  • John Anthony Brooks has played in recent friendlies for Wolfburg and looks fit in time of the Bundesliga start. 

  • Chris Richards was recently called in to practice with the senior team of Bayern Munich. 

  • Reggie Cannon has reportedly drawn interest from several European clubs. 

  • Weston McKennie has officially joined the Schalke pre-season squad following extended vacation after the Gold Cup. 

  • Matt Miazga has been transferred to Reading FC on another loan, the club he was already on loan with last season.

Injury Update

  • 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)

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