Your Weekly USMNT Update — August 20, 2019
We are back in full swing with all European seasons back in action, and we have several successful starting XI debuts to comment on this week.
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Star of the Week
Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA) - Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bundesliga
Man of the Match in First Bundesliga Appearance: Our Star of the Week goes to Zack Steffen, who immediately became Dusseldorf’s man of the match in his first Bundesliga appearance this weekend. Key to his side’s 3-1 win over Werder Bremen, Steffen stood out with nine saves throughout the match, denying Werder from point blank range on numerous times including a Fullrkug header that Steffen saved off the line and a fantastic reflex against Osako toward the end of the game that ensured the 3-1 victory for his side. More than that, despite being with the team for only part of the pre-season given his time at the Gold Cup, Steffen already looked comfortable, dominant, and consistent between the sticks - only conceding one goal this game despite a staggering 23 shots by Werder Bremen, including a last-minute save against USMNT striker Josh Sargent, who made an appearance off the bench of Bremen. Safe to say, Steffen looks to have earned the #1 spot in goal for Dusseldorf this year.
Reflexes on the Line Strong; Working on Aerial Dominance: If there is one area of growth for Steffen, we think it comes down to his lack of aerial dominance when defending crosses or corner kicks, something that became apparent in this week’s Bundesliga start as he did not always look secure when handling balls out of the air. Nonetheless, this is a skill that Steffen can build in the Bundesliga given the much more physical nature of the league compared to the MLS. All in all though, a fantastic start to Steffen’s Bundesliga tenure.
But don’t just take it from us, Dusseldorf’s head coach Friedhelm Funkel only had good things to say about the 24-year old USMNT keeper:
“We were a bit lucky to win, scoring three goals. But we had to withstand a tremendous amount of pressure at times, and with Zack Steffen we had a keeper who was fantastic. He was definitely man of the match today.”
Other Notable Performances
Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY) - Ajax Amsterdam, Eredivisie
Celebrating his starting debut in the Eredivisie for Ajax Amsterdam in this week’s 4-1 victory vs. VVV Venlo (featuring USMNT prospect Haji Wright), Sergino Dest booked an all around solid performance at right back for the Dutch champions. Defensively sound, working up and down the flank, Dest did not look fazed by the occasion and even contributed to the build-up play for Ajax’s 3rd and 4th goal by keeping possession high up the pitch and linking up with Ajax star Hakim Ziyech. In fact, it is in those situations where Dest looks at his best: technically gifted, tough to separate from the ball, and creative enough to find teammates under pressure, Dest’s playing style looks perfect for Ajax’s possession-based tactical set-up.
September Friendly Call-Up Candidate? With Dest clearly a valued member of the Ajax Amsterdam senior squad at this point (Dest has appeared in three out of five competitive Ajax matches this season including two Champions League qualifiers), he looks more than ready for his first USMNT call-up, in our view. Moreover, specifically given his eligibility for the Netherlands, we wouldn’t be surprised (or at least very much hope) to see him included in the September roster vs. Mexico and Uruguay. Lastly, given his versatility - Dest has consistently played on either side of the pitch (left and right back) - and abilities to play on the wing, Dest looks one of the most promising USMNT prospects at our disposal.
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA) - Chelsea FC, Premier League
In Chelsea’s unlucky defeat to Champions League winners Liverpool in the mid-week European SuperCup Final (Champions League winner vs. Europa League winner), Christian Pulisic officially proved that he can succeed at the highest international level as the young American star consistently tormented Liverpool’s defense surrounding Virgil van Djik. The moment of the game was undoubtedly Pulisic’s assist where he drew in four defenders before slotting in Olivier Giroud with a perfectly weighted pass, who finished the play with a low driven shot to the right hand corner.
In a second instance, Pulisic skilfully cut inside from the left wing, beating several defenders and finishing with a low hard shot outside of the box. While the goal was disallowed for offsides, the play still showed Pulisic’s ability on the ball. As Frank Lampard said after the game, “Yeah I was pleased, and there is a lot more to come. The expectancy is right, he is a big signing for us but you have to remember his age. He's 20 and come into the league, into this game, against Liverpool, one of the most intense teams in football.”
It seems as though Pulisic has solidified his place as a starter with Chelsea for the time being, though he will need to find some consistency in order to take his game to the world-class level.
Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH) - Columbus Crew, MLS
Wil Trapp had two solid assists between this week and last week’s matches. Since the Gold Cup, the hometown boy has been consistently in form at the heart of the Crew midfield. Donning the captain’s armband, Trapp launched a beautiful, arching ball to Pedro Santos who fired first time in the bottom corner to equalize against Toronto. His play in the last few games emphasized his strength as a deep lying playmaker or distributor in the team. Though he may not be the best tackler or dribbler, Trapp has excellent vision and works well in a system with an industrious midfield partner who can cover a lot of ground (think McKennie or Adams). This type of deep lying midfielder fits well into systems that use wingers who are constantly trying to break the lines of a defense, so we think Trapp would be a solid option with Weah/Sargent/Pulisic making runs onto long balls or threaded passes.
Wil does well to help Columbus maintain possession, dictate the team’s tempo, and hold their formation as he sits in the middle. Though the US fans are a divided jury when it comes to Trapp, we think at the very least he is more reliable than Michael Bradley. Trapp is a solid player when it comes to keeping the ball moving and launching beauties like this:
Jozy Altidore (29, Livingston, NJ) - Toronto FC, MLS
The Top Striker in Toronto: A name we are all too familiar with, Jozy Altidore, was the key player for Toronto as he scored a last minute equalizer in a 2-2 tie versus Columbus. Jozy has been in fine form this season (10 goals, 3 assists) and had a clutch performance with a goal and an assist in this away match. Jozy’s assist was a nicely bent lofted pass to open up space for Osorio who launched a rocket from distance. Altidore was able to find some space for his tying goal with a header from close range, again showing his strength in the air. He still had a clumsy moment here and there — his failed flick created a Columbus counter to take the lead.
Locker Room Leader: Though we appreciated his aggressiveness in the Gold Cup Final, we certainly don’t expect Jozy to age like a fine wine. His legacy in the USMNT isn’t heroic by any standards, but he has experience and should guide some of the much younger (10+ years) strikers in the talent pool who will step up in the near future. We expect Berhalter to work on his transition of our new generation over a few years, and Jozy’s history, as well as play style (strong finishing and aerial threat) can support the system. It’s good to have some diversity of strikers too - Altidore may not be as fast as his youthful counterparts, but you can count on him to hold up the ball well and sometimes even pull off a peach of a finish. Remember that backheel against the Red Bulls from a few weeks ago?
Indiana Vassilev (18, Savannah, GA) - Aston Villa U23, Premier League 2
Born in the deep south, midfielder Indiana Vassilev has made a solid impression in the youth ranks of recently promoted Premier League side Aston Villa. Vassilev joined the U18 squad in the fall of 2017 after a standout performance at the U-17 World Cup that year. Since joining, he has made several appearances for the U23 Villans at the age of 17 last season. Indiana (who goes by Indy) wore the number 10 in the first match of the Premier League 2 season (1-0 loss to Middlesborough) and even was assigned a first team number of 36. Though we don’t expect him to get any minutes in the first division, it would be interesting to see if he could play in the League Cup this season. Vassilev is known for his excellent composure on the ball and a strong left foot. He has good physicality and is technically capable of playing a killer pass. Yet another young American to keep your eye on.
Watch some highlights for the U18 squad from last season (Vassilev #8):
OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today
Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Played 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-1 win vs. Werder Bremen (Bundesliga).
Ethan Horvath (24, Highlands Ranch, CO): Did not play for Club Brugge this week.
Bill Hamid (28, Annandale, VA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 0-1 loss vs. Vancouver (MLS).
John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in Wolfsburg’s 2-1 victory vs. 1. FC Koeln (Bundesliga).
DeAndre Yedlin (26, Seattle, WA): Did not play this week - getting back to full match fitness after injury.
Antonee Robinson (22, White Plains, NY): Played 90 minutes in Wigan Athletic’s 0-2 loss Leeds United (Championship).
Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Baton Rouge, LA): Did not play this week following his transfer to Stoke.
Matt Miazga (24, Clifton, NJ): Played 90 minutes in Reading’s 3-0 victory vs. Cardiff City (Championship).
Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY): Played 90 minutes in Ajax Amsterdam’s 4-1 victory vs. VVV Venlo (Eredivisie).
Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the NY Red Bulls’ 1-1 tie vs. New England (MLS).
Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in FC Dallas’ 3-3 tie vs. Vancouver (MLS).
Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Did not play this week - recovering from injury.
Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 85 minutes in Schalke’s 0-0 tie vs. Gladbach (Bundesliga).
Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in Columbus’ 2-2 tie vs. Toronto FC (MLS).
Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Did not play this week- recovering from injury.
Paxton Pomykal (19, Lewisville, TX): Played 79 minutes in FC Dallas’ 3-3 tie vs. Vancouver (MLS).
Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Did not play in Chicago Fire’s 2-0 win vs. Philadelphia (MLS).
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 74 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-2 tie vs. Liverpool (Supercup) and played 71 minutes in Chelsea’s 1-1 tie vs. Leicester (Premier League).
Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 0-1 loss vs. Vancouver (MLS).
Tyler Boyd (24, Santa Ynez, CA): Played 90 minutes in Besiktas 0-3 loss to Sivasspor (Turkish Super Lig).
Jonathan Amon (20, Summerville, SC): Did not play this week - recovering from injury.
Timothy Weah (19, New York, NY): Played 6 minutes in Lille’s 0-1 loss to Amiens (French Ligue 1).
Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Played 8 minutes in Werder Bremen’s 1-3 loss to Fortuna Dusseldorf (Bundesliga).
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, PSV Eindhoven
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, Austria Vienna
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
Uly Llanez scored two goals in a 4-2 victory for Wolfsburg U19.
Romain Gall played as a striker for Malmo FF finding the net and assisting twice.
Chris Wondolowski has extended the MLS all-time leading goal scoring record to 154.
Four Americans were in the squad for Danish side Hobro IK. Their names are: Emmanuel Sabbi, Christian Cappis, Yosef Samuel & Louicius Don Deedson.
Dallas born Joel Sonora has scored two goals in two games in the Superliga Argentina.
LAFC become the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot with a 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake.
Reggie Cannon is attracting interest from Europe, with Belgian, German, and English clubs looking at him.
MLS will announce an expansion team in St. Louis.
Duane Holmes is getting back to full fitness and will be getting back up to match fitness with Derby’s U23 this week.
Tyler Adams (Groin injury; three weeks till fully fit)
Jonathan Amon (timeline TBD)
Duane Holmes (back in practice)
In Case You Missed It
Check out Julian Green’s goal from this weekend:
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