US U-23 goalkeeper Charlie Horton aims to flourish with new club Leeds United

2 Comments

U.S. U-23 international Charlie Horton has had quite a week.

After finishing up with the U.S. U-23 national team following a third-place finish for Andreas Herzog’s side at the prestigious Toulon Tournament in France, Horton then signed a two-year contract with illustrious English club Leeds United and now he is back at home in Ohio putting his feet up for a well-deserved rest.

[ RELATED: U.S. beat Germany 2-1 ]

But the American international has big plans for the future as he aims to emulate some of the great U.S. goalkeepers to grace the Premier League. That said, he’s keen to take it one step at a time to make his mark in England.

Horton, still just 20 years old, spoke to ProSoccerTalk from the U.S. and is delighted to have landed at English Championship club Leeds. He is determined to continue his development with one of English soccer’s biggest clubs that has fallen on tough times of late.

Talking about his decision to sign for Leeds, Horton is excited he will now get the chance to develop and help Leeds get back to England’s top-flight after deciding to leave Cardiff City.

“For me it was about what was the best step to take. I wasn’t really worried about what league it was in. I was more concerned on my development and where I could thrive,” Horton said. “I signed with my agent Patrick [McCabe] and we sat down and mapped everything out. As the situation merited, it was a serious decision and it didn’t need to be rushed. At the end of it we had five or six teams highly interested from MLS, two or three from the UK and a couple of others in Europe. It was making sure the right opportunity arose and that ultimately came with Leeds who are a massive club and were in the UEFA Champions League not long ago.”

And Leeds are pretty pumped to have a promising young goalkeeper like Horton on board too.

The American, who was born in London and grew up in Croydon before moving to Ohio as an nine year old, will once again get to work with renowned goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis. Horton’s relationship with Hartis dates back to Cardiff and Hartis has coached at Manchester United and with the English national team’s youth setup.

“It was massive. The opportunity to work with him [Hartis] is huge,”Horton explained. “He is one of the most well-respected goalkeeping coaches in the industry. I have done well working with him before and to pair that with a club like Leeds, a manager like Uwe Rosler and an owner who is so passionate about the club… it was easy for me.”

[ RELATED: U-20’s make World Cup quarterfinals

When it comes to Rosler, Horton is his first signing as Leeds’ new manager. The German coach has taken over at the Yorkshire club with one main target from ambitious and eccentric owner Massimo Cellino: get them back in the Premier League.

After his playing days with Manchester City and Southampton were over, Rosler built up a healthy coaching resume and led Brentford through the lower divisions but a short but after a short and rather unsavory stint in charge at Wigan Athletic he has landed at Leeds. Rosler’s plan is for Horton to get playing time in the U-21 development squad but to also push current Leeds No. 1 Marco Silvestri.

“I know the manager and assistant manager of the USA team and they gave him a glowing reference. We’re very happy with him…” Rosler said. “He is one who will push every single day to get better. He will push the guys in front of him and he will get playing time in the Under-21s. I’m looking forward to working with such a positive character like Charlie. He will train everyday with the first team and Richard. He has very good potential and will be a future number one. He will travel with us for preseason – he’s a first-team player playing in the Under-21s. He has tremendous potential.”

[ RELATED: “Still chasing that ball of tape” – The tale of Brad Friedel ]

One of the things that attracted Horton to Leeds was Rosler’s track record of playing youngsters at Brentford and Leeds also boast plenty of academy prospects in their current squad with Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt just a few of the current crop, while James Milner, Aaron Lennon and Harry Kewell have come through in the past during Leeds’ heyday in the Champions League some 15 years ago.

Although it is often tough for young ‘keepers to get a chance to play regularly in their early 20’s in the Football League in England — not everyone can be as capable of the likes of David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois early in their careers — Horton is certainly in the right place to get opportunities.

“I knew that when Uwe was interested that he is not afraid to play young players. That is huge for me,” Horton admitted. “But I am also really excited to get around him because he’s just a top draw coach. When I am ready and the coaching staff believe that, I am going to hopefully grab the opportunity with both hands and not look back.”

His upbringing in both England and the U.S. make Horton a unique character and he is better placed than most to talk about the reasons why so many good goalkeepers continue to be produced by the United States.

“I think the interesting thing to look at is the way that young Americans play a variety of sports. For me I was really lucky because I grew up in England which gave me the passionate and love for soccer,” Horton said. “Then I moved here [the U.S.] and for two or three years, obviously I was always focused on soccer and being a goalkeeper, but I was playing basketball, American football, baseball and volleyball. All of these sports that develop hand-eye coordination that a European may not necessarily get on such a scale.”

Horton knows following in the footsteps of top American goalkeepers in England will be tough but he has had a little bit of help from USMNT legend Brad Friedel along the way. Friedel is from Lakeview, Ohio, not far from where Horton grew up, and Friedel took Horton under his wing and trained together for two years when the latter was 14.

source:
Horton has been with Peterborough and Cardiff in the past, but has now landed at Leeds.

“Those are big shoes to fill. If I can have a career like Brad Friedel, he is around from where I am from in Ohio, I would be honored. In every sense of the word he is a legend,” Horton said. “He has done so much for the game both in England and the States. I do think the U.S. has this reputation of producing top goalkeepers and I’m really hopeful that somewhere down the line I could be added to that list.”

Horton’s journey to England began at the age of 18 as he signed for Peterborough United, despite signing a National Letter of Intent at UNC-Chapel Hill. He explains that Chelsea’s Head Scout of the Americas at the time, Jorge Alvial, persuaded him to go to England and although he was turned down by Manchester United for being too small after a trial, Horton is now projected to stand at over 6 foot 6 inches when he stops growing.

Making the move to England has seen him bounce from Peterborough to Cardiff and now to Leeds and Horton revealed, in a slightly reverse-Freidel accent which is an interesting mix of mostly American but a little British slang throw in here and there, that he told his Mom the following before making the move back across the pond to pursue his dreams.

“‘If I don’t go, I am going to regret this for the rest of my life,'” Horton said. “At 18 I was willing to make a decision where I was not going to settle for having any kind of regret. I am in an industry where I have to rely on my body and hopefully will do for 20 years. I can go back to University whenever and rely on my mind for far longer. At the end of the day it was: ‘live life with no regrets and grab the opportunity with both hands.'”

With idols such as Joe Hart, Peter Schmeichel and Oliver Kahn growing up in Ohio, Horton always wanted to be a goalkeeper. He has watched the current crop of star stoppers from the U.S. in the Premier League and is looking forward to not only meeting with the likes of Brad Guzan and Tim Howard but also challenging for a spot on the U.S. roster along with a plethora of other talented young goalkeepers currently coming through.

“My goal is to be called into a men’s camp soon and hopefully I will have the opportunity to get in touch with those guys [Howard and Guzan] and really learn. For a young goalkeeper learning is so important,” Horton said. “I think us Americans can stick together and I’d love to pick their brains on things, on certain situations and gather as much knowledge as you possibly can. I know where they have been and where they have reached and ultimately that is where I want to get to. Any knowledge I can get off of them is huge.”

source:
Horton and the U.S. U-23’s finished third at the Toulon Tournament.

In terms of the future, Horton will be battling with current U.S. U-20 goalkeeper Zack Steffen and fellow U-23 ‘keeper Cody Cropper for a spot on the U.S. U-23 roster for the Olympics next summer and then to challenge the likes of Howard and Guzan after that. With recent success for the U-23’s at Toulon and the U-20’s at the World Cup in New Zealand, promising young talents such as Rubio Rubin, Gedion Zelalem and Jordan Morris are popping up throughout the USA’s player pool.

Horton is excited with where the U.S. can get to as a soccer nation and believes the sky is the limit.

“It is very exciting. U.S. Soccer is growing massively and not just with the men’s team at the World Cup last year and the Women’s World Cup for several years but it is now filtering through the youth sides. That is very exciting for us,” Horton said. “As a country that is where we need to be. It is setting up a really exciting time and future for U.S. Soccer and we need to keep developing and getting the country where we want it. Ultimately for me, that is to win a World Cup.”

One step at a time, Horton is fulfilling his dream to play professionally and now has a chance to grow with Leeds United over the next two years and try to hold down a starting spot either at Elland Road or out on loan. But where does he see himself in five years time?

After a short pause, he gives the following well-rounded and superbly level-headed response.

“In five years time I would like to be playing and have claimed a first-team spot in a top league. Hopefully that is with Leeds and we take that team to the top. I’d also like to be involved with the U.S. national team,” Horton said. “I would just like to be well into my career and have the respect and admiration from those around me. I think its great to be a great player but it is also important to be respected by your colleagues and have a reputation you are proud of.

“I hope that reputation of me is that I work extremely hard to prepare myself and leave very little to chance and go about my business that way. If that’s the reputation I leave the game with, I’d be immensely proud of that,” Horton added. “Hopefully that’s where I am. I am fortunate because goalkeepers have long careers. For someone who has lofty goals like me, it is just about continuing on that path of development and to get better each day. As goalkeepers we are fighting for fractions to centimeters and centimeters to inches every day. The more I can stack those gains on top of each other day after day, I think that is when I will really start to see some change and lay claim to a spot. For me there is no rush at the minute. I am willing to put in the hard work and grit to get there.”

Follow Charlie on his journey with Leeds United and the U.S. national team via Twitter by hitting the button below.

Nuno ‘proud of the boys’ after Wolves’ magical UEL run ends

Nuno Wolves
Photo by Stuart Franklin - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nuno proud, but frustrated: Wolves’ 2019-20 campaign kicked off 383 days ago, on July 25, and finally ended on Tuesday in a late, heartbreaking defeat to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

From those early-round UEL qualifiers, to another fine season in the Premier League (finishing 7th), to reaching the quarterfinals, it’s been an incredible, dramatic, exhausting road for Nuno Espirito Santo and his players.

Speaking after the game, Espirito Santo revealed he was experiencing equal part pride and frustration at the way their season had just ended. Pride for meeting the challenges they faced along the way, and frustration for the missed opportunity — quotes from the BBC:

“We have frustration, in the last minutes it is something that has happened to us many times. We required focus on a set piece. I am proud of the boys, we played a tough team and we had moments, small details, small margins.

“That happens in football. We came this far and now it’s over. Let’s rest and look to the future. We need more players to help us, it’s a small squad.

“Sevilla made us run, we made a big effort to control it but of course there were players who gave everything and the legs and brain doesn’t work so good. We must be proud of ourselves, admit we made mistakes during the season that we need to rectify to compete at a high level. We must work harder and become stronger.

“We are here because we did things good the previous season. European football is something that we chase because we want to improve and compete agianst the best. The Premier League is challenging enough, it’s like playing the Champions League every week.”

The Wolves players will now have the next week or two off before reporting for the first day of 2020-21 preseason later this month. The 2020-21 Premier League season is currently scheduled for Sept. 12.

Europa League: Wolves knocked out by late Sevilla winner

Europa League Wolves
Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Europa League: Wolves’ magical run through the Europa League came to an end on Tuesday, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side was knocked out in the quarterfinals by UEL specialists Sevilla.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla were quite comfortably the better side on the night, the side with the vast majority of the scoring chances, and thoroughly deserving semifinalists. Julen Lopetegui’s side will face Manchester United in the semis on Sunday.

It didn’t come easily for Sevilla, though. The game remained level at 0-0 for 87 minutes, until Lucas Ocampos rose above the crowd to head home his 16th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

Wolves had the game’s first — and virtually their only — chance to go ahead inside the first quarter-hour, but Raul Jimenez was denied from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. The real story here, however, is the ease with which Adama Traore left the pack behind and dribbled the ball 81 yards before Diego Carlos cut him down from behind.

Jimenez’s blunder from the spot was one of just two shots on target — both by Jimenez — that Wolves could muster in the game.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Sevilla began to ramp up the pressure after halftime and went dangerously close to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, as Youssef En-Nesyri weaved his way through traffic inside the penalty area before firing a low strike on goal. Fortunately for Wolves, Rui Patricio was all over and denied En-Nesyri his wondergoal.

Ever Banega forced Patricio to make a vital save of his curling free kick in the 77th minute, but again the Portuguese was up to the challenge. He scrambled across goal and rose high to get a hand on the ball and push it over the crossbar.

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Basel 4-1 in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal. They will face Inter Milan in the second semifinal next Monday.

Other Europa League scores

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Basel
Man United 1-0 Copenhagen (Monday)
Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Monday)

Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David

Lille sign Jonathan David
Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lille sign Jonathan David: Lille announced on Tuesday their signing of Canadian star Jonathan David from Belgian side Gent for a reported transfer fee of $35 million.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

The fee paid is a record not only for a Canadian player, but also makes David Lille’s club-record signing and the most expensive player ever sold by a Belgian club.

David had been linked with a move to dozens of clubs across Europe, including a handful of Premier League sides, in recent weeks but it would appear that Lille’s recent success with young players starring in the first team, before selling them to those bigger European sides for massive profits, was an important factor in David’s decision to move to Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints ]

The 20-year-old operates predominantly as a center forward but has, on rare occasions, played as a second striker underneath the main man. David racked up 48 goals and 20 assists in his two seasons at Gent, including a number of standout performances in the Europa League.

Wolves – Sevilla: How to watch, start time, prediction

Wolves - Sevilla
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolves – Sevilla should be an epic UEFA Europa League quarterfinal on Tuesday (start time, 3pm ET) in Duisburg, Germany as both teams will fancy their chances of winning the trophy if they advance.

Remember: these ties are one-legged encounters so the winner on the night will advance to the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves have come through the qualifying rounds to get this far as the Premier League side have been in the 2019-20 Europa League for over a year, while Sevilla are the unofficial top dogs in the competition having won it more times than any team in history.

The La Liga side finished fourth this season in Spain under Julen Lopetegui, while Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League and know the only way they will be playing in Europe next season is if they win this competition and there qualify for the Champions League.

Ahead of a huge night for Wolves, below is a look at how to watch Wolves – Sevilla in the USA, the betting odds, prediction and much more.


Team news

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo praised Sevilla and knows his team have a big challenge ahead, while he backed his team to take the next step on their three-year journey together:

“It’s been a long journey, not only this season. A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. It’s basically the same group of players. It was about trying to build a team, creating an identity, and we look forward to tomorrow to compete well and play a good game. We’ve been able to create an identity. It’s one of the most precious things in football – having an identity, based on a style of play and how we deal and socialize with our rules and tasks, how we deal with problems that happen. Trying to create a team, recruiting players, some take time, some not, but this is what it’s all about. We have to manage the result and I’m very proud of how we’ve done things and now I can say we have our own identity. It’s based on strong foundations of respect and hard work, and this is what we want to show tomorrow – a good team, with an identity, committed to the challenge.”

Sevilla star Lucas Ocamps on the threat Wolves possess: “Anyone who watches a little football has already seen them play. I feel like they are very competitive and physical. They have great players and they come here hungry for glory to beat us. I think it will be evenly matched because we’ll have the same desire and it’s going to be tough.”


Odds for Wolves – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

Wolves are the underdogs (pardon the pun) as they are +235 to beat Sevilla who are +120, but the tie at +230 is interesting. We can see this going to extra time and maybe even penalty kicks.


Prediction for Wolves – Sevilla

Wolves love upsetting the odds and Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will be looking to exploit Sevilla on the counter, but Sevilla are a savvy team and are third favorites to win the Europa League yet again. Wolves are dangerous but I’m going for a Sevilla win after extra time. 2-1.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com