DeAndre Yedlin

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Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

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With the Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie all underway, several current USMNT players and prospects got the first taste of their respective league’s competition. Leading the long list of players applying their skills at clubs abroad is Christian Pulisic, who made his Premier League debut in Manchester United’s 4-0 drubbing over Chelsea.

In France, Timothy Weah made his Lille debut, while in Holland several familiar faces continue to add minutes. Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — The 20-year-old came off the bench in the 58th minute, replacing Ross Barkley and making his much-anticipated Premier League debut.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin did not feature for Steve Bruce‘s side in their opening 1-0 loss to Arsenal. The fullback continues to recover from an injury to his groin, which required surgery back in May. There’s no timeline on his return.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and went all 90 minutes for the Latics in their 3-0 loss to Preston North End.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old center back keeps adding valuable minutes with Reading, going for another 90 minutes in Reading’s 2-1 loss to Hull City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain has been a mainstay in England, and it doesn’t seem things will be changing this year. Lichaj recorded another 90 minutes in Hull City’s victory this weekend.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The defender’s spell with the Rs is off to a good start two games in: 4 points, one assist and 180 minutes played.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream is back playing in the EFL Championship. On Saturday, he went the full 90 minutes in Fulham’s 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright is two matchweeks into his Eredivisie career, and he’s been quite busy. After playing 90 minutes in his league debut, the forward started and played 84 minutes against Sparta Rotterdam on Friday. VVV-Venlo lost 4-1.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Pulisic wasn’t the only American making a league debut this weekend. Dest, 18, came on as a right back for Ajax and played 36 minutes in the Dutch giants’ 5-0 win against FC Emmen. ena

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback played the final eight minutes against Ajax.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Following a $11 million move to Lille from PSG this summer, Weah finally donned Lille’s crest for the first time in a league match, starting and playing 65 minutes in a 2-1 victory against Nantes.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — The Washington D.C.-born striker featured for Rennes over the weekend, going 18 minutes against Montpellier in his side’s 1-0 win.

DFB Pokal

Weston McKennie, Schalke — McKennie did not captain Schalke, but he did come off the bench and play 32 minutes against SV Drochtersen/Assel. Die Königsblauen won 5-0 against the fourth-division side.

Bobby Wood, Hamburger SV — Wood continues to see very limited action (if any). On Sunday, the striker did not play in Hamburg’s shootout win over Chemnitzer FC.

Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Steffen and Morales are slatted to be key contributors to the Bundesliga side this upcoming season. On Saturday, both players started and played 120 minutes in a 3-1 extra-time win over FC 08 Villingen.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The 19-year-old is getting rhythm prior to the start of the Bundesliga season, starting and going for 62 minutes in Werder Bremen’s 6-1 battering of Atlas Delmenhorst.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson is going into his sixth season with Die Fohlen. On Friday, the 31-year-old versatile player was a substitute and played 27 minutes against Sandhausen.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Chandler made the 18 but did not play for Eintracht Frankfurt in their 5-3 win over SV Waldhof.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams, 20, was a no-go  for RB Leipzig in their 3-2 win over Vfl Osnabruck. There is no reason to bring out the red flags, however, the USMNT midfielder will be a vital piece in Julian Nagelsmann’s system.

Honorable Mentions:

Ventura Alvarado, Necaxa  Alvarado was Necaxa’s silver lining in their 3-1 loss to Tigres, scoring in the 43rd minute and contributing on both sides of the field for all 90 minutes.

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland It might be League One, but the winger bagged a goal for the Black Cats in their 1-1 draw against Ipswich. Gooch has now scored in Sunderland’s first two games of the new campaign.

USMNT’s Yedlin out of Newcastle opener, may need new scans

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Newcastle manager Steve Bruce says DeAndre Yedlin‘s recovery from surgery has taken longer than expected, meaning new signing Emil Krafth may go directly into the Starting XI against Arsenal.

[ MORE: Newcastle United season preview ]

Yedlin had surgery on his groin in May, and missed the entire summer for the USMNT. The 26-year-old was expected to feature for Newcastle by preseason, but his delayed return may have pushed the Magpies into action in the transfer market.

He has been training with the team, but has apparently needed a fresh set of scans due to slow progression. He surely won’t like the idea of opening the door to another right back.

From The Chronicle:

“DeAndre Yedlin has had an operation and hasn’t recovered, so it became clear that we needed cover in that area,” Bruce said. “(Krafth) will certainly give us that. He’s an experienced player who has been on the radar for some time. He’ll bring us the experience and know-how that any team needs.”

Krafth has only one training session in the books for Newcastle, so that may be decent news for Arsenal’s amazing array of attackers.

The comments make you wonder whether Yedlin’s issues could extend deeper into the season, perhaps putting his status in question for the Gregg Berhalter’s September call-ups.

Christian Pulisic can become true star at Chelsea

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For the last seven years, Eden Hazard has graced the Chelsea touchline with a spectacular brilliance, ebbing and flowing through midfielders and around defenders like water in a babbling brook splashes and curls around the rocks in its path.

With Hazard off to Real Madrid, Chelsea reluctantly must begin anew. A new winger has arrived, not to take Hazard’s place – an impossible task in and of itself – but to write his own legacy and build his own following at the London club, one that can blaze a trail no American has trekked before.

Premier League stardom.

Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Brad Friedel, Tim Howard, DeAndre Yedlin, and others have proven Americans belong at the highest level, but none have achieved the kind of recognition that Pulisic is capable of achieving. None have done what Christian Pulisic hopes to do – shed his nationality and become not an American in the Premier League, but simply a goalscoring and creative force in England’s top flight.

Pulisic has the ability to produce enough brilliance that no longer will Americans have to “blaze a trail” in Europe or “reach new heights” because the Hersey-born kid will have set the bar high enough to erase those terms from the lexicon. This is not to say that Pulisic will win the Ballon d’Or, or that he will become a club legend with the likes of Lampard or Drogba or even Hazard – that much sustained brilliance is in and of itself impossible to predict, for that is precisely what makes a particular career so legendary.

No, the American simply has to be himself, for Borussia Dortmund and U.S. National Team fans have already seen what he can do when his excellence is allowed freedom of expression. If Frank Lampard and Chelsea allow Pulisic the same autonomy showed to Hazard, they shall reap the rewards of his inate exuberance and boyish glee. If USMNT fans have learned anything by watching Pulisic over the last few years, it is that he genuinely, authentically loves to play the game, and that love has both expression and reverberation on the pitch in both quantifiable and imperceptible results.

Yes indeed, this is unquestionably setting the bar extremely high for a player just 20 years old, a peril the American media has failed to traverse numerous times with countless talented players in the past. Yet Pulisic is intrinsically different – he no longer has to prove himself. He has withstood the beatings of CONCACAF and scaled the Yellow Wall where other Dortmund players have wilted under its immense pressure. This is as battle-tested as 20-year-olds come, and Chelsea now possesses a player capable of setting Stamford Bridge alight.

As a giant of the Premier League over the entirety of the league’s existence, the Blues have seen countless stars come and go, and Pulisic’s level of talent is not especially unique to the Stamford Bridge dressing room where so many world-class stars have come before him. Yet none of that should matter to the American youngster who doesn’t need to emulate any of the greats or look to club history for inspiration, as his best comes from within. Pulisic doesn’t need to reach the heights of Hazard to be considered a star, he just needs to do what he’s done the last three years at Borussia Dortmund and let the truly big stage and the truly bright lights do the rest.

Now, as the Premier League season draws nearer and Chelsea looks forward to its opening match against Manchester United on Sunday, all eyes will be on Pulisic – not that that’s anything new to him. Pulisic will succeed as long as he stays true to himself at Chelsea, taking with him the inspiration of his glittering predecessor but also putting his head down and doing what he does best.

Just play ball.

What’s next for the USMNT?

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We’ll be waiting for September for the next USMNT on-field action and there are plenty of things worth monitoring when it comes to the progress of Gregg Berhalter’s men even before the next ball is struck by men in red, white and blue.

The four brightest American talents in Europe all have new coaches, as Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic (Frank Lampard), Schalke’s Weston McKennie (David Wagner), RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams (Julian Nagelsmann), and Wolfsburg’s John Brooks (Oliver Glasner) aim to impress their new bosses.

There is uncertainty for Matt Miazga, Tyler Boyd, and Zack Steffen as well. The first two don’t know whether they’ll be with their current clubs, Chelsea and Vitória de Guimarães, by August or on loan, while Steffen has to win the Fortuna Dusseldorf goalkeeper job in his return to Europe on loan from Manchester City.

Throw in Josh Sargent’s hope of winning first team time at Werder Bremen and Tim Weah’s chance to impress new owners at Lille, and this August will have something to say about the fate of the USMNT heading into September’s break. That’s all without mentioning Newcastle United’s DeAndre Yedlin also getting a new manager.

From a calendar standpoint, what’s actually next is a pair of friendlies, expected to see Mexico and Uruguay visit the American shores in early September.

The next two international breaks hold CONCACAF Nations League matches home and away against Canada and Cuba, and the Yanks will be heavily favored to advance to the semifinals in March 2020 (If Gregg Berhalter’s men do finish behind the Canucks, well, see ya later pal).

After that, it’ll be World Cup qualifying (though we’re still waiting on the format with which CONCACAF will choose its three automatic qualifiers and one inter-confederation playoff participant for the winter 2022 tournament in Qatar).

Winter!

Anyway, those Nations League matches won’t see the Yanks at full strength, at least in theory. October sees the U.S. U-23 side’s chance to qualify for and play in the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

Jason Kreis will hope to do what Andreas Herzog and Caleb Porter could not, and lead the U-23s to the Olympics.

It’s a valuable experience for a generation of players, and can be a tremendous boost for a nation which finally has its U-20 program in order and thriving at the U-20 World Cup.

Judging the USMNT’s summer

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Gregg Berhalter is winning over his detractors. Now he needs to start winning against Mexico.

The United States men’s national team manager failed in his first bid to win a trophy, the 2019 Gold Cup, albeit against a much better Mexico team which was highly-favored to win its eighth trophy.

There were stumbles along the way — the men clearly expected to waltz past Curacao — but the Yanks largely passed tests in paving the way to the CONCACAF Nations League and 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Let’s talk about the good and the bad. We’ll try to avoid the meh.

Necessary negatives: The extended extended extended proving ground

Imagine, for a moment, you’ve moved to another country. Hey, maybe you have. Congratulations on your international jet-setting ways.

Now you’ve found one place around the corner from your apartment where you like the food. It tastes like home. The person who runs the place knows your name and always thanks you for your business.

But now your new friends are showing you other places. They are tastier places which are also healthier for you.

Still, you keep going back to the first place. It’s served you well.

It’s called Gyasi and Wil’s Family Restaurant, and Gregg Berhalter loves the lunch special.

This was one of the prime stumbling blocks of Berhalter’s early tenure as USMNT boss and one of its only true setbacks before his questionable substitutions in the Gold Cup Final against Mexico.

Berhalter overachieved in a big way during his time as Columbus Crew boss, and that was aided in no small way by midfielder Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. One needs to look no further than Caleb Porter’s first season with a very similar Columbus roster to see just how well Berhalter did in Ohio.

But Trapp has been average at-best for the last four seasons in MLS and doesn’t have a place anywhere off the fringes of the national team pool (He’s been especially suspect this year in the United States’ top flight).

And to a lesser extent, the same is true for Zardes. Even in last year’s 20-goal season with Columbus, his stats were not wonderful (aside from the goals and yes, goals are pretty important in soccer).

Berhalter gave 17 of Trapp’s 19 caps to the midfielder, but only used him twice in the Gold Cup run (once off the bench). Trapp captained the side in his first eight caps under Berhalter, and again in June’s friendly slaughter at the hands of Salomon Rondon and Venezuela.

He’s just okay, not a mainstay, and it took Berhalter some time to realize that Michael Bradley was the far superior option despite being nowhere near his peak powers and a sudden turnover machine.

Zardes is not the answer at striker, although he put in a solid sub shift on Sunday, and Berhalter made sure he asked that question continually over the past half-year. He’s capable of the sublime and there’s currently a place for him in a 23-man roster, but that’s it. He has 10 goals and eight assists in 50 career caps, and here are the ones that come outside of CONCACAF:

Bolivia: 2 goals
Paraguay: 1 assist
Ecuador: 2 goals
Chile: 1 assist
Netherlands: 1 goal

Anyway, the point is not to dog Trapp and Zardes. They are pool players, but are unlikely to be regular difference makers for the USMNT. Berhalter, as is his right, gave them a loyal chance to stake a claim to their preferred places. Neither has been exceptional despite a wealth of experience in his system. The game’s not over, but it seems their role is as mid-level boss.

Pulisic is a wonder, and we wonder what’s next (Alternatively titled: Don’t hurt him, Lamps)

Christian Pulisic is a terrific player with world class potential. He is a worker, a playmaker, a finisher, and a burgeoning leader.

We need not spent too much detailing his exploits in the tournament, which earned him a place in the Best XI.

But the key part of this is that the kid continues to show up bigger when it matters.

Not 21 until September, Pulisic’s first Gold Cup saw him post three goals and three assists in five matches. Prior to this summer, he has seven goals and seven assists in World Cup qualifiers.

Even including his failure to meet the score sheet in the Copa America Centenario, Pulisic has 10 goals and 10 assists in 21 tournament matches for the USMNT. Compare that to three goals in nine friendlies. Guy’s a gamer.

Now he goes to Chelsea, a new club with a new manager who did not purchase him (but will surely be no stranger to his exploits). Frank Lampard will need Pulisic to show him something, but the price tag means the American will get every chance to do so.

That said, this isn’t a plea for “Lamps” to play Pulisic, rather develop him. The player is a dynamite winger, but Lampard was one of the most complete attacking midfielders of his generation. We’d argue the hiring is a good one. Let’s hope to be proven correct.

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Chances taken, squandered, and everything in between

Here is a partial list of players left off the USMNT roster: John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Tyler Adams, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, Antonee Robinson, Paxton Pomykal, Duane Holmes, Sebastian Lletget, Russell Canouse, Andrija Novakovich, and Bobby Wood.

Some went uncalled by Gregg Berhalter, yeah, but all remain prospects to get regular spots on the team.

Of the men who were called into the squad, there are several who entered the tournament as undoubted long-term mainstays: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, and Zack Steffen among them. Others had a good handle on a place in the squad moving forward. While not perfect, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore ensured that they won’t be headed to the retirement unless they make that choice.

It’s difficult to get a read on Berhalter, and whether he’s dismissed a player or simply rotating according to some unnamed plan.

He benched Tyler Boyd with the U.S. in dire needed of attacking creativity against Mexico. Center backs Omar Gonzalez and Walker Zimmerman were pretty decent in the tournament, so maybe he had just seen enough?

Reggie Cannon seized his opportunity to lay claim to a fullback’s place in the pool, and Boyd looked good to most of us (again, how does Berhalter really feel?). Jordan Morris had his moments.

Paul Arriola seems to have made the right impression on his coach, while Berhalter has a very high opinion of Cristian Roldan (His engine is elite, but production remains absent).

All told, the coach is doing a decent job

I’ve written a number of times that the U.S. Soccer Federation did Gregg Berhalter no favors with the mysterious hiring process, because he’s a worthy hiring.

The loss against Mexico stings but it doesn’t scar, maybe because Berhalter’s Yanks pummeled Trinidad and Tobago for a measure of revenge and staked fair claims of superiority over Panama and Jamaica.

His system is asking a lot out of this player pool, but once we see the full-throated team with John Brooks leading out of the back with his under-appreciated distribution and Tyler Adams spying Pulisic, Weah, and other electric attackers, the Yanks are going to roar through CONCACAF.

Injuries could cost them, yeah, and the youth we’ve seen shine with the U-20s and (hopefully) the U-23s heading into the Olympics need to be nurtured into contributors.

As of right now, you’d bet on the USMNT to sit in the top three spots for the Hex and it’s reasonable to expect Berhalter to develop the young players into a squad that can rival Mexico’s by the Nations League finals or the Hex.

That’s when Berhalter will get his next serious chance to rival Tata Martino. And this time, he won’t have to plug in maybes and what ifs.

Hopefully. And that adverb is the one that applies to almost every USMNT question.

Bonus item: USWNT

After 1300 words on the men, here are a dozen or so on the women that matter just as much: Pay them equally. They’re the best we’ve got, and it’s the right thing to do anyway.