Wright

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The USMNT player pool in Europe is as promising as ever

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It would be a challenge to put together a Best XI from Americans performing in Europe this Saturday.

That’s for two reasons, not one of them because there aren’t 11 players worthy of the honor.

One is goalkeepers: Zack Steffen is hurt and Ethan Horvath backing up Simon Mignolet.

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The other is pretty great: There are many more than 11 players thriving in Europe even with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and Timothy Weah not available for selection.

It’s a weekly thing now. Gregg Berhalter trains a strong and mostly-MLS squad for January friendlies, The Americans Abroad round-ups on our site have shown plenty of progress for those eligible for the USMNT.

There was a time when Haji Wright coming off the bench for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands had a shot at being the highlight of the weekend.

Now it’s a footnote. The 21-year-old is a regular for the relegation-threatened side after a transfer from Schalke. If anything, the discussion is about two in-a-row off the bench after a run of 10-straight league starts.

Consider this list of players, now that Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna made league debuts in the same weekend.

First team players in top tier leagues

Zack Steffen (Man City, on loan to Dusseldorf)
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa)
Haji Wright (VVV Venlo)
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Tim Weah (Lille)

Dig deeper and there’s more: Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), Geoff Cameron (QPR), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), and Duane Holmes (Derby County) have been regulars in the English Championship. Same for Julian Green (Greuther Furth) in 2.Bundesliga and in-form Lynden Gooch at League One’s Sunderland. Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock) is a regular starter in the Scottish Premiership.

Then there are heralded U-20 and U-17 prospects Chris Gloster (Jong PSV), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Ulysses Lainez (Wolfsburg II). Some have taken first team bows while others have made the bench or ar eon the verge.

And we’re just talking Europe here, as the U.S. still has a bevy of reliable international players playing domestically like Jordan Morris, Miles Robinson, and Jozy Altidore amongst others. That’s leaving alone the caliber of Homegrown players being produced by Major League Soccer academies, Paxton Pomykal and Djordje Mihailovic among them (Reyna and Richards, too).

In terms of potential, American soccer is at a golden age. This makes Brian McBride’s new role as USMNT general manager even more important, as he teams up with Gregg Berhalter to put the best possible American team together for qualifying.

One thing’s for sure, the player pool is deep and no longer an excuse. Game on.

Favre reacts to Dortmund debuts for Haaland, U.S. prospect Reyna

Giovanni Reyna debuts for Borussia Dortmund
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images
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Borussia Dortmund supporters couldn’t help but gush about the hat trick debut for teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland.

Their manager was sure to talk about both of his teen debutants.

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The second was American 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna, who was promoted to the first team this week and came off the bench to make his Bundesliga debut in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Augsburg.

Here’s one of Favre’s answers when asked about Haaland, via Fussball.news:

“We also played with Gio Reyna. It was very good. The first time he plays here at 17, that’s good. A 17-year-old, a 19-year-old, I think that’s good.”

“(Haaland) immediately showed his strength, the runs down. He moves well between the lines. It gives us another way to play forward.”

Haaland’s 20-minute hat trick has been well detailed by Joe Prince-Wright here.

Reyna entered for Thorgan Hazard in the 72nd minute, getting 13 touches and completing 7-of-9 passes. He completed his lone dribble attempt and won his only duel while failing to put his only shot attempt on target.

USMNT star Pulisic to miss a ‘few weeks’ for Chelsea

Christian Pulisic injured for Chelsea
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Chelsea will be without American winger Christian Pulisic for several weeks after the 21-year-old suffered an adductor injury.

Manager Frank Lampard is not downplaying the player’s absence, which comes with Burnley, Newcastle, Arsenal, and Leicester City next on the PL fixture list.

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Pulisic has six goals and six assists in under 1600 minutes for the Blues since arriving from Borussia Dortmund. Five of those goals and two assists have come in the Premier League.

“It is a damaging miss,” Lampard said, via Football.London. “Before Christmas he did report a bit of tiredness so he came out of the team and I was worried about injury. He is a very talented player, where he can make things happen.”

Pulisic has been dangerous when healthy and chosen by Lampard, as detailed in Joe Prince-Wright’s first half report card.

Still, he pledged improvement on the field as recently as last week. Clearly, this injury is a tricky one.

Hermann Trophy winner Robinson leads MLS SuperDraft picks

Hermann Trophy winner highlights MLS SuperDraft picks
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Clemson forward Robbie Robinson capped off a strong season by becoming the first draft pick for Inter Miami in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 Robinson scored 18 times with nine assists as a junior as Clemson went 18-2-2 before falling to Stanford in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers had three players selected on Thursday.

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College players from 13 countries found professional homes by the end of the draft’s first two rounds.

Twenty-nine Americans were selected, with Canada and England boasting four each to finish joint-second. Senegal, Germany, Denmark, France, and Spain had two players selected, with Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico each placing one on the board.

Round 1
1. Inter Miami – Robbie Robinson, Clemson
2. Nashville – Jack Maher, Indiana
3. Inter Miami – Dylan Nealis, Georgetown
4. Vancouver – Ryan Raposo, Syracuse
5. Orlando City – Daryl Dike, Virginia
6. New England – Henry Kessler, Virginia
7. Columbus – Miguel Berry, San Diego
8. Houston – Garrett McLaughlin, Southern Methodist
9. Montreal – Jeremy Kelly, North Carolina (traded to Montreal)
10. New York Red Bulls – Patrick Seagrist, Marquette
11. Nashville – Alistair Johnston, Wake Forest
12. San Jose – Tanner Bearson, Stanford
13. Nashville – Elliot Panicco, Charlotte
14. FC Dallas – Nkosi Burgess, Seattle
15. New York Red Bulls – Cherif Dieye, Louisville
16. Portland – Aaron Molloy, Penn State
17. FC Fallas – Cal Jennings, Central Florida
18. Minnesota – Noah Billingsley, UC Santa Barbara
19. Toronto FC – Nyall Higgins, Syracuse
20. Real Salt Lake – Dayonn Harris, UConn
21. DC United – Simon Lefebvre, Temple
22. NYCFC – Jesus Perez, UIC
23. Atlanta United – Patrick Nielsen, Michigan State
24. LAFC – Paulo Pita, Marshall
25. Toronto – Ifunanyachi Achara, Georgetown
26. Chicago – Jonathan Jimenez, Pacific

Round 2
27. San Jose – Jack Skahan, North Carolina
28. Nashville – Tanner Dieterich, Clemson
29. Cincinnati – Rey Ortiz, Portland
30. New England – Simon Lekressner, California
31. Orlando – Joey DeZart, Wake Forest
32. Vancouver – Daniel Gagliardi, FIU
33. Toronto – Malick Mbaye, Clemson
34. Houston – Luka Prpa, Marquette
35. Seattle – Danny Reynolds, Wilmington
36. New York Red Bulls – Wallis Lapsley, UC Davis
37. Colorado – Robin Afamefuna, Virginia
38. San Jose – Jon Bell, UMBC
39. Orlando – Jonathan Dean, Central Florida
40. Dallas – Manuel Ferriol, James Madison
41. New York Red Bulls – Deri Corfe, Wright State
42. DC United – Josh Fawole, Loyola
43. New England – Keegan Meyer, High Point
44. Orlando – Austin Aviza, Providence
45. LA Galaxy – Tom Smart, Akron
46. Real Salt Lake – Michael Wetungu, Michigan State
47. Columbus – Remi Prieur, Saint Mary’s
48. NYCFC – Felicien Dumas, Notre Dame
49. Columbus – Danny Griffin, Providence
50. LAFC – Jack Hallahan, Michigan
51. Toronto – Simon Waever, Indiana
52. Seattle – Timo Mehlich, UNLV

PST writers pick their Premier League Team of the Decade

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With the 2010’s nearly behind us, the last 10 years of Premier League action have been euphoric.

Stunning goals, great players, jaw-dropping moments, trophies lifted, and millions spent. It’s nearly impossible to recap all the action appropriately, but it is necessary to recognize the absolute best of the best. So, the ProSoccerTalk writers have selected their favorite moments, players, and managers to mark the end of the decade and usher in a new 10 years sure to be filled with new memories to be made.

Without further ado, our Of The Decade awards.


TEAM OF THE DECADE:

Joe Prince-Wright: De Gea; Zabaleta, Van Dijk, Kompany, Azpilicueta; Kante, David Silva, Hazard; Aguero, Kane, Mane

“De Gea has been the best goalkeeper over the decade, while Zabaleta and Azpilicueta are as reliable and dependable as they come. Kompany is a Man City legend, and Van Dijk will be one at Liverpool. In midfield I’m going with Kante, Hazard and David Silva for a little bit of balance, and in attack I have Mane (he just beat out Sterling and Salah) with Kane and Aguero. Don’t @ me.”

Kyle Bonn: De Gea; Walker, Van Dijk, Kompany, Azpilicueta; Kante, Yaya Toure; de Bruyne, Hazard, David Silva; Aguero.

David De Gea has slipped over the last two years, but the incredibly high bar he set has partly contributed to why many have a somewhat negative opinion of his recent play, and he deserves to be the top goalkeeper for the consistency he showed for nearly half the decade. Yaya Toure was a pioneer at his position and won three Premier League titles, displaying excellent tenacity and discipline. Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, and Sergio Aguero represent Manchester City’s true stranglehold on this decade, while Eden Hazard leaves a legacy behind after leaving for La Liga. Leaving Harry Kane off was difficult, but his impact on the league was trumped by Aguero, and having two pure strikers on the squad seemed unfair to other more influential players at other positions.”

(Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nicholas Mendola: Cech; Kompany, Van Dijk, Azpilicueta; Toure, Kante, Silva, Bruyne; Hazard, Aguero, Kane.

Petr Cech won with two teams while drumming on the side and preparing to be a semi-pro ice hockey goalie. Kompany, Toure, and Silva were the lynch pins of the decade’s best teams, while Kane spurred Spurs to relatively new heights. N’Golo Kante won titles in back-to-back years with different teams, and Cesar Azpilicueta somehow feels like he creeps into this list while also totally deserving his place.”

Daniel Karell: de Gea; Azpilicueta, van Dijk, Kompany, Robertson; Kante, D. Silva; de Bruyne, Hazard, Salah; Aguero.

“Imagine this team in action? My goodness. I know Salah’s impact has only been felt recently, but he has just been so good, and in some ways he’s getting better. Virgil Van Dijk is the standout though, just in how he’s single-handedly taken Liverpool to the next level.”

Joel Soria: Cech; Evra, Terry, Kompany, Walker; Kante, Gerrard, D Silva, Yaya Toure; Rooney; Aguero.

Andy Edwards: De Gea; Zabaleta, Kompany, Van Dijk, Azpilicueta; Yaya Toure, Kante, Silva, Hazard; Kane, Aguero.


PLAYER OF THE DECADE:

(Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

JPW: Eden Hazard – “One of the greatest players in Premier League history and won two league titles with Chelsea in the last decade and he was influential in both. When he ticked so did Chelsea and no other top six team relied so heavily on just one player. Hazard was untouchable when he was at his best.”

Bonn: Sergio Aguero – “Nobody in the league over the past decade has been at Aguero’s level for the same length of time. Full stop. The Argentine has logged at least 2,000 minutes in five of his eight full seasons in the league, falling less than 100 minutes short of the mark in another two. He has reached the 20-goal mark in six of his eight seasons and looks well on his way to that total this campaign despite dealing with injuries and heavy competition from Gabriel Jesus. With 174 goals since joining Manchester City, nobody comes close to his impact on the league.”

Mendola: David Silva – “Just twice in the PFA Team of the Year, I’ll make amends by giving this overlooked wonder his decade’s due. Arriving in 2010, he has 74 goals and 136 assists in 415 matches for Man City. For the decade, he’s posted 102 league assists and 57 goals. The gentleman’s only been carded 40 times in almost 32,000 minutes in Man City blue, and his trophy case for decade includes four PL titles, four League Cups, two FA Cups, a World Cup and a EURO.”

Karell: Virgil Van Dijk – “The signing of Van Dijk has been worth every penny for Liverpool. He’s one of the main reasons the club has improved so much – remember, just a few years ago Liverpool kept finishing in 7th and having to play in the Europa League – and Liverpool is on pace to set records this season and win the club’s first Premier League title.”

Soria: Sergio Aguero

Edwards: Sergio Aguero


MANAGER OF THE DECADE

(Photo by Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

JPW: Pep Guardiola – “Back-to-back Premier League titles with 100 points and 98 points on the board, and all the time his Man City are probably the best we’ve ever seen in terms of entertainment in PL and Football League history. They said he could never bring his style of play to England and dominate. Pep proved everyone wrong and to date has won five trophies domestically in three-and-a-half seasons.”

Bonn: Pep Guardiola – “Others have won as much as Pep Guardiola this decade, but nobody has had the influence on the game he has. His transformation of that squad into a perennially dominating side is nothing short of legendary. Jurgen Klopp has reached these heights, but his influence comes towards the end of the time period, leaving the German a cruel second in this category.”

Mendola: Pep Guardiola – “The Spaniard authored the best season in Premier League history and has won two titles in three tries, and the age of managerial tumult means it’s hard to put anyone ahead of him. Alex Ferguson also won two PL crowns and is a close second, while third and fourth would be a toss-up. Jurgen Klopp has done well, for sure, but hasn’t claimed a crown (and won’t inside this decade). Jose Mourinho’s in the discussion but he’s only won one PL and the Europa League. Claudio Ranieri deserves a shout, as does Mauricio Pochettino to round out our Top Six. Steve Bruce finishes just ahead of Arsene Wenger to round out our Top Eight (There’s a joke there somewhere, and it’s on me).”

Karell: Pep Guardiola – “Guardiola may be struggling a bit this season but what he’s done for both Man City and the Premier League is nothing short of sensational. It now feels like a disappointment when Man City “only” wins, 1-0 or 2-0, as Guardiola has created a juggernaut that usually scores for fun and runs up the score on a regular basis.”

Soria: Pep Guardiola

Edwards: Pep Guardiola


TRANSFER OF THE DECADE

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

JPW: N’Golo Kante (Caen to Leicester City, $9 million; Aug 3, 2015) – “Has become one of the best central midfielders in the world and only cost Leicester $9 million back in the summer of 2015 and was instrumental in their amazing title win. Kante has since moved to Chelsea and won the title there and the World Cup with France in 2018. Hard to see past this deal for value and how important he was in one of the greatest stories sports has ever seen.”

Bonn: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, $95 million; Jan 1, 2018) – “Nobody has singlehandedly transformed a team from good to great like Virgil van Dijk has done with Liverpool. The Dutchman has been a model of consistency, durability, and rock-solid perseverance than van Dijk. Liverpool may be on the verge of a level of domination not yet seen in the English top flight, and none of it would be possible without the defender. The price tag was high, but he was worth every penny.”

Mendola: N’Golo Kante (Caen to Leicester City, $9 million; Aug 3, 2015) – Transfermarkt says the now World Cup and 2x Premier League winner is worth 10 times that, as he won the league with Leicester and was instantly snared by Chelsea. Honorable mention to Sergio Aguero, Man City from Atletico Madrid, 7/28/11 – The Argentine carried a price tag of $46 million, huge at the time, but 244 goals and 71 assists later… yeah. Also a nod to Jamie Vardy, but Leicester City wasn’t in the Premier League when he was purchased from Fleetwood Town.”

Soria: Luis Suarez (Ajax to Liverpool, $30 million; Jan 31, 2011)

Edwards: N’Golo Kante (Caen to Leicester City, $9 million; Aug 3, 2015)


GOAL OF THE DECADE

JPW: Olivier Giroud v. Crystal Palace; Jan 1, 2017 – “If we are just talking about one goal and the difficulty and outrageous nature of it, leaving out factors like importance for trophies etc., then I’m going with Olivier Giroud’s scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace. It defied belief and nobody has ever tried to recreate it. Emre Can’s bike was pretty special too.”

Bonn: Wayne Rooney v. Man City; Feb 12, 2011 – “The most spectacular goal scored this decade was none other than Wayne Rooney’s unbelievable bicycle kick in a derby atmosphere. The skill it took to not only meet the cross perpendicularly but also find the top corner from that far out…unmatched by any other moment.”

Mendola: Wayne Rooney v. West Ham; Dec 3, 2017 and Cheick Tiote vs. Arsenal; May 2, 2011 – “I’ve got two, including one from Wayne Rooney that didn’t come via overhead kick in Manchester United red. It came on his return to Everton, when he finished off a hat trick against West Ham United by smoking an absolute missile from inside his own half, one time. An emotional nod, and my 1B goal of the 10s is when the late Cheick Tiote scored the only goal of his 156-match career with Newcastle. It was a beauty. Of course Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney have authored better, but his 87th minute goal to lead Newcastle back from a 4-0 deficit in a 4-4 draw versus Arsenal was the stuff that makes football worth the down times.”

Karell: Jack Wilshere v. Norwich; Oct 19, 2013 – “If you grew up watching Arsenal under Wenger, but had seen the team really struggle to live up to the Invincibles from a decade earlier, this absolute flash of brilliance would bring tears to your eyes. Wilshere combines with Santi Cazorla before a wonderful one-touch sequence Olivier Giroud, with both players using the outside of their boots to perfection. Norwich was hoodwinked and Wilshere scored arguably the most Arsene Wenger goal you could draw up. Deft passing in a tight area and a perfect one-touch finish.”

Soria: Papiss Cisse v. Chelsea; May 2, 2012