Greg Berhalter

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Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

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After a slow start to the season, Josh Sargent made quite the statement, scoring his first goal of the season in brilliant fashion against Augsburg on Sunday.

 [MORE: Sargent opens season account in Bundesliga]

Over at Stamford Bridge, Christian Pulisic continues to earn valuable minutes, despite Chelsea failing to pick up three points in consecutive matches.

In Mexico, Ventura Alvarado, captain of Liga MX side Necaxa, registered his second goal of the season.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic started and played all 90 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw against Sheffield United.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a groin injury. 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 0-0 draw with Barnsley.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old was sidelined with a hamstring injury this weekend. There’s no timeline on his return.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain was back on the park and featured all 90 minutes in Hull’s 1-1 draw at Millwall.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender, dealing with an injury, didn’t feature for QPR over the weekend in their 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — The USMNT call-up started and played all 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at Cardiff City.

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright reintroduced himself to field after last week’s inactivity. The 21-year-old played the last 39 minutes in VVV-Venlo’s 1-0 loss to Den Haag on Saturday.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — One of the few new faces in Greg Berhalter’s list, Dest played 65 minutes in Ajax’s 4-1 at Sparta Rotterdam.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback dressed but didn’t play in Emmen’s 3-1 loss to Zwolle.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Out with a muscular injury, Weah didn’t feature for Lille over the weekend and will also miss out on the USMNT’s pair of friendlies.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — On Sunday, the Washington D.C. native came featured for 76 minutes in Rennes’ 2-1 defeat to Nice.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke — A staple player for club and country, McKennie registered 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-0 victory over Hertha Berlin before reporting with the men’s national team.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Steffen and Morales started and went all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. Morales, for a consecutive week, was one of Fortuna’s few bright spots, assisting the team’s only goal.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The 19-year-old opened his season account in spectacular fashion, getting around defenders and the opposing goalkeeper before tapping it in.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach After not starting the first game of the season, Johnson has made his way into Mönchengladbach’s starting lineup two weeks in a row. On Friday, he started and played 74 minutes in his side’s 3-1 loss to red-hot RP Leipzig.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt The fullback did appear on the 18, but was not called upon in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t feature for Leipzig as he continues to recover from “acute groin issues.”

Honorable Mentions:

Ian Harkes, Dundee United – Harkes had an unusual, yet positive shift with Dundee United over the weekend. In the 25th minute, the midfielder took the field. One minute into the second half, Harkes scored in what turned out to be a 6-2 victory for United over rivals Dundee.

Ventura Alvarado, Necaxa – In Mexico, Alvarado continues to make the case that he might be ready for a USMNT return. The 27-year-old captain, scored his second goal of the season in Necaxa’s 3-2 victory over Tijuana.

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher – Boyd’s move to Germany’s third-tier is paying dividends. For a second straight week, the striker scored for Hallescher – this time in a 4-0 victory over Sonnenhof.

What does USMNT’s, Mexico’s FIFA Rankings surge tell us?

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Rising eight and six places respectively, the USMNT and Mexico can be referred to as the clear-cut big winners – at least within the Top 30 – from FIFA’s latest world rankings released on Thursday. 

El Tri, 12th in the rankings, behind Switzerland and a step above Denmark, had a picture-perfect showing in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, hoisting the trophy in Chicago after winning all six games in the team’s first tournament under Argentine coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino. 

Greg Berhalter’s men, on the other hand, surged their way back into the Top 30 after a solid runner-up performance in the aforementioned tournament. 

But what do the positive, upward trends say about CONCACAF’s giants, though? 

Well, that the new era for both sides, despite being in a premature stage, is looking promising not only for the future of the national sides, but for the overall trajectory of the American and Mexican player along with the sport in North America. 

As both rivals – and their domestic leagues, MLS and Liga MX – continue to amp up the competition and collaboration efforts among each other, the quality and opportunities are increasing exponentially. Such effect continues to garner eyes and interest from worldwide audiences and from scouts in Europe’s top-five leagues. In other words, North Americans are, slowly but surely, becoming constant go-to marquee signings for some of Europe’s best. 

In January, American star, Christian Pulisic, signed for Chelsea after the English giants and Borussia Dortmund agreed to a record $73.1 million fee. An over-the-top purchase for many initially – keeping in mind the 20-year-old’s performance this summer and ascending marketability – the price tag the Blues paid for his services doesn’t seem inflated one bit.  

The Gold Cup also allowed Mexican promise Edson Alvarez to finally make the leap to the other side of the Atlantic. Astute, composed and a natural leader, Alvarez slots in as the natural replacement for either Mattijs de Ligt or Frankie de Jong at Ajax. Both historical and record departures, it speaks volumes about the confidence and legitimacy a recent Champions League semi-finalist has given the Club America and Mexico national team product.  

The USMNT and Mexico swarming up the rankings hand-in-hand is not a new trend, but with the interconnection of current times and the slew of Americans and Mexicans already making a name in Europe, Thursday’s latest rankings is a visual representation that the new era is all about rampant growth for North America’s giants. 

2015 MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew

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  • Made playoffs last season, eliminated in conference semifinals
  •  Recently signed naming rights to stadium with Mapfre Insurance
  • One of 10 founding MLS members

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

Key Player: Federico Higuain

Last year, everything moving forward flowed through Higuain, and often finished with him as well. Even with new coaching, that figures to be the same this year. With Columbus trending upwards, he now has plenty of help, and his production should only improve, even if his focus shifts less on goalscoring and more on chance creating. Now the club’s highest paid player in history on a new designated player contract, Higuain has even more expectations to live up to.

Other players to watch: Kei Kamara, Wil Trapp, Cedrick Mabwati

Kei Kamara is a big signing for the Crew up front, and will be a fantastic target for Higuain to feed. He arrived at the end of last year but is only eligible to play starting now. Mabwati won’t be arriving until the summer once his season with Osasuna is complete, but his pace and ball skills are something to behold on the edge of the pitch, and he can stretch the field should Higuain garner too much attention. Trapp earned himself a USMNT call-up recently and will look to build on that milestone.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Head Coach: Gregg Berhalter

A former LA Galaxy and USMNT defender, Berhalter took charge of Columbus last offseason, and in his first year completely changed the expectations in Columbus. The team hadn’t made the postseason in three years, and he weathered a tumultuous early summer to break that streak, and while the club was thrashed by New England in the postseason, his attacking style of play was a welcome change. They were both dangerous up front and solid at the back last year, and there’s no reason that can’t continue this season under the 41-year-old.

2015 outlook:

2015 seems to be a make-or-break season for the Crew. While last season was a success by all accounts, there’s still plenty of room for improvement as the playoff appearance showed. If they regress in year two under Berhalter, many will question the staying power of his management skills and of last season’s play. If they improve or even hold ground, there will be a solid feeling of long-term future success. 2015 for Columbus is all about building for the future by winning now.