5. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
The 17-year-old Pulisic continues to make strides in Germany. On Sunday he made his second Bundesliga start of the season and once again took full advantage to impress.
With BVB resting several starters ahead of Thursday's Europa League 2nd leg at Liverpool (Reus, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan all on the bench), Pulisic was in the XI for a huge away derby match at Schalke 04, and did not disappoint. Pulisic put in a standout 73-minute shift and was a consistent attacking threat down the right flank (and occasionally in the center) for Dortmund. He created numerous scoring chances, including a few of his own.
U.S. Soccer Twitter nearly exploded in the 23rd minute, when Pulisic charged in behind and nearly scored his first goal (skip to 22:30 on the game clock of the all-Pulisic highlight video below. h/t @babynatsabroad)
Borussia Dortmund would earn a 2-2 draw and remain securely second place on the league table.
The opportunities don't figure to stop coming for Pulisic anytime soon. Manager Thomas Tuchel now considers him a fully-fledged part of BVB's senior team. This from an American kid who will still be 17 when *next* season begins.
What a time to be alive.
4. Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian)
Sometimes when we can't actually watch the games of our Americans abroad, we need to turn to those on the ground for the real scoop. It's not enough to simply tell you that Perry Kitchen is settling in well at Hearts. Sure, he played well in earning a big 2-1 win on Friday vs. Aberdeen. But let's hear what some of the locals had to say.
First, here's prominent commentator Derek Rae of BT Sport and ESPN:
Impressed with first on site look @PerryKitchen23 in last night's crunch game at Tynie. Seemingly revelled in the highly charged atmosphere.— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) April 9, 2016
Well that sounds encouraging. Let's check in with "Hearts Rant", a well-followed club blogger:
I thought Perry Kitchen was hugely impressive too. I'm certain he'll be club captain at some point. A machine.— Hearts Rant (@HeartsRant) April 9, 2016
Whoa there! Kitchen's been at the club for a matter of weeks, and we're already talking about the armband? I'm intrigued.
Here's a smattering of quotes from other Hearts supporters in the Twittersphere:
- "exactly what we have missed a dominant ball winner"
- "Looked like he loves the role of winning the ball back. Refreshing to see."
- "Covered every blade of grass. Huge asset to the team"
- "...looked like he's been playing there all season. Looks to be a great find."
- "Perry kitchen is far too good for hearts"
- "I'm going to get 'Perry Kitchen' tattoo'd on my face."
3. Gboly Ariyibi (Chesterfield)
It's been a season of great personal progress for U.S. U-23 International. Despite being passed over for selection in the last round of Olympic Qualifying, Gboly Ariyibi has emerged as a key player for Chesterfield FC in England's League One.
After spending much of the early season in a rotational role, Ariyibi has locked down a spot in the XI over the last two months. Primarily lining up as a wide right midfielder, he's been a bright spot in the attack. On Saturday he was the creative spark behind both Chesterfield goals, notching two assists in a hard-fought 2-1 away win at Barnsley.
Most importantly, the three points pulled the Spireites four points clear of the relegation zone. The club now sits 17th on the table with just five games to play, so some tough challenges remain. Ariyibi will play a big part in determining whether the club stays up. He also just might earn himself a promotion in the process.
2. Bobby Wood (Union Berlin)
Bobby Wood seemingly has a permanent place in these rankings. He added two more goals to his impressive total on Friday at Paderborn, and he got it done early. Here he is in the 7th minute, picking up a loose ball near midfield and charging through four defenders into the box:
And here he is just six minutes later, taking down a ball over the top directly following a corner kick, beating two Paderborn defenders for a 2-0 lead.
Union Berlin would coast to a 4-0 win.
With 16 goals on the season, Bobby Wood ranks third in the 2.Bundesliga Golden Boot race, just three behind Simon Terodde of VfL Bochum. He's scored in seven consecutive games, and has twelve goals in his last nine appearances for Union Berlin.
Wood also established a new scoring record for Americans in Germany's top two divisions, a record he previously shared with Eric Wynalda and Conor Casey. Given his current pace, Wood figures to break his own record several times over during Union's final five matches.
1. Emerson Hyndman (Fulham)
If you're going to score your first professional goal on your birthday, it's only fitting that you do it with some style.
Emerson Hyndman surely did on Saturday, scoring a stoppage time winner for Fulham to secure all three points in a 2-1 win vs. Cardiff City. There's both video and audio of the goal here, including the local Fulham radio broadcasters going absolutely ballistic. It's a fun listen.
First team playing time for Hyndman had been sparse over the last several months. But with two recent starts, it's clear that Fulham isn't eager to see him leave at the end of this season. Hyndman has steadfastly declined to sign a extension with the club, and looks set to explore the open market this summer. Performances like this will only improve his options.
Meanwhile, the win all but mathematically secured safety for Fulham, who are now ten points clear of the relegation zone with five to play. Next up: a tricky road fixture on Friday sy third-place Brighton & Hove Albion.