5. Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna)
Jorge Villafaña continues to showcase himself as a candidate for the ever-open left back position with the USMNT. He made his third consecutive start over the weekend after a short spell on the bench. Perhaps by no coincidence, Santos Laguna also recorded its third consecutive clean sheet with a tough 1-0 away win at Cruz Azul.
Villafaña has started 10 of 14 Liga MX matches thus far, along with all four in CONCACAF Champions League. Meanwhile, Santos Laguna sits 5th on the Clausura table with three games to play, and could clinch a Liguilla spot as early as this weekend.
4. DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland)
Aside from the opportunity to earn Premier League minutes and secure a starting role, the greatest appeal of DeAndre Yedlin's Sunderland loan was always the impending challenge of a relegation battle.
That's exactly where Yedlin now finds himself, and he's proven more than up to the challenge.
On Saturday Yedlin was excellent again in a do-or-die clash at Norwich City, where Sunderland left town with all three points from a decisive 3-0 win. While not directly involved in any of the goals, Yedlin continued to be a threat down the right flank. He also more than held his own on the defensive end, helping secure a clean sheet.
Yedlin would be at the center of an early flashpoint: He was fortunate to escape injury in the 3rd minute when a late shoulder from Norwich's Robert Brady sent him sliding face first into the electronic ad boards.
Just minutes later, Yedlin would bounce back to make a huge defensive play. Covering the far post on a 6th minute corner kick, Yedlin read the ball in the air to move into perfect position to block a wide-open volley and keep the score 0-0 early.
More importantly, the Black Cats moved within 1 point of Norwich with a game still in hand. Sunderland are now a modest favorite to survive another year. Next up: Saturday vs. Arsenal at the Stadium of Light.
3. Bobby Wood (Union Berlin)
Of course Bobby Wood scored again. It's what he does. Let's run the numbers:
- 17 goals on the season
- 8 game scoring streak (10 goals in that span)
- 12 goals in his last 10 games
- 3rd in the 2.Bundesliga Golden Boot race (2 behind leader)
Wood keeps doing it in different ways too. This week, he gets his head on a corner kick in the 27th minute:
The result was a 1-0 win for Union Berlin vs Heidenheim. Union keeps its third straight clean sheet, and moves up to 6th on the league table.
At this point, it's not a question of "if" Bobby Wood makes a big club move this summer, but how big?
2. Gedion Zelalem (Rangers)
When Gedion Zelalem's loan to Rangers was announced, this was the (potential) match to circle on your calender.
After sealing promotion midweek, we already knew the Old Firm rivalry would return to the Scottish Premiership this fall.
On Sunday we got an early preview, when Rangers hosted Celtic in the Scottish Cup Semifinals before over 50,000 at Hampden Park. Zelalem began the day as a substitute, but would get the call to enter in the 88th minute with the scored level at 1-1.
It'd go to extra time. After the sides traded dramatic goals to remain level at 2-2, it was on to penalties. It was Zelalem's turn to step up in the 6th round for a sudden death attempt, with kicks level 3-3 (skip to 6:40 of the video):
Zelalem would coolly pop home his attempt, even calmly shushing the Celtic supporters in celebration. Rangers would win it in the 7th round of penalties, sealing a 2-2 (5-4 PEN) victory to advance to the final. A big moment for the young American to be part of, and a feather in his cap when he attempts to earn a spot with Arsenal's first team this summer.
1. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Have you heard of this kid? He's apparently good at soccer.
Christian Pulisic's biggest moment yet arrived on Sunday. In the starting lineup once again, the 17-year-old American phenom would give Borussia Dortmund a huge boost in the 38th minute vs. Hamburger SV:
"A star is born!" #USMNT's Christian Pulisic scores his first Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund. #BVBHSV https://t.co/tPSnRgHJph— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 17, 2016
And with that, USMNT Twitter erupted. Pulisic's first professional goal was a large one, both for himself and his club's fortunes that day. Pulisic gave Dortmund a 1-0 lead, breaking things open for an eventual 3-0 win.
Pulisic is not only making a strong case for Jurgen Klinsmann's Copa America roster... he's making a case for a spot in the starting XI.
Don't fear the hype train, friends. Just jump on board and enjoy the ride. The kid is for real.