5. Fafa Picault (FC St. Pauli)
Here's a name that might be new to the ears of many USMNT supporters (unless you're a good interneter and read our blog), but it's one to get used to hearing. Fafa Picault scored his third goal in less than a week for FC St. Pauli in the 2.Bundesliga. His fourth goal of the season was a 71st minute equalizer that helped earn a 1-1 draw at Fortuna Düsseldorf on Friday:
Just 18 months ago, Picault was the NASL's 2nd leading scoring when he tallied 12 for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. After a failed move to Sparta Prague, he landed in Germany and spent much of this season as a reserve, only earning two starts prior to this week. Clearly he's made the most of his opportunities.
We know Jürgen Klinsmann is watching and that the forward pool is thin, so it's no stretch to begin wondering how soon he appears in camp.
St. Pauli remained mathematically alive for the Promotion Playoff (3rd place) at the time, but Nürnberg's huge 6-2 comeback win vs. Bobby Wood's Union Berlin all but ended those hopes. St. Pauli trails by 9 points and a GD of 21 with three to play.
4. Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest)
We may never see Eric Lichaj in a United States kit again, but he'll continue to quietly make his case nonetheless.
It's been a long season for Nottingham Forest, but Lichaj has been a bright spot throughout. On Saturday, his assist put the exclamation point on a 3-1 away win at Fulham, a result that officially assured Forest would return to The Championship next season. In the 70th minute, his pinpoint cross would find the foot of Henri Lansbury (skip to 1:17 of the video below):
The win ended an eight-game winless skid for NFFC. Lichaj now has three assists on the 2015-16 season.
3. Joe Corona (Dorados de Sinaloa)
Speaking of long seasons... how about Joe Corona?
It's easy to forget that less than a year ago, Corona was on the preliminary Gold Cup roster. Two years ago he was among the final cuts for the 2014 World Cup. This season's been largely lost for Corona. Following an unsuccessful loan stint with Veracruz during the Apertura, he's found even less success with Dorados in the Clausura, making only 1 Liga MX start for a now-relegated club.
On Saturday night, Corona had a brief moment of redemption. Entering in the 64th minute of a scoreless match, Dorados was pushing for three points at home. Fourteen minutes later, he'd have several key touches in the build-up to winner, including the final pass:
Perhaps something to build on as Corona enters an uncertain summer, one that almost certainly will see him on the move again.
2. Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt)
Another week, another American scoring his first Bundesliga goal. Maybe you didn't see this one coming though.
Typically doing much of the thankless defensive work in Ingolstadt's midfield, Morales certainly isn't relied upon for his skills around the net. Perhaps then it was the element of surprise that allowed him to break free in the 10th minute Saturday vs. Hannover 96:
Morales' superb header gave FCI an early 1-0 lead on the way to a 2-0 halftime lead. Resilient Hannover, however, would battle back with two second half goals to end in a 2-2 draw, staving off relegation for another week.
Nonetheless, Ingolstadt's debut season in the Bundesliga has been an unqualified success. With three games to play, Die Schanzer sit 9th on the table, well positioned to complete a top half finish.
1. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Don't fear the hype, folks. And truthfully, when your accolades are earned by your quality of play on the field at a very high level, it ain't even hype anymore. It's just deserved. Christian Pulisic continues to impress in a multitude of ways. His poise, maturity, soccer intelligence, tactical & positional awareness, and pure attacking skills are all worthy of praise.
But goals are always fun to talk about, and that's certainly an easy way to get recognized in this space. Pulisic became the youngest player to ever score two goals in the Bundesliga on Saturday. His tally just before halftime would give Borussia Dortmund a 2-0 lead over a desperate Stuttgart side:
Pulisic's goal-scoring instincts make this goal happen. As soon as the initial shot is taken, he makes a beeline toward the goal for a potential rebound. Smart players make goals like this look easy. Ball-watchers don't score this goal. Pulisic did.
At this point, it'd be outrageous if Pulisic didn't make the Copa America roster. The more appropriate question now: Will Jürgen give him a start?