This week was pretty quiet overall for Americans abroad, but there was some interesting news and one moment in particular that clearly stood out.
Kyle Scott - Central Midfielder, Chelsea FC
Chelsea played Championship side Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. With some major fixtures coming up on the schedule, this promised to be the perfect opportunity to give a few academy prospects a chance at some first team time. Scott had been rumored to get an opportunity on several occasions this year, but the most he had been able to muster was being an unused substitute. That all changed for the 20-year-old in the 62nd minute, as he came on for Cesc Fabregas to make his Chelsea debut with his team already in complete control up 4-0. Scott became just the third American to appear for Chelsea (along with Matt Miazga and Roy Wegerle). Scott played as a deep-lying playmaker after he came on, playing a little deeper than Danny Drinkwater who was partnering him in midfield. A few minutes after he came on, he nervously played a poor ball across the field that was intercepted and nearly scored on the ensuing counter.
He'd like this one back. (Hull did not score, FWIW.) pic.twitter.com/ucdU9Xlmxp— Scuffed (@zlebmada) February 16, 2018
After that though, he settled in very nicely. After a corner, Scott displayed his beautiful first touch and played an absolutely gorgeous ball to spring a 3V2 counter that Chelsea wound up botching.
He followed the mistake by springing a dangerous counter, tho. pic.twitter.com/BCd6JH73Mn— Scuffed (@zlebmada) February 16, 2018
All told, in his 28 minutes he had 42 touches, completed 31/33 passes, had 3 tackles, won 5/9 duels and picked up a yellow card in the 82nd minute. Scott showed that he can be a very solid option in the middle of the park with his comfortable play on the ball as well as his willingness to make strong challenges for the ball. Let’s hope it’s the start that gets him more chances in the near future. Congratulations, Kyle!
Lynden Gooch - Attacking Midfielder, AFC Sunderand
Gooch has been really struggling for minutes of late. He started and played sixty minutes in Sunderland’s 4-0 loss to Cardiff City on January 13th. Since then, he has accrued just nine total minutes in their last five matches (including being an unused substitute in three consecutive matches). Sunderland is a sinking ship and Gooch seems to be going down with them. They sit tied for dead last in the Championship after their 2-0 loss on Saturday.
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, FC Schalke
American fans should take a collective sigh of relief to see McKennie back in training this week. Last month McKennie injured his right knee, and there was initial fear that it would be season ending. Fortunately, he seems to be ok and his rehab is going well. He hopes to be back in two weeks. While it would be nice to see him with Christian Pulisic for the first time next month, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the US play it safe and have him stay in Germany over the International window. The semifinals for the DFB Pokal were announced this week and it will be an American VS American matchup on April 17th between Schalke (McKennie) and Eintracht Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler).
Haji Wright - Striker, FC Schalke (On Loan at SV Sandhausen)
Haji Wright is continuing to struggle. He had a surprise golden opportunity to start on Friday when team captain Nejmeddin Daghfous went down with an injury during pregame warmups. However, Wright was unable to take advantage and was subbed off at halftime. It’s been a nightmare few months for the talented number nine. He needs to dig deep to improve so he can garner future opportunities.
Sidney Friede - Central Midfielder, Hertha Berlin
Friede is a 19-year-old German-American who can play anywhere in the midfield or even out wide. He’s one of the most highly rated Hertha Berlin products. Friede, who recently signed his first professional contract, was rumored last week to potentially get a shot on the first team with a recent injury crisis. It has yet to come to fruition though. He has spent this year with the reserves in the Regionalliga (the German 4th division). Friede has only represented Germany at the youth levels, and he would have to file a one-time switch to play for the US. However, he has hinted at the past his interest in playing for the USMNT. We’ll see if he can break through soon at Hertha and if the US can get him to switch. Perhaps Jonathan Klinsmann could do some recruiting.
Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Paris St. Germain
Weah is reportedly seeking a contract extension for one year according to L’equipe. Weah’s representataives were set to meet about this with PSG Sporting Director Antero Henrique on Friday. He signed his first professional contract in July that currently carries him through June of 2020. He is still seeking his first opportunity to play with the first team which may still be a way off with all the talent PSG currently has. Weah is hopeful that his chances will come soon, but he must stay patient and continue to work extremely hard to crack that roster.
Brian Iloski - Winger/Striker, Legia Warsaw
Brian Iloski was drafted out of UCLA by the Colorado Rapids in the fourth round, but he has decided to try his chances in Europe instead. He signed a deal with Polish giant Legia Warsaw, a perennial Champions League team. Iloski is 22 and impressed the Polish side while he had been on trial. His deal takes him through December of 2019. While the Polish League is not a great one, Legia Warsaw is the best team in that league. Perhaps we’ll see the young man play in the Champions League next fall. Good luck Brian!
Ray Serrano - Winger, Seattle Sounders
Serrano became the youngest player to sign a contract with Seattle this week. At just 15 years old, Serrano has already featured several times for the USYNT’s. He also figures to be an important player in this current U17 cycle. Serrano has a penchant for scoring goals, having found the net 17 times in just 17 games for Seattle’s U17’s last year. Clearly, he was ready for a higher level of competition. Let’s hope he gets some opportunities in USL for Seattle’s reserves this season.
FC Dallas and FC Bayern Announce Partnership
This week, Bayern Munich and FC Dallas formed a player development agreement, linking the two organizations together. You can read the entire article from FC Dallas here. Here are some excerpts from the write-up regarding the partnership:
”The European powerhouse and founding Major League Soccer member will come together to exchange talent, allowing young players to experience different coaching styles and settings to enhance their development.”
“The top-flight clubs will collaborate on coaching, exchanging expertise that helped develop national team players, including Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Kellyn Acosta. Opportunities will also be created for the youngsters to play fixtures against one another in their respective countries.”
“‘This is a unique alliance between two historic teams at the forefront of youth development,’ commented FC Bayern Munich’s President of the Americas, Rudolf Vidal. ‘We are proud to announce this partnership with FC Dallas, who have pioneered professional soccer in the U.S. Working with FC Dallas at this elite level will complement the extensive grassroots infrastructure we have helped create over the last few years in North America,’ he added.”
This type of partnership once again shows how European clubs are increasingly interested in growing the game in America in order to extend their brands. We have seen Barcelona start academies here, Benfica have a partnership with Orlando City, and Schalke agree to a partnership with the Riverhounds in Pennsylvania. Let’s hope this partnership pays some dividends.
As always, please let me know in the comments section if there is something major I overlooked.