This week saw some big moments for several young Americans, including one moment that stuck out above the rest. With the MLS season starting back up, we also saw several young Americans making debuts. Here’s what’s going on this week:
Timothy Weah - Winger/Striker, Paris St. Germain
PSG received crushing news this week that Neymar would be lost for several months after undergoing foot surgery. To make matters worse, Kylian Mbappe suffered a sprained ankle. Unai Emery wasn’t going to take any chances and he also rested starting striker, Edinson Cavani. So with the all-important second leg against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League looming, PSG was without several starters for their Ligue 1 match against 18th-placed Troyes. With so many regulars missing, 18-year-old Timothy Weah received his first call to the first team. Weah started on the bench, but in the 77th minute he was the final substitution to make his first team debut. He also became the first American to play for the French giants and just the eighth American to play in Ligue 1.
HERE HE COMES!!! Timothy Weah comes on in the 79th minute to make his #PSG senior debut!!! The 18 year old American will the lead the line, and he's already giving out instructions. What a moment!! #ESTACPSG #USYNT #USMNT pic.twitter.com/Tpl0MhoWKg— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 3, 2018
Weah only had a handful of touches in his 13 minutes, but he did send in this decent cross on a counter in the 84th minute (it was ruled offside).
Timothy Weah gets his first touch in his #PSG debut! He flared out wide, received the pass from Nkunku, and played a good cross into the box. #ESTACPSG #Ligue1 #USYNT #USMNT pic.twitter.com/NZInt6NRkx— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 3, 2018
Then in stoppage time, Weah had a golden opportunity to make it a dream debut with a breakaway chance on goal. He certainly could have done better with the finish (or squared a pass for Dani Alves) and was denied by a decent save by the keeper. He did flash his breathtaking pace as he blew past the Troyes fullback.
Timothy Weah almost gets a goal on his #PSG debut!!! He sprinted forward on the counterattack, and his shot was saved #Troyes GK Erwin Zelazny. Finish could've been better, but the 18 year old American showed his explosive pace. #ESTACPSG #Ligue1 #USYNT #USMNT pic.twitter.com/GQnNqHYVmi— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 3, 2018
Overall, it was a promising and extremely exciting opportunity for the young man. He will continue to face an uphill battle for playing time with all the talent PSG possess. Congratulations, Timothy! Keep working hard!
Timothy Weah after his #PSG debut yesterday: "My first game went very well. My teammates told me to be calm and not to have pressure. I hope to do even more in the future and start scoring goals. My father did very good things here and it makes you want to do the same." #USMNT pic.twitter.com/ogc4Q1w9N2— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 4, 2018
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, FC Schalke
McKennie made his return from injury on Saturday after missing five weeks. He came off the bench in the 81st minute and helped Schalke hold onto a one goal lead against Hertha Berlin. The win moves Schalke into second place in the Bundesliga, one point above Borussia Dortmund and Eibtracht Frankfurt. It will be an absolute battle in the Bundesliga for the Champions League spots for the rest of the season as the second through sixth positions are separated by just four points.
Junior Flores - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Unfortunately, the poor luck continues to follow Flores. He has torn his ACL and will be on the shelf for at least seven months. Just when he was starting to get healthy, he is now back on the sidelines. That’s rotten luck for the young man.
Erik Palmer-Brown - Center Back, Manchester City (On Loan at KV Kortrijk)
EPB made his debut in Belgium this week following several appearances on the bench. He started on the right side of a three man backline and went the distance in their 2-1 away loss to Club Brugge. Palmer-Brown didn’t necessarily cover himself in glory as he probably could have closed down the space on the game-winning goal. He was following the runner into the box when it was crossed behind him and he recgonized it a little late. Still, it’s good to see him on the field. I hope he continues to get more looks.
Former #SportingKC centerback Erik Palmer-Brown made his debut for #KVKortrijk today, in their 2-1 loss away to #Belgium league leaders #ClubBrugge. Not entirely his fault, but he could've done better to close down the cross for Brugge's 79th minute winner. #CluKvk #USMNT pic.twitter.com/YhJTk6sETy— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 3, 2018
Ethan Horvath - Goal Keeper, Club Brugge
Horvath continues to be an outcast at Brugge, and I found some new information out this week that makes it obvious that he has no future there. This article states that Horvath was allowed to seek out a move away from Brugge over the winter transfer window, but was unable to do so. If they wanted him to look for a move, that tells me that he is no longer in their plans. Horvath is still under contract at Club Brugge until June of 2021 so he will have to find someone willing to buy him or take him on a loan. I hope he can find a way to turn the tide.
Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading (On Loan at Telstar FC)
Novakovich remains on an absolute tear in the Eerste Divisie. He scored a brace on Friday in Telstar’s 3-2 win. His 15 goals put him third in the league. The 21-year-old has helped Telstar reach position to play in the promotion playoffs.
CJ Dos Santos - Goal Keeper, SL Benfica
Dos Santos trained with the Benfica B team this week. The 17-year-old has been playing regularly for Benfica’s U19 team and is impressing enough to get a look with the B team. Dos Santos won’t even turn 18 until August, but Benfica already seem to see excellent potential in this young man. It would be fantastic if he could start seeing playing opportunities at that level soon.
Chris Durkin - Central Midfielder, DC United
Durkin is apparently drawing interest from Benfica as reported by Abola. According to the report, Benfica are attempting to buy Durkin from DC United this summer and sign him to a five year deal where he would start for the B team. On the field, Durkin had a big personal moment this week as well. He came off the bench in the 73rd minute for Yamil Asad to make his MLS debut on Saturday night. Unfortunately, he was unable to prevent 10-man Orlando City SC from leveling the score in stoppage time. The young midfielder didn’t do enough to close down space on the ball when Jonathan Spector overlapped and sent in the game-tying cross. Regardless, it’s great to see the 18-year-old getting his debut.
Anthony Fontana - Attacking Midfielder, Philadelphia Union
Fontana also made his MLS debut this weekend, starting as a central attacking midfielder. The 18-year-old took his chance in a big way, scoring the opening goal in the 43rd minute.
ANTHONY FONTANA!!— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) March 4, 2018
The 18-year-old Homegrown puts Philadelphia in the lead with his first #MLS goal in his first MLS start!
Jim Curtin gave the youngster his chance to shine at the number ten, and he’s making a good case to keep his spot for the season! pic.twitter.com/322h9NCjkF
Fontana only turned 18 in October and is one to keep an eye on for the future. As well as playing centrally, he can also play on the wing. Philadelphia actually had two youth players in their starting lineup, also playing 19-year-old Auston Trusty at Center Back. They also brought Derrick Jones off the bench in the second half. It’s great to see Philadelphia putting faith into their youth system.
As always, if there is anything major that I overlooked, please let me know in the comments section. Thank you for reading!