The Revierderby headlined the action this week as we reach crunch time in the European leagues.
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Pulisic got the start on the Right Wing on Sunday. Going against Schalke’s 3-4-3, Pulisic created havoc for several good stretches in the match. The 19-year-old was easily one of the most dangerous players on the field for Dortmund, but he still is struggling to consistently produce the final ball or the killer finish. This is the next step he must take in his development. Unfortunately, Dortmund once again had another disappointing match and lost 2-0. With the loss, BVB are now even with Bayer Leverkusen in third place (Leverkusen currently has the goal differential tie-breaker). However, there is still a five point gap to the fifth place position (a tie between Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt). Dortmund needs to hang on to fourth place to ensure Champions League for next year.
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, Schalke 04
On the other side of the rivalry, McKennie started the day on the bench. In the 71st minute, McKennie subbed on for Leon Goretzka and played very well. McKennie drew the foul that would lead to the second goal on a wonderful strike from Naldo.
Weston McKennie won the free kick that Naldo blasted in to double the lead for #Schalke. He entered the #Revierderby as a 71st minute substitute to help close out the win. #S04 #S04BVB #USMNT pic.twitter.com/FVbjdf7wtj— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 15, 2018
On top of that, McKennie looked dangerous when on the ball, although he didn’t get many opportunities to see it. He looked fully healthy for the first time in months. Schalke are four points clear of third place and nine points clear of fifth place with just four games to go. McKennie and Pulisic are very clearly rivals at the club level. But at the International level, they are the embodiment of our hope for the next generation. Let’s hope we can get our first look at them on the field together in May/June.
Jordan Siebatcheu - Striker, Stade Reims
Siebatcheu returned to the starting lineup on Saturday for the first time since he limped off in the 49th minute on March 2nd. Siebatcheu picked up right where he left off, displaying the scoring touch that has so many USMNT fans taking note. Just 12 minutes in, Siebatcheu took a clean first touch and blasted the ball past the keeper to give Reims the 1-0 lead. Just after halftime, he would double the advantage on a nicely worked counter attack. After a beautiful cross, he initially clanged his header off the post. However, he was immediately there to poke the rebound past the keeper for his 14th goal of the year (he’s also tallied 7 assists) Reims would eventually add a third and win 3-0. The victory pulls Reims eleven points clear at the top of the Ligue 2 standings with just five matches remaining. With promotion basically guaranteed, it will be fascinating to see what happens with the 21-year-old striker (who is also eligible for France and Cameroon) in the coming months. The USMNT needs to try and get this young man.
Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading (On Loan at Telstar FC)
Novakovich started both matches for Telstar over the last week as usual. Novakovich scored the third goal in last Monday’s 3-2 win for his 19th league goal this season. On Friday, Novakovich drew a penalty that was scored by teammate Melvin Platje. The penalty would be the only goal in Telstar’s 1-0 win. Novakovich has dominated at a lower level this season. We’ll find out this summer and fall whether he’s ready for a higher level in the Championship.
Joshua Pynadath - Winger, AFC Ajax
Pynadath was recently called up to participate with the US U17 team for two matches against India and Norway (the Sportchain Cup). You can see the full list of callups here. He has spent this season with the U16 team at Ajax, and he has improved from a few early season struggles. In a recent performance, Pynadath scored a goal and delivered two assists. Ajax won the match 8-1.
Good day for American 16-yr-old Joshua Pynadath on the right wing for the Ajax U16s in a 8-1 beatdown of Ado Den Haag. 2 assists and a goal.— Scuffed (@zlebmada) April 7, 2018
First assist. pic.twitter.com/zYsm4Rt6pS
The 16-year-old is one of the most technical players in our youth setup and is very dangerous with his dribbling. Players that can beat defenders 1v1 are few and far between for the US, so let’s hope he can continue to grow and get stronger and more consistent.
Juan Pablo Torres - Central Midfielder, KSC Lokeren
It’s been a rough 2018 for Torres. The 18-year-old Colombian American was pretty regularly making the gameday squad in the fall and even saw the field twice. However, he hasn’t been in the squad since December 21st, apparently falling out of favor at the club. He needs to improve his game if he wants to make it at the club. Let’s hope he can do so.
Rubio Rubin - Striker/Winger, Club Tijuana
Rubin’s move to Liga MX appears to have been a good choice. He’s been getting some decent playing opportunities and doing well with them. On Friday night, the 21-year-old came off the bench against Chivas in the 73rd minute with Tijuana up 2-0. In the 84th minute, Rubin would score his first Liga MX goal after a wonderful through ball found him streaking in on goal. He did a stepover to round the keeper and fired it into the back of the net. Let’s hope Rubin can continue to take advantage of his opportunities.
The flame burns for American winger Rubio Rubin. Nice finish, even better ball from Miller Bolanos, for Tijuana's third in a 3-0 victory over Chivas last night. Rubin was on for the last 20 minutes. First goal for him in the Tijuana shirt. pic.twitter.com/K6BL0zj4lk— Scuffed (@zlebmada) April 14, 2018
Jacori Hayes - Central Midfielder, FC Dallas
Hayes has seen a breakthrough in the early part of the season for FC Dallas. The 22-year-old made just three MLS appearances last season after leaving Wake Forest. Hayes got the start again on Saturday and opened his MLS account in the 76th minute on a beautiful first-time finish after making a nicely timed run.
76' - Maybe there's something to the tucked in jersey? @JacoriHayes scores his first @MLS goal! FCD leads 1-0.#NEvFCD | #ChallengeAll pic.twitter.com/UoiQeWevve— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) April 15, 2018
On top of the winning goal, Hayes had 10 tackles, 13 recoveries and won 17/25 duels. Let’s hope the young man can keep up this run of form.
Chris Richards - Center Back, FC Dallas
Richards signed a homegrown contract this week, making him the 22nd homegrown signing by FC Dallas. Richards recently turned 18 years old and will look to break through in MLS rather than attend college. Richards was recently called up to the USMNT U-19 team as part of the USYNT Summit held this past January. Currently playing for the FCD U-19 team, he is unlikely to feature in MLS until later this season at the earliest. Nonetheless, let’s wish him and luck and hope for the best in his career.
As always, hit the comments section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked. Also, please let me know if there are any players you’d like to hear about that I haven’t mentioned in a while or at all. Thank you for reading!