Welcome back from the International break. Many players that have featured on these updates took part in the USMNT’s 1-0 win, and hopefully even more guys will get opportunities in the near future. Here’s what happened over the last couple weeks:
Lynden Gooch - Attacking Midfielder, Sunderland AFC
Gooch was a surprise inclusion in the starting 11 on Friday as Sunderland took on fifth place Derby County. The 22-year-old was deployed on the right wing and caused a lot of problems as Sunderland went out to a shocking 2-0 lead. Derby County pulled one back just before halftime and seized some momentum heading into the locker room. However, Gooch would not let Sunderland relinquish their lead as he burst past a defender, nutmegging him in the process before the defender would bring him down in the box for a penalty (Gooch’s run starts at 1:58 of the video).
The ensuing penalty kick was driven home, and Sunderland would go on to win it 4-1. The win pulled Sunderland out of last place for the time being. Sunderland are currently five points back of Birmingham, so they still have a lot of work to do to remain in the Championship. They will face Sheffield Wednesday on Monday looking to build on their victory. For Gooch, it’s a welcome sign for him to take advantage of his opportunity. Before this match, he had only played a total of 9 minutes since January 13th.
Gedion Zelalem - Central Midfielder, Arsenal
Recently Zelalem revealed that he had experienced a set-back on his road to recovery from his knee injury. In the write-up, Zelalem explains that he will be fit and ready to go by this coming preseason. The 21-year-old tore his ACL while playing at the U-20 World Cup last year. Zelalem plans to take part in Arsenal’s preseason this coming summer and hopes to win a first team spot next year. We’ll see how it goes.
Brandon Austin - Goal Keeper, Tottenham
After Zack Steffen, the USMNT goal keeping situation seems to be in a real state of chaos. Brandon Austin unfortunately accepted a call-up from England to play for their U-19 team over the International window. The 19-year-old English-American is highly rated in Tottenham’s system. He signed a contract extension back in November. Hopefully we haven’t lost him for good, because the list of USMNT goal keepers is underwhelming at this point.
Nick Taitague - Attacking Midfielder, FC Schalke
It was another important International window for the 19-year-old attacker from Virginia. Taitague was one of five U-19 players that were called up by Domenico Tedesco to train with the Schalke first team. When Taitague was reunited with the U-19’s he scored a brace in a 3-1 friendly win. With Schalke fighting to remain in the top four, Taitague may find first team opportunities very hard to come by for the rest of this season. However, it’s encouraging to see him having chances to impress the Schalke first team coaches as they start to formulate personnel plans for next season. Let’s hope Taitague can get some looks in the preseason like McKennie and Wright got last summer.
Timothy Tillman - Attacking Midfielder, Bayern Munich
I have more bad dual national news. Contrary to reports back in January, Timothy Tillman does not appear to be switching his allegiance to the United States. Tab Ramos told goal.com that he expected Tillman to file a one-time switch and join the US for a U-20 camp in March. That did not come to fruition with Tillman instead accepting a call-up to the German U-19 team. The 19-year-old playmaker is highly regarded in the Bayern youth setup. Let’s hope we haven’t lost him for good.
Jamie Dunning - Attacking Midfielder, Feyenoord
Dunning is set to leave FC Dallas to join Feyenoord this summer. He will join fellow dual national Lateef Omidiji in one of the best academies in the world. Dunning only recently turned 16, but he possesses an English passport which would allow him to sign anywhere in Europe. Yet another product of the FC Dallas system, Dunning is very technical and skilled on the ball. He had been trialing recently before Feyenoord decided to bring him aboard. He will start off with their U-17 team. Good luck Jamie!
Emmanuel Sabbi - Striker/Winger, Hobro IK
Sabbi also got a rare starting opportunity this weekend as the playoffs got underway in the Danish Superliga. Sabbi has appeared 11 times for Hobro’s first team this season, but this was only his fifth start in all competitions. Just before halftime, Sabbi scored the opener for his first goal of the season with an absolutely brilliant strike from just outside the box (his goal is at 0:45 of the video).
Unfortunately, it was not enough as Hobro would go on to concede a second half hat trick and lose 3-1. For Sabbi, it’s great for him to be able to open his account. Hopefully the 20-year-old can gain some confidence and help them end the season on a positive note.
Gannen Headrick - Winger/Right Back, Atletico Madrid
Top Drawer Soccer recently released an article about 15-year-old Gannen Headrick. Headrick has been at the academy since 2013 after moving with his parents to Spain in 2012. At Atletico, he has shown excellent versatility. He can play on either wing as well as full back. Headrick is another young kid eligible for the next U-17 cycle to watch, although he has never been called up to any USYNT camps. Let’s hope he can continue his rise through the ranks at the massive club.
Joseph Scally - Right Back, New York City FC
Scally signed a homegrown deal with NYCFC, making him the youngest current player under contract in MLS. The 15-year-old is now the fifth player in his age year to have signed a homegrown deal. The right back combines excellent pace with decent ability on the ball. If he can improve his game on the defensive end, he could be an outstanding fullback to play opposite George Bello in the next U-17 cycle. Let’s hope Scally can develop into a fine player in New York. Good luck, Joseph!
Lawson Sunderland - Central Midfielder, Portland Timbers
Sunderland’s time in Valencia has apparently come to an end. The young midfielder had moved to Levante last summer and was playing in their youth ranks. Sunderland participated in last week’s Georgia Cup back with the Portland Timbers. I’m not sure why the talented 16-year-old moved back, but I hope he can carve out a career in the Pacific Northwest.
George Bello - Left Back, Atlanta United
Bello is one of the most highly rated players in the country. Bello is one of the stars of the next U-17 cycle along with Gianluca Busio and Gio Reyna. At just 16 years old, he got his professional debut as he started for Atlanta United’s USL affiliate ATL 2. Bello then scored his first professional goal in the 28th minute on this nice counter attack.
Bello combines high football IQ, outstanding pace, and excellent defensive positioning to make him a terror for the opposition. We all know too well about the US’s inability to develop left backs. Well Bello may wind up being the first legitimate player that the US has developed at the position. We can only hope.
As always, please let me know in the comments section if there was anything major that I overlooked. Thank you all for reading.