This week featured tons of young Americans making impacts both domestically and abroad. As the preseason in most European leagues continues to press on, some surprising players are popping up. Let’s take a look at the happenings this week:
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund opened up the International Champions Cup against Manchester City on Friday night in Chicago. Pulisic has been seemingly in every advertisement for the event as the American star for the German club. On Friday, Pulisic started on the right wing and looked extremely lively. He skipped around defenders consistently and looked back to his normal confident self. The game only saw one goal and it was created by the 19-year-old. Pulisic attacked on the counter and set up the Manchester City left back before poking it around him. All Zinchenko could do was reach and hope but Pulisic drew the foul in the box.
Mario Gotze promptly scored the penalty and BVB won 1-0 with Pulisic among a massive group to get subbed at halftime. On Sunday, Pulisic came on at halftime and was at it again. With Liverpool leading 1-0, Pulisic dribbled around a couple defenders and was taken down in the box. This time he took the penalty himself and finished down the middle.
Here is Pulisic's penalty and goal. He has been very impressive in preseason. pic.twitter.com/Nyod4ACCJs— USMNT (@USMNTvideos) July 22, 2018
In the 90th minute, Pulisic grabbed the winner with an outstanding finish in the bottom left corner off a beautifully run counter attack.
Pulisic needs to respond from a somewhat disappointing season. From the looks of his preseason, he’ll be just fine.
Haji Wright - Striker, FC Schalke
The bad news train continues for the 20-year-old from Los Angeles. Wright returned from his trial with 2. Bundesliga side Union Berlin without an offer after failing to impress. After a disastrous loan last season at SV Sandhausen, Wright’s future seems extremely murky at this point. For now he will likely play for the Schalke U23’s, but his parent club can’t be impressed with his inability to show well even in that league. Hopefully he can find a way to turn it around, but it seems unlikely.
Chris Richards - Centerback, FC Dallas (On Loan at Bayern Munich)
Chris Richards was easily the biggest surprise this week. A couple weeks after completing his loan move from FC Dallas (where he would train and play for the U-19 team), Richards appeared on the first team bench for the International Champions Cup match against PSG. Richards then entered the match in the 62nd minute and asserted himself well. He looked very calm and composed on the ball, consistently hitting passes to help build from the back. Now the 18-year-old will join Bayern on their trip to the USA this week for their International Champions Cup matches. I don’t know if he can do enough to stay in their plans for the first team this fall, but what an impressive couple weeks for the young man. Keep it up! Speaking of Bayern Munich, they are seemingly desperate to tap into the American market. On top of Richards, Justin Butler and Malik Tillman are still with the club. Taylor Booth is awaiting an Italian passport to be eligible to play. Also, Ulysses Llanez and Cameron Duke are both currently on trial. Their U-19 team could wind up looking eerily similar to the US U-20 roster.
Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Paris St. Germain
On the other side of that PSG-Bayern match, Weah got the start at the striker position. In the first half, Weah was heavily involved and had a great chance that he blasted high and wide with his left foot. A bit later though, Weah would have his redemption by making a strong run and holding off the defender before dispatching it between the goalkeeper’s legs.
The second half for Weah was much more quiet as PSG struggled mightily to control the midfield and find him. Weah has been seeing quite a bit of time this preseason with so many players away for World Cup duty. Taking his chances like this is the way to continue to force Thomas Tuchel to give him more looks.
Emerson Hyndman - Central Midfielder, AFC Bournemouth
On Friday, Bournemouth took on Shaq Moore’s parent club, Levante UD. Hyndman got another start and opened the scoring with a well-taken finish into the bottom right corner.
Hyndman struggled a bit defensively in this match and had a couple silly passes and turnovers (including one that led to Levante’s second goal) which he needs to clean up. After the first half, Bournemouth had a mass substitution and Hyndman’s day was over, but it’s a welcome sign to see him getting opportunities this summer.
Lynden Gooch - Attacking Midfielder, AFC Sunderland
Gooch has had a very nice week of preseason. During the midweek 1-0 win, Gooch scored the lone goal on a beautiful diving header in the first half. On Saturday, Gooch was at it again when he scored a penalty (from a foul which he drew in the box) as well as another on a nice move cutting in from the left. Sunderland would win that one 6-0. Gooch has pledged himself to the club which was relegated to England’s third tier, League One. The 22-year-old will undoubtedly be a fixture in their lineup at that level and will be relied upon to get them back into the Championship. Let’s hope he can do so.
Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Everton FC
Following his loan at Bolton Wanderers, Robinson has been given a genuine opportunity to make his case for a first team spot. In the midweek friendly, Robinson relieved Leighton Baines at halftime and played very well, looking composed on the ball and generating the attack from the left flank. On Saturday, Robinson started and played the first half. He struggled a bit in the attack but was solid defensively. Rumors about them bidding for another left back are swirling, so Robinson may ultimately go out on loan again. We’ll see if he can show enough to sway their opinions.
Andrija Novakovich - Striker Reading FC (On Loan at Fortuna Sittard)
Novakovich started in a preseason friendly last Wednesday but had to leave early. Novakovich took a blow to the head and was removed for precautionary reasons. The 21-year-old faces a vital season with the step up in competition to the Eredivisie. Let’s hope he can get back to health and scoring goals quickly.
Stephen Payne - Striker/Winger, Varzim SC
Payne made his first team debut with Portuguese second division side Varzim SC on Saturday, subbing on with thirteen minutes left in the match. Varzim would win the Allianza Cup match 2-0. Payne signed a contract extension this past January and will now try to break into the first team on a regular basis. Congratulations Stephen!
Jack Imperato - Winger, Villareal
Imperato is leaving De Anza Force to join Villareal in Spain. The 16-year-old left-footed attacker is a very exciting prospect with excellent touch. A dual national also eligible for Italy, Imperato joins a growing contingent of Americans in Spanish academies. He has represented the US at the U-15 and U-17 levels.
Andrew Carleton - Attacking Midfielder, Atlanta United
Carleton made his first league start on Saturday in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over DC United. Carleton played 65 solid minutes, contributing to two goals. With Ezequiel Barco out for the next match as well, look for Carleton to see more minutes in the coming weeks. Here’s his key pass (technically not an assist due to the deflection) after beating the defender for the second goal:
Chris Durkin - Defensive Midfielder, DC United
Durkin started opposite of Carleton as has become commonplace this season. The 18-year-old has had a very good season for DC United, displaying his ability to play the ball all over the field as well as contribute defensively. Durkin had yet another good game on Saturday against Atlanta despite the loss. If Durkin can continue to improve defensively and grow as a player, it may not be long before he gets an opportunity with the senior USMNT.
As always, hit the comment section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked. Also, let me know if there’s any player you’d like to hear about. I’d like to extend a special thank you to all those who provide the awesome video content. Thank you for reading!