We’re back from the international break with lots to catch up on. A couple young Americans made moves with their clubs over the break and there were several notable performances this weekend. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should get called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 10-absolutely call him up). Here’s what’s been going on the last couple weeks:
Joshua Pynadath - Winger, AFC Ajax
Perhaps no other American youngster has had a more surprising start to the season. The 17-year-old was sparsely used at the U-17 level a season ago and hasn’t been a regular at the U-19 level this season either. In fact, he hasn’t taken part in their UEFA Youth League matches so far this fall. However, he is getting opportunities elsewhere. He’s already appeared three times off the bench for Jong Ajax in the Eerste Divisie. His most recent appearance came against Jong AZ when he came off the bench in the 78th minute with Jong Ajax trailing 3-1. They pulled a goal back a few minutes later, but they were unable to salvage a point. On top of his transition into the professional ranks at the second team level, Pynadath was actually called up to the senior team over the international window. He even got an opportunity to play in a friendly against Herenveen where he showed off his elusive quality on the wing.
Raphael Wïcky decided not to bring Pynadath to the U-17 World Cup in favor of Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna, Seattle’s Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, DC United’s Griffin Yow and New York City FC’s Andres Jasson. So unfortunately we won’t be able to see him dancing around defenders in Brazil. Hopefully he takes this opportunity to prove the US coaches made the wrong decision. Rating: 6
Sergiño Dest - Fullback, AFC Ajax
Dest had a huge game on Saturday. The 18-year-old got the start at right back as usual and got on the scoresheet for the first time in his young career. Just after halftime, Dest sent in a cross to the back post for Dušan Tadić to finish and open the scoring.
Around the 60th minute, Dest moved to Left Back and continued his strong outing from the opposite flank. After RKC Waalwijk tied the score in the 63rd minute, Dest was again involved in the game-winner. In the 76th minute, Dest brought down a deflected ball in traffic that ended up at the feet of Quincy Promes, who scored a fantastic strike from the edge of the box. These were the first two assists of his career at the first team level. Late in the match, Dest also had a huge goal line clearance to save the 2-1 win. Ajax has a date with Christian Pulisic and Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday (1 PM ET on B/R Live and TUDN). Rating: 10
Travian Sousa - Left Back, Hamburger SV
The other young American that had a really important international window was Travian Sousa. Sousa only just signed with Hamburger SV this past summer, but he’s already made great strides with the club. Over the break, he was given an opportunity to play with the first team in a friendly, and he took that chance. Sousa impressed his coaches to the point that they decided to promote him from the U-19 team and have him as an option for the first team going forward. He then made his debut for Hamburg II over the break as well. Sousa obviously plays a position of weakness for the US and they’re desperate for more options (particularly if they lose Dest to the Netherlands). It’s fantastic to see players take their chances. Let’s hope he keeps it going. Hamburger SV currently leads the 2. Bundesliga heading into Monday’s clash with Arminia Bielefeld. Rating: 3
Ulysses Llanez - Winger, VFL Wolfsburg
Llanez also had an important weekend. The 18-year-old is back healthy and back on the field. This past weekend, Llanez came off the bench in the 59th minute and sparked a comeback win for Wolfsburg. Trailing 2-1, Llanez scored the tying goal in 67th minute and then he scored the winner five minutes later in the 3-2 victory over Union Berlin’s U-19’s. Remarkably, he has eight goals and one assist in just 273 minutes at the U-19 Bundesliga level (that’s a goal or assist every 30 minutes!). He’s been completely dominant at that level and figures to move up at the club at some point soon. Rating: 6
Chris Richards - Centerback, Bayern Munich
There was some news around Chris Richards’ club situation this week. In Saturday’s 2-2 draw with FC Augsburg, German star Niklas Süle went down with a torn ACL, effectively ending his season. While Richards still has Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, Lucas Hernández and Lukas Mai to battle with for a spot in the matchday squad, this could provide some opportunity for the 19-year-old. They decided to keep him with the club rather than loan him out this summer. It remains to be seen if they see him as a sufficient replacement option or if they will favor others over him. Richards missed out on Bayern II’s match this weekend with illness. Hopefully he can get himself well and compete to make the matchday squad for their first team sometime this season. Rating: 6
Reggie Cannon - Right Back, FC Dallas
Reggie Cannon returned from international duty to get the start in their opening round playoff matchup with Seattle. The 21-year-old actually started on the right wing as opposed to his traditional fullback spot. However, he had a strong game. In the 39th minute, Cannon gave FC Dallas a lifeline when he took a touch around his defender and scored to cut Seattle’s lead in half.
The goal gave Dallas momentum to complete a comeback twice in the second half to force extra time. Jordan Morris’ winner in extra time gave him a hat trick and knocked FC Dallas out of the playoffs in crushing fashion. Still, it was a big performance from Cannon, especially when he was filling an unfamiliar role. It’s a disappointing end to the year for an exciting young team. Rating: 9
As always, hit the comment section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked or if there’s anyone you’d like to hear about. Thank you for reading!