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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Palmer-Brown delivers in the clutch

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The young centerback stepped up big in the battle to avoid relegation

Soccer: International Friendly Men’s Soccer-Bolivia at USA Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It was yet another week with Pulisic, Adams and McKennie out with injury, but there was still plenty of action both at home and abroad and strong performances to go around. For any new readers, the rating system reflects whether I think the player should be called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 5-absolutely call him up). Here’s what’s happening this week:

Netherlands

Erik Palmer-Brown - Centerback, Manchester City (On Loan at NAC Breda)

Palmer-Brown started as usual on Friday as NAC Breda took on FC Emmen. The 21-year-old delivered arguably his best performance of the season in helping them hang on to their fading hopes of staying in the Dutch top flight. In the 88th minute with Breda trailing 1-0, EPB struck a deflected free kick into the back of the net to level the score.

The 1-1 draw keeps them within seven points of safety with four games left. A loss would have had them 10 points back and basically without any hope. Palmer-Brown had an incredibly strong performance even outside of the huge, game-tying goal. He won an impressive 12 duels and passed it well out of the back. NAC Breda have been desperate for some stability and EPB has been able to provide that. Next week comes another massive contest when they take on Andrija Novakovich and Fortuna Sittard. Rating: 3

Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC (On Loan at Fortuna Sittard)

Novakovich started as usual as Fortuna Sittard took on VVV Venlon on Saturday. The 22-year-old opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he dinked it over the keeper off a rebounded shot.

This was Novakovich’s ninth league goal of the season. The scoreline would hold until Sittard gave it away in the 81st minute. They would have to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw. Sittard now sit in 14th place in the 18-team Eredivisie, five points clear of the relegation zone. Novakovich needs to continue to produce to ensure their safety as the season winds down. Rating: 4

Germany

Sebastian Soto - Striker, Hannover

Soto was once again in the matchday squad for Hannover on Saturday. The 18-year-old came off the bench in the 81st minute to make his second consecutive appearance. Hannover were trailing Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 and searching for an equalizer. Soto had a couple solid moments of holdup play in his short runout, but didn’t see much of the ball otherwise. The tying goal never came, but Soto moved confidently and looked like he belonged. Hopefully a start or two is coming soon. Rating: 2

Taylor Booth - Central Midfielder, Bayern Munich

Booth has slowly been working his way into the rotation for Bayern’s U-19’s. The 17-year-old earned his first start for Bayern on Saturday while Chris Richards returned to the bench following injury. In the 32nd minute, Booth scored his first goal for the club to put Bayern up 2-0 en route to a 5-1 victory over Heidenheim’s U-19’s. It’s great to see him back on the field and contributing after such a long time where he was fighting with trying to gain eligibility. Let’s hope he can continue to force his way into the starting lineup and eventually move up with the club. Rating: 1

Portugal

CJ Dos Santos - Goalkeeper, SL Benfica

Dos Santos had an important moment this week. The 18-year-old made his debut for SL Benfica’s U-23 team on Saturday, moving up from the U-19 level where he’s played this season. Dos Santos is highly thought of at the club and will hopefully play with their U-23’s all next season or potentially move up to the B team. CJ Dos Santos was called up to the U-20 camp last month and could play a part at the U-20 World Cup in May, but Brady Scott and David Ochoa among others will have something to say about that. Rating: 1

United States

Chris Durkin - Central Midfielder, DC United

Durkin had been struggling to get on the field early this season, accruing just 30 total minutes in three appearances until Saturday. The 19-year-old got his first start of the season against the Colorado Rapids and took advantage of the opportunity. Durkin had a Man of the Match performance, which included his first career MLS goal. In the 38th minute, Durkin found a pocket of space on the right side of the penalty area and uncorked a strong strike to beat Tim Howard and give DC United a 2-1 lead.

He was also very good with his passing in this game, helping DC ultimately get three points in a 3-2 victory. It’s a good sign to see him back on the field, even if it was due to squad rotation. Hopefully this performance will force Ben Olsen to consider giving more opportunities for him. Rating: 3

Danny Leyva - Central Midfielder, Seattle Sounders

Leyva signed a homegrown contract this week with Seattle. At just 15 years old, he’s the youngest signing in club history. Leyva trained with Seattle’s first team in the preseason and has already appeared in all five matches this season for the Tacoma Defiance, Seattle’s USL affiliate. Leyva has impressive composure, particularly for his age, and it is only a matter of time before he makes his MLS debut if he continues on his trajectory. Rating: 1

Jesus Ferreira - Striker, FC Dallas

Ferreira got his fourth consecutive start on Saturday as FC Dallas continue their full-scale youth movement. In the 9th minute, Ferreira raced away from the backline and beat the keeper to open the scoring.

This was the young striker’s second goal of the season as he continues to pay off the trust from new coach Luchi Gonzalez. FC Dallas would go on to win 2-1 with Ferreira going all 90 minutes. The 18-year-old is actively trying to obtain US citizenship right now. Although he won’t be able to receive it in time to represent the US at the U-20 World Cup, he would be among the favorites to lead the attacking line were he able to do so. Hopefully he will be able to get it soon and perhaps be available to help the US qualify for the Olympics and possibly play in the event. Rating: 2

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!