This was another decent week for young Americans with several solid performances and some returns from injury as well. For any new readers, the rating attached to each player reflects how much I think they should be called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 5-absolutely call him up). This is what’s going on this week:
Robinson is really starting to round into form in recent weeks. On Friday, the 21-year-old had probably his best game of the season against Leeds United. In the 14th minute, Centerback Cédric Kipré was sent off for a goal line handball to reduce Wigan to 10 men. The ensuing penalty was saved but Leeds would pull in front a few minutes later. Rather than drop their heads, Wigan put up a fine performance to come back shorthanded against third-placed Leeds United. Just before halftime, Wigan pulled level through a Gavin Massey goal. Then in the 62nd minute, Massey pulled them in front with his second. Robinson and the defense held off attack after attack to pull off the unlikely result. Robinson’s performance earned him a spot in the Championship Team of the Week. The win was huge as it pulls them five points clear of the final relegation spot with just three games remaining in the season. Rating: 4
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Pulisic was back in the matchday squad on Sunday following his thigh injury. The 20-year-old marked his return when he came off the bench in the 70th minute. Pulisic looked dangerous and nearly scored but saw his effort that would have made it 4-0 clang off the post. Dortmund would find a fourth later anyway as they held serve with Bayern Munich in the title race this week. It’s a welcome sign to see the 20-year-old fully fit and looking lively again. Rating: 5
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, FC Schalke
McKennie also returned from injury this weekend. Schalke took on Hoffenheim on Saturday, needing points to feel more comfortable about their chances of avoiding relegation. McKennie was back in the starting lineup, but he struggled in his return. Hoffenheim went up 2-0 before halftime and the second half wasn’t much better. McKennie was pulled in the 80th minute after he telegraphed a pass which was picked off and countered ruthlessly to put Hoffenheim up 5-1. The eventual 5-2 loss has Schalke in 15th place, just six points clear of the relegation playoff spot with four games remaining. The Revierderby next week against Pulisic and Dortmund could prove to be a bloodbath. Rating: 5
Jonathan Amon - Winger, FC Nordsjaelland
It’s been a rough few months for Amon. The 19-year-old has hardly played since the Danish superliga returned from the winter break on February 10th, totalling just 72 minutes in all competitions. The last couple weeks he was left out of the team while struggling with fitness. On Saturday, Amon returned from injury to play the final 34 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Odense. Amon entered in a scoreless match, but Nordsjaelland quickly went in front. Then they gave the win away as Odense struck twice in the final minutes. Amon has seen his USMNT stock drop dramatically since he was called up in October due to his lack of playing time and production. There’s a chance he could represent the US at the U-20 World Cup. We’ll see if he’s in Tab Ramos’ plans. Rating: 3
Zico Bailey - Right Back/Right Winger, Kalmar FF
Zico Bailey left Cal State Fullerton to pursue a professional career overseas. The 18-year-old had previously been a member of the LA Galaxy Academy before committing to college. With Kalmar, Bailey is currently playing for their U-19 team, including a start in a 4-3 loss last week. He was on the bench this past weekend for a 4-0 win. Bailey has represented the US at the U-14 and U-15 levels. Below is a highlight reel for those who aren’t familiar. Rating: 1
Julian Araujo - Right Back, Los Angeles Galaxy
Araujo is slowly but surely forcing his way into the LA rotation. On Friday, the 17-year-old got his first start against the Houston Dynamo. Araujo looked like he completely belonged despite this being just his third career appearance. Araujo was tasked with helping to corral Honduran Aberth Elis (remember-he’s the guy who roasted Graham Zusi and Omar Gonzalez in the away qualifier a month before the collapse in T&T). Araujo played with cool confidence and held his own despite the assignment. Araujo very well could be a starter at the U-20 World Cup, assuming he’s released for the event. Hopefully he can keep forcing his way into the starting lineup and make that a more difficult decision. Rating: 2
Jeremy Ebobisse - Striker, Portland Timbers
Ebobisse has started off the season well for Portland. On Saturday, the 22-year-old started as usual against the Columbus Crew. With Portland already leading 1-0, Ebobisse passed it out to Sebastian Blanco who delivered a nice ball back to Ebobisse to finish well.
I love the movement and patience to find the space before he puts it away. Ebobisse’s goal wound up being the game-winner in a 3-1 victory that was Portland’s first of the season. Ebobisse has appeared in all seven games for Portland and now has three goals in 500 minutes. Rating: 3
Djordje Mihailovic - Attacking Midfielder, Chicago Fire
Mihailovic has started off the season somewhat quietly for Chicago. On Saturday though, the 20-year-old started and delivered his best performance of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. In the 61st minute, Mihailovic scored his first goal of the season when he alertly finished a rebounded save to put Chicago up 3-1.
The goal was the first time this season that he’s been on the scoresheet in any capacity. He also hasn’t really created a ton of chances either. He needs to produce at a higher rate if he wants to earn future call-ups to the national team. Hopefully the goal on Saturday will give him a boost of confidence going forward. Rating: 3
Jesus Ferreira - Striker, FC Dallas
Ferreira continued his hot start to the season with another strong performance on Saturday. The 18-year-old opened the scoring with a nicely-timed run and cool finish in the 6th minute against Atlanta United.
Jesus Ferreira, 18, has 3 goals in his last 4 games. Anytime the US Government wants to sign off on his citizenship application would be welcome news for #USMNT fans. It’s too late for the US U-20 team but if it comes soon, I think he the U-23 starter https://t.co/R3c0qU905p— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 20, 2019
The young star was pulled in the second half while Atlanta was pushing for an equalizer that never came, but it was another good performance. Ferreira is really turning heads with his smart movement and his clinical finishing. Along with Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerrillo, Reggie Cannon and others, it’s been impressive what they’ve been able to do with all their young talent. Rating: 3 (He can’t be called up until his US citizenship is finalized)
I’d like to extend a special congratulations to the Seattle Sounders Academy for pulling off a heck of a performance to become the first MLS team to win the Generation Adidas Cup Champions Division. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Ray Serrano, Danny Leyva among others were major contributors to consecutive victories over the representatives from West Ham, River Plate, and Valencia en route to the title.
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.