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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Sabbi strikes in the clutch

Sabbi’s huge day comes at an important time

Germany U20 v USA U20 - International Match Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Many Americans saw their seasons come to an end in the last week with the close of the vast majority of the European leagues. This week, the United States U-20s will kick off the group stage at the U-20 World Cup in Poland with a Friday afternoon matchup against Ukraine. Next week, the USMNT will convene for Gold Cup preparations. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think he 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 going on this week:


Emmanuel Sabbi - Winger/Striker, Hobro IK

Sabbi’s had a very quiet year statistically after starting the season off on fire. He didn’t let that bother him on Sunday, however. Hobro came into the second leg of their relegation playoff with Vejle BK trailing 1-0 and needing a win to avoid the drop to the Danish second division. In the 14th minute, Sabbi weaved through traffic and laid it off for teammate Vito Hammershøy-Mistrati to blast past the keeper from distance and open the scoring. It was Sabbi’s fourth assist of the season in all competitions. Regular time ended with that 1-0 scoreline and Hobro faced extra time and potential penalty kicks to determine their fate. In extra time, Sabbi came up huge yet again with a massive headed goal in the 104th minute off a corner to put Hobro up 2-1 on aggregate.

The goal would stand as the winner to keep Hobro alive. Sabbi was subbed out after 115 minutes and Hobro looking to hang on. This week they will take on the second place team from the second division to ultimately decide whether they stay in the top flight. Good luck to them. Rating: 2

Jonathan Amon - Winger, FC Nordsjælland

Jonathan Amon started again on Sunday in FC Nordsjælland’s penultimate game of the season. Nordsjælland got off to a terrible start and found themselves down 2-0 less than twenty minutes in. Then in the 43rd minute, Amon dribbled at the defense and tried to fit a pass into the box. The pass was deflected, but Amon stayed after it and poked it past the keeper for his second goal in the last four games.

Unfortunately, Amon was taken off at halftime for tactical purposes, but it was his goal that provided the catalyst for their eventual comeback (they would draw 2-2). Amon has finally found some health and is starting to look like the player that grabbed our attention in the last year. Rating: 2


Tyler Adams - Central Midfielder, RB Leipzig

Adams finally returned from his adductor injury this week. The 20-year-old was inserted immediately back into RB Leipzig’s starting lineup in the season finale against Werder Bremen. Adams looked a little rusty, but he did his job well defensively, although Leipzig struggled as a unit. Adams was subbed off after 64 minutes with Leipzig trailing 1-0 and chasing a tying goal (they wound up losing 2-1). It’s great to see him back on the field. Hopefully he can help Leipzig knock off Bayern Munich in next week’s DFB Pokal final. Rating: 5

Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Chelsea FC (Borussia Dortmund)

Pulisic earned the start with Dortmund needing a win and a Bayern loss in order for Dortmund to win the Bundesliga title. Pulisic had another very good performance and delivered an assist on Marco Reus’ goal that put Dortmund up 2-0. They would go on to win 3-0, but Bayern dismantled Eintracht Frankfurt to win the title by just two points. Pulisic’s career at Dortmund comes to a close as he moves on to the Premier League next season. Also, Chelsea secured a place in the Champions League next season so we should have plenty of opportunities to see Pulisic play next year. Let’s wish him the best of luck in this move. Rating: 5

Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen

Sargent has experienced a largely forgettable spring. He’s been pretty consistently in Werder Bremen’s matchday squad, but he has hardly seen the field. In fact, he’s only appeared once since his first career start back in February. Sargent was once again an unused substitute in Bremen’s season finale on Saturday. On Sunday, the first team played a friendly against sixth tier Blau-Weiß Papenburg. Sargent started up top and struck just 27 seconds into the match.

Bremen would go on to win the friendly 4-1. Sargent is reportedly in consideration to get a look in the Gold Cup camp, so maybe we’ll see what kind of form he’s in. With Max Kruse and Aron Johansson set to leave the club, this summer figures to be a big opportunity for Sargent to seize more consistent playing time next season. Let’s hope he can take advantage. Rating: 5

Kevin Lankford - Winger, FC St. Pauli

Lankford has been seeing more time as the season closes for St. Pauli. The 20-year-old appeared in each of the team’s final three games and started each of the last two. Facing Julian Green and Greuther Fürth on Sunday, Lankford was deployed on the left wing and was dangerous on the dribble throughout. On several occasions, he beat defenders and drew fouls to set up dangerous set pieces. With the 2-1 loss, St. Pauli ends the season in sixth place in the 2. Bundesliga. Next year, they will aim for promotion to the Bundesliga once more. Hopefully Lankford can play a much bigger role. Rating: 2


Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante UD

Moore is another player who’s had a disappointing season. Through no fault of his own, his loan was cut short amid Reus Deportiu’s financial difficulties. Then he spent the Spring with Levante’s reserves who play in Spain’s third tier. Moore was finally included in Levante’s matchday squad for the season finale against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Unfortunately the 22-year-old was an unused substitute. He faces an incredibly important summer with just one year remaining on his contract and a difficult path to the first team. Keep an eye out for a potential move or loan. Rating: 3


Alan Soñora - Attacking Midfielder, Independiente

Soñora is quietly making some strides toward a breakthrough at Independiente. The 21-year-old brother of Joel has been one of the best players for their reserves this season and seems to be on the precipice of his senior debut. He was added to the list of players available for selection for this week’s Copa Sudamericana as he continues to push his way into the first team picture. Hopefully he gets to do so and can push for more as the season moves along. Rating: 1

United States

Sebastian Saucedo - Winger, Real Salt Lake

Saucedo had his best game of the season on Saturday. With Real already leading Toronto FC 1-0, the 22-year-old cut onto his right foot and delivered a terrific strike from distance to beat Quentin Westberg and double the lead.

In the 60th minute, Saucedo delivered a lovely ball over the top to Jefferson Savarino who made it 3-0. Saucedo hasn’t played a ton so far this year, but he will if he can continue to make plays like he did this weekend. Rating: 3

Ricardo Pepi - Striker, North Texas SC

Pepi and the US U-17’s qualified for the U-17 World Cup by making it to the Semifinals in the Concacaf Championship last week. They went on to make the final with a dominant performance against Canada, but they fell in extra time against Efrain Alvarez and Mexico in the Championship. Still, Pepi and the group showed well throughout the tournament. Back with his club this weekend, Pepi came off the bench and sparked a comeback. In the 83rd minute, the 16-year-old curled a gorgeous free kick to cut the lead in half (they would go on to draw 2-2).

Pepi was an important player in the Concacaf Championship and figures to be so in the World Cup later this year. Let’s hope he can continue to show well with his club in the meantime (he’s averaging a goal every 45 minutes he’s played this year). Rating: 1

Today’s edition of the Youth Update will be my last for several weeks as my focus will shift to the U-20 World Cup and Gold Cup coverage. I’m also planning on doing some of the Preseason Battle Previews like last year. 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 when we return in July. Thank you all for reading and making this another fun year of covering our young players all over the world!