This was a pretty excellent week for young Americans. Lots of players are getting healthy and finding form late in the season. For any new readers, the rating at the end of the update for each player reflects how much I think he should be called up to the senior national team (1-nowhere near ready; 5-absolutely call him up). This is what happened this week:
Jonathan Amon - Winger, FC Nordsjaelland
This spring has been a massive struggle for Amon. He’s hardly played and has been in and out of the matchday squads with nagging injuries. But it looks like Amon is finally starting to get legitimately healthy and back into form again. On Monday, the 20-year-old got his first start since the end of November and made it count. Starting against second-place FC Midtjylland, Amon opened the scoring in the 19th minute after playing a nice one-two with teammate Mikkel Damsgaard and finishing with the outside of his right foot from a tight angle.
FC Nordsjaelland would go to the break leading by the 1-0 scoreline, bit they would let it slip away with two second-half goals. Amon would be subbed off in the 75th minute with Nordsjaelland chasing a tying goal that never came. It’s good to see him back playing and contributing. Hopefully he can use this individual success to build some confidence heading into the U-20 World Cup (if he makes the team). He needs to prove he can stay healthy and gain a lot more consistency if he wants to force his way back into the senior national team picture. Rating: 3
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
This week, the DFB came down harshly on Marco Reus, suspending him an extra two games following his dangerous challenge in the Revierderby. This opened the door for Pulisic to get back into the starting lineup against Werder Bremen on Saturday. Pulisic raced out of the gate in the 6th minute when he blew past the Bremen defense and scored one of the best goals an American has scored in Europe all season.
Pulisic’s third strike of the season in the Bundesliga gave Dortmund an early lead, and it was just the beginning of an excellent performance from the 20-year-old. Just before halftime, he was denied an assist after a fluffed golden opportunity by Abdou Diallo. In the second half, Pulisic continued to be a threat, but Bremen started to gain footing in the match. Two goals after the 70th minute saw their title chances fade into virtual oblivion. Pulisic had a good opportunity to be a major hero late but he pulled his shot just wide of the far post. The 2-2 draw basically guarantees that Bayern will win the Bundesliga...again. Rating: 5
Robinson’s strong push to end the season continued on Sunday. The 21-year-old delivered another outstanding performance on both ends of the field as he made a final statement to US manager Gregg Berhalter. Deployed as a traditional Left Back in a back four, Robinson was arguably the best player on the field in Wigan’s 1-0 victory over Millwall to conclude the season and lift them into 18th place. Robinson’s loan now ends and his future is in the air. Last summer, he was unable to win a spot with the Everton first team before being loaned to the Championship for the second consecutive season. Will he get an opportunity to fight for a spot once again, or will he head out on loan again? I’d like to see him look for a loan at a higher level to better prepare him for the level of the Premier League. Stay tuned. Rating: 5
Cameron Carter-Vickers - Centerback, Tottenham (On Laon at Swansea City)
Carter-Vickers’ season ended on Sunday with a 2-2 draw against Blackburn. The 21-year-old started and went the distance once again as has been the case virtually the entire second half of the season. CCV ends his season with a highly impressive 92% passing accuracy for the year. His improvement in this regard drew some praise from Swansea’s assistant manager. This week, he said:
While CCV has improved greatly, he still isn’t at the level required of a Champions League-caliber team like Tottenham. He figures to go out on loan again or be sold outright this summer. Rating: 4
Matteo Ritaccio - Central Midfielder, Liverpool
Ritaccio has somewhat quietly put together a decent season for Liverpool. Playing as a central midfielder for their U18’s, the 17-year-old Italian-American has been in and out of the lineup this year. He started and went 65 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Manchester City to put the pressure on the title race. On the final matchday, Ritaccio was an unused substitute in a 1-0 win against Middlesbrough. Unfortunately, it was not enough as they couldn’t make up a massive goal differential and finished in second place in the North division. Rating: 1
Richie Ledezma - Attacking Midfielder, PSV Eindhoven
Ledezma is making a late push to be included in the U-20 World Cup team. On Saturday, Ledezma earned his first start of the season and he made an impact. The 18-year-old opened his account for PSV’s U-19’s with a nice finish in traffic after nutmegging a defender.
The goal gave PSV the 1-0 lead, but NAC Breda would come back to earn a 1-1 draw. Still, it’s great to see Ledezma back to full health and doing what he does best. Rating: 2
Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Paris St. Germain (On Loan at Celtic FC)
Weah got his fourth start while on loan on Saturday with Celtic having an opportunity to win the Scottish Premiership championship. The 19-year-old was subbed off in the 73rd minute with Celtic in front by a 2-0 scoreline. They would go on to win 3-0 and Weah joined the celebration as they were crowned champions. Keep an eye out for Friday’s U-20 roster announcement. Weah has said publicly that he would like to play in that competition, but Celtic will play for the Scottish FA Cup after the tournament is underway. So it’s possible that they don’t release him. He also may be in Gregg Berhalter’s plans for the Gold Cup, but he would probably be better served long-term to be readily available for the entire preseason either with PSG or with any future loan club. Rating: 5
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez - Striker, Seattle Sounders
Ocampo-Chavez signed a homegrown deal with the Seattle Sounders this week. Fresh off a stellar performance at the Generation Adidas Cup, the 17-year-old has featured for the Tacoma Defiance, Seattle’s USL affiliate. Currently trying to help the US U-17’s qualify for the U-17 World Cup, AOC scored against Barbados on Saturday. We’ll see if he can start pushing closer to the Seattle first team in the coming months. Rating: 1
Mark McKenzie - Centerback, Philadelphia Union
Mark McKenzie is facing a race against the clock to get healthy. The 20-year-old centerback is suffering from apendicitis and isn’t expected back for another two weeks, which puts his availability for the U-20 World Cup in question. Already thin at the position, it could force him to call James Sands or someone else who hasn’t been part of his setup. Hopefully we’ll see McKenzie make his return just in time. Rating: 2
George Bello - Left Back, Atlanta United
Unfortunately, the news is worse for George Bello. The 16-year-old has suffered an adductor injury that will keep him out for two to three months. This is the same type of injury that’s kept Tyler Adams out of commission for over a month. Bello is obviously unable to take part in U-17 qualifying and his hopes of putting Brek Shea on the bench will be put on hold. Hopefully he can have a strong recovery with no setbacks. 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.