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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Keaton Parks returns to the first team

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Parks was back on the field for Benfica

This was a huge week for young Americans! Many young players are making moves at their clubs and stating their cases for a callup to the USMNT. These are the happenings this week:

Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, SL Benfica

Parks has been named in the first team squad several times over the last few weeks, but he hasn’t made the bench. That changed on Saturday as he was in the matchday 18. The 20-year-old came off the bench in the 83rd minute to see out Benfica’s 2-0 victory over Desportivo Aves. This was Parks’ fifth appearance with the Benfica first team, but his first since January 7th. He does have 20 appearances with 4 goals and 5 assists for the B team that plays in Liga Pro (the Portuguese second division). While he only got a few minutes, he was lively and very fluid on the ball in his short involvement. He’s silky smooth with the ball at his feet and very comfortable driving the attack. The win keeps Benfica in second place in the Primeira Liga (only the top 2 teams will qualify for Champions League). I doubt Parks gets called up later this month, but I don’t think it will be long before we see him in a USMNT uniform (if he can get a handful more first team appearances, I think he will be in camp in June). You have to appreciate this outstanding work from the young midfielder:

Germany

Chris Gloster - Left Back, Hannover 96

Gloster had been trialing with Hannover for two weeks and will be offered a contract when he turns 18 in July. Gloster will likely start with their U19 team and have to work his way up through the ranks to make it to the Bundesliga. Gloster featured with the US U17 team that reached the quarterfinals of the U17 World Cup last year. The New York Red Bull product will leave on a free transfer. Good luck in Germany, Chris!

Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, FC Schalke

McKennie got the start on Friday in Schalke’s 1-0 victory over Mainz. It was McKennie’s first start since December 13th. McKennie looked pretty rusty and a step slow when he had the ball, but he was very solid defensively. The 19-year-old switched from Central Midfielder to Right Wing Back at halftime when Leon Goretzka subbed into the game. Schalke remain in second place in the Bundesliga, which has them in position for one of the four Champions League spots. Domenico Tedesco praised McKennie’s versatility after the match, saying “Weston McKennie is an aggressive leader - he can play anywhere in midfield, in front of the defence or behind the attack; at centre-back in a back three or a back four.” McKennie had this to say after the match regarding the USMNT. “It’ll be exciting if I do get the call-up. I hope I do, and if I do then I’ll prove I belong there.” I like the sound of that. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t in the 11 on March 27th.

Julian Green - Striker/Winger, VFB Stuttgart (On Loan at Greuther Furth)

Julian Green has started to produce of late, and it’s paying off for Greuther Furth. Two weeks ago, Green put up an assist and a Man of the Match performance in Greuther Furth’s 2-1 win. This past weekend, Green opened the scoring with his second goal of the year in their 2-1 victory over FC Kaiserslautern. Green ghosted in at the back post to finish off a nice counter attack. Green has helped Greuther Furth pick up 13 of their last 15 possible points to dig their way out of the relegation zone in the 2. Bundesliga. Let’s hope he can continue to finish the season strong. Here’s video of his goal:

Jonathan Klinsmann - Goal Keeper, Hertha Berlin

Klinsmann was in the news quite a bit this week. His goalkeeping coach had some really negative comments regarding his ability to integrate with his teammates. He said that, “These last 2 or 3 months haven’t been good. We aren’t happy with his progress, he’s still a little too American. He has still not fully taken on board the German virtues like concentrating on hard work. In pro football, if you don’t have that, you are lost.” Questioning his work ethic is pretty alarming in my opinion. His head coach, Pal Dardai, then walked back the negativity a bit, stating that “Jonathan came straight from the US college to the professional field, you always have to take that into account. He has to endure this as a pro now. And he will too.” It’s been a forgettable few months for American goal keepers. Bill Hamid is firmly on the bench in Denmark. Ethan Horvath is on the outs at Club Brugge. Brad Guzan has got off to a rough start for Atlanta United. Let’s hope Klinsmann can change his ways and push forward at the club.

England

Cameron Carter-Vickers - Center Back, Tottenham (On Loan at Ipswich Town)

Carter-Vickers was in the starting 11 as usual again on Saturday in Ipswitch Town’s 0-0 draw with Sheffield United. Carter-Vickers was once again one of the best players on the field for the Championship side. CCV was recently awarded the February Player of the Month award following his loan being cut short at Sheffield United. Since he’s gone into the starting 11, they’ve only given up 5 goals in 9 games (they gave up 39 in the previous 27 games). His head coach at Ipswitch Town, Mick McCarthy, is also keen to hang onto CCV on a permanent basis. He said that he would speak with Mauricio Pochettino about him buying him permanently or potentially having him on loan again next season. With the injury problems for John Brooks, I’d be very surprised if he and Matt Miazga aren’t the starting center back pairing against Paraguay in a couple weeks (and potentially for a very long time). Keep up the good work, CCV!

France

Timothy Weah - Winger/Striker, Paris St. Germain

Weah was once again on the bench on Saturday following PSG’s Round of 16 exit in the Champions League. With Edinson Cavani suspended and Javier Pastore and Neymar out injured, the 18-year-old once again got the call. In the 71st minute, Weah subbed on for Angel Di Maria for his second consecutive Ligue 1 appearance. Last week, he played as the striker while this game he played on the left wing. In the 89th minute, Weah once again had a golden opportunity to open his PSG account but was once again denied. He made a fabulous run into the box, and Kylian Mbappe played him through on goal. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to finish the big chances he’s had, but it is very encouraging to see his talent stand out already against grown men. Let’s hope he can continue to see the field at least occasionally. Here is the video showing his huge chance plus some other fantastic runs he made on Saturday:

United States

Ben Mines - Winger, New York Red Bulls

New York has had a great week culminating with Saturday night’s 4-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. After going to Tijuana and pulling off a shocking 2-0 win, Jesse Marsch picked a heavily rotated starting 11 on Saturday night. Young Ben Mines got the start on the right wing in a 4-2-3-1, and it was a dream debut for the young man.

The 17-year-old who dawned the number 17 jersey scored on a nice back post run and the ball hit the back of the net at exactly 17:17 on the clock (cue the X-Files music). Mines was very active and showed that he deserved his opportunity. Mines signed a homegrown deal in January after spending time last season with Red Bulls 2 in the USL. Hopefully this was just the beginning for the talented attacking player. Congratulations on the debut and goal, Ben!

Kyle Duncan - Right Back, New York Red Bulls

The 20-year-old had been with Valiencennes in Ligue 2, but he was not playing regularly. So this week he decided to come back to MLS and sign with New York Red Bulls. Duncan originally came up through the Red Bull Academy prior to his European move. Then on Saturday night, he got his MLS debut, playing very well in the aforementioned 4-0 win. Congratulations on the debut, Kyle! He had this driving run forward to help set up the fourth goal:

As always, if there is anything major I overlooked, please let me know in the comments section. Thank you all for reading!