This was the final week of play in several of the European leagues, which once again put our American youth in some high pressure situations. The ratings at the end represent how ready they are for a call-up (Graded 1-5, 1-nowhere near ready, 5-call him up now).
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Heading into Saturday’s massive clash with Hoffenheim, Dortmund already had a Champions League spot virtually wrapped up. However, Dortmund would put their top four finish in great danger by struggling mightily in a 3-1 defeat. Pulisic started and went the distance, but he continued his individual struggle as Hoffenheim consistently sent help towards him to prevent the dangerous 1v1 situations. The loss combined with Bayer Leverkusen’s win ensured that Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Leverkusen all finished with 55 points. Leverkusen was only one goal away from tying Dortmund on goal differential until they conceded twice in second half stoppage time. Regardless, Dortmund can breathe a collective sigh of relief as they have indeed qualified for the Champions League after finishing fourth place in the Bundesliga. This summer promises to be a fascinating one with regard to the club and Pulisic. Will he go to Liverpool or Manchester United as rumored or will he remain in Germany? Stay tuned. First, he has some USMNT games to play. 5
Julian Green - Striker/Attacking Midfielder, VFB Stuttgart (On Loan at Greuther Furth)
Greuther Furth had a huge match on Sunday against fellow German-American youngster, Kevin Lankford. In the 51st minute with match scoreless, Green scored his third goal of the season with this fantastic finish from just outside the box to put Furth up 1-0.
Here is Julian Green’s spectacular goal from distance giving @kleeblattfuerth a 1-0 lead against Heidenheim in a game they must win to prevent relegation. @J_Green37 #USMNT #Kleeblatt pic.twitter.com/xkf7n21kJr— Jon Soltz (@jonsoltz) May 13, 2018
They would wind up conceding the equalizer in the 90th minute, but this goal combined with results elsewhere ensured that Furth would avoid the relegation playoff. With his loan now over, this will be an important summer for the 22-year-old. Can he win a spot at Stuttgart or will he be looking for a new club? 3
Emerson Hyndman - Central Midfielder, AFC Bournemouth
The shocking news of the final matchday of the season in England was the surprise start for Emerson Hyndman. This was Hyndman’s Premier League debut after two years at Bournemouth. He had appeared only six times prior to this match, all of which had either been in the League Cup or FA Cup. Bournemouth officially secured safety by defeating Swansea last week, which is what gave coach Eddie Howe the opportunity to experiment. Hyndman looked calm when he got on the ball and was solid defensively, but he was subbed off in the 58th minute with Bournemouth down 1-0 (they would go on to win 2-1). The 22-year-old has a career defining summer ahead of him. If he can’t win a regular first team spot at Bournemouth, then he should be looking for an opportunity somewhere else. 3
Maki Tall - Striker/Winger, Tours FC
After just one appearance in three months, Tall finally got back on the pitch last week. He came on in the 77th minute of Tours’ 4-2 win. This week, he subbed on in the 59th minute of their 2-0 loss to Le Havre. Tours finished dead last in Ligue 2 and were relegated to the third division in France. With Tall still under contract for another season, it will be interesting to see what happens with the 22-year-old this summer. 2
Sal Esposito - Striker, SSC Napoli
Esposito has had a pretty slow start at Napoli. The Italian-American moved there earlier this year from Genoa, but he has yet to get his first start for the U-17 team. He has appeared 6 times off the bench, but he was left on the bench in each of the matches in April and May. The 16-year-old now heads to the summer looking to be a more utilized piece next season. 1
Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC (On Loan at Telstar)
This season, Novakovich helped Telstar reach the promotional playoffs to get them into the top flight in Holland. This week, Telstar had a two leg playoff against De Graafschap. In the first match on Thursday, Novakovich scored in the 56th minute to put Telstar up 2-0.
They would go on to win 3-2. On Sunday in the second leg, Telstar would fall behind 3-1 when they would earn a penalty in the 75th minute. Novakovich stepped up and put it in the back of the net to tie the score on aggregate. Unfortunately, De Graafschap would find a winner just five minutes later. Telstar fell 6-5 on aggregate to be eliminated from the Promotional Playoffs. It’s a sad ending to an otherwise tremendous season. The 21-year-old finishes the year with 22 goals and four assists in 3,356 minutes in all competitions. With his loan now over, he should have an opportunity to fight for a spot with Reading this summer. 3
Ethan Horvath - Goal Keeper, Club Brugge
Horvath’s benching and struggles have been highly publicized, but he has stuck with it despite the criticism. Horvath got his first start on Thursday in Brugge’s 3-1 victory to close in on a spot in the Champions League. The 22-year-old got the start over Vladimir Gabulov who had struggled recently. While Brugge has had one of the most amazing experiments in goal keeping musical chairs, they’ve still managed to be the best team in Belgium by a wide margin. Horvath again started on Sunday as Brugge only needed a point to win the league and clinch a Champions League spot. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and Brugge celebrated as champions of Belgium. While he is still likely to leave this summer, I have a lot of respect for the guy to keep fighting despite all the negativity. I’d be fairly surprised to see him called up this month, but there may be some value in seeing if he can impress against some decent competition. Plus it’s not like the USMNT goal keeping position is in anyway settled. 3
Jonathan Amon - Winger, FC Nordsjaelland
Amon had another fantastic performance on Friday in Nordsjaelland’s 2-1 win. On the opening goal, Amon chipped in with an absolute class backheel for his third assist of the season.
May 11, 2018
Amon had injury problems in the middle of the season, but he has burst onto the scene this year with his clever dribbling, electric pace and strong finishing. Lately, he’s been showing even more in terms of his ability to distribute. I would love to see him called up this month, but I’d be a bit surprised since he was reportedly contacted about joining the U-20 team for this week’s camp (Update: with Kenny Saief’s injury on Sunday, that may open the door for an Amon call-up). Regardless, if he can keep up this level of play it won’t be long before he’s suiting up for the USMNT. 5
Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, SL Benfica
Parks was once again on the bench on Sunday as Benfica needed to match Sporting’s result on the final matchday. With Benfica leading 1-0, Parks subbed into the match in stoppage time to make his sixth first team appearance of the season. With the win, Benfica clinched second place and an automatic berth in Champions League next season. We’ve spoken a lot about Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic playing in Champions League next season, but it stands to reason that Parks could see some minutes this fall (and potentially spring as well) in the game’s highest level. Hopefully that becomes the case. According to a report this week, Parks is set to get his first USMNT call-up in a couple weeks. We’ll see if that comes to fruition, but it’s a welcome sign to see him on the field heading into an offseason where he should get plenty of opportunities to impress and win a regular first team spot. 4
Joel Sonora - Winger, VFB Stuttgart (On Loan at Talleres de Cordoba)
Sonora went on loan in January after spending time with Stuttgart’s B team. Now in Argentina, Sonora was appearing for Talleres’ reserves, he made the bench two consecutive weeks to end the season. Sonora’s loan will not end until January of next year, so hopefully the 21-year-old can break through and be a regular for Talleres in the fall. 2
As always, hit the comment section to let me know if there is anything major I overlooked or if there is a player you’d like to hear about. Thank you so much for reading!