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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Weah earns his first PSG start

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The 18-year-old headlines the last 2017/2018 edition.

All the European leagues have now officially ended with the exception of a couple promotion/relegation playoffs yet to be determined. Here’s what happened heading into the International window:

France

Timothy Weah - Winger/Striker, Paris St. Germain

Weah got his first start in PSG’s season finale on Saturday. PSG were away to SM Caen who were facing the threat of relegation unless they earned a result at home. Coach Unai Emery played a heavily rotated PSG squad, with Weah leading the line as the striker in a 4-3-3. Three minutes into the match, he would make his presence felt by pressuring high and creating the best chance of the match.

Unfortunately, Javier Pastore completely botched the opportunity which robbed Weah of an assist. Weah had a really quiet performance after this, hardly touching the ball for the next 60 minutes as PSG struggled mightily to break down Caen. Late in the match, they switched Weah to the wing where he had an opportunity to grow into the game. He looked much more comfortable on the wing where he was able to find space and combine with his teammates. He never did get on the scoresheet as the match would end in a 0-0 draw, and Caen would hold off relegation in the process. For Weah, he faces a massive test this summer. He’s had a taste of first team football and now is the time to improve and build on his momentum. With Thomas Tuchel taking over, he will favor dynamic wingers who can win 1v1’s (think Reus, Dembele, and Pulisic). That’s not Weah’s strength at this point. However, Tuchel did wonders with the kid from Hershey. Let’s hope Weah can find similar success under the new boss.

Nicholas Gioacchini - Striker, SM Caen

Gioacchini is a 17-year-old from Kansas City. He moved to Paris FC of Ligue 2 three years ago, where he ripped it up for their various youth teams (reportedly scoring upwards of 40 goals in 50 games). This week, Gioacchini moved to SM Caen. According to the report, he will start with the reserves and have the opportunity to work his way up to the first team. As mentioned earlier, Caen were able to rescue themselves from relegation. It would be great to possibly have three US-eligible attackers playing in Ligue 1 (Weah and Siebatcheu being the other two). Congratulations, Niko!

Germany

Nick Taitague - Attacking Midfielder, FC Schalke

Taitague came off the bench in Schalke’s second leg victory in the German U-19 semifinals. Unfortunately, Taitague would pull up injured yet again in the 87th minute. He badly aggrevated his thigh injury from a few weeks back. Taitague will not be able to participate in the final. Taitague is one of the brightest talents in the US setup, but his injuries are starting to become a real cause for concern. He has an important summer ahead of him as he will try to fight for a first team spot. We’ll see if the 19-year-old can get healthy in time to do so.

Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen

Sargent received some really kind words this week from manager Florian Kohfeldt. According to this report, Kohfeldt will not be looking to add another striker to the team in the offseason. He had this to say:

This is welcome news for the USMNT. With the striker pool in disarray, we really need the young man from St. Louis to break through in the Bundesliga and become the number 9 we’ve been looking for. I will be watching and updating his preseason performances as we go along. Hopefully we see a lot of him by the Fall. Oh yea, and he will likely get his first USMNT appearance next Monday.

Belgium

Ethan Horvath - Goal Keeper, Club Brugge

Horvath earned his third consecutive start on Sunday in Club Brugge’s season finale. Unfortunately he was unable to keep the clean sheet as Brugge would fall 1-0. Horvath was called up for the USMNT match against Bolivia. We’ll see if he can get a chance to atone for his howler against Portugal at some point over the three friendlies.

Netherlands

Matt Miazga - Centerback, Chelsea FC (On Loan at Vitesse Arnhem)

Miazga has taken part in the Europa League playoffs for Vitesse over the past couple weeks. This week he started both legs of the playoff as Vitesse won each leg. On Thursday, Vitesse won 3-2 with Miazga going the distance. On Saturday, Miazga started again and had a big impact with star (and fellow Chelsea loanee) Mason Mount suspended. In the 38th minute, Miazga rose high and headed home the second goal in their 2-1 win.

The goal gives Miazga four on the season. That’s pretty good for a centerback. The wins ensure Vitesse will make to the second round of Europa League qualifying this summer. Of course, I don’t anticipate Miazga taking part in those matches since he will likely be moving on to bigger and better things this summer. Look for him to play a lot for the USMNT over the next few weeks.

Denmark

Jonathan Amon - Winger, FC Nordsjaelland

Unfortunatey I have bad news again for Jonathan Amon. He injured his hamstring in training and was unable to take part in Nordsjaelland’s 0-0 draw on Friday. Their season finale is on Monday against Kobenhaven. The injuries keep piling up for this kid. It’s truly sad because when he’s been on the field, he’s been sensational. Let’s hope he can make a quick recovery.

Spain

Mukwelle Akale - Attacking Midfielder, Villarreal

Akale recently signed a two year extension to stay with the Spanish giants. While Akale has spent this season with Villareal C, he has to be liked by the club or they would not have offered an extension. Now 21 years old, Akale is still trying to make it in La Liga. Let’s hope he can push to improve his consistency so he can finally find a breakthrough there.

Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante

Moore hasn’t been able to get back into the first team since those appearances in January. The 21-year-old has spent the Spring manning the right flank for Atletico Levante (Levante’s B team) that play in the Tercera Division. After getting his first USMNT call-up in March, Moore was not included by American Manager Dave Sarachan. With the season now over, Coke Andujar’s loan has come to an end. Also, Pedro Lopez is 34 years old and out of contract. While Ivan Lopez figures to regain his starting spot when he’s fully recovered from his ACL tear, Moore should have a golden opportunity to impress in the preseason. He needs to push and improve if he wants to become a regular in arguably the best league in the world.

United States

Reggie Cannon - Right Back, FC Dallas

Cannon has been starting regularly for FC Dallas this season. He’s had up and down moments this season, especially defensively, but he had a moment of brilliance on the attacking end on Saturday. Cannon scored his first professional goal when he cut in on his left foot and struck it beautifully into the top left corner to give FC Dallas a 1-0 lead.

FC Dallas would only be able to hang onto a 2-2 draw in the end. Cannon is still just 19 years old and gaining some outstanding experience. Hopefully he can keep working hard and improve his consistency. Congratulations, Reggie!

Efrain Alvarez - Attacking Midfielder, LA Galaxy

Nobody is turning more heads in USL right now than this 15-year-old (that’s not a typo-HE’S 15!). The Mexican-American is absolutely on fire right bow for Los Dos (LA Galaxy II). In his last three games, he’s now scored six times with four of them coming from outside the 18-yard box. Alvarez came off the bench at halftime on Friday and scored this absurd stunner just four minutes later.

In the 68th minute, he added a second.

Yes it’s USL and the defending is not good. That doesn’t make these strikes any less absurd. The young man said this week that nobody from US Soccer has contacted him recently after he last represented them in 2016. He has seemingly set on representing Mexico so far, but US Soccer needs to be doing everything in their power to get this young man. What a talent!

I’d like to extend a special congratulations to all the youth players getting a shot with the USMNT this window! So many players that have been featured on this series are getting looks that they fully deserve.

Announcement: This will be my last Weekly Youth Update for a while. With the European leagues out of season, the international breaks and this upcoming tournament in Russia, I will take a break and gear up for the part of the year that I find so fascinating: preseason battles for first team spots. Look for some special previews for those over the next few weeks. Thank you all for reading all season. Look for the first WYU summer preseason battle edition on July 9th!