We’ve come to the winter break for many European leagues. It was a pretty strong week for young Americans with several on the scoresheet for their clubs.
While there are Americans all over Europe, no league has more importance than the German top flight right now (and there’s more Americans on the way there very soon). Once again, the Bundesliga took center stage this week with some noteworthy performances from American youngsters. With the league going on break until the third weekend in January, this was the last look at our boys in that league for a while. When and if Tyler Adams and Alex Mendez break through, there’ll basically be at least one American-on-American battle every matchday.
Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen
Sargent once again made headlines this week. After going as an unused substitute in Bremen’s midweek draw against Hoffenheim, Sargent was again on the bench on Saturday against RB Leipzig. Bremen fell behind 2-0 and turned to the teenager to get them back in the game. Just moments after coming on, Bremen scored their first to cut the lead to one. Then in the 77th minute, Sargent leveled the match with one of his own. Sargent held the ball up well near midfield and found a teammate, who played Yuya Osako into space. The 18tear-old made the run from midfield and finished off the pass back from Osako.
The goal was not enough as RB Leipzig would go on to find a late winner (speaking of RB Leipzig, how fun is this matchup going to be when Tyler Adams gets there?). For Sargent, he now has two goals in just 45 first team minutes this season. Let’s hope he sees far more opportunities in the second half of the season.
Haji Wright - Striker, Schalke 04
The 20-year-old earned his second start of the season on Wednesday against Bayer Leverkusen. With Schalke down 2-0 near halftime, Wright poked home a Weston McKennie header to score his first career Bundesliga goal.
This is the first time since at least the 2004/2005 season that an American assisted on a fellow American’s goal in the Bundesliga. Going back and looking through as much late 1990s and early 2000s Transfermarkt information as I could stomach this week, I don’t think it’s ever happened before. The 20-year-old would be subbed off in the 53rd minute with Schalke chasing an equalizer that never came. Wright came off the bench for a few minutes in Schalke’s 3-1 win over the weekend against Stuttgart. He faces an uphill battle for playing time in the second half of the season if Breel Embolo, Guido Burgstaller and Mark Uth all are able to get healthy.
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder/Attacking Midfielder/Centerback/Fullback/Striker (lol!), Schalke 04
Ok I’m poking fun at McKennie’s situation this year, but the truth is he’s literally played every single one of those positions at some point this fall. McKennie responded well this week after going as an unused substitute in both matches last week. In the midweek loss to Bayer Leverkusen, McKennie joined Wright in the starting lineup (it was the first time since 2013 that two Americans had started the same Bundesliga match together, when Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson both did it for Hoffenheim). Deployed as a second striker, McKennie was all over the field winning challenges and aerial duels. It wasn’t enough in the end, but he was arguably the best player on the field for Schalke. The assist to Wright was his first career Bundesliga assist.
On Saturday, McKennie came off the bench in the 59th minute and helped Schalke to a 3-1 win over Stuttgart with one of his strongest performances of the season. Playing in central midfield, he created multiple chances by driving forward and playing into a teammate’s feet and also nearly got on the scoresheet a couple times. The win was a big one since it keeps Schalke above the relegation zone for now.
Jordan Siebatcheu - Striker, Stade Rennais
Siebatcheu had a huge day on Saturday. In just his 5th start in Ligue 1 this season, Siebatcheu had his best game of the year. In the 14th minute with Rennais already leading 1-0, Siebatcheu delivered his first assist of the season. Just after halftime, Siebatcheu struck for his second league goal of the season when he slotted home a perfect pass from Ismaïla Sarr.
Jordan Siebatcheu has a goal and assist for Stade Rennes so far today. Here's the goal. pic.twitter.com/TlCGUVCicM— USMNT Videos (@USMNTvideos) December 22, 2018
Then in the 67th minute, Siebatcheu pounced on a rebound to score his third league goal of the season. After getting off to a slow start to the season, Siebatcheu is picking up the production now (he has 4 goals and an assist in 661 minutes in all competitions) as they head into the Christmas break. We’ll see if the 22-year-old can keep this up in the second half of the season.
Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante UD (On Loan at CF Reus Deportiu)
Moore earned yet another start and played 75 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Osasuna on Sunday. While that may not seem newsworthy, it is when you consider that his (and every Reus Deportiu’s player’s) future is in jeopardy. The club’s owner claims there is a buyer who will settle their massive debt, but the players don’t believe them. They haven’t paid their players in months and are facing having to play the rest of the season with a dramatically reduced squad. This week, their president resigned from the position amongst the turmoil. Let’s hope that this can be resolved and if it can’t, hopefully Moore can find a loan elsewhere.
Juan Pablo Torres - Central Midfielder, KSC Lokeren
Torres appears to finally be making some strides with his club. On Saturday, the 19-year-old made the matchday squad for the first time this season. Unfortunately, he went as an unused substitute in their 2-1 loss to Waasland-Beveren. Still, this is a good sign for the young man who hasn’t featured for the first team since November of 2017. The Colombian-American helped the United States U-20 team to the title at the Concacaf Championship, contributing 4 goals and 2 assists. Lokeren faces 2nd-place Club Brugge and fellow American Ethan Horvath on Thursday. It would be cool to see them potentially on the field against one another. Let’s hope Torres can continue to push and bring some added competition to the US midfield.
Sergiño Dest - Fullback, AFC Ajax
Dest earned yet another start for Jong Ajax on Friday. The 18-year-old was deployed at right back in the team’s 2-0 victory over Sparta Rotterdam that moved them into 7th place in the Eerste Divisie. In the 75th minute, Dest got on the scoresheet with an assist on Václav Černy’s strike from outside the box although Černy did the vast majority of the work. Take a look at the video below (courtesy of @USMNTvideos) showing all his touches from his strong performance. Let’s hope he can keep showing well in the new year.
Sergino Dest vs Sparta Rotterdam pic.twitter.com/9e7AxRygKl— USMNT Videos (@USMNTvideos) December 22, 2018
Please note that I will take a break for two weeks with the holidays and very little action to report. Look for the next Weekly Youth Update in early 2019. 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 so much for reading. Happy Holidays!