It was another interesting week as several players made important steps with their clubs. With the winter transfer window around the corner, many players are gearing up for potential moves. Here’s what’s going on as the calendar switches to December.
Tyler Adams - Central Midfielder, New York Red Bulls
Adams has played his final game in a New York Red Bulls shirt. Following the 3-0 pasting at the hands of Atlanta United in the first leg last Sunday, Adams took his usual place in the starting lineup for the return leg on Thursday night. The 19-year-old had a decent game, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough as Atlanta turned the match into an ugly affair by clearing the ball at every opportunity and forcing New York to mount an attack against their bunkered setup. Red Bull scored a goal in stoppage time to win the game, but it didn’t matter with the goal differential too large to overcome. So now, Adams will head to Germany to join RB Leipzig on a deal through 2023. Let’s wish him luck as he takes a massive step in his young career.
David Ochoa - Goalkeeper, Real Salt Lake
Ochoa signed a homegrown contract to play for Real Salt Lake this week. The 17-year-old has been one of the best at his position in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and has been rewarded with consistent call ups to several levels of the USYNTs, including a couple starts with the U-20 team that won the CONCACAF championship a couple weeks ago. Congratulations to the young man as he starts his professional career.
Haji Wright - Striker, Schalke 04
Following last week’s cameo, Wright earned his first career start in the Bundesliga on Saturday. The 20-year-old was deployed alongside Guido Burgstaller in a 4-4-2 against Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim completely dominated the first half of the match with Wright struggling to find the game. He had a very good opportunity when he received the ball in space but he was easily dispossessed. He struggled with his first touches as well with several sloppy giveaways. Wright didn’t improve after halftime either before eventually being subbed off in the 69th minute (Weston McKennie made his return from injury replacing him). Schalke was able to level the score a few minutes after that and the game eventually ended at 1-1. While I wouldn’t expect him to have a great game in his first serious opportunity at this level, I would have liked to see a bit more. I hope he can improve and earn some more opportunities. Next up, Schalke has the Revierderby against arch rival and Bundesliga-leading Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
When Robinson was injured during the November camp leading up to the England friendly, he was reported to miss up to four weeks. Unfortunately, that will not be the case with Robinson undergoing surgery this week on his injured ankle. The 21-year-old will be out at least 10 more weeks, putting him on the sideline into February of 2019. Let’s wish the young man the best of luck on his recovery.
Carter-Vickers looks to be back in the picture for now at Swansea City. After not starting since October 23rd, the 20-year-old started each of Swansea’s two matches this week. On Wednesday, CCV started against West Bromwich Albion in a three man backline. Swansea took the lead early, but they gave up two goals on set pieces prior to halftime to lose 2-1. On Saturday, Carter-Vickers was once again in the starting lineup in a three man backline against Derby County. Once again, it was a 2-1 loss. CCV was subbed out in the 54th minute as they were chasing a comeback that never came. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can continue to stay on the field, but he needs to help show more if he wants to do so.
Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC (On Loan at Fortuna Sittard)
Novakovich has finally returned to the field following a lengthy stretch on the sidelines. Having been hampered by an ankle injury, Novakovich hadn’t played since Fortuna Sittard’s 3-1 win against De Graafschap on October 21st. Novakovich started on the bench but came on in search of a tying goal in the 75th minute on Saturday against Kik Pierie and Heerenveen. Unfortunately Heerenveen would put the nail in the coffin a few minutes after Novakovich appeared. Sittard currently sit in 10th place in the 18-team Eredivisie. It’s good to see the 22-year-old back on the field.
Sergiño Dest - Fullback/Winger, AFC Ajax
It’s been quite a couple weeks for the Sergiño Dest. Called in as a replacement during the U-20 Concacaf Championship, Dest helped the US contain Mexico and Diego Lainez and win the Championship. This week, Dest started and played very well in 69 minutes in Ajax’s 8-1 demolition of AEK Athens in the UEFA Youth League. Then on Friday, Dest earned his third start for Jong Ajax. After FC Twente took the lead in the opening minutes, Ajax turned it around in style. After Ajax had levelled the score, Dest put them in front in the 39th minute with his first professional goal on a beautifully taken finish on the overlap.
Sergino Dest's first professional goal for Jong Ajax today. pic.twitter.com/4eEyLwEMSn— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) November 30, 2018
Jong Ajax would go on to win 5-2. The 18-year-old is progressing big time this year.
Stuart Ritchie - Left Back, FC Groningen
Ritchie is a 17-year-old who left the San Jose Earthquakes Academy and signed with Groningen in the summer of 2017. After playing with the U-17’s at the end of the season last year, Ritchie has moved up to the U-19’s this year and is playing regularly. In fact, he has started the last seven matches for the U-19’s. Under contract until June of 2019, the young man is looking to impress and earn an extension this year. The son of a Scottish Father, Ritchie was eligible for a European passport, allowing him to sign prior to his 18th birthday.
Konrad de la Fuente - Winger, FC Barcelona
De la Fuente had a big moment this week. The 17-year-old made the bench for the second time for Barcelona’s B team in the Spanish third division (Segunda B). In the 79th minute, he made his professional debut by coming on for Ballou Tabla, the 19-year-old Canadian international. Unfortunately, it was not a debut to remember as he gave away a penalty that gave Valencia II the opportunity to take the lead. Barcelona B would find a tying goal at the death. Still, it’s notable that Konrad is pushing through the ranks at one of the best clubs in the world.
Eryk Williamson - Central Midfielder, Portland Timbers (On Loan at Santa Clara)
So far, not so good for Eryk Williamson’s loan. After appearing for the US at the 2017 U-20 World Cup, Williamson left college in pursuit of a move abroad but was never offered a contract by Schalke after trialing. The 21-year-old was loaned out after only appearing once for Portland in the US Open Cup and not at all in league play. Things haven’t been better in Portugal, where Williamson hasn’t even made a gameday 18 all season long for newly-promoted Santa Clara. He was nursing a hamstring injury when he was first signed so fitness could be a concern for the Portuguese club. Regardless, it’s been a frustrating year for the young man and I hope to see him figure it out and push through.
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.