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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Antonee Robinson helps secure Bolton safety

The Everton loanee faced a massive test on the last matchday of the season

Bolton Wanderers v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Several Americans faced high stakes tests this week with mixed results. As we near the May/June friendlies, I will attach a number next to each player representing how ready they are for a call-up (Graded 1-5, 1-nowhere near ready, 5-call him up now). Without further ado:


Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Everton (On Loan at Bolton Wanderers)

Bolton have been in shambles in recent weeks, having only earned one point from their last seven matches. They started the day in the relegation zone with 40 points on the season, one point behind both Barnsley and Burton Albion. With an inferior goal differential, only a win would see them remain in the Championship. Rather than rely on veteran Andrew Taylor in that high pressure atmosphere, Bolton coach Phil Parkinson turned to the 20-year-old Robinson. Robinson repaid that confidence by delivering one of his best performances of the second half of the season. Robinson was a terror down the left flank, sending in several dangerous crosses to keep the pressure on Nottingham Forest. It was scoreless until the 67th minute when substitute Adam Le Fondre briefly put Bolton ahead 1-0. However, Nottingham Forest would answer, striking twice to put all the pressure back on Bolton. Bolton would have the last laugh in dramatic fashion as they would score twice within one minute to win the match 3-2. This match was yet another example of the drama that Promotion and Relegation can provide.

For Robinson, it’s a welcome sign to see him respond in that fashion under pressure. With his loan now ended, he will return to Everton where he can presumably fight for a first team spot with the Premier League club this summer. But first, he should have a few friendlies to play for the USMNT. 5

Giles Phillips - Centerback, Queens Park Rangers

Phillips moved to Queens Park Rangers last summer and has spent this season with their U-23 team. This week, however, Phillips was named to the travelling squad for the season finale. While he ultimately did not make the bench, it’s a welcome sign to see that the 19-year-old is in their thoughts heading into an important summer for him. Let’s hope he can push for some first team opportunities next season. 2

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

CCV was back in the starting eleven on Sunday as Ipswich finished their season with a 2-2 draw. Much like Robinson, Carter-Vickers will now return to Tottenham with his loan now ended. CCV has had a solid season in the Championship split between Sheffield United and Ipswich Town. Look for Carter-Vickers to get lots of looks at Centerback in the May/June Friendlies. 5

Falorin Balogun - Striker, Arsenal

Balogun is a 16-year-old striker who was born in the States but is also eligible for England and Nigeria. He lit it up at the U-18 level this season, scoring 9 times and also providing three assists in just 14 appearances. His performance at that level recently prompted them to try him out at the U-23 level, where he has made seven appearances this spring. He has not yet played for another national team. Unfortunately, that has changed this week as Balogun accepted a call-up to England’s U-17 team for the upcoming U-17 European championship. If he appears in the competition, he would then have to file a one-time switch if he ever wants to represent the United States in the future. 1


Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, FC Schalke

Going into Saturday’s match, Schalke needed just one point to secure a spot in the Champions League group stage next year with top four finish this season. With Max Meyer’s relationship with the club deteriorated to the point of no return and Nabil Bentaleb suspended for the rest of the season, Domenico Tedesco turned to the 19-year-old midfielder. McKennie got off to a shaky start with a few bad turnovers in the first 20 minutes. However, he grew into the game beautifully, showing off his ability to disguise his passes as well as his normal defensive contributions. He would help Schalke hang on for a 2-1 win to clinch one of the Champions League spots. Coupled with Borussia Dortmund’s loss, they clinched second place in the Bundesliga. On top of being great for McKennie to potentially see playing opportunities at the game’s highest level, it’s a good thing for guys like Nick Taitague that Schalke have another competition which could lead to more rotation. We should get our first look at the McKennie-Pulisic tandem in a few weeks. 5


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

Miazga got the start on Sunday as Vitesse finished up the regular season with a 2-2 draw with Willem II. The result ends them up in sixth place in the Eredivisie. Miazga would get his name on the scoresheet in the 63rd minute when he headed in a corner. The goal was his third of the season. Vitesse will now enter the Europa League playoffs with the winner earning a spot in the second qualifying round of Europa League this summer. Miazga has had a very good year in the Dutch top flight and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet for the USMNT. 5


Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, SL Benfica

Benfica had a head-scratching loss last week which set them up for a crucial match with Sporting Club de Portugal. Tied on points with second place on the line, Keaton Parks was named in the matchday 18. The game would end in a 0-0 draw with Parks unable to get off the bench for the second consecutive week. The draw means that Benfica will need to at least match the points that Sporting gets on the last matchday next week in order to secure a spot in the Champions League next season (only the top two teams make it). Parks has been pretty consistently making the matchday squad for the last couple months and has made the bench a few times, but he hasn’t been able to actually get back on the field for Benfica’s first team since January. In the meantime, he’s been playing for Benfica’s B team in the second division in Portugal. On Sunday, Parks started as usual for Benfica B. I would love to see Keaton Parks later this month, but I can totally understand if he is overlooked in favor of other guys getting more first team playing opportunities. Regardless, if the 20-year-old can win a consistent spot with Benfica this summer, he will be an automatic call-up in the future. 4


Konrad de la Fuente - Striker/Winger, FC Barcelona

What a week for the 16-year-old! Last weekend, he got his debut off the bench with the Juvenil A’s (La Masia’s equivalent to a U-19 team) before making his second appearance midweek. On Sunday, de la Fuente was back in the starting eleven for the Juvenil B’s with the regional championship on the line. Within seven minutes, de la Fuente struck twice as Barcelona would run out to a 5-1 win. Konrad will turn 17 this summer and presumably move up to the Juvenil A’s full time for next season. It’s been a magical year for the young man. Let’s hope he can build on it next season. Congratulations, Konrad! 1

United States

Kellyn Acosta - Central Midfielder, FC Dallas

Acosta made his return from sports hernia surgery on Saturday night. The 22-year-old came off the bench in the 61st minute to join Jacori Hayes in midfield. With the game tied 1-1, Acosta was unable to help them find a winner. However, the point has them in fourth place in the Western Conference eight matches into the season. Let’s hope Acosta can remain healthy and regain the form that he had in the early parts of the season last year. If Acosta is at full fitness, I would expect him to be called up later this month, but he needs to show more if he wants a starting spot in a crowded midfield. 4

Ulysses Llanez - Winger, Los Angeles Galaxy

Llanez found the back of the net for the second consecutive match on Friday night. Currently playing for “Los Dos“ (LA Galaxy II) in the USL, the 17-year-old has shown off his outstanding ability to help with the buildup in the attack as well as his aforementioned finishing. While his goal on Friday was a scrappy rebound goal, he showed off his class on his first goal last week. Below are the videos for each finish. The Mexican-American has the potential to have a big future. 2

As always, please hit the comment section to let me know if there is anything major I overlooked or if there’s a player you would like to hear about. Thank you for reading!