The European preseason is gaining momentum as we edge closer to live action. August promises to be a month of movement with regular games beginning and the summer transfer window coming to a close. Many Americans are stating their cases for playing time this season or for a move away. Here’s what’s going on:
No United States prospect is making more waves than this young man this summer. After getting a loan deal to play for them until the end of the year, he went on to train with the first team. Then he surprisingly appeared off the bench against Paris St-Germain. He impressed and was called to be part of the squad that travelled to the US. He came on at halftime against Juventus in their midweek 2-0 International Champions Cup win. While Bayern dominated possession, Richards had little to do other than recycle possession. However, he did what was required and was clean in possession. On Saturday night, Richards got his first start against Manchester City. He had a couple very nervy moments early in the match including a poor pass that nearly gifted Manchester City a goal. He grew into the game though and was able to have a solid performance over 90 minutes. Richards is getting these valuable opportunities while several Bayern defenders are either injured or away for a break following the World Cup. It’s fantastic that he’s been able to take advantage. Let’s hope the 18-year-old can keep it up.
Zyen Jones - Striker/Winger, Schalke 04
Jones picked up an injury (a torn muscle) in training. The 17-year-old will be on the shelf for a while, so it will be an extended time before he makes his U-19 debut following his official signing on his birthday in August. Let’s hope he has a successful rehab and can get back to full health soon.
Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Everton
Robinson started and played the first half in Everton’s 3-0 loss to Blackburn on Friday. On Saturday, Robinson was an unused substitute in their 4-1 loss to Jordan Siebatcheu and Stade Rennais. On Saturday, reports came out that Everton would allow Robinson to explore another season on loan at Bolton Wanderers. Everton are very close to signing Lucas Digne from Barcelona to reinforce their Left Back position, so it makes sense for the 20-year-old (he’ll be 21 next week) to look for more regular playing options. However, with Robinson in the last year of his contract, they want him to extend his contract before they let him go on loan. Stay tuned.
Cameron Carter-Vickers - Centerback, Tottenham Hotspur
CCV had a bit of a rough week. Given ample opportunities with several defenders away from the club recovering from the World Cup, the 20-year-old struggled against Roma and Barcelona in consecutive starts in the International Champions Cup. On Saturday against Barcelona, Carter-Vickers was a spectator as his runner ran behind him and headed home the opening goal.
This right here is why Carter-Vickers isn’t good enough. Loses his man because he’s ball-watching. Still needs a lot of work. pic.twitter.com/8VCY6UG94X— Ryan (@ryangoldy8) July 29, 2018
Carter-Vickers has the ability to be a good defender, but he too often loses focus and fails to recognize the action. He needs to improve.
Gedion Zelalem - Central Midfielder, Arsenal
Zelalem has resumed training with the Arsenal U-23’s. The 21-year-old is finally back from his knee injury that he suffered during the 2017 U-20 World Cup. Zelalem’s contract runs through next summer, so this is a make or break season for the 21-year-old.
Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Paris St-Germain
Weah started in the International Champions Cup again on Saturday. PSG took on Arsenal and were dominated for much of the match. However, Weah did have a very nice moment where he had put his name on the scoresheet. With Arsenal leading 1-0, Weah received the ball upfield with an opportunity to hold it up. He decided to instead go on the attack. He beat Sead Kolasinac to the endline and drew the foul for the penalty.
Tim Weah’s penalty win vs. Arsenal pic.twitter.com/QngmQ7ZzSI— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) July 28, 2018
Weah is doing a pretty good job of taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to him by all the players missing for World Cup duty. Next week is the French Super Cup and the following week is the start of the Ligue 1 season. So we’ll see soon if Weah’s done enough to warrant more first team opportunities.
Ben Lederman - Attacking Midfielder, KAA Gent
Lederman has moved on from La Masia to the Belgian Pro League. The 18-year-old who joined the FC Barcelona Academy at 11 years old now says good bye to La Liga. Lederman was on trial at Gent and apparently impressed. The young midfielder will try to break through with Kenny Saief’s old club. Let’s hope the young man can find some first team minutes soon.
Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante UD (On Loan at CF Reus)
Moore started the midweek match for CF Reus and made his presence felt. Moore scored the third goal in their 4-0 win. Moore faces an important season in his development. He will need to show himself at a high level to convince Levante to take another shot on him next summer. He’s off to a good start this summer. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Ayo Akinola - Winger, Toronto FC
Akinola scored his first MLS goal this week. Akinola opened the scoring in the 37th minute off a failed clearance. The 18-year-old took advantage of his opportunity to put it away to pull Toronto FC in front.
Akinola came off the bench late on Saturday as well. The young winger is slowly starting to break through with the defending MLS champions.
Gianluca Busio - Attacking Midfielder, Sporting Kansas City
Busio made his MLS debut on Saturday night. The 16-year-old came off the bench in the 77th minute with Sporting Kansas City trailing 3-1. One of the brightest talents in his age group, the young midfielder has outstanding ability to control the ball under pressure and spread the ball around. Let’s hope this is just the beginning for the young man.
As always, hit the comment section to let me know anything major I overlooked or if there are any players you’d like to hear about. Thank you all for reading.