It’s been a sobering week for young Americans with many players finding playing time or success on the field a challenge. I will continue my ranking system to denote whether I believe these players are ready for a callup (1-nowhere near ready, 5-absolutely call them up) next month. Here’s what happened this week:
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
Pulisic started the season opener for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. After falling down 1-0 30 seconds into the season, Dortmund responded in a big way. Pulisic drew the foul that Marco Reus scored on the second goal and delivered a nice ball on the third goal that was finished beautifully after the initial effort was saved. Pulisic is taking corners and some free kicks this year for new coach Lucien Favre. The USMNT doesn’t have many players that can play a quality deadball so it would be welcome if Pulisic can prove to be competent. Dortmund would go on to win 4-1 with Pulisic coming off in the 77th minute. 5
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, Schalke 04
McKennie started the Bundesliga opener on Saturday against John Brooks and Wolfsburg. McKennie, like virtually all of his teammates had an uneven performance in the 2-1 loss. Deployed as a 6 in the first half, McKennie struggled to find space to get on the ball as Wolfsburg crowded him out in midfield. When he did get on the ball, Wolfsburg did a nice job closing down passing lanes and crowding space to make him uncomfortable. In the second half Schalke went down to 10 men and McKennie was forced to run all over the field closing down attacks. He did very well in this role, but he seemed to run out of gas late. In the closing moments after Schalke had tied it up, Wolfsburg completed a nice through ball that was denied by the keeper and McKennie ball watched as the ensuing rebound was put away. He may not have been able to get there anyway, but it wasn’t a good look to see his defenders and GK scrambling while he stands there and watches. On Saturday, word came out that Schalke were going to sign Sebastian Rudy from Bayern Munich to play in defensive midfield, meaning McKennie will face more competition for playing time. He needs to take better advantage when he sees the field. 5
Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen
Despite a preseason where he featured often with the Werder Bremen first team, Sargent has started the season with the U-23’s in the German Regionalliga (the German fourth division). On Sunday, Sargent got his fifth consecutive start and found the back of the net in the 37th minute. The 18-year-old striker has done pretty well so far for the U-23’s, scoring three times in his first five games at that level. Hopefully Sargent can continue to improve and push for first team minutes at some point this season. Personally, I wouldn’t call him back up until he’s getting into the first team there. Hopefully he’ll get there soon. 3
Cameron Carters-Vickers - Centerback, Tottenham (On Loan at Swansea City)
CCV has been nursing a groin injury and hadn’t featured in the matchday squad for Tottenham early in the season. News came out this week that he would be going out on loan to the English Championship for the second consecutive season. When he’s back to full health, expect to see him get some opportunities with Swansea with their lack of depth in central defense. The 20-year-old likely won’t be on the roster for the September friendlies due to a lack of fitness. Look for him to be back in the conversation when he gets healthy again. Let’s wish him good luck on the upcoming loan. 1 (4 if healthy)
Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante UD (On Loan at CF Reus Deportiu)
Moore was sent on loan to the second division in Spain this summer following Levante permanently signing Coke Andujar from Schalke. The 21-year-old who started for the USMNT in their most recent friendly against France has run into some rotten luck, however. Last week he was suspended due to yellow card accumulation dating back to last season, so he was due to make his debut this week. However, CF Reus is having difficulty getting Moore among other newcomers registered to play with the club. This is poor timing with the upcoming set of friendlies on the horizon. Hopefully Moore’s situation can get resolved soon, because this fall is a good opportunity for him to establish himself with the USMNT, especially with Timmy Chandler on the shelf. 3
Samuel Shashoua - Attacking Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur (On Loan at Atletico Baleares)
Shashoua is heading out on loan to the Spanish third division. The 19-year-old attacker has dual nationality with England and the United States and had been a regular for Tottenham’s U-23 team last season, scoring twice in fourteen games. Shashoua has a 17-year-old brother named Armando who is also in Tottenham’s system as a member of their U-18 team. Sam Shashoua has been one of the stars of Tottenham’s academy in recent years and will need to impress in Spain in a big way if he wants a shot to move up next year either at Tottenham or a higher level loan elsewhere. 1
Joel Soñora - Attacking Midfielder, VFB Stuttgart (On Loan at Talleres Cordoba)
Soñora has had a slow start in Argentina, but it appears that he is making some moves. On Saturday, Soñora came off the bench to make his debut in the 84th minute and it was a debut to remember. In the 90th minute, the 21-year-old cut through the Gimnasia defense with a lovely through ball to send a teammate in for the second goal in their 2-0 win.
Joel Soñora made his first team debut for #Talleres today, and the 21 year old American midfielder had an assist! Instant impact in 10 minutes off the bench, great through ball for Mauro Ortiz's late goal that sealed the 2-0 win vs Gimnasia. #VamosTalleres #USMNT pic.twitter.com/cknab7VyBV— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) August 25, 2018
Hopefully Soñora’s debut will lead to more opportunities in the Argentinian top flight. This is a player who always had a lot of talent and plays a position of weakness for the USMNT . It would be huge if he is starting to put it together. 2
Auston Trusty - Center back, Philadelphia Union
Trusty has had a very nice season for Philadelphia. The 20-year-old has started regularly for Philadelphia this season and they’ve recently hit a nice spell defensively, recording back-to-back shutouts and only surrendering two goals while winning four straight. This stretch has seen Philadelphia climb into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. It’s impressive to see how much Philadelphia has trusted in the young man and how much Trusty has improved as the season has gone along. Hopefully he can keep up this level of form as Philly pushes for the playoffs down the stretch. 3
Corey Baird - Winger/Striker, Real Salt Lake
Baird came off the bench at halftime on Saturday night and had an outstanding performance. With Real Salt Lake up 2-0, Baird found Jefferson Savarino to put them up 3-0. Baird then scored the 5th goal and assisted on the sixth as RSL blew out Colorado 6-0. RSL is now in fourth place in the Western Conference and Baird has been very good with six goals and four assists on the year. The 22-year-old is one to watch if he can keep up this level of play. 3
I want to extend a special congratulations to the US U-18 team that took the title at the Vaclav Jezek Youth Tournament following a penalty shootout victory against Japan. There were lots of players who we’ve spoken about quite a bit in the US team in the tournament (Uly Llanez, Taylor Booth, Folarin Balogun, Inidiana Vassilev, etc.).
As always, hit the comments section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked or if there’s anyone you’d like to hear about. This time next week we should know who’s on the roster to take on Brazil and Mexico in early September. Thank you for reading!