This was the final week of the winter break in some leagues around Europe, and the action on the field was somewhat limited. However, there were some awesome highlights, including the headliner this week.
Charlie Kelman - Striker, Southend United
Kelman has been slowly integrating into the first team picture at Southend United. The 17-year-old made his debut in the league cup several months back and has been outright dominant at the various youth levels. Last week, Kelman struck four times in another dominant performance. On Saturday, Kelman made the bench for Southend’s matchup against Plymouth Argyle. In the 71st minute with Southend trailing 2-0, Kelman came off the bench to become the ninth youngest Southend player to make his league debut. In stoppage time, Kelman produced a moment of brilliance. After a goal kick, Kelman pressured to win the ball just inside Southend’s half of the field. He took a couple touches and launched an extraordinary strike to score from distance.
David Beckham? Wayne Rooney? No, this comes from @SkyBetLeagueOne!— Quest (@QuestTV) January 12, 2019
17-year-old @CharlieKelman0 scores from the halfway line for @SUFCRootsHall #EFLonQuest at 9pm… @SUFC_fans @SUFC_History pic.twitter.com/L4STovYWSa
It’s not every day that a first professional goal from a player eligible for the US makes it onto SportsCenter’s Top 10. The strike cut the lead to 3-2, but Southend were unable to find a tying goal. For Kelman, what a way to mark his league debut in League One. I expect to see a lot more of him in the second half of the season.
Peter Stroud - Central Midfielder, West Ham United
Stroud moved from the New York Red Bulls Academy to West Ham over the summer. The 16-year-old usually comes off the bench for their U-18s, but he has seen time at several youth levels since the move as he looks to work his way through the ranks. Deployed in central midfield, Stroud is a strong defender and has decent passing ability as well. Stroud played with the United States U-17s at the Nike Friendlies in late November and could play a part in the U-17 World Cup later this year.
Tyler Adams - Central Midfielder, RB Leipzig
Tyler Adams is now in Leipzig following his transfer from New York. On Saturday, Adams came on at halftime of their friendly against Galatasaray to make his first appearance for the club. The 19-year-old looked right at home in defensive midfield, often getting on the ball and making the simple pass (I thought he could have been a bit more aggressive at times on both ends, but that was the only negative for me). He also did well to break up several attacks and force turnovers. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. On Sunday, Adams started and played the first half of a friendly against Wolfsberger AC. He played on the right wing in this match and looked much less comfortable. He did do well on a few occasions in the press, but his touch let him down at times and he struggled to connect on his passes in the attacking third. Next week, the Bundesliga returns in style with a massive matchup between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Dortmund is in first place and Leipzig currently sits in fourth. Hopefully Adams will get to make his competitive debut for Leipzig.
Lennard Maloney - Centerback, Union Berlin
Maloney has had a rough season trying to break into the Union Berlin first team. On Sunday however, Maloney started in a friendly against Chinese club Shenzhen JiaZhaoye. The 19-year-old German-American earned his first call from the U.S. youth teams this past summer and will need to find a way to break through to continue receiving them. Union Berlin currently sit fourth and have their sights set on a possible promotion to the Bundesliga.
Sebastian Soto - Striker, Hannover
Soto played in both friendlies this week for Hannover. In their midweek match, Soto started alongside Bobby Wood in a 4-4-2 in their 3-3 friendly draw against Zulte Waregem. The 18-year-old struggled with his first touch on the rare occasions he saw the ball. As the half wore on, he displayed a few nice moments of holdup play and combining sequences, but the half ended scoreless. Soto was removed at halftime. On Sunday, Soto came off the bench against Heracles. Soto put the ball in the back of the net following a rebound, but the goal was called back due to a foul. On the last kick of the game, Soto had a golden chance from 5 yards out, but he was denied by a wonderful save from the Heracles keeper. Soto showed he can make some smart runs and is willing to press defensively. Hopefully he’ll get to make his Bundesliga debut sometime in the second half of the season.
Andrew Gutman - Left Back, Celtic FC
Gutman signed with Celtic this week. The 22-year-old won the Hermann award as the NCAA’s best player while at Indiana University and will head to Scotland to try to make his way with the biggest club there. Gutman could face considerable competition for his spot with Kieran Tierney arguably their best player. However, he is currently struggling with injury and could be on the way out soon as a highly coveted young player. Gutman has outstanding ability to join the attack and is also a solid defender. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he takes the first steps in his career.
Sergiño Dest - Fullback, AFC Ajax
Dest seems to have completely nailed down the starting right back spot with Ajax’s U-21s. The 18-year-old started again on Sunday in Ajax’s 2-2 draw with PSV’s U-21s. In the 40th minute, Dest set up the opening goal with his second assist for them this season. In just 7 appearances, he already has a goal and two assists at fullback. What a year it’s been for this young man. He just continues to impress seemingly every time he’s on the field.
Konrad de la Fuente - Winger, FC Barcelona
The 17-year-old started for Juvenil A as usual on Saturday. In the opening minute, Konrad opened the scoring in a 3-2 victory. The Miami native is continuing his outstanding form as he looks to push into the B team setup. Few Americans have the ability that this kid possesses. He’s so dangerous on the dribble and seems to create chances constantly. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to push through at one of the most famous clubs in the world.
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 all for reading.