What a week this was for young United States internationals. Even with Tyler Adams, Timothy Weah and Weston McKennie sidelined with injuries, there were still several standout moments from American youngsters. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think they should be called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 10-absolutely call him up and start him). Here’s what’s going on this week:
Richie Ledezma - Attacking Midfielder, PSV Eindhoven
The second biggest story of the week (the biggest was obviously Christian Pulisic’s week for Chelsea - a game-winning assist off the bench to beat Ajax in Champions League and his hat trick against Burnley on Saturday) as Richie Ledezma making the match day squad for the first time at PSV Eindhoven. The 19-year-old who had some standout moments at the 2019 U-20 World Cup has been training with the PSV first team at times and also playing regularly with Jong PSV. With PSV missing several players through injury, they looked to Ledezma to provide some depth. Unfortunately, teammate Ryan Thomas picked up a straight red card in the 22nd minute and AZ Alkmaar took advantage. They dominated the first half and went into the break with a 2-0 lead. With AZ in complete command, PSV Manager Mark van Bommel elected to go conservative and forego giving Ledezma his senior debut. Still, this is a major development in his young career. Showing that you’re good enough to be in consideration at a club like PSV Eindhoven after only signing in January is impressive. Ledezma is the exact kind of player the USMNT needs at this point. He has fantastic control in tight spaces and is quick and creative. We’re desperate for him to continue this push. Rating: 8
Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen
Sargent seems to have locked down the starting spot at Werder Bremen for the time being. The 19-year-old earned his fifth consecutive start on Saturday against Bayer Leverkusen and was once again impactful. Sargent was unable to get on the scoresheet in the first half despite an active performance where he looked like one of the most dangerous players on the field (he very nearly scored on two occasions). In the second half, his aggression paid off. After a throw-in in the 48th minute, Sargent took a nice touch to create space and laid it off for teammate Davy Klaassen to finish and put Bremen in front.
This was Sargent’s was second assist of the season. Unfortunately the 2-1 lead would not last. Leverkusen equalized in the 58th minute. Sargent was subbed off in the 86th minute after another good performance. He has taken advantage of this opportunity and has certainly made his case to stay in the lineup when everyone is healthy again. Rating: 10
Nicholas Gioacchini - Striker, SM Caen
It was a dream debut for Nico Gioacchini. The 19-year-old striker has been impressing in training and earned his first career start on Friday as SM Caen took on Paris FC. In the 29th minute, Gioacchini made a smart play to release Caleb Zady down the right wing. He then made an excellent run and finished just inside the post to open the scoring.
Gioacchini went the distance in an important 4-2 win. It had been a nightmare start to the season for Caen, having earned just eight points through their first eleven league games. A big part of that was their failure to score goals (just six goals in those eleven games). Hopefully the goal and onslaught proves to the coach he should give more to the Kansas City native. Rating: 3
Emmanuel Sabbi - Winger/Striker, Hobro IK
Sabbi got the start as usual on Sunday in their matchup against Silkeborg IF. The 21-year-old got the home club off to a terrific start when he finished off a scramble in front of goal to open the scoring.
In Denmark, U.S U-23 winger Emmanuel Sabbi scores a 3rd minute goal for Hobro for a 1-0 lead on Silkeborg. Game now 1-1 in the 42nd pic.twitter.com/EttJ3YrK0T— American Soccer Now (@ClassicASN) October 27, 2019
This was Sabbi’s fourth goal in twelve appearances this season. As usual, Hobro struggled to create many chances in this match and wound up settling for a 1-1 draw. Fellow American Christian Cappis came off the bench in the 88th minute looking for a winner that never came. The point has Hobro in 12th place in the 14-team league. Rating: 6
Konrad de la Fuente - Winger, FC Barcelona
Konrad had a big performance in the UEFA Youth League this week. The 18-year-old got the start against Slavia Praha and opened the scoring in the 48th minute with a fantastic individual dribbling effort down the left flank. Konrad wasn’t done as he finished the scoring in the 74th minute with a wonderful move to split defenders and add their fourth.
The 4-0 win propels them into a tie for second place in the group (they lost to Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund in their first two group matches). Konrad followed up that performance by starting and captaining the Juvenil A’s on Sunday. Konrad again struck twice, including a penalty to open the scoring in a dominant 6-0 victory. Konrad still faces an uphill battle to push his way up the ranks at Barcelona, but this was a good week towards doing that. Rating: 2
Indiana Vassilev - Attacking Midfielder, Aston Villa
Vassilev is starting to hit a patch of good form. The 18-year-old who represented the US at the 2017 U-17 World Cup has been featuring regularly with Aston Villa’s U-23s. This past Monday, they took on Luca de la Torre and Fulham. Vassilev came off the bench in the 80th minute and won the match with the game’s only goal three minutes later. Vassilev is one of the youngest players on the U-23 team and is looked at as a high potential player at the club. Hopefully he can continue to push through. Rating: 2
Gennaro Nigro - Central Midfielder, AS Roma
Nigro’s struggles have continued. The 19-year-old is still in the squad consistently for Roma’s U-19’s, but he’s only playing sparingly and he has been playing much more at fullback this season. On Saturday, Nigro came off the bench in the 55th minute for his fourth appearance in six opportunities this season. The 35 minutes were the most he’d played in a month. Hopefully he can turn this around. Rating: 1
Keep an eye out for several potential games for young Americans this week since there will be cup matches in England and Germany and Holland. Also, the U-17 World Cup will be ongoing so there will be lots to keep tabs on this week. 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 for reading.