Welcome back as we return from the international break. While MLS is on hiatus, most of the clubs around the world are in the middle of their season,s so the players at those clubs will largely remain the focus for a while. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should be called up to full national team at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 10-absolutely call him up and start him). This is what’s been going on the last couple weeks:
Timothy Weah - Winger/Striker, Lille OSC
Weah remains out for the immediate future. A few weeks back, Weah was said to be scheduled to return on Friday to face his former club, Paris St. Germain. Instead, Lille Manager Christopher Galtier gave an update this week on his status:
“Timothy Weah is in a sporting rehabilitation centre in Madrid, as agreed with our doctor. He’s in good hands. Will he be ready before the winter break? Ready to train, I’m convinced of that. Ready to play? That’s another question.”
So he will be out until sometime in January at the earliest. That’s really unfortunate, because he will be unable to play in any of their remaining Champions League games this season. Here’s hoping the 19-year-old can finally find something that helps this injury heal and gets back on the field early next year. Rating: 9 if healthy
Nicholas Gioacchini - Striker, SM Caen
Gioacchini has remained in the starting lineup for SM Caen since his breakthrough last month. He’s started every game (four league starts and one cup start) since his dream debut, and Caen has been playing better since as well. They’ve picked up eight points in those four matches after having just eight through the first eleven matches without him. Over the break, SM Caen took on Mûrs-erigné in the Coupe de France (French Cup). Gioacchini scored his second goal in all competitions and drew a penalty as well in a 4-0 win.
19-yr-old Nicholas Gioacchini scored and drew a penalty today in a 4-0 win for SM Caen in the French Cup. The opponent was a 7th-division side, so I'm not getting carried away, but it's worth noting.pic.twitter.com/T0U4YnPkAp— scuffed (@zlebmada) November 16, 2019
On Friday, Gioacchini again started and went 86 minutes in a 3-3 draw with Le Mans. The 19-year-old had his first real difficult day since his breakthrough. In the 8th minute, Gioacchini made a nice run to get behind the defense, but he put his shot directly at the keeper rather than score his second league goal. Still, it’s great to see him remain in the lineup and it’s great to see them playing much better with him there. Despite their recent better performances, Caen still face an uphill battle to avoid relegation from Ligue 2 as they currently sit just two points above the relegation line. Rating: 4
Matteo Ritaccio - Central Midfielder, Liverpool FC
Ritaccio had a very important piece of news over the international window. The 18-year-old signed his first professional contract with the English giants last week, securing their place in the American market. The 18-year-old had been playing very well for their U-18s to start the year, and has even appeared for their U-23s once last year. Ritaccio is currently out injured and won’t return for a some time, but Liverpool see a potential future for the Italian-American. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he tries to pay off the faith. Rating: 1
Erik Palmer-Brown - Centerback, Manchester City (On Loan at FK Austria Wien)
Palmer-Brown has nailed down a starting spot in Austria in recent months. The 22-year-old has started seven of the last nine matches in the Austrian Bundesliga with Austria Wien going 3-1-3 record during that time. On Sunday, EPB helped keep a clean sheet for the third time this season in a 0-0 draw with FC Flyeralarm Admira. It’s good to see him getting experience and performing pretty well. EPB is still under contract with parent club Manchester City through 2022, but even if he were good enough to feature for them, he has no way of obtaining a UK work permit anytime soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a permanent move away from Manchester City sometime soon. Rating: 5
Chris Durkin - Central Midfielder, D.C. United (On Loan at Sint-Truiden)
It’s been a rough transition to Belgium for Chris Durkin. Since he was loaned out from DC United this summer, the 19-year-old has only made one appearance in the Beker Van Belgie (Belgian Cup). He has only even made the bench three times in league play, and it’s been longer than a month since his last iteration. He has been on the record that he wants to convince Sint-Truiden to act on the option to buy, but he still has a ways to go if he expects that to happen. Durkin is going through a humbling struggle that will hopefully make him a more complete player. Here’s hoping he can push through this tough time and convince his coaches to give him a look. Rating: 3
Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, SL Benfica
Parks’ loan to New York City FC is over, and he will not be signed away from the Portuguese giants at this time according to Portuguese outlet Diario de Transferencias.. Parks had a decent showing in MLS after a very slow start. In June, he earned a starting spot after an impressive performance in the US Open Cup. All told, he made 22 league appearances and started their playoff loss to Toronto as well. The 22-year-old faces a critical time in his career. Let’s hope he makes it count. Rating: 5
Emmanuel Ochoa - Goalkeeper, San Jose Earthquakes
Emmanuel Ochoa has become the youngest homegrown signing in MLS history. At just 14 years old, he is the second youngest player to ever sign a contract in the league, behind only Freddy Adu. Ochoa previously played at El Camino FC and with the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy before joining the MLS academy. He has previously represented the US at the U-14 and U-15 levels. It’s very possible he could be the US Number One in the 2021 U-17 cycle. Let’s wish the young man the best of luck as he starts his professional journey. Rating: 1
News and Notes
While we were out for the international break, we also had the United States U-23 national team gather for a friendly tournament in preparation for Olympic qualification. The US faced Brazil in the first match and fell 1-0, but it easily could have been worse. In the second match, the US U-23s took down the Canary Islands by a 4-0 scoreline. Sebastian Saucedo, Brooks Lennon and Richie Ledezma were the goal scorers. With Olympic qualifying in March, this group will try to make it for the first time since 2008. Let’s hope they can get it done.
Over the last couple weeks, the Nike Friendlies were also going on. The format this year was quite a bit different than years past. Brazil and England did not participate in the competition this time, and there were two US representatives: a U-16 team and a U-17 team. The US U-16s won the tournament with a draw with the Netherlands (3-3) and victories over the US U-17s (2-0) and Turkey (3-2). They were led by the likes of Moses Nyeman and Dante Sealy and Mauricio Cuevas. Congratulations to the group.
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!