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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Konrad de la Fuente starts first match for Barcelona B

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The 18-year-old is getting a look at the next level in Spain.

Inauguration - Johan Cruyff stadium Photo by Pressinphoto/Icon Sport via Getty Images

As we close in on the holiday, we’re only a week away from nearly every league going on winter break. This was an important week for many young Americans, with some notable movement being made by a couple 18-year-olds. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should be called up to the United States men’s 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:

Spain

Konrad de la Fuente - Winger, FC Barcelona

Konrad had a big opportunity this weekend. The 18-year-old earned his first career start for Barcelona’s B team on Sunday (they play in Segunda Division B, Spain’s third tier of professional football). Deployed on the left wing, Konrad was active and eager to make a big impact and nearly had his moment in the 34th minute. He received the ball just outside the box and took a crack that struck the left post.

Konrad looked to be a bit out of control and tried to do too much on a few occasions, but he still played pretty well overall. With Barcelona lacking a lot of healthy options on the wing right now, this is a golden opportunity that Konrad needs to take advantage of. Rating: 4

England

Owen Otasowie - Central Midfielder/Centerback, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Otasowie had a huge moment this week. Wolves came into their Europa League group stage finale on Thursday with Tyler Boyd and Besiktas having already clinched advancement to the knockout stage. The 18-year-old made the bench along with a couple other youth players as they looked to take advantage of the situation and introduce some new faces. With Wolverhampton in complete command, Otasowie subbed on in the 73rd minute to make his professional debut for the Premier League club. He was deployed as a patrolling defensive midfielder with the intention of snuffing out attacks and seeing out the victory. Just three minutes after coming on, his first career touch very nearly became his first goal when his header glanced off the top of the crossbar. Otasowie didn’t look out of place amongst his teammates and was a force in the air in his cameo. You can see a compilation of his performance below (courtesy of @USMNTvideos). Wolverhampton finished the group stage in second place, so we’ll find out in the next couple days who they will draw in the round of 32 in the Europa League knockout stage. Otasowie wasn’t included in the squad for Sunday’s against Tottenham Hotspur. Obviously it’s still very early, but it’s great to see him slowly pushing his way into the first team at this point. Rating: 6

Germany

Kevin Lankford - Winger, FC St. Pauli

Kevin Lankford has had a forgettable start to the season. Coming into the last few weeks, he’d hardly earned any minutes with St. Pauli’s first team since the start of the season and had even spent some time with the B team. Over the last month though, he’s emerged as an option off the bench. On Saturday, Lankford came off the bench for the fourth time in the last five games in their match against Wehen Wiesbaden. The 21-year-old German-American came on for the last 15 minutes and also got on the scoresheet for the first time this season. Already leading 2-1, Lankford provided the assist to Viktor Gyökeres for his second and the team’s third goal to put the match away in stoppage time. The 3-1 win was a big one as it pulls them into 15th place in their fight against relegation to the 3. Bundesliga. He has represented the United States at the U-19 level, but that was a long while back. Lankford needs to continue to take advantage of his opportunities and push his way into a more regular role if he hopes to hear from US Soccer at some point. Rating: 3

Sebastian Soto - Striker, Hannover

Soto has recovered from his recent muscle injury to make the matchday squad for each of Hannover’s last three matches. Unfortunately, he still hasn’t made it into a match in that timeframe as he awaits his first appearance since the second game of the season. Hannover left him on the bench despite trailing 2-0 at halftime. They did pull one back but failed to come up with a tying goal. Hannover currently sits in 13th place in the 18-team 2. Bundesliga. It’s been a rough season for them as a group and for Soto individually. Rating: 4

Mexico

Sebastian Saucedo - Winger, Pumas UNAM - Youth Update Curtain Call

Sebastian Saucedo has moved on from Real Salt Lake and signed with Liga MX club Pumas. Saucedo was out of contract, so Real Salt Lake will lose him on a free transfer. The 22-year-old finished last season with 2 goals and 6 assists in 29 games (1,311 minutes) in all competitions this past year. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he starts a new journey in his career. Rating: 5

United States

Brooks Lennon - Fullback/Winger, Atlanta United

Brooks Lennon has also departed Real Salt Lake. The 22-year-old has been traded to Atlanta United for $150,000 in GAM and TAM. Lennon has featured almost exclusively at right back for the last couple years, but Atlanta spoke about appreciating his versatility. So maybe they see him as a bit of a utility player that they can plug in where needed. In any event, let’s wish him the best of luck in Atlanta. Rating: 5

Jesus Ferreira - Striker/Attacking Midfielder, FC Dallas

Jesus Ferreira has followed in Paxton Pomykal’s footsteps and signed a four-year contract extension with FC Dallas. The 19-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2019, becoming a regular starter for one of the youngest and most entertaining teams in MLS. Ferreira finished the year with 8 goals and 5 assists in 36 appearances (2,710 minutes) in all competitions. He’ll be looking to increase that productivity going forward. Congratulations to the young man on the new contract. Hopefully he can get his citizenship straightened out so he can be an option for the US. Rating: 7

Zico Bailey - Right Back, FC Cincinnati

Zico Bailey’s latest adventure brings him back to the U.S. A year ago, he left college to sign with Swedish club Kalmar FF. Then he signed with Danish club FC Helsingör. Now the 19-year-old has left FC Helsingör to sign in MLS with FC Cincinnati. He will have his work cut out to help improve a defense that was atrocious a season ago. Let’s hope he can do so. Rating: 1

As always, hit the comment section to let me know if there’s anything major I overlooked or if there’s anyone you would like to hear about. Thank you for reading!