This was a pretty strong week from young Americans, with several having solid performances in midweek cup matches as well as over the weekend. Let’s dive in:
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Chelsea FC (On Loan at Borussia Dortmund)
Pulisic earned his first start in 2019 in Tuesday’s DFB Pokal (German Cup) matchup against Werder Bremen. The 20-year-old got off to a great start in the match, setting up Mario Götze Mario Gotze for a huge chance that he pushed just wide. In the first 30 minutes or so, Pulisic was a menace for Bremen defenders. He won several matchups on the wing and created danger on multiple occasions. Dortmund tied the score at 1 just before halftime and the second half featured a physical match with little positive action from Pulisic. In extra time though, he made a big play when he won the ball at midfield, skipped around multiple defenders and exchanged with Paco Alcacer for the go-ahead goal.
A brilliant run and finish from Christian Pulisic! pic.twitter.com/rA18N81eJj— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 5, 2019
Pulisic now has four goals and four assists on the season, but this was the first time he had found the back of the net since Halloween. Unfortunately, Borussia Dortmund would relinquish the lead twice in the extra period and eventually lose on penalties which eliminates them from the competition. Pulisic was then an unused substitute in Dortmund’s 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim on Saturday. We’ll see if he can get on the field in their massive Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday (3 PM ET on TNT).
Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, Schalke 04
McKennie also got the start in the DFB Pokal. On the opening goal, McKennie headed an inbounds pass toward Nabil Bentaleb who laid it off for Ahmed Kutucu to blast into the back of the net. The 20-year-old then had a header saved, but then Salif Sane immediately scored the rebound. McKennie and Schalke would go on to dominate in a 4-1 win over Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Düsseldorf that earned them a place in the Pokal Quarterfinals against Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen. On Saturday, McKennie was once again in the lineup to face Bayern Munich in league play. After falling down 1-0, McKennie picked up Bentaleb’s deflected pass at midfield and played a beautiful ball through into Kutucu’s path for the game-tying goal.
McKennie's assistpic.twitter.com/oEiGu0FTMB— USMNT Videos (@USMNTvideos) February 9, 2019
This was McKennie’s third assist of the season in the Bundesliga. Just a few minutes later though, Bayern reclaimed the lead. Then in the 32nd minute, McKennie nearly tied it with a header, but it was cleared off the line. In the second half, McKennie continued to push for a tying goal. In the 53rd minute, McKennie received the ball at midfield with two Bayern defenders converging. He took a positive touch away from them and raced away on a fantastic run before setting up a huge chance for Yevhen Konoplyanka. He was unable to finish, however, and McKennie hit the post on the rebound. Bayern would eventually find a third goal and a deserved three points. For Schalke, the loss has them in 14th place in the Bundesliga, 11 points back from the Europa League spots and just 7 points clear from the relegation playoff spot. Individually for McKennie, this week was a good rebound after having a poor performance against Borussia Mönchengladbach last week.
Alex Méndez - Central Midfielder, SC Freiburg
Méndez is working his way into the U-19 team at Freiburg. The 18-year-old made a short cameo last week to make his debut in a 3-1 win against Karlsruhe SC. This weekend, Méndez came on at halftime with Freiburg trailing Eintracht Frankfurt’s U-19s 2-0. Freiburg pulled level in the 57th minute, but Frankfurt eventually prevailed after converting a penalty late. For Méndez, it’s good to see him taking the first steps on his potential journey to the Bundesliga. Let’s hope he can work his way up and fulfill his major potential.
Jonathan Klinsmann - Goalkeeper, Hertha Berlin
Klinsmann has spent this season starting for Hertha’s U-23 team in hopes of an eventual breakthrough, but that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. The 21-year-old is set to be let go by Hertha Berlin when his contract runs out this summer. Klinsmann hasn’t been able to beat out even Thomas Kraft for the backup spot, and the club is planning to extend Kraft to maintain their top two options. On top of that, there are two other young keepers that they value more in terms of future options. All of that adds up to Klinsmann needing to find somewhere else to give him a chance. We’ll keep an eye on this situation in the coming weeks and months.
Cameron Carter-Vickers - Centerback, Tottenham Hotspur (On Loan at Swansea City)
CCV has been reaping the benefits of injury problems the last few weeks. The 21-year-old got a fourth consecutive start on Saturday against Millwall and had arguably his best performance of the season. Swansea took the lead just before halftime and Carter-Vickers did his part to make sure it was enough to earn the victory. CCV was a rock in the back while also completing 90% of his passes and helping them keep the clean sheet. The victory has Swansea in 11th place in the Championship, but only six points back from the final promotion playoff spot. Let’s hope he can keep this up and maintain his spot once everyone gets back to health.
Jordan Siebatcheu - Striker, Stade Rennais
Siebatcheu made a huge impact this week. Siebatcheu started on the bench against LOSC Lille on Wednesday in the Coupe de France (French Cup). With Rennais trailing 1-0 in the 72nd minute, Siebatcheu came off the bench looking to help Rennais get back into the match. The 22-year-old answered the bell, scoring just four minutes later. After a scramble in the box, Siebatcheu headed home from just outside the 6-yard box to level the score. Then, in the 90th minute, Siebatcheu struck once more, getting his head on the winning goal. Siebatcheu hasn’t played much this season, mostly appearing off the bench. However, he has produced when he’s been called upon. He now has seven goals as well as an assist (as well as drawing a penalty that led to the game-tying goal in the first match of their Europa League group stage) in just 1,040 minutes in all competitions. On Sunday, Siebatcheu got the start against AS Saint-Étienne. Unfortunately, he was pulled after 30 minutes after picking up an injury. This could put his status for Thursday’s Europa League knockout clash with Diego Lainez and Real Betis in doubt.
Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC (On Loan at Fortuna Sittard)
Novakovich started once again on Sunday for Fortuna Sittard. The 22-year-old didn’t see a lot of the ball, but he had a solid performance, helping Sittard to a 4-1 win over relegation-threatened Excelsior Rotterdam. In second half stoppage time, Novakovich received the ball on the run and raced in on goal before finishing with his left foot into the side netting.
Andrija Novakovich's goal today vs Excelsior— USMNT Videos (@USMNTvideos) February 10, 2019
Credit to u/Jespaahh_pic.twitter.com/S3ilkS58gS
The strike gives Novakovich six goals in all competitions this season. After a long scoring drought, he now has two goals in his last four games. The win puts Fortuna Sittard in ninth place in the Eredivisie.
Christian Cappis - Central Midfielder, Hobro IK
The Danish Superliga returned from winter break this week. On Sunday, Cappis started on the bench for Hobro as they took on AC Horsens. The 19-year-old came on in the 87th minute to make his league debut for the club (he did feature for them in the Danish Cup earlier this season). Cappis was unable to help them get the win with the match ending scoreless, but it’s another step in the right direction for him. Let’s hope he can keep pushing for more opportunities as the season goes on.
Edwin Lara - Left Back, Club León
This was an important week for Lara. On Thursday, the 19-year-old made his full professional debut for León, earning his first start in the Copa MX (Mexican Cup) against Cruz Azul. In the 43rd minute, Yoshi Yotún scored on a shot that was heavily deflected by Lara to level the score. The match would finish with that same 1-1 scoreline with Lara going the full 90 minutes. Lara was not included in the squad for Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Club América. Lara has already filed a one-time switch to play for the United States and could be a piece to compete at left back in the future. Congratulations on the debut! Hopefully it’s just the beginning.
Julian Araujo - Centerback/Fullback, LA Galaxy
Araujo is pushing to break through in LA. The 17-year-old has taken part in first team activities for them this preseason, and has also been playing in recent friendlies. Araujo made two cameos in USL last season and could be an option for them, particularly when you consider how poor their defense was a season ago. Previously with Barcelona’s US-based Academy in Arizona, Araujo has risen up the US youth ranks quickly in the last year. He could also play a part in this summer’s U-20 World Cup. Here’s hoping he can impress and get some opportunities with the LA Galaxy first team this season.
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.