This was another eventful week for young Americans with a lot of action on the field, as well as some important news to touch on. With the March USMNT roster release coming in a few weeks, I am going to add a rating to each player which represents how much I think they should be part of the group (1-nowhere near ready; 5-absolutely call them up).
Tyler Adams - Central Midfielder, RB Leipzig
Adams earned another start on Saturday against VFB Stuttgart. After turning 20 on Valentine’s Day, Adams celebrated his birthday with a very strong performance. Adams was particularly impressive in the second half when Leipzig grabbed control of the match. With Leipzig leading 2-1, Adams made a spectacular play by skipping past an attempted tackle and slipping Yosef Poulsen through on goal. The ensuing finish gave Leipzig a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
That pass from Tyler Adams— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 16, 2019
The 20-year-old USMNT midfielder picked up his first Bundesliga assist today for RB Leipzig pic.twitter.com/uKLUKcMmSm
This was Adams’ first Bundesliga assist. On top of the highlight play, Adams put on a very good performance defensively and continues to look comfortable. Leipzig are in fourth place in the Bundesliga, with a six point cushion for the final Champions League spot. Rating: 5
Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund
With several players out injured, Pulisic got the start in the Champions League matchup against Tottenham on Wednesday. The 20-year-old had a good opportunity to fire Dortmund into the lead, but was denied by Tottenham Hotspur keeper Hugo Lloris. The first leg went to the break scoreless. In the second half, Tottenham took complete control of the match. They struck just three minutes after the break and wound up adding two more late to put the second leg into major doubt for Dortmund. The return leg at Signal-Iduna Park will be played on March 5th and Dortmund will need to have a nearly perfect performance to advance to the quarterfinals. After getting knocked out of the German Cup, being eliminated from this competition likely won’t help Pulisic’s chances for playing time the rest of the season. While he certainly wasn’t the worst Dortmund player, his individual performance on Wednesday didn’t do him many favors either. He also picked up a knock and is out for Monday’s matchup against Nurnberg. Let’s hope he can get back to health and regain some confidence soon. Rating: 5 if healthy
Nick Taitague - Attacking Midfielder, Schalke 04
The frustration continues for Taitague. Taitague had his 20th birthday to celebrate on Sunday, but he wasn’t able to celebrate on the field. He has picked up yet another injury and hasn’t been able to feature for Schalke’s U-23s since they returned from winter break. He had only just returned from injury to play three matches prior to the winter break. His struggles with injury have dramatically slowed his progress towards the first team, as he wasn’t called up to the first team for the winter training camp and instead jouned the US Youth Summit held in early January. He would be a welcome addition to the U-20 World Cup roster, but he needs to get healthy and find a run of games to gain back some form. Rating: 2
Folarin Balogun - Striker, Arsenal
Balogun signed his first professional contract this week. The 17-year-old has been on fire in the youth ranks, striking 13 times in 16 games in all competitions for Arsenal’s U-18s and U-23s this season. Balogun accepted a call from the United States U-18s last summer, but he is provisionally cap-tied to England. He’s also eligible for Nigeria. Still, it’s a great sign of how much they like him that they would sign him in hopes that he can contribute down the road. Hopefully he can continue to progress through the ranks. Rating: 1
Shaq Moore - Right Back, Levante UD
Moore is back with Levante and playing for their second team, Atlético Levante, in the Spanish third tier. The 22-year-old has been playing regularly for them since his return from Reus Deportiu. But, this season hasn’t been what he hoped it would be. Rather than gaining tons of first team experience, he’s now been relegated to the reserves with a lower level of competition. What perhaps makes matters worse is Coke Andujar has had a very good season for Levante’s first team and will make life difficult for Moore to break back into the first team anytime soon. Rating: 3
Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Paris St. Germain (On Loan at Celtic FC)
On Thursday, Weah started on the bench in Celtic’s Europa League match against La Liga club Valencia. The 18-year-old made his debut in European competition when he came off the bench in the 59th minute with Celtic trailing 2-0. Weah had a couple decent opportunities to get on the scoresheet, but he failed to do so. Weah was given a good opportunity from the edge of the box, but he got under it and sailed it over the bar. Later, he made a good run into the 6-yard box, but the ball was just behind him and eventually cleared after several deflections. Celtic would wind up falling 2-0 at home and face an uphill battle to stay alive in the competition. On Sunday, Weah once again started on the bench. In the 74th minute, Weah appeared in a scoreless match. In stoppage time, Weah struck the post from a tight angle, but was lively and dangerous. Celtic will need Weah to play well if they hope to erase the 2-0 deficit in Valencia on Thursday. Rating: 5
Erik Palmer-Brown - Centerback, Manchester City (On Loan at NAC Breda)
EPB was a surprise inclusion in the starting lineup on Sunday. With last-place NAC Breda taking on AFC Ajax, the 21-year-old was deployed as the left-sided centerback in a 5-3-2 formation. In the first half, Breda hung around and were somewhat unfortunate to be down 1-0. However, in the second half it completely fell apart. Ajax put Breda under siege in the second half, and Breda cracked on many occasions. On the fourth goal, Palmer-Brown didn’t push up to pressure the ball and the ensuing strike was saved before the rebound was put away. On the fifth goal, Palmer-Brown attempted to block the strike from just outside the box but it took a heavy deflection into the back of the net. He was somewhat harshly credited with an own goal. This was the first game EPB had started since December 2nd and just his seventh appearance of the season. Breda has been pretty terrible all around all season, but they have particularly struggled defensively. They’ve surrendered 14 goals in the five games since the winter break. This match won’t do much for their confidence. Rating: 3
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 your time.