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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Timothy Tillman debuts in the Bundesliga

And Pulisic goes Super Saiyan.

International Champions Cup 2016 - FC Internazionale v Bayern Munich Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The United States men’s national team roster for this month’s friendlies against Ecuador and Chile is set to be released on Tuesday, so this was one last opportunity to make a case for inclusion. Many young American players are featuring quite a bit in recent weeks and hope to be on that list. I will continue with the rating system of who I believe is ready for a call-up right now (1 - nowhere near ready; 5 - absolutely call him up). Here’s what’s happening:


Timothy Tillman - Attacking Midfielder, Bayern Munich (On Loan at FC Nürnberg)

Tillman was a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad for Nurnberg on Sunday. The 20-year-old German-American hadn’t even appeared in a matchday squad since the second game of the season while featuring regularly for their second team. In the 52nd minute, Tillman made his Bundesliga debut when he came on with Hoffenheim leading 1-0. Nürnberg tied the score a few minutes after coming on, but Hoffenheim would eventually win it pretty late. Tillman didn’t see a ton of the ball after getting on the field, but he was very good when he did have it. Tillman beat Hoffenheim defenders multiple times and they resorted to fouling him on most occasions. He showed glimpses of his pace and also was calm and made smart decisions with the ball. I’m not sure how many opportunities he’ll have with Nürnberg staring relegation in the face, but he took his chance well this weekend. Tillman would still have to file a one-time switch to play for the U.S., but I wouldn’t say that his chances with Germany are high at this point with a loan spell that has included one first team appearance so far. Regardless, it’s a good sign that they’re giving him a look at this point. Hopefully he will see more. Rating: 2

Christian Pulisic - Attacking Midfielder, Chelsea (On Loan at Borussia Dortmund)

Borussia Dortmund needed a major comeback to erase the 3-0 aggregate deficit against Tottenham on Tuesday. Despite dominating the first half, Dortmund were unable to find a goal, and Harry Kane basically ended all hope a few minutes after halftime. Pulisic then made his return from injury in the 62nd minute with Dortmund needing a miracle. Pulisic missed a completely free header for a consolation goal, but the tie was already decided regardless. Dortmund were eliminated from the Champions League. On Saturday, Pulisic again found himself on the bench. In the 78th minute, he came off the bench with Dortmund level with Stuttgart at 1-1. Pulisic made a big impact when he somewhat fortunately picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal just 5 minutes later. Then in stoppage time, Pulisic finished off a nice attacking move by slotting a left-footed shot past the keeper to make it 3-1.

This was Pulisic’s second goal in the Bundesliga this season and his first league goal since September 22nd. This was a huge win to keep pace with Bayern Munich for first place in the Bundesliga. The 20-year-old seems to be regaining some form. Rating: 5

Weston McKennie - Central Midfielder, Schalke 04

McKennie returned from injury and started right away on Friday for free-falling Schalke. In the 26th minute, McKennie flicked on a header in the attacking half that Breel Embolo finished well to put Schalke in front.

This was McKennie’s fourth league assist this season. Unfortunately, Schalke weren’t able to hang on as Werder Bremen would strike back moments later. In the second half, Bremen would seize control and strike twice more. A late second goal for Embolo put the pressure back on Bremen, but they would put it away in stoppage time. Despite a much better performance, Schalke came away with nothing again and find themselves just four points clear of the relegation playoff spot. To make matters worse, they have to go to England on Tuesday for the second leg in the Champions League against Manchester City. Then next Saturday, they host Tyler Adams and third-place RB Leipzig. For McKennie, he was his usual dominant self in the air, but he saw very little of the ball on the ground and didn’t look particularly good when he did have it. They need more from him (and a lot more from the rest of his teammates for that matter) if they’re going to turn this season around. Rating: 5

Maurice Malone - Striker, Augsburg

Malone is inching closer to a first team breakthrough. On Saturday, the 18-year-old German-American made the matchday squad for the first time in Augsburg’s 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig. Augsburg currently sit three points clear of the relegation playoff spot and could use all the goals they can get down the stretch. Malone has had an excellent season at the U-19 level and may get the opportunity to help Augsburg’s attack down the stretch. Malone would have to file a one-time switch to play for the US, but he’s one to keep an eye on going forward. Rating: 2


Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Everton FC (On Loan at Wigan Athletic)

On Saturday, Robinson returned to the starting lineup this week following a three and a half month stretch out with injury. The 21-year-old struggled in his return as Reading would win 3-2. His passing was erratic and he looked a bit rusty defensively as well. It’s great to see him back in the team though. Let’s hope for a clean bill of health and continued opportunities before his loan runs out at the end of the season. Rating: 3

Charlie Kelman - Striker, Southend United

Kelman had a big moment on Saturday when the 17-year-old earned his first career League One start for Southend. Kelman had played sparingly, making occasional appearances for the first team since his debut. But he’s been pushing for more and it finally came this weekend. Kelman was subbed out after 73 minutes and Southend leading 2-1 (they wound up drawing 2-2). This young man is being scouted by some major clubs and could be an option for Tab Ramos at the U-20 World Cup this summer depending on who else gets released. Rating: 2

United States

Paxton Pomykal - Attacking Midfielder, FC Dallas

After coming off the bench last week, Pomykal got the start on Saturday for FC Dallas against the LA Galaxy. The 19-year-old was the best player on the field and delivered a Man of the Match performance with his dangerous dribbling and incisive playmaking. In the 62nd minute, Pomykal attacked the endline and delivered a lovely cutback to the top of the box that was ripped home for his first career MLS assist.

FC Dallas has four points from its first two matches of the season despite a major effort to play their youth (on top of Pomykal and Reggie Cannon starting, 18-year-old Edwin Cerrillo also made his professional debut in this match). It’s impressive that they’re willing to trust their young players and their young players are delivering. Look for Pomykal to be a major part of the U-20 World Cup team, assuming he gets released. Rating: 3

Justin Rennicks - Striker, New England Revolution

On Saturday, Rennicks was on the bench for the second consecutive match to start the season. With New England down 1-0, the 19-year-old came on for Juan Agudelo at halftime to make his professional debut and try to create a spark in their attack. Rennicks tried to create but was unable to generate enough danger as Gyasi Zardes would add another in stoppage time. Hopefully Rennicks can stay in the picture and keep pushing for more opportunities this season. Rating: 2

Kai Koreniuk - Winger, LA Galaxy

Koreniuk has left AZ Alkmaar to join the LA Galaxy. The 21-year-old had struggled for playing time with Jong AZ in the second division in Holland after moving from Vitesse. On Saturday, Koreniuk made his debut for LA Galaxy II, coming off the bench in the 60th minute in their 4-1 loss to Switchback FC. Let’s hope he can resurrect his career in Los Angeles. 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’d like to hear about. Thank you for reading!