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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Player Movement in Full Effect

Lots of young Americans are on the move this summer.

CD Mafra v Varzim SC - Liga Ledman Pro Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Welcome back to the Weekly Youth Updates! Since we last left off, so much player movement has gone on that it’s almost impossible to fit it all into one article, but I’ll do my best to touch on the ones that haven’t been as heavily reported as well as provide updates on MLS and European preseasons. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each player’s update reflects whether I think they should be called up to the senior national team at the next opportunity (1 - nowhere near ready; 10 - absolutely call them up and start them). Without further ado, here’s what’s been going on:


Stephen Payne - Right Back, Portimonense

One of the more surprising moves of the summer is Stephen Payne moving up from Portuguese second division side Varzim SC to Portimonense on a permanent transfer. The 22-year-old did enjoy a decent season last year in Liga Pro, appearing 19 times in all competitions (1,245 minutes) and scoring his first professional goal. Portimonense finished last season in 12th place in the 18-team Primeira Liga. Hopefully Payne can push through and be an American representative in a league where there is so little American contingent. Rating: 4


Gio Reyna - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund

Reyna is finally officially a Borussia Dortmund player this summer, having signed his first professional contract on July 1st. Already playing preseason with the U-19s, Reyna scored this ridiculous goal on Saturday.

But the good news doesn’t stop there. The 16-year-old will be one of only two U-19 players to join the first team for their preseason American tour this month. Obviously marketing plays at least some role in that decision, but it’s amazing that we may get to see him in Dortmund colors so soon. Hopefully he can impress the first team coaches in training so he can garner future looks. Rating: 3

Matthew Hoppe - Striker, Schalke

Hoppe is the latest American to join the Knappenschmeide (Schalke’s famous academy). He follows the likes of Weston McKennie, Haji Wright, Nick Taitague and Zyen Jones as players that have played there in recent years. The 18-year-old most recently played for Barcelona’s residency academy in Arizona for the last two years, scoring an impressive 29 goals in just 20 games this past season. For those who haven’t seen him there is a highlight reel below. Let’s wish the young man the best of luck as he continues his growth in Germany. Rating: 1

Travian Sousa - Centerback, Hamburger SV

Sousa has moved on from Sacramento Republic FC to join Bobby Wood at Hamburg. The 17-year-old had been on trial earlier this year and impressed the coaches enough to give him an opportunity. With Sacramento, Sousa played in 10 games this season before deciding to add to the growing contingent of Americans in the German system. Hopefully he can push his way into the first team picture soon, and hopefully Hamburg can get themselves back into the top division as well. Rating: 1


Antonee Robinson - Left Back, Wigan Athletic

Everton will reportedly accept Wigan’s £2 million bid for Robinson. The 21-year-old has been with Everton this preseason, but he has failed to convince and they are ready to move on. Robinson was left off the Gold Cup squad after struggling mightily last month in the US’s 1-0 loss against Jamaica. Hopefully he will use these events as motivation to improve his defensive awareness and consistency with his passing. Rating: 7

Jonathan Tomkinson - Centerback, Norwich City

Tomkinson has moved on from Solar SC to join Norwich City. The 17-year-old also previously played in FC Dallas’ academy and had trialed with West Bromwich Albion as well as Ipswich Town before signing with Norwich this summer. Let’s wish the young man the best of luck as he starts his journey in Europe. Rating: 1


Timothy Weah - Striker/Winger, Lille OSC

Weah is settling in with his new club following his transfer from Paris Saint-Germain. The 19-year-old was announced this week and will wear number 22. During the press conference he said:

With Lille, Weah could be one of four Americans to feature in the group stage of the Champions League this season (the others being Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Ethan Horvath if Club Brugge qualifies). Before that can happen, he will need to prove he has the quality to do so this summer and early in the season. Let’s hope he can do so. Rating: 9

United States

Paxton Pomykal - Attacking Midfielder, FC Dallas

Pomykal has picked up right where he left off before the U-20 World Cup. The 19-year-old FC Dallas star has continued his fine play, consistently making his presence felt. Pomykal was the only American named to the MLS All Star team not as a defender or goalkeeper. He’s been the best American midfielder in MLS by a pretty large stretch this season. On Saturday, Pomykal started as usual as FC Dallas took on Minnesota United. Pomykal once again displayed his excellent passing range, including a fantastic ball when FC Dallas desperately needed it. Down 1-0 late in stoppage time, Pomykal delivered a fantastic long ball that the defender struggled to clear and Bryan Reynolds was taken down in the box for a penalty. Unfortunately, Reto Zeigler had his penalty saved so FC Dallas were unable to salvage a point. Still, since he’s returned from the U-20 World Cup, FC Dallas is 2-1-2 after going just 1-2-4 while he was out. Rating: 9

Sam Vines - Left Back, Colorado Rapids

Vines is somewhat quietly putting together a nice season. After making his debut last season, he’s won the starting left back spot for Colorado. Vines has appeared 13 times in all competitions (1,012 minutes) and was named to the MLS team of the week two weeks ago. Colorado has gone with a bit a youth movement this season featuring Vines, Cole Bassett and Jonathan Lewis among others. Let’s hope Vines can continue to improve, because the US needs all the Left Back help it can find. Rating: 5

Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, SL Benfica (On Loan at New York City FC)

Keaton Parks is turning around what started out as a terrible loan campaign. The 21-year-old has forced his way into New York’s starting lineup in recent weeks, following a brace in his first start of the year in the US Open Cup last month. Parks had previously only played 55 minutes the entire season before getting that chance, but he has been a mainstay in the starting lineup since. While he still has a long way to go as a defender, he has shown glimpses of his quality on the ball like the lovely assist he had against DC United in the US Open Cup. In league play, NYCFC has gone 2-0-2 with Parks in the lineup and has climbed to 5th place in the Eastern Conference. Sunday night marked his first start in the rivalry between New York Red Bulls and NYCFC. Parks showed a sense of desire to do the little things defensively while also once again showing his calm and cool presence on the ball. He was one of the best players on the field in the first half. The Red Bulls eventually prevailed but Parks went the entire 90 minutes and looked solid throughout. We’ll see if he can continue to improve his game to the point where he can get another crack with Benfica. Rating: 5

Please note that I will be doing things a little differently this coming season. Rather than focusing as heavily on Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, my focus will shift to the players that are talked about less. However, I plan to start a separate Champions League/Europa League Update that will focus heavily on analyzing the individual performances of those players in those competitions this season. 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.