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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: The Summer of Sergiño

The Ajax player is pushing toward the first team.

Pre-Season Friendly”Ajax v Watford FC”

It’s been a very busy week for young Americans with a lot of notable preseason performances as well as some big games from players in MLS. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think he 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:


Sergiño Dest - Fullback, AFC Ajax

Dest is taking a major step towards the first team for Ajax this summer. He’s been playing regularly for them in their preseason and has impressed. On Friday, Dest started and went the distance at Left Back (!!!) against Premier League club Watford FC. He was dangerous getting forward down the left flank, and showed well defensively as well. He did concede a penalty on a handball, so it wasn’t perfect, but still very encouraging. His coach, Erik ten Hag had this to say about him:

Dest also got some good news off the field this week. Jesse Marsch and RB Salzburg bought Right Back Rasmus Kristensen from Ajax, which removes some competition for the 18-year-old. With Nassair Mazraoui still away after playing in the African Cup of Nations for Morocco, Ajax is looking at Dest as a player who could play a part even early on in the season. They take on PSV Eindhoven next week in the Johan Cruyff Arena and start league play the following week. With Champions League games, league game and cup games, Dest should have plenty of opportunities to rotate into the team. The time is now for this young man. Rating: 8


Emmanuel Sabbi - Winger/Striker, Hobro IK

The Danish Superliga has returned and Sabbi got off to a good start to the season on Monday. In the 62nd minute, Sabbi opened the scoring after finishing off a fantastic cross with a first-time finish.

Sabbi was subbed off after 84 minutes and Hobro chasing a winning goal. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. On Sunday, Sabbi again started and went the distance as Hobro drew 1-1 with Esbjerg FB (fellow American young American Christian Cappis came off the bench and assisted the game-tying goal late in stoppage time). Sabbi has been the subject of lots of transfer rumors this summer, but we’ll see if that comes to be. For now, he needs to find some consistency and keep producing. Rating: 6

Zico Bailey - Right Back, FC Helsingör

This week, 18-year-old Zico Bailey signed with FC Helsingör in the Danish second division. Bailey is the latest American signing for Jordan Gardner who wanted to buy a European club with the purpose of developing Americans and selling them. Bailey previously played in the LA Galaxy Academy before moving to Denmark. Let’s wish him the best of luck. Rating: 2


Michael Edwards - Centerback, VFL Wolfsburg

The 18-year-old burst onto the scene after only joining the club to play with the U-19s back in January. Towards the end of the season, he was already featuring for Wolfsburg’s reserve team. Now Wolfsburg is giving Edwards a long look with the first team this preseason. On Friday, Edwards played the second half in their preseason matchup with PSV Eindhoven. He showed his physicality and willingness to cut down the attack on several occasions. However, he did get sent off in the 90th minute when he pulled down an attacker after he got caught out of position (all his touches are in the video below). How cool would it be to see him play alongside John Brooks at some point soon? He still has a ways to go, but there is a lot to like about his mentality. Rating: 5

Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen

Sargent is pushing hard for regular playing time this season. The 19-year-old has started and scored in each of Bremen’s first two preseason matches this summer, including this past weekend. Sargent showed great concentration and composure to chest it down and beat a defender before slotting it past the keeper in the 54th minute.

With Max Kruse leaving the club, Sargent should have the opportunity to feature more, but he will need to take advantage of those chances. Let’s hope he can keep building and be back with the USMNT soon. Rating: 8


Alan Soñora - Attacking Midfielder, CA Independiente

Soñora has been promoted to Independiente’s first team for the upcoming season after an impressive spell with their reserves last year and the first team this preseason. According to reports, Sheffield United wanted to sign the 20-year-old but were rejected this week as Soñora figures to feature regularly with the Argentine club. Independiente next take on Universidad Católica in the Copa Sudamericana on Thursday and start league play next weekend. Rating: 5

United States

Sebastian Anderson - Colorado Rapids

Anderson has slowly been integrating more and more into Colorado’s first team. On Saturday night, he got the start and scored his first career goal in the 6th minute. The 16-year-old homegrown signing finished off a nice attacking move that featured a well-weighted through ball by Cole Bassett and an excellent run and assist by Jonathan Lewis. Anderson cut in front of the defender to poke home the score and open his professional account.

Unfortunately, things turned south after that. Anderson was sent off in the 33rd minute with a straight red card. Anderson tried to win the ball but went in with a dangerous challenge with his studs up. Colorado would go on to lose to New York City FC 2-1. Rating: 4

Anthony Fontana - Attacking Midfielder, Philadelphia Union

Fontana has largely been bypassed by Brenden Aaronson in terms of prospect excitement in the Philadelphia Union organization this season, but he is still contributing at times. On Saturday, the 19-year-old made just his fifth appearance of the season when he came off the bench for Marco Fabián in the 61st minute. Just four minutes later, Fontana killed the game off by scoring his first goal of the season off a deflected cross.

Fontana has been bouncing back and forth between USL side Bethlehem Steel and Philadelphia, but hopefully this will give him an injection of confidence to push to feature more regularly in MLS going forward. Rating: 3

Cameron Duke - Central Midfielder, Sporting Kansas City

Cameron Duke has signed a homegrown contract with Sporting Kansas City. The 18-year-old has played in Sporting Kansas City’s for many years and is among the candidates for the 2021 U-20 team. Duke has previously represented the United States at various youth levels. Now he will take his first steps in his professional career. Let’s wish him the best of luck. Rating: 2

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!