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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Sergiño Dest makes his European debut and his first Eredivisie start

Dest continues his massive rise through Ajax’s ranks

VVVvVenlo - Ajax - Dutch Eredivisie Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images

Another week is in the books and it was a very busy one for many young Americans. This week saw the return of the of the German Bundesliga with several of the most well-known Americans back in league action. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should be called up to the senior 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

No American player had a more significant week than Sergiño Dest. The 18-year-old’s stock continues to rise at a ridiculous rate. On Tuesday, Dest started on the bench in Ajax’s matchup with PAOK in the fourth qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League group stage. With the score tied at 1-1 at the half (and 3-3 on aggregate), Dest subbed on with Erik Ten Hag wanting to move starting right back Noussair Mazraoui into central midfield. Ajax would go on to score two second half goals and eventually hold on to win 3-2 and narrowly move to the final qualifying round 5-4 on aggregate. Individually, Dest struggled a bit in his cameo but it shows an incredible amount of trust from his coach to play him in that circumstance. He followed that up with his first league start for the Dutch giants on Saturday at VVV-Venlo. He nearly opened the scoring in the first half but was denied well by the Venlo keeper. Dest put in a strong performance in their dominant 4-1 win. On Tuesday, they will take on Greek champions APOEL Nicosia in the first leg of the final qualifying round. It would be awesome to see Dest get more opportunities. Ten Hag praised Dest’s preseason effort for forcing his hand to give him more opportunities. Rating: 9

Richie Ledezma - Attacking Midfielder, PSV Eindhoven

Holland has become quite the talking point for young Americans recently. Ledezma is another player who had a noteworthy week as he made his Jong PSV debut. The 18-year-old came off the bench at halftime with Jong PSV leading Den Bosch 2-1. Unfortunately a teammate was sent off a few minutes later and they wound up conceding a tying goal moments later. On Friday, Ledezma once again started on the bench. He came on in the 61st minute with Jong PSV looking for a winning goal in a 2-2 game. They ended up conceding the winner in the 80th minute. We’ll see if Ledezma’s bench role for PSV’s reserves continues, but at least he’s getting opportunities in the Eerste Divisie. Hopefully he can keep pushing towards the first team picture. Chris Gloster was not in the team for either match. Rating: 3


Maurice Malone - Striker, FC Augsburg

Malone had a good preseason for Augsburg and has remained with the first team at least for the start of the season. The 19-year-old was on the bench on Saturday in their season-opening 4-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund. Unfortunately he didn’t get to make his season debut, but it should only be a matter of time. Malone is provisionally cap-tied but he is one we should keep an eye on, particularly with how shallow our striker pool is. Rating: 6


Andrija Novakovich - Striker, Reading FC - Youth Update Curtain Call

It’s basically been a nightmare start to the season for Novakovich. The 22-year-old had a decent preseason for Reading and looked to be in line to play a big role for them in the Championship this season. He failed to convince, however, as he has been relegated first to the bench and now with the U-23’s. He scored a hat trick for them on Monday, but that’s below the level he has played in recent seasons. To make matters worse, he doesn’t appear to be in their plans anytime soon as they have recently purchased Lucas João and got Lucas Boyé on loan from Torino. Novakovich is entering the final year of his contract, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on the move soon. Please note that this will be the last update on Novakovich with him turning 23 next month. Rating: 6

Charlie Kelman - Striker, Southend United

Kelman had a big performance in the EFL Cup this week. The 17-year-old got his first start of the season and struck twice in the second half to deliver a 2-1 victory. With Southend trailing 1-0 at the half, Kelman scored just after the break to level it and scored the winner in the 55th minute. As a reward for his effort on Saturday, Kelman started his first league match of the season. However, he was yanked at halftime as Southend were embarassed 4-0 by Lincoln City. Let’s hope he can continue to get first team opportunities and become a more consistent impact player. Kelman is age eligible for the next U-20 cycle and could be an option for the US at that level soon. Rating: 3

Damian Las - Goalkeeper, Fulham FC

Las appears to have finally found a new home in Craven Cottage. The 17-year-old goalkeeper has been trialing in Europe and been linked with various clubs but has finally settled on Fulham. Previously of the Chicago Fire Academy, Las refused to sign a homegrown contract and had the option to go early with a European passport. Las is expected to be the starter for the US at the upcoming U-17 World Cup. Let’s wish him the best of luck on this move. Rating: 1


Sagir Arce - Winger, Monarcas Morelia

Arce is slowly pushing his way through at Morelia. On Tuesday, Arce was named in the match day squad for their Copa MX match against Cimarrones de Sonora. The 17-year-old unfortunately didn’t get to make his debut, but that moment appears to be on the horizon. Arce is a potential option for the US at the upcoming U-17 World Cup but he has lots of competition in those spots if he hopes to be selected. We’ll see if US U-17 coach Raphaël Wicky gives him a look. Rating: 1

United States

Jackson Yueill - Central Midfielder, San Jose Earthquakes

Yueill has put together a nice season for San Jose. The 22-year-old has become an everyday starter for Matías Almeyda and has repaid the faith. Yueill is a quality passer and has shown the ability to command games from his deep-lying playmaker role. He has easily been of the best success stories of any American in MLS this season as San Jose has turned heads and is in position to potentially make the playoffs (they currently sit in 6th place in the Western Conference). However, they need to regain their form a bit after consecutive losses to Colorado and this weekend to Sporting Kansas City. Still, Yueill has been consistently good and should get another look in January camp at a minimum. Rating: 7

As always, hit the comme 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!