The international break is upon us, and friendly matchups against Mexico and Uruguay for the senior team are coming up. This was a really impressive week for many young Americans. There were many very good and noteworthy performances, so I will try to squeeze it all into this article (please see my Champions League piece for the Sergiño Dest shout). 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:
Matko Miljevic - Attacking Midfielder, Argentinos Juniors
Miljevic has slowly been working his way into the first team picture recently, but he shoved the door open this week. On Monday, the 18-year-old came off the bench in the 27th minute to make his Superliga Argentina debut against Huracán. Although he showed some flashes of excellent play, Miljevic was unable to make the difference and the match ended 0-0. On Saturday, Miljevic earned his first career start and he was fantastic. In the 12th minute, he received the ball in a pocket of space and drove at the defense. He struck it from distance and got a fortunate deflection to open his account.
A first professional goal for Matko Miljevic (17). Argentinos Juniors currently up 1-0 over Gimnasia. Big deflection but scoring at 17 in the Argentine Superliga is pretty impressive. pic.twitter.com/b4QFMlV7HL— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) August 31, 2019
Miljevic wasn’t done there. Deployed on the left wing, he was an absolute menace on the Gimnasia defense with his dribbling and attacking mentality (below was my favorite).
He beat defenders time after time and they eventually resorted to just fouling him as the game went along. The match ended with that 1-0 scoreline, but it was a Man of the Match and breakout performance for the young man. Tab Ramos called him up to the US U-20 team, but the club denied his release due to them having a Cup match over the international window. Let’s see if he can build on this in the coming weeks. For anyone curious about this kid, TYC International (available with FuboTV) shows a ton of Argentine Superliga matches. Rating: 5
Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen
Sargent has struggled to get consistent minutes to start the season, but Sunday’s performance should get him some more opportunities. On the opening goal, Sargent held the ball up and laid it off for Niclas Füllkrug to deliver a lovely over-the-top assist to Yuya Osako. After Augsburg tied the score, Sargent scored one of his own with one of the best goals of the young season so far when he flicked it over the keeper to himself and slotted it home.
JOSH. SARGENT!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 1, 2019
The run, the brilliant first touch, the chip of the keeper. What a goal from the American! pic.twitter.com/x5X9FMhXL4
This goal was the first for Sargent since December and it was also the first that any US eligible striker had scored in a top 5 league in that time. Sargent was quieter in the second half and subbed after 81 minutes. Bremen pulled off their first win of the season with the 3-2 victory. It was an encouraging performance from the 19-year-old. Let’s hope he keeps it up after the break. Rating: 9
Nick Taitague - Attacking Midfielder, Schalke 04
We had some very happy injury news this week as Nick Taitague made his first appearance of the year for Schalke’s reserves in the German Regionalliga (German fourth division). Taitague started for Schalke II on Saturday and played the first half in their 2-0 loss to SC Verl. The 20-year-old has been mired in a pattern of injury and re-injury for the last two years, but hopefully he can finally find a clean bill of health now that he’s returned. Schalke are pretty inept offensively, so if he can get himself fit again, he could be in line for an opportunity to impress at the senior level. Rating: 3
Justin Butler - Striker, FC Ingolstadt
Butler has gotten off to a very good start for Ingolstadt’s U-19s this season. The 18-year-old German-American scored in their 2-0 win over Freiburg’s U-19s in the Junior DFB Pokal over the weekend. This was already his third goal in five games early this season. Butler recently left Bayern Munich after being an afterthought with their U-19s last season. Hopefully he can continue his solid start and push towards Ingolstadt’s first team at some point. Rating: 1
Corey Anton - Right Back, FSV Mainz
Anton had been out for a long period of time following a 2017 ACL tear and Hoffenheim decided to move on. This summer he moved Mainz and he is slowly working his way into their second team picture. The 19-year-old German-American still has a long way to go if he wants to get anywhere near their first team or the USMNT, but it’s great to see him healthy again. Rating: 1
Luca de la Torre - Attacking Midfielder, Fulham
We had a Luca de la Torre sighting this week. The 21-year-old got the start in their midweek matchup against Southampton in the EFL Cup. De la Torre was active and dangerous throughout his 89 minutes, but he wasn’t able to help them advance past the EPL club as they went down 1-0. This was the first match he’s played with the first team this season and the first since last September. His contract runs out in June and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the move in the near future unless something dramatically changes in his development. Rating: 3
Matthew Olosunde - Right Back, Rotherham United
Olosunde has earned the starting spot at right back for Rotherham United following his departure from Manchester United. Olosunde started on Saturday and got his first assist of the season in a 1-1 draw with Tranmere. The 21-year-old has a ton of competition at the Right Back spot for the US, so he will have to work very hard to get himself back into the conversation. At least he’s playing first team football consistently now. Rating: 3
Matteo Ritaccio - Central Midfielder, Liverpool
Ritaccio has started off the season pretty well. Currently featuring with Liverpool’s U-18s, the 17-year-old has actually been playing more on the wing this year. On Saturday, Ritaccio scored his first goal in the U-18 Premier League against Manchester United’s U-18s. Ritaccio has started three of their four matches so far following a season in which he was in and out of the starting lineup at that level. Hopefully he can continue to develop and move up a level soon. Rating: 1
Niko Hamalainen - Left Back, (Queens Park Rangers On Loan at Kilmarnock FC)
One of the most surprising pieces of news this week was Hamalainen accepting a call to the United States U-23s. The 22-year-old had seemingly committed to Finland and even featured for their senior team in a friendly earlier this year. It’s been a good start to life in Scotland for Hamalainen. He’s started and kept a clean sheet in each of Kilmarnock’s two matches since his arrival, including a 1-0 win over St. Johnstone this weekend. It’s a great sign that we’re giving him a look to try and strengthen a position of weakness. Rating: 4
Johan Gomez - Striker, FC Porto
Gomez has moved on from FC Dallas and signed with FC Porto. The 18-year-old had been trialing around Europe in recent weeks and eventually settled on the Portuguese club. He will start with their U-19s. Gomez appeared six times for North Texas SC (FC Dallas’ USL affiliate) this year and scored one goal. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he gets started in Europe. Rating: 1
Jonathan Lewis - Winger, Colorado Rapids
Lewis also had a big day this week. The 21-year-old had been quiet for some time and had seen his involvement decrease, but he showed up against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. In the 13th minute, Lewis raced away from the Red Bull defense on a counter attack and opened the scoring with a lovely strike.
Jonathan Lewis has been very solid since moving to Colorado midway through the MLS season. With this goal tonight, he’s now scored 4 times in 12 games for the Rapids. Not a bad tally for a winger not known for his finishing. pic.twitter.com/z8ZLuogZ3i— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) August 31, 2019
Then in the 87th minute, Lewis added another to close out the win on the road. He received the ball at the top of the box and finished with an excellent shot into the top corner.
Lewis needs to earn some consistency, but performances like this remind us of his talent. Rating: 5
Brenden Aaronson - Attacking Midfielder, Philadelphia Union
Aaronson continued his run of good form in a big performance against Atlanta United. The 18-year-old got the start again on Saturday with first place in the Eastern Conference on the line. In the 61st minute, Aaronson tied the score when he finished off a good run with an excellent strike to beat Brad Guzan.
Aaronson’s strike injected life into the Union and they went on to win 3-1 and take sole possession of first place. Aaronson loses possession too much at this stage, but he also has the ability to make things happen. Hopefully he can clean up the mistakes as he continues to grow as a player. Rating: 6
Mason Toye - Striker, Minnesota United
Remember when I mentioned this was a really good week for young Americans? Mason Toye continued his breakthrough season with a huge night on Sunday. The 20-year-old got the start against league-leading LAFC on the road and he showed out. In the 25th minute, Toye opened the scoring after making a well-timed run and finishing very well from a tight angle.
Then he added his second of the night with this ridiculous strike from distance just four minutes later.
Mason Toye hits a NASTY curler into the upper 90 pic.twitter.com/DRhLBLPVbv— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 2, 2019
Minnesota would go on to win by that 2-0 scoreline. Toye has been producing at a tremendous rate in MLS this season. In just 484 minutes, he has six goals and two assists (eight goals, two assists in 703 minutes in all competitions for the first team). Minnesota is currently in third place in the Western Conference. If he can continue to show well, it may not be long before he’s pushing for a USMNT call up. For now, he’s with the U-23’s as they prepare for Olympic qualification. Rating: 7
George Acosta - Attacking Midfielder, Austin Bold FC
Acosta has been looking for a new club for some time after leaving Boca Juniors a few months ago. Acosta has been heavily rumored to be joining Inter Miami, but this week he signed with Austin Bold. His contract runs through the end of this season and perhaps the 19-year-old will look to move on this winter. Let’s wish him the best of luck. Rating: 1
Please note that I will take a break next week with the International window. Look for the next edition on September 16th. 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!