This week was an important one for some American prospects, and it included some strong performances and a couple debuts. This was also the last opportunity to impress Gregg Berhalter ahead of the roster announcement, set for this coming Wednesday. For any new readers, the rating at the end of each update reflects how much I think each player should be called up at the next opportunity (1-nowhere near ready; 10-absolutely call him up and start him). Here’s what’s going on this week:
Jeremy Ebobisse - Striker, Portland Timbers
This was a big week for Ebobisse. The 22-year-old recorded his first career brace on Wednesday in a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution. In the 49th minute, Ebobisse blasted home a header to open the scoring.
Local Jeremy Ebobisse (@kingjebo) reached double figures for the first time as a pro last night, bagging his 10th and 11th @MLS goals of 2019 in @TimbersFC 2-2 tie with the New England Revs!— DMV Soccer (@DMVSoccer96) September 26, 2019
His first was a great headed finish to open the scoring pic.twitter.com/tTG9wT5su4
Then the 81st minute, Ebobisse dove for a cross and missed it with his head but was fortunate to connect with his foot to beat the keeper and put them up 2-0.
Unfortunately, they would go on to squander that lead and only gain a point. On Sunday, Ebobisse again came up big when he came off the bench in the second half. With Sporting Kansas City leading 2-1 late, Ebobisse broke through on goal and was dragged down by Ilie Sanchez for a penalty. The ensuing goal saved them a point and put them into sixth place in the Western Conference, one point above the fading FC Dallas and two points above the plummeting San Jose Earthquakes. These types of moments are proof that he’s a player with the ability to step up in pressure situations. The two goals give him 11 for the year to go along with an assist in 2,285 league minutes this season (12 goals, 3 assists in 2,640 minutes in all competitions). It’s without a doubt been a breakout year for this young man and he deserves more opportunities with the US Men’s National Team. Rating: 8
Jackson Yueill - Central Midfielder, San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose is going in the wrong direction as the MLS regular season comes to an end. However, Yueill individually is still playing well. In their midweek matchup against the Philadelphia Union, the 22-year-old opened the scoring with his third goal of the season when he arrived with a great run to tap home the cutback pass.
Unfortunately Philadelphia would go on to score two late goals to send San Jose to its fourth consecutive defeat. Then on Sunday they lost their fifth straight in a gut-wrenching loss to the Seattle Sounders on a very late Jordan Morris goal. Now they face a must-win scenario on the final day of the season next week against the Portland Timbers. For Yueill, he continues to show off his excellent range of passing and intelligence. But he needs to step up and help them make the playoffs. Rating: 7
Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen
Sargent got the start again on Saturday as Werder Bremen headed to the Westfalenstadion to take on Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old had one of his best games as Bremen stole a point a on the road. In the 55th minute, Sargent picked up his first career assist when he arrived at the near post and flicked on a corner kick that Marco Friedl put away to level the score at 2-2.
Sargent was subbed off in the 88th minute, but this performance should go a long way toward keeping him in the lineup. Hopefully he’ll continue to do so and hopefully he’ll be starting against Cuba at the end of next week. Rating: 10
Niklas Dossman - Centerback, FSV Mainz
Yet another American youngster that moved to Germany, Dossman left De Anza Force to join FSV Mainz this summer. He was eligible to leave due to him being eligible to play for Germany as well as the US. The 16-year-old has been a regular for their U-17’s since the start of the season and has been part of a stingy defense that has shut out opponents in four of the seven matches he’s played. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he works his way up the ranks for the Bundesliga club. Rating: 1
Folarin Balogun - Striker, Arsenal
Balogun had a big personal moment this week. The 18-year-old was named to the bench for the first team for the first time in his career for their EFL Cup match against Nottingham Forest. Despite Arsenal dominating the game 5-0, Balogun didn’t get to make his debut, but it’s a testament to the work he has put in at the youth level for the club. He still faces long odds to get into their first team on a consistent basis, but he’s quickly showing that he’s beyond the level of the U-23’s (he is completely dominating with 6 goals and 4 assists in 6 games this season). Balogun is provisionally cap tied to England after playing for them in the U-17 Euros and would be difficult to get to file a switch, but he has accepted a call to a US U-18 camp in the past. Hopefully US Soccer stays at it, because this is a highly talented prospect at a position with few quality bodies for the US. Rating: 5
Owen Otasowie - Central Midfielder, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Otasowie is finally back on the field. The 18-year-old has suffered a couple injury-plagued seasons, but his most recent rehab has finally ended. On Tuesday, Otasowie was on the bench for their U-21’s as they took on League Two club Carlisle United in the EFL League Trophy. Otasowie unfortunately went as an unused substitute in their 4-2 victory. However, he did get to come off the bench at centerback for the U-23’s in their 2-1 loss to Southampton’s U-23’s. Hopefully he can find a clean bill of health and get his promising career back on track. Rating: 1
Indiana Vassilev - Attacking Midfielder, Aston Villa
Vassilev has had a steady start to the season for Aston Villa’s U-23’s. The 18-year-old has been a regular for them and has started the last two matches. Last Monday, he had his best game of the season with a goal and assist in a 4-1 win against Manchester United’s U-23’s. Vassilev has flown a bit under the radar following his performance at the 2017 U-17 World Cup, but he is slowly pushing his way further up the ranks at Aston Villa. Last season, the first team earned promotion to get back to the Premier League where they figure to be in a relegation battle. That likely doesn’t help Vassilev’s cause to push his way into the first team, but he needs to keep working hard to force his way into the conversation. Let’s hope he can get there sometime soon. Rating: 1
Haji Wright - Striker, VVV-Venlo
Haji Wright has got off to a slow start in Holland. He was in the starting lineup for each of their first two matches on the wing, but he’s been in and out of the lineup since then. On Saturday, Wright got the start at striker and should have had his first career Eredivisie goal. In the 24th minute, Wright drew a penalty and decided to take it himself. However, his effort was saved and his search for his first goal for VVV-Venlo continues.
Haji Wright was this close to opening his Eredivisie scoring account with VVV Venlo, but..... yada, yada, yada, they lose 0-3 at home to Heerenveen pic.twitter.com/gkqoGFjM4m— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) September 28, 2019
Wright wassubbed off in the 71st minute as VVV-Venlo eventually went down 3-0. They really need him to find his scoring touch soon, because they are struggling mightily. They’ve only scored six goals in their last seven games and the loss dropped them to twelfth in the league standings. Rating: 3
Alan Soñora - Attacking Midfielder, CA Independiente
We’ve been on Alan Soñora watch the last few weeks and his moment finally came this week. The 21-year-old was named to the squad for their Copa Argentina matchup against Defensa y Justicia. Soñora came off the bench in the 66th minute to make his professional debut. He helped them hang on to a 1-0 win and advance in the competition. Soñora was not in the matchday squad for their matchup against Talleres Cordoba on Sunday. Rating: 3
Sagir Arce - Winger, Monarcas Morelia
Arce made his league debut this week after weeks of flirtation. The 17-year-old came off the bench in the 81st minute with Morelia trailing Club America 3-2. Arce was unable to find the leveling goal in his first minutes in Liga MX, but once again it was a great sign of the strides this young man has taken. While we shouldn’t expect too much too soon, it’s exciting to see a young American talent breaking through in that league. Hopefully he can keep progressing. Rating: 3
Keep an eye out for some young Americans to potentially be in action this week in Champions League. While Tyler Adams and Timothy Weah are still working their way back, Sergiño Dest is likely to feature for Ajax against Valencia, and it’s possible that Christian Pulisic could get some minutes for Chelsea. 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!