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USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Josh Sargent back from injury

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The 19-year-old is healthy and ready to go for Werder Bremen.

SV Werder Bremen v AC Monza - Friendly Match Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Another week is in the books and while January camp is underway for those called into the senior national team, many Americans are fighting for a spot back with their clubs. 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:

Germany

Josh Sargent - Striker, Werder Bremen

One of the best pieces of news to come out from the last couple of weeks is that Josh Sargent is back to full fitness. The 19-year-old missed the last four games of the Hinrunde (the first half of the season in German football) as he recovered from a torn muscle. Werder Bremen struggled mightily while he was out, earning no points and scoring just one goal. They currently sit in the relegation zone and will need a resurgent effort the rest of the way in order to survive and remain in the Bundesliga. This weekend, Sargent started a friendly against 2. Bundesliga club Hannover. With Bremen trailing 1-0 in the 33rd minute, Sargent’s first touch in the box popped up, but he had the presence of mind to volley home the tying goal. Then, in the 43rd minute, Sargent rose high and headed home an excellent finish to put them in front (you can see both goals below).

Sargent was removed at halftime and Werder Bremen went on to win 3-1. They will need him to keep up this level if they hope to survive. They face a huge match against Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales, and Fortuna Düsseldorf next Saturday with Düsseldorf currently sitting one point ahead of Bremen in the standings. Rating: 10

Sebastian Soto - Striker, Hannover

The news isn’t as optimistic in regards to Soto. The 19- year-old started in the same match with Sargent and played 82 minutes in the 3-1 defeat. He had a couple decent moments, including a nice move to create space for a shot that he pulled a tad wide in the first half. However, head coach Kenan Kocak was not impressed. He had this to say after the match:

It’s disappointing that he didn’t take advantage of this rare opportunity, but I have no problem with the coach having this to say if he needs to see more out of him. Soto is a player with talent, but there’s much more to being a professional than having ability. Let’s hope he uses the criticism to push him to a higher level. Rating: 4

Giovanni Reyna - Attacking Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund

One player that did take advantage of his Winter Training Camp is Gio Reyna. The 17-year-old started again for them in their friendly on Saturday against Feyenoord. Just before halftime, he scored to put BVB up 2-1 with some nice movement and a cool finish.

Borussia Dortmund went on to win it by a 4-2 scoreline. Early Monday morning, it was announced that Reyna would be remaining with the first team going forward. Stay on the lookout for him to get his professional debut in the coming weeks! Rating: 8

England

Indiana Vassilev - Attacking Midfielder/Striker, Aston Villa

It is very much Indiana Vassilev’s moment right now. Following his professional debut last week, the 18-year-old came out for the U-23s on Monday and scored a brace in a 4-0 win over Sunderland’s U-23s. He followed that up with yet another appearance on the senior side’s bench on Wednesday in the League Cup against Leicester City. In the 74th minute, Vassilev came off the bench with Aston Villa leading 1-0. Leicester City immediately tied the score, which forced Aston Villa to need to go on the attack to advance in the competition. That didn’t happen as Leicester bombarded Aston Villa with chances. This left Vassilev virtually on his own and he wasn’t able to do anything with the few touches he did have. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and the replay will be played on January 28th. On Sunday, Vassilev again appeared on the bench for their Premier League matchup with Manchester City. Despite the match getting out of control very early and Aston Villa getting destroyed 6-1, Vassilev will have to wait another day for his EPL debut. Vassilev has been given a golden opportunity with several injuries and a crowded schedule. Let’s hope he has shown enough to remain in the team when everyone returns. Rating: 6

United States

Keaton Parks - Central Midfielder, New York City FC

Despite reports to the contrary following the end of the MLS season, New York City FC and Benfica agreed a deal for the sale of Keaton Parks. The 22-year-old prioritized playing time and stability, as he looks to build off a solid season in his inaugural MLS campaign while on loan last year. He hopes to have a more successful run in the MLS Playoffs this year and he also wants to help qualify and play in the Olympics:

Hopefully he gets that opportunity. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in New York. Rating: 6

Gedion Zelalem - Central Midfielder, New York City FC - Youth Update Curtain Call

After one unimpressive season, Gedion Zelalem has left Sporting Kansas City and joined New York City FC on a free transfer. The 22-year-old will face a difficult task to get into a crowded midfield this season, with Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez, Keaton Parks, James Sands, Justin Haak, Juan Pablo Torres, etc. all vying for playing time. Once the highly touted prospect in Arsenal’s academy, his career has not panned out as hoped. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he looks to resurrect his career in New York. Rating: 2

Marcelo Palomino - Attacking Midfielder, Houston Dynamo

It’s been an interesting time for Palemino. After coming up in Houston’s academy, Palomino looked set to leave the club amid interest from several clubs in Europe, including FC Porto. After trialing around several clubs in Europe, he has decided to sign a homegrown deal with Houston afterall. Let’s wish him the best of luck as he looks to help Tab Ramos turn Houston around in MLS. The 18-year-old was also called up to the US U-20 National Team this week in early preparations for this summer’s 2021 U-20 World Cup Qualification. Rating: 2

News and Notes

Speaking of the U-20 National Team, US Soccer announced the hire of Anthony Hudson as the new coach for the U-20s, replacing Tab Ramos. Hudson has National Team experience, having been the Bahrain U-23 and National Team Coach and then coaching New Zealand’s National Team prior to coaching their U-23s. Most recently, he coached in MLS with the Colorado Rapids. They were putrid in his time there, albeit with a weak squad. Hudson will have his work cut out to replace the very successful Tab Ramos. Let’s hope that he can get the job done. Below is the full list of U-20 players called up to Hudson’s first camp:

GOALKEEPERS (4): David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; London, England), John Pulskamp (Sporting Kansas City; Bakersfield, Calif.), Patrick Schulte (St. Louis University; Saint Charles, Mo.)

DEFENDERS (10): Jacob Akanyirige (San Jose Earthquakes; Pleasanton, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (Wake Forest; Wilton, Conn.), Kevin Bonilla (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union; Oldsmar, Fla.), Ian Hoffmann (Karlsruher/GER; Bethany Beach, Del.), Blake Malone (North Carolina; Las Vegas, Nev.), Kurowskybob Pierre (Real Salt Lake; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Andre Reynolds II (Chicago Fire; Chicago, Ill.), Stuart Ritchie (Hannover/GER; Pleasanton, Calif.), Leonardo Sepulveda (Salamanca CF/ESP.; Corona, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; Littleton, Colo.), Leon Flach (FC St. Pauli/GER; Bad Schwartau, Germany), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew SC; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Little Rock, Ark.)

FORWARDS (5): Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.), Cameron Harper (Celtic FC/SCO; Roseville, Calif.), Matko Miljevic (Argentinos Juniors/ARG; Miami, Fla.), Dante Sealy (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Marlon Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC.; Bakersfield, Calif.)

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!