This week was bittersweet for USMNT fans, as Timothy Weah returned from injury while Tyler Adams suffered a new one that will keep him out of action for at least the next week. Antonee Robinson was added to the injury report as well. As we brace for the knockout stage in European competition this week as well as Concacaf Champions League, the opportunities to make impressions on the big stage are coming soon. 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:
Timothy Weah - Attacking Midfielder/Striker, Lille OSC
After seemingly forever, Timothy Weah is finally healthy again. For the first time since August 17th, Weah was in the matchday squad for Lille OSC on Sunday as they took on Olympique Marseille. In the 80th minute, Cristoph Galtier called upon Weah to help them erase a 2-1 deficit. Weah hardly saw the ball in his 10 minutes plus stoppage time of action and had little impact in his cameo. Also, there was a scary moment where he pulled up and grabbed his hamstring about 5 minutes after coming on, but he did finish out the match. Weah did confirm via his Instagram that he indeed did injure himself again.. All in all, it was a great thing to see him back on the field after six months on the shelf with the torn hamstring. Hopefully he can get healthy going forward. The United States could really use his ability to combine in traffic and stretch defenses with his pace. Rating: 9
Alan Soñora - Attacking Midfielder, CA Independiente
This was a big week for Alan Soñora. The 21-year-old earned his first career start as Independiente took on Brazilian club Fortaleza in the Copa Sudamericana (the South American equivalent of the Europa League). Soñora took advantage of his rare opportunity with a very strong display. He was clean on the ball, showed quality in his crossing and should have had an assist in the 12th minute if not for a great save. The 1-0 win in the first leg has them in position to advance with a win or draw in the second leg on February 27th. Alan Soñora has been knocking on the door of the first team for a long time, but he has yet to have that real breakthrough. Hopefully this will serve him well as he continues to fight for more chances. See below for a taste of his outing. Tonight there could be a Soñora-Soñora duel in the Argentine Superliga when Alan and Independiente face Joel and Arsenal de Sarandi. Rating: 5
Matko Miljevic - Attacking Midfielder, Argentinos Juniors
Miljevic also earned a big opportunity this week. The 18-year-old got the start as Argentinos Juniors took on Peruvian Primera División club Sport Huancayo in the Copa Sudamericana on Tuesday night. While Miljevic showed flashes of his excellent dribbling ability, he struggled to impact the match in a positive way. Miljevic picked up an early yellow card and was subbed off at halftime with Argentinos Juniors trailing 1-0 at home. They did manage a draw by scoring in the 71st minute, and that will set up a big matchup on February 25th when they travel to Peru for the second leg. On Saturday, Miljevic again was not included in the matchday squad as they returned to league action. Following his breakout performance in late August, he has struggled for consistent chances and performances since (he’s played only 293 minutes in all competitions this season). Hopefully he will use this to keep working on his craft and become a more well-rounded player. Rating: 4
Christopher Garcia - Striker, Real Salt Lake
Chris Garcia signed a homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake this week. The 17-year-old has been with the academy since 2018 and has a terrific scoring record at the youth levels. Garcia is a talented striker with quick feet and a nose for goal. This weekend, he came off the bench and impressed in his 15-minute cameo in Real Salt Lake’s preseason matchup against Sporting Kansas City. Garcia may well get some opportunities in MLS this season, but he figures to see most of his time with Real Monarchs, RSL’s USL affiliate. Let’s wish him the best of luck as his professional career gets underway. Rating: 1
Jose Gallegos - Attacking Midfielder, San Antonio FC
One player making some noise right now is 18-year-old Jose Gallegos. On Wednesday, he was one of the best players on the field and scored a goal in San Antonio’s 3-2 loss against FC Dallas (see the below highlight reel from the young man). He was all over the field, beating defenders with his tricky dribbling and creating chances constantly. Gallegos started to break out last year in USL, and he looks like he’s ready to dominate at that level now. Gallegos is only on a one year contract and is currently committed to going to NC State this fall. But these types of performances, along with last season’s, will have scouts salivating. We’ll see what happens, but for now, San Antonio will be a fun watch while he is there. Rating: 3
After tonight, one thing's clear: @SanAntonioFC's Jose Gallegos (@JoseGal46512203) looks primed for a breakout @USLChampionship season - the dynamic midfielder generated multiple chances & scored a goal in the club's 3-2 preseason loss to FC Dallas #KSATsports @ButtonAthletics pic.twitter.com/gLXjngn3nv— Andrew Cely (@ACelySports) February 13, 2020
Blaine Ferri - Central Midfielder, Fort Lauderdale CF
Ferri has landed following his recent exit from Greuther Fürth. The 19-year-old has signed with Fort Lauderdale CF, the USL-affiliate for Inter Miami. Ferri was released from Greuther Fürth along with several others due to “disciplinary reasons.” While it’s unclear what exactly went wrong there, it’s not a good look to get cast aside for something like that, particularly when Ferri was a regular fixture with their reserves prior to the incident. Hopefully the situation will allow for some reflection and he can make a good career for himself in the states. Rating: 1
Keep an eye out for several important matches that could involve Americans this week. Gio Reyna could see his UEFA Champions League debut when Borussia Dortmund host Paris St. Germain in the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup on Tuesday (3 PM ET on B/R Live, Galavision, or Univision NOW). Sergiño Dest and Ajax face Getafe in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 (12:55 PM ET on B/R Live or TUDNxtra). Uly Llanez was added to Wolfsburg’s Europa League roster ahead of the knockout round. They face Malmö in the Europa League on Thursday (3PM on B/R Live or TUDNxtra). Note: Tyler Adams is confirmed to be out for RB Leipzig’s match against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.
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!