Hello all! It has been a hot minute since I wrote about soccer. Graduate school will do that to you. Enough about me though. 2020 has seen the rise of many young US Men’s National Team (USMNT) players balling out for large clubs in Europe. Thus, I wanted to check in to see how all of them are doing. For the most part, I will be looking at their minutes, games played, assists, and goals (mostly all available at https://fbref.com/en/ with some help from https://www.transfermarkt.us/). Here in Part 1, we will mostly examine the Americans in lower leagues. Come back for Part 2 to read about Christian Pulisics of the world.
First some housekeeping items: I am only looking at games that count towards the ’20-’21 season (some Scandinavian leagues play a summer schedule so I counted their whole 2020 regular season). In order to limit this already really long list, I am only looking at players who have received first team minutes (Sorry Alex Mendez fans, Jong Ajax won’t count). Additionally, I didn’t go any lower than 2nd division in any country (apologies to all of the Sunderland/Lynden Gooch fans out there). Lastly, I didn’t include a bunch of potential dual nationals because we don’t know what they might do (sorry Florian Balogun fans). These statistics are as of December 28th, approximately.
These tiers are generally in order from worst-to-best but you could argue the order. Within each section I generally listed the players in order from most-to-least interesting. Overall this is kind of a “who is the best player in a vacuum” ranking while also being a “who improved the most between the summer and now” ranking. So, like, don’t take it too seriously? I don’t know I just do this for fun.
Player Name, Age (Club; Total appearances this season, Continental Cup mins, Domestic League mins, Domestic Cup mins if applicable)
- Cameron Carter-Vickers, 22 (Bournmouth)
- McKinzie Gaines, 22 (Hannover 96)
- Nick Taitague, 21 (Shalke)
- Alex Mendez, 20 (Ajax)
- Chris Gloster, 20 (PSV)
- Cameron Harper, 19 (Celtic)
According to FBref, none of these players have made an appearance for their first team so far this season. There are a million other names that could be here, with the increasing number of Americans in European academies, but these are the ones who (I feel) are closer to 1st team minutes The most notable name here is Cameron Carter-Vickers who recently moved to Bournemouth and reportedly has a nagging ankle injury keeping him out of the squad.
Okay-to-Bad Situation, Small Sample Size (Various Leagues)
- Ulysses Llanez Jr., 19 (Heerenveen; 5 apps, 95 Eredivisie mins)
- Matthew Hoppe, 19 (Schalke; 3 apps, 111 Bundesliga mins)
- Timothy Tillman, 21 (Gruether Furth; 12 apps, 141 2.Bundesliga mins, 74 DFB Pokal mins)
- Charlie Kelman, 19 (Queens Park Rangers; 3 apps, 42 EFL Championship mins)
- Tyler Boyd, 25 (Besiktas; 4 apps, Turkish Super Lig 315 mins)
- Jonathan Amon, 21 (Nordsjaelland; 1 app, 26 Danish Superliga mins)
- Joel Sonora, 24 (Talleres Cordoba; 8 apps, 156 Argentina Superliga mins)
- Matko Miljevic, 19 (Argentinos; 1 apps, 45 Copa Sudamericana mins)
- Sebastien Saucedo, 23 (UNAM; 3 apps, 141 Liga MX mins)
- Brendan Hines-Ike, 26 (Kortrijk; 4 apps, 360 Juniper League mins)
- Desevio Payne, 25 (FC Emmen; 2 apps, 32 Eredivisie mins)
- Dillon Powers, 29 (Dundee United; 8 apps 290 SPL mins)
These are guys who would be in one of the higher tiers if they were were seeing significantly more minutes. Llanez and Kelman just arrived to their new respective teams this fall, and may still be adjusting. Both regualrly feature on the bench but have been rarely selected as substitutes so far. Might be harsh to put Hoppe here since Schalke play in the Bundesliga, but you would understand if you saw Schalke play at all this year. It’s not pretty. Amon just recovered from 13 months of injury and will likely jump into the “Good in a Not-So-Good League” tier if his regular minutes resume by the spring. With the rise of other wingers in the pool (Gio Reyna, et al.), Tyler Boyd probably isn’t relevant to the USMNT anymore.
Good in a Not-So-Good League (Scandinavian Leagues, Poland, Switzerland, and Scotland)
- Haji Wright, 22 (Sonderjyske; 12 apps, 690 Danish Superliga mins)
- Emmanuel Sabbi, 22 (Odense; 13 apps, 956 Danish Superliga mins)
- Jordan Siebatcheu, 24 (Young Boys; 17 apps, 71 Europa League mins, 434 Swiss Super League mins)
- Aron Johansson, 30 (Hammarby; 22 apps, 1343 Allsvenskan mins)
- Christian Cappis, 21 (Hobro; 10 apps, 869 Norway’s 2nd Division mins)
- Mix Diskerud, 30 (Helsingborg; 28 apps, 2428 Allsvenskan mins)
- Romain Gall, 25 (Orebro/Stabaek; 18 apps, 585 Allsvenskan mins, 373 Eliseserien mins)
- Henry Wingo, 25 (Molde, 25 apps; 366 Europa League mins, 1213 Eliteserien mins)
- Ian Harkes, 25 (Dundee United; 17 apps, 1411 SPL mins)
- Kenny Saief, 27 (Lechia Gdnask; 11 apps, 826 Ekstrklasa mins)
This section kind of speaks for itself. These guys may look good on paper but you have to consider the context. The Scandinavian leagues, Polish League, Swiss League, and the Scottish Premiere League (outside of Celtic and Rangers) are arguably worse than MLS. Sabbi’s Goals + Assists per 90 is .47, Johansson’s is .80, and Wright’s is .91. My shorthand for those numbers is around .50 is “good for their league” and closer to 1.00 is “they should play in a better league”. I would love to see Wright get a chance to be on the U-23 Olympic roster next year. Harkes, Saief, Gall, Wingo, and Diskerud couldn’t cut it in MLS and that’s why their leagues make this list. Diskerud is 30 now? Woof.
2nd Division Heroes (2nd Divisions of France, England, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, and Germany)
- Sebastien Soto, 20 (Telstar; 10 apps, 542 Eerste Divisie mins)
- Nicolas Gioachinni, 20 (Caen; 15 apps, 1135 Ligue 2 mins)
- Julian Green, 25 (Greuther Furth; 15 apps, 931 2.Bundesliga mins, 178 DFB Pokal mins)
- Andrija Novakovich, 24 (Frosinone; 12 apps, 660 Serie B mins, 36 Copa Italia mins)
- Duane Holmes, 26 (Derby County; 15 apps, 600 EFL Championship mins, 55 EFL Cup mins)
- Matt Olosunde, 22 (Rotherham; 11 apps, 614 EFL Championship mins)
- Shaq Moore, 24 (Tenerife; 19 apps, 1648 Segunda Division mins)
These guys are all playing about as well as they can given that they play for a second division team. All of the young guys here should continue to prove themselves for the rest of the season and hope for a transfer upwards in the future. Notably Soto has been lighting up the Dutch 2nd division with 6g about 540 mins. Novakovich also has 5g +2a in under 700 mins. Green is arguably the best player on the best team in the 2. Bundesliga right now. If they get promoted I would love to see how Green plays against Bundesliga competition. Holmes had a small injury limiting him this fall.
Declining Veterans (Used to regularly play in Top 5 Leagues at some point)
- Tim Ream, 33 (Fulham; 6 app, 450 EPL mins, 90 EFL Cup mins)
- DeAndre Yedlin, 27 (Newcastle; 6 apps, 185 EPL mins, 270 EFL Cup mins)
- Geoff Cameron, 35 (Queens Park Rangers; 18 apps, 1560 EFL Championship mins)
- Timmy Chandler, 30 (Frankfurt; 5 apps, 55 Bundesliga mins, 19 DFB Pokal mins)
- Eric Lichaj, 32 (Faith Karagumruk; 10 apps, 736 Turkish Super Lig mins)
- Alfredo Morales, 30 (Dusseldorf; 8 apps, 382 2.Bundesliga mins, 110 DFB Pokal mins)
- Bobby Wood, 28 (Hamburg; 10 apps, 96 2.Bundesliga mins, 13 DFB Pokal mins)
In some ways I think this is the most controversial section, especially putting it in the bottom half. Suffice it to say that if any of these guys want to stay in the USMNT picture, they need to find a new club where they can earn playing time. In my personal opinion all of Ream, Morales and Wood should consider a move to MLS. Lichaj just got to Turkey this fall, otherwise he would also be an MLS candidate. Yedlin and Chandler could probably move elsewhere in Europe and still get starting minutes but it will likely be a step down, perhaps similar to what Cameron is doing in the English second division. And to be clear Cameron is not in the USMNT picture these days, nor should he be. *Late edit*: Yedlin started the last two games for Newcastle, and he is on the young side of this group. Perhaps I was too hasty placing him here. I hope he proves me wrong and continues this run of form!
Thanks for reading! Come back for Part 2 later this week. Have any questions or qualms with how I organized this? Then leave a comment below or yell at me on Twitter, @Beardedjack