World Football

USMNT Abroad, Week 1: A Sensational Start

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After what was perhaps the greatest summer in the history of the United States Men’s National Team, it seemed impossible for the kickoff of European club football to quite live up to the standard that was set over the last 2+ months. But in typical fashion, this incredible generation of young USMNT starlets managed to prove us wrong. Goals, assists, debuts, and a budding bromance between the worlds best wonderkid and some guy named Erling Haaland highlighted what was an incredible start to the new season for our boys across the pond.

Pulisic, Reyna Start The Season Hot

Christian Pulisic started on the bench for Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup triumph over Valencia, coming on in the 43rd minute after goalscorer Hakim Ziyech picked up an injury. He didn’t manage to make a big impact, but did slot home his penalty as Chelsea won 6-5 on penalties to hoist the trophy. Starting the season out with silverware, Pulisic’s 3rd trophy in the last 3 months, is never a bad thing.

Pulisic was then named in the starting XI for Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace. With an abundance of talented attacking options, the pressure was on to make his minutes count. While it was often frustrating, as he lost possession 11 times and completed just 2 of 4 attempted dribbles, he did find some dangerous pockets of space and managed to notch his first goal of the season, turning home the rebound after Mason Mount’s cross was parried out by Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. Chelsea came away deserved 3-0 victors and look set to mount a serious title challenge.

As Borussia Dortmund’s new number 7, Gio Reyna is expected to do big things this season as one of the sides’ main creative outlets. Dortmund thrashed Frankfurt 5-2, as Erling Haaland tallied 2 goals and 3 assists, one of which went to Gio who calmly slotted it home from 6 yards out. It wasn’t Gio’s greatest performance either, but a goal and a 5-2 win is a great way to kick off the new season and build confidence. Reyna and Haaland’s lovable bromance was on full display in their joint post game interview (it’s worth the watch) and the two will look to continue to thrive together.

Konrad On Fire In Ligue 1

I wrote a piece about Konrad de la Fuente’s move to Marseille a few weeks back, noting that he could find a path to consistent minutes and perhaps be the first name off the bench for his new side. After dazzling in preseason, Konrad found himself starting Marseille’s first 2 matches in Ligue 1.

Marseille opened the season against Montpellier, finding themselves 2-0 down in just over half an hour. In the 68th minute, Konrad sparked the comeback, beating his man off the dribble before squaring it for Cengiz Under to tap home from 6 yards. The 20-year-old finished the match completing 3/5 dribbles, notching 3 key passes, and topping it off with an assist as Marseille came back to win 3-2.

Konrad didn’t manage a goal or assist in the 2nd match, but he did register a “hockey assist” as we like to call it, beating a man with a deft flick on the halfway line before driving forward and playing in Gerson who then squared it for another Cengiz Under tap in. He again wowed fans with his dribbling prowess, beating opponents time and time again. Marseille supporteres have been in awe of the young American who’s quickly become a fan-favorite. He’ll look to continue his excellent form and retain his starting position.

New Kid On The Block

NYCFC academy product Joe Scally, who moved to Borussia Monchengladbach in January of this year, has exploded onto the scene. The 18-year-old fullback showed promise in the reserves last season before earning himself first-team consideration for this year. He started in Gladbach’s DFB Pokal opener, playing the full 90 minutes against Kaiserslautern. He finished as one of their highest rated players, showing off defensive ability with 5 interceptions, 7/14 duels won, and 4 recoveries, while also completing 3/6 dribbles and continually getting forward and showing off his passing ability.

Scally’s impressive performance earned him a starting place in the Bundesliga opener–against reigning champions Bayern Munich. Scally was consistently placed in 1v1 situations against Leroy Sané, a player who had 20 goal contributions in the Premier League just a few seasons ago. Scally answered by winning 8/11 duels, adding 2 tackles and 3 interceptions, while also completing 2/3 dribbles, 3/4 long balls, and completing 81% of his passes in a 1-1 draw against the champions. It was an incredible Bundesliga debut for the 18-year-old fullback, who started at left back despite being naturally right footed. Scally has won the manager’s trust and looks to have a breakout campaign ahead of him.

Sargent, Tessman Debut

Josh Sargent completed his transfer to Norwich City just a few days before their Premier League opener against Liverpool. He started on the bench, but came on in the 77th minute to make his Premier League and Norwich debut. Although a short cameo, he looked solid, completing 4/5 passes, winning 2/3 duels, registering 1 shot, and adding a tackle and an interception. It was a positive debut, and he’ll look to provide Norwich with some attacking depth and earn some starts as he gains familiarity in Daniel Farke’s system.

Tanner Tessman is 1 of now 3 Americans on the books at newly-promoted Venezia. The FC Dallas product came on as a substitute in Venezia’s Coppa Italia victory over Frosinone, playing the final 8 minutes of regulation and all of extra time. He completed 74% of his passes, 2/3 long balls, won 3/5 duels, and made 2 tackles to go along with an interception and a clearance. He did miss a penalty in the shootout, taking the 4th attempt, but Venezia managed to win despite the mishap. It was a decent debut that he’ll look to build on as the Serie A season gets underway.

Dest & The Rest

Sergiño Dest started and went 71 minutes in his first match with a full-capacity Nou Camp on Sunday, kicking off his 2nd season at Barcelona with a solid performance. He completed 92% of his passes, won 6/8 duels contested, and completed both of his attempted dribbles. While he wasn’t able to fully show off his attacking abilities, he put in a good shift in the first match of Barcelona’s post-Messi era, one that may see Dest asked to be more of a creator from his right-back spot.

Tyler Adams began his Bundesliga campaign in disappointing fashion, as newly-hired American manager Jesse Marsch’s Leipzig side fell 1-0 to Mainz. Adams’ performance was nothing to write home about, completing 82% of his passes, winning just 4/8 duels, and adding 2 interceptions. Adams and Leipzig will look to bounce back as they take on VfB Stuttgart on Friday.

Tim Weah’s campaign also got off to a slow start as Lille played to a 3-3 draw vs Metz on matchday 1 before being thrashed 4-0 by Nice on matchday 2. Weah came off the bench in the first game, playing 31 minutes and having just 12 touches. He started in the 2nd, playing 64 minutes. He completed just 50% of his passes, won 3/8 duels, completed 0/2 dribbles, and had 1 shot. It was an uninspiring outing, but the team as a whole was really poor so we can’t place too much blame on Weah’s shoulders.

Antonee Robinson started off his Championship season with two solid performances, completing 76% of his passes and creating 2 chances while adding 3 interceptions and 7 clearances. Fulham have taken 4 points from their first 2 matches, and look to push for automatic promotion once again.

John Brooks continues to be rock solid at the back for Wolfsburg, playing out from the back well and showing off the defensive capabilities we all know he has. He’s played every minute so far for Wolfsburg and will continue to be one of the first names on the team sheet. He’ll continue to be the first-choice center back for the US as well.

Ethan Horvath started in Nottingham Forest’s 2-1 EFL Cup win over Bradford, tallying a whopping 9 saves. He didn’t start in the Championship opener, but will look to earn his place in the cup competitions.

Brenden Aaronson has started all 4 of RB Salzburg’s league matches so far this season, tallying 1 assist to go along with 7 key passes and 8 chances created. He’s struggled a bit in his last 2, completing around 50% of his passes and just 25% of his dribbles. It is encouraging to see him continue to earn minutes, though, as he’s played 302 of a possible 360 thus far.

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Main image credits:Embed from Getty Images

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