A look at the busy week: Berhalter, Cremaschi, Sonora, & Boyd top news
December 09, 2022
THE WORLD CUP IS over for the U.S. national team and there is no news to report from Qatar. But American soccer rolls on, both national team related, and club related. There isn’t much by way of clubs as MLS is in the offseason and European clubs are mostly still on break.
So, let’s start to get into it.
Berhalter weighing options
As reported by ESPN, Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer are set to begin speaking soon about possibly a new contract. It’s still early in the process and it may just be when both parties are seeing where each other stands. It doesn’t mean a deal is close or that a deal is inevitable.
U.S. Soccer is going to conduct a review of the cycle and, after that, it will have a better understanding in terms of how it wants to move forward.
All this is standard. Berhalter did not have an unsuccessful cycle. In many ways, he achieved a lot – both on the field and off the field. The team won the Nations League, won the Gold Cup, and advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a very young team. He also essentially started from scratch at the start of 2019 and had to build a culture within the group.
Fan of the U.S. national team are an emotional group. It might take awhile for people to appreciate this cycle, but over time it should be seen that this laid the foundation for something that could be very special. The team culture is strong, most of the starting XI is generally set, and almost all of the core is entering into their prime over the next few years.
I think Berhalter did what was asked of him this cycle and he served an important role. The questions then remain about whether Berhalter is the right person to build upon the foundation he created?
It’s a fair question. U.S. Soccer has tried to continue with the same manager into a second cycle and it rarely has turned out well. On the other hand, this team doesn’t require nearly as many changes following a World Cup as previous U.S. teams.
The 2006 team was stuck with many of the same players from 2002 after they had passed their prime (Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope, Eddie Lewis, John O’Brien, etc). Other than in central defense, this entire core group of players all should be brought back. Plus, even in areas where this team is weak (like as the No. 9), Berhalter doesn’t seem to be overly loyal to the existing options. So, perhaps the historical problems of bringing back a coach for a second cycle are not relevant.
There are also questions over who is available. Does U.S. Soccer feel comfortable with the options who are out there to take the team to the next level? If not, does it want to ride with an interim manager for awhile?
Lost in all of this is what Berhalter wants to do. It’s a two-way street. U.S. Soccer could decide to bring Berhalter back, but perhaps Berhalter wants to go back to the club game? Berhalter has spoken highly of the effort fellow American managers Jesse Marsch and Pellegrino Matarazzo have done in Europe and it is likely that searching for a European job would interest him. His U.S. team was well received by the foreign press, he had a long career in Europe where he captained two teams, and he is fluent in German and in Dutch.
It's a tricky and interesting time.
Cremaschi to Argentina?
On Wednesday, U.S. Soccer received a bit of tough news when Argentina released its roster for an upcoming U-20 camp and it included Ben Cremaschi. Cremaschi, 17, is a talented American midfielder from Miami to Argentine parents.
Cremaschi has had an important past couple of months. In September he played with the U.S. U-19 team and was one of the most important players for his team that defeated Croatia, Scotland, and Malta. Then in November, he played with the U.S. U-20 team as it held a camp in conjunction with the domestic-based U.S. national team players ahead of the World Cup. Finally, earlier this month he inked a homegrown contract with his hometown club Inter Miami.
Now Cremaschi will head to Buenos Aires for a camp next week to play with the country’s U-20 team. What is remarkable about this call-up is that Cremaschi is playing up a U-20 cycle as a 2005-born midfielder. It is very difficult to make an Argentine youth team playing up a cycle. When looking at Argentina’s rosters for the U-20 World Cups in 2015, 2017, and 2019, just two of 63 players were playing up a cycle (and one as a third string goalkeeper).
A new cycle might be starting but #DualNationalPanic stays the same, thankfully. U.S U-19 midfielder and new Inter Miami homegrown Ben Cremaschi called up to Argentina’s U-20 team. He’s one of the top American 2005-born players. A key American prospect. Would be a key YNT loss pic.twitter.com/CXhQcs6NC1— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) December 7, 2022
This is just one camp and it’s not an official competition. But the South American U-20 Championships (which are the region’s U-20 World Cup qualifiers) haven’t taken place yet. They begin on January 19 in Colombia. This camp, so close to qualifying, is a huge opportunity for Cremaschi to impress for Argentina and perhaps make their roster for qualifying. It also says something that Argentina is scouting the U.S. market for players.
It also doesn’t mean the U.S. is out of the running for Cremaschi either. When he returns from Argentina, there will probably be discussions. He will also surely be invited to the upcoming U.S. U-20 camp (ASN has heard it is in Florida from January 19-29). But it comes down to whether or not he is invited to play with Argentina for its qualifiers at the same time.
If he is not invited to play with Argentina for qualifiers or if he decides to stick with the U.S., he could very well be fast-tracked into the current U.S. U-20 team for the U-20 World Cup starting in May.
In the meantime, it will also be interesting to watch Cremaschi this season at Inter Miami and if he can be the first local homegrown to play a big part of the first team – potentially with Messi. That would be a massive year for young Argentine-American.
One of the big challenges the U.S. team faces over the next four years is getting meaningful games with two Gold Cups and two Nations Leagues taking up most of the schedule.
Now there are numerous reports suggesting that the U.S. will take part in the 2024 Copa America with the potential of even hosting the tournament. Normally, the U.S. is extremely limited in the Copa America due to guest team restrictions that make it unworkable in getting players released. But the reports are that this tournament will not be burdened by the same restrictions, similar to the 2016 Copa America Centenario which was also hosted in the United States.
????Fox Sports:— Brasil Football ???????? (@BrasilEdition) December 7, 2022
The 2024 Copa America is likely to be held in the USA, Ecuador dropped out as the hosts.
Canada, Mexico, USA will participate. pic.twitter.com/pbOgiibavC
This would be a massive improvement to the U.S. team’s schedule over the next four years and it would allow the team to be playing in serious games, possibly at home, two years out from the World Cup, to get it into a rhythm of playing in a major tournament.
In addition to the Olympics later in the summer of 2024, that should then also go towards filling up the depth of the player pool and giving more players tournament experience.
Tyler Boyd gaining MLS interest
Tyler Boyd, 27, unilaterally cancelled his contract with Besiktas in November after he was again not registered by the club and was unable to play games. The New Zealand-born American winger is now searching for a club and ASN has learned there is interest from MLS clubs as well as clubs in Liga MX and in Turkey. Boyd recently married an American and has a preference to play in the United States at this time, but a deal is not yet firm.
Boyd grew up playing for New Zealand internationally but filed for a switch to play for the United States in 2019. That summer he featured for the U.S. in the Gold Cup where it finished in second place. To date, he has 10 caps and two goals for the U.S. national team.
YNT players training in Europe
Three young Americans in MLS were reported to be training with top European teams this past month.
- Charlotte FC's Chris Hegardt, 20, is on trial with La Liga's Mallorca (per Steven Goff).
- Inter Miami’s Bryce Duke, 21, is training at Atletico Madrid (Per Tom Bogert).
- Seattle’s Reed Baker-Whiting, 17, is currently training at SC Freiburg (per Jeremiah Oshan).
Chris Hegardt only played one game for Charlotte this past season and Mallorca is a good experience for him but he still needs seasoning before making a move at this level. Hopefully for the former Georgetown Hoya, he can use this to spring into a bigger first-team role.
Reed Baker-Whiting, 17, has been rumored to have numerous scouts after him for years now. He has yet to play a role with Seattle, but he is young and Seattle has yet to find room for him. Still, Freiburg is not a bridge too far for a good player and if Baker-Whiting impresses, perhaps they could make an offer. Baker-Whiting is currently playing mostly as a right back with the U.S. U-19 team.
Bryce Duke, 21, is very interesting because, unlike the other two, he broke into Inter Miami first team with 24 appearances last season. The bridge to Atletico Madrid is obviously very far and any potential move could be met with a loan-army route – which is something many players should avoid. Still, this is a player who realistically hopes to make the jump to a high level soon and playing with Atletico should give him a glimpse of what is needed. The likely route for him, however, is to become an impact player with Miami this season. He should also be expected to get U.S. U-23 call-ups in 2023 as they prepare for the 2024 Olympics. He has a chance of making that team.
Americans Abroad Notes
United States national team central defender Chris Richards is still not yet full recovered from his injury that has sidelined him since September, but he is making progress. Richards was on the bench for Crystal Palace on Tuesday in a 2-2 draw with Trabzonspor, but he did not get on the field despite Palace making 10 substitutes.
Things are looking a lot better recently for Venezia in Serie B, which has been playing through the World Cup break. The club was in last place as recently as three games ago but has seven points from its last three games. The most recent being a 2-2 away draw with Modena on Wednesday.
Tanner Tessmann has been finding a bigger role with Venezia and has been a part of the team’s recent surge. He had a beautiful play on the stoppage time equalizer when he brought down a ball with a picturesque first touch, led a break, fed fellow American Andrija Novakovich who, came on in the 63rd minute, then assisted to Dennis Johnsen for a tap-in. Gianluca Busio started the game and played 85 minutes.
With the draw, Venezia is now at 18 points and is only in the relegation zone due to goal differential. But they clearly have the momentum to climb out.
Alan Sonora, 24, is on his way out at Independiente where is training until the end of the year. The American-born midfielder wants to play in MLS and according to ASN’s contributor Arch Bell, he had a deal with Montreal fall through but is still looing within the league.
UPDATE: USMNT prospect Alan Sonora training with Independiente until his contract expires on the 31st. Montreal deal never came to pass. Has an offer from Liga MX, but still aiming for MLS. Hopeful of a USMNT call-up for January camp.— Arch Bell (@ArchBell) December 7, 2022
Argentina is a tough place to play these days as the country nears 90% inflation, making nearly impossible to earn a steady wage. Sonora has been a steady midfielder over the past two seasons for Independiente, but he is past the age where key Primera players make moves to Europe. But good South Americans have been doing well in MLS in recent years and Sonora would not take up a foreign roster spot.
Ricardo Pepi played the first half of Groningen’s 1-1 draw with Cambuur (Gregg Berhalter’s former club0 in a winter friendly. He left the game with his club down 0-1.
Gio Reyna did not play much during the World Cup but he is on the roster for Borussia Dortmund for the Christmas Cup on Saturday – two 60 minutes friendlies.
Our squad for the Christmas Cup this Saturday! ?????? pic.twitter.com/CoXpqzixJK— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) December 8, 2022
Norwich City are set to visit Swansea on Saturday in the Championship. Josh Sargent was injured during the Iran game at the World Cup and will be a game-time decision