Friday kickaround

Interest in Aaronson surges, Arsenal after Turner, Arriola drama, Weah returns in wild week

It was an huge week in the news for American soccer as player transfers and up and down performances in Europe dominated the storylines. ASN's Brian Sciaretta looks at the week that was and provides his thoughts on it all. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 21, 2022
5:05 AM

IT IS FRIDAY AND THIS will wrap up an extremely busy week for American soccer on just about every single front – Americans abroad, MLS, the United States national team and youth national teams. We had player movement, performances on the field abroad – both good and bad, roster rumors, and all sorts of rumors. This doesn’t even include the news that is coming on Friday (led by the roster for January’s qualifiers).

This January has generally be really busy – but this past week has been in fifth gear. Let’s recap.


Leeds after Aaronson


The Athletic first reported that Leeds United was fast after U.S. national team winger/midfielder Brenden Aaronson but that his club, Red Bull Salzburg, rejected the offer. The money on the table is still £20 million for the Medford, NJ native.

It’s a staggering number and ASN can confirm Leeds United being in hot pursuit of Aaronson. It also makes sense. Aaronson’s first pro coach, Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin, told the media yesterday he heard Aaronson was in the top 1% in the world for distance covered. For Leeds United manager, Marcelo Bielsa, this would be an ideal fit.

Salzburg is, of course, a club that is willing to sell. The issue is that the club has advanced to the Champions League knockouts for the first time in its history and will face Bayern Munich next month. Do you cash out on a top player just weeks ahead of its biggest-ever game? That’s a slap in the face to its supporters that it isn’t serious about winning. It’s also reality and it’s real money.

After doing a little digging, the best guess I have is that they’ll probably arrange a sale and loan-back situation with Salzburg – unless the money for an instant transfer becomes just absurd.


Arsenal after Turner


Taylor Twellman broke the news on twitter that Arsenal is after New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner. The clubs have been engaging with each other and a deal is very possible.

Arsenal is likely to sell backup goalkeeper Bernd Leno and needs a backup to Aaron Ramsdale. Turner would presumably arrive at Arsenal as the number three until Leno is sold and then be the No. 2.

There is a lot to breakdown for this deal and a lot of ways to look at it. It would help Matt Turner’s bank account. It will also be welcome news for American fans who like seeing big clubs listed next to American players names whenever a national team roster comes out.

But there are a lot of concerns here. For one, Matt Turner developed into a great keeper largely because he was playing well on a regular basis. If he moves to Arsenal, his minutes will be drastically reduced. Can merely training at Arsenal overcome for a lack of playing time? Training at a high level is great, but it has diminishing return – especially for someone who has passed his developmental years. Turner is in his prime years and wasting that on a backup role means his best years are not going to be realized on the field, just on the training ground.

Is there a possibility of a loan? Sure. But finding a starting spot for goalkeeper is never an easy task. He has a starting spot at a very good New England team. You don’t have to dig that far down into the Championship to then place him at a lower level where he’s at right now.

This is also a World Cup year and it’s hard to think of how it is good for the U.S. national team to have top two goalkeepers not playing regularly, not in the rhythm of getting regular games. Matt Turner was a distant backup 12 months ago. He is challenging Steffen for the No. 1 job by virtue of playing regularly. His edge of being the guy playing regularly is gone. Now between international window, form is dictated on a practice field that isn’t watched.

Turner has put himself in a position where he is going to attract suitors. For New England that is the pro and con of player development (you make money on sales, but you lose good players). But you wonder if the best situation is to wait until an offer comes in from a team where Turner is going to be brought into start right away.


Bassett joins Feyenoord


Cole Bassett, 20, finally joined Feyenoord on an 18-month loan from Colorado that includes an option to buy.  ASN already wrote about this deal last week after he departed the U.S. national team camp on January 12.

I like this move for Bassett who developed into a unique midfielder at Colorado. He has nice finishing ability, can win balls physically, and generally puts in a solid shift. At Feyenoord he will focus on becoming an impact player over 90 minutes who can help elevate his teammates as well.

He will likely get his feet wet with the first team this season in a limited fashion. Next season will be the big test for him as Feyenoord will likely give him a long run-out.

Breaking into the national team this World Cup cycle is going to be tough but not impossible. Certainly success at the top of the Eredivise puts him in a great position and he could be an impact player next cycle.


Arriola nears FC Dallas move


According to Tom Bogert at MLS Soccer, Paul Arriola is on the verge of moving to FC Dallas for $2 million in General Allocation Money (GAM). The move part of some drama on Thursday when Arriola took to twitter to rebuff reports that he withdrew his interest in joining Mexican giants Club America.

But if Arriola heads to Dallas, he would have a familiar face in new head coach Nico Estévez who has worked with Arriola when he was an assistant coach on the national team.

Dallas is taking a lot of risks with designated players – both by bringing in Arriola and then by extending Jesus Ferreira to a huge new deal. That leaves Franco Jara as the other designated player.

But then there are reports that suggest Dallas is after star teenager Alan Velasco at Independiente in Argentina. In terms of teenage prospects, Velasco is enormous and one of the brighter young stars in the Primera right now. That would be a stunning move and big use of Pepi money. But how does Dallas make room for him?


Musah, EPB, and Fulham-Americans impress


In Europe’s “Big 5” leagues, two American players turned much-needed solid performances.

Erik Palmer-Brown, 24, earned his second straight start for Troyes on Wednesday in France’s Ligue 1 and put in his best outing in a long time. After bouncing around lower levels of Europe on loan from Manchester City, he is now getting a crack at top league, and he showed off his ability on Wednesday in a 1-0 win over Montpellier.

The Kansas City native played 86 minutes in the win and it was his second straight solid outing on the heels of a nice outing over the weekend in a 1-0 loss to Lyon. Once the club is back at 100% with players returning from international duty and injuries, Palmer-Brown has made a strong case to remain in the starting lineup.


Palmer-Brown is still on the outside of the national team and that has been understandable given his lack of playing time this season (mostly for injuries and illness). If he can play regularly and help Troyes avoid relegation in the second half of the season, he could build a nice resume and get into the mix.

Even if he falls outside of the U.S. roster for Qatar, he’ll be in the mix the following cycle. The younger generations of American players haven’t been great in central defense and Walker Zimmerman, Tim Ream, Aaron Long, John Brooks all could age out. He’s in a good long-term position.

Yunus Musah also had an important outing on Wednesday in a 1-1 draw with Sevilla. Most of his season has been highlighted by him having strong outings in the Copa del Rey against lower-tier opponents. In this La Liga game, he got the start and played well against a good Sevilla team. He was given a free ranging role and his touch map reflects that he was all over the field. He had a similar role last week against Real Madrid but in this game he was just better. He was more effective with his dribbles and in finding space.

Unlike Palmer-Brown, Musah will be on the upcoming USMNT roster and now should have a lot of confidence.

Finally, it’s hard to state just how great Fulham has been this past week. Three games, three wins, 19 goals scored, sitting atop the Championship table. During that span, Antonee Robinson has a goal and two assists. In Tuesday’s 6-2 win over Birmingham City, Robinson had both a nice goal and a nice assist.

Tim Ream continues to be a mainstay in the back and both are having very positive roles in what looks like a huge favorite to be promoted.


Weah returns from injury


Tim Weah played the final 22 minutes for Lille on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Lorient. There wasn’t much to be made of his performance but just the fact he played ahead of the January window was significant. It was his first action since suffering a quad injury in training on December 3.

Weah has put himself now in a good position to getting called up and he was the national team’s best player in the November window. He might not be able to start – at least not multiple games – in the upcoming window but he could be a strong option off the bench.


Sands makes Rangers debut


James Sands is just one of many American players who have been on the move this month and the Rye, NY native completed a move from NYCFC to Rangers FC after he won both the MLS Cup and Gold Cup in 2021.

On Wednesday, Sands started for Rangers away against an Aberdeen team whose leading scorer is American center forward Christian Ramirez (who moved from Houston in the summer).

Sands, 21, is a versatile player and it was interesting to see how Rangers were going to use him. With  Joe Aribo away with Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Nations, Sands got the start in the midfield. He had a few nice passes but was generally quiet over his full 90. It was a tough assignment for Sands who was thrown right into the starting lineup without much time to adjust to his new team but it was promising to get minutes right off the bat.


Ramirez, however, was sharp and created three really good chances in this game and nearly connected on a winner at the end of the game.


Some Americans struggle


It wasn’t all rosy for American players in Europe. Matt Miazga got the start for Deportivo Alaves against Real Betis but suffered a huge blunder on Real Betis’ third goal of a 4-0 rout. He has generally had a positive run whenever given games, but mistakes happen more often to players who aren’t playing regularly. But this will sting, and it does hurt his quest for regular minutes.

Barcelona was eliminated from the Copa del Rey on Thursday following a 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in extra time. Sergino Dest came into the game in the 96th minute when the scored was 2-2 and played the final 24 minutes. Any minutes Dest gets this season under Xavi are important but Dest did not standout or generate much offensively.


The Wild German Cup


The German Cup is wild this year and after this week, eight teams remain, and all of the giants have been bounced. Freiburg and Leipzig are the two biggest clubs remaining. In this week’s Round of 16 games, Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim were bounced.

From an American perspective, it was a very good week for Tyler Adams who is in a great run of form to start 2022. On Wednesday, he put up terrific numbers in a 2-0 win over Hansa Rostock (where American central defender Ryan Malone played the second half in the loss).

For Adams, he was at his best. He got on the ball all the time and was a metronome in the midfield while also supplying a defensive presence. 119 touches reflects Adams when he is covering ground and getting himself active in the attack.


For the rest of the Americans in the German Cup, it wasn’t good. Chris Richards and Hoffenheim were bounced after a 4-1 home loss to Freiburg. Hoffenheim has not impressed to start 2022. Similarly, Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach fell to Hannover 3-0 and it has been generally a disappointing season for the club, although not for Scally who has been able to emerge as a Bundesliga player.

Post a comment