Weekend recap

McKennie love in Turin, Aaronson shines in NJ, Cannon to Portugal, & more

There was a lot to talk about in American soccer over Labor Day weekend. MLS had a full slate of games, the transfer mill is active, and young players are front and centrer. Brian Sciaretta goes into detail to walk you through it all. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 08, 2020
2:00 AM

LABOR DAY IS OVER and the fall is here. Things are still weird with COVID but at least normal timelines and schedules are setting. This should, hopefully, pave the way for a better 2021. But for now, we have MLS teams getting ready to prepare for their respective playoff pushes, Europe in preseason, and a very active transfer market.

The United States national team or U-23 team hasn’t announced its games yet but that will be coming soon as meaningful games away both teams in March.

But there is still a bunch of news, both real and speculative, to wade through. One of these stories is just how intensely Juventus is publicizing Weston McKennie through its official channels. As we’ve said, McKennie is going to get a real chance with the Italian giant. The money and the enthusiasm that are being directed at the young Texan is telling.


But McKennie and Antonee Robinson are not the only Americans who have found new clubs. The ongoing market is interesting for Americans and it should continue into 2021. One thing that is important to remember is that success feeds success. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, and Tyler Adams are not isolated cases. Their success draws more attention to other American players. The success of recent MLS exports such as Adams, Alphonso Davies, Zack Steffen, Matt Miazga, Carlos Gruezo, Jack Harrison, and even Angelino who spent a year on loan in New York – all fosters the belief that there is more talent in this league that can succeed in the top five leagues in Europe.

With that said, that is where we will start today.   

Aaronson shines in Philly rout

Brenden Aaronson, 19, is one of the top young Americans based domestically right now. With the success of recent sales out of the league, there is a lot of attention on him right now. On Sunday night, Aaronson got the opportunity to play in his home state of New Jersey as his Philadelphia Union visited the New York Red Bull.

Philadelphia was on a much higher level than a RBNY team that sacked its coach, Chris Armas, two days earlie, and was in complete shambles in this one.

Playing in his standard No. 10 role, Aaronson was in fine form and scored the opening goal of the game, started the build-up to the second goal, and had solid numbers in a 3-0 win.



What the final numbers show is that Aaronson was active and effective in the final third of the field.


The following day, Will Forbes reported that Aaronson was switching agents to WMG and is pushing for a loan to Red Bull Salzburg. ASN can confirm the switch and has understood (for a while) that Salzburg has been one of the teams interested but we don’t believe that any such deal is close, yet. That could change quickly but that won’t stop another team from coming in either.

A few things to expect with regards to Aaronson: first, he will probably get sold sooner than later. Union manager Jim Curtin as said as much repeatedly. Second, he will probably finish the season in Philadelphia. That would be great for his development as he is now making the transition into becoming a player who can be the impact player on a contender. Now can he help bring silverware to Philadelphia. That would be a big boost to the Union and to Aaronson. Third, expect that should there be a deal, the Union will look to keep a sell-on percentage. That would be smart as Salzburg are a club that sells.

Salzburg would be a big test for Aaronson. The Austrian Bundesliga is not great but Salzburg are just in an entirely different class in that league. The young players that are emerging at Salzburg are extremely impressive and Aaronson would have competition from one of the best developmental teams in Europe, at the moment. Yes, Jesse Marsch could be his coach but that would probably only be for a limited time as it is hard to see Marsch remaining with Salzburg into a third season.

Aaronson’s development is positive and his success is success for the league (which has made huge strides in youth development lately) and he is just another young player part of a growing tide. It would now be another positive moment to export a player in the No. 10 position.

Cannon’s Boavista deal nearly complete

FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon likely played his final game for the club as he is bound for Boavista in Portugal. The U.S. national team and U.S. U-23 fullback has been linked with a move to the Portugese club for a few weeks now. Tom Bogart at MLS reported over the weekend that Cannon is en route to Portugal for a medical for the final stages of sealing the deal .

ASN can confirm Bogart’s report. This deal has been in the works for a little over two weeks and Cannon will become a Boavista player – assuming he passes his medical.

What to make of this?

Like many leagues in Europe, Portugal is a top-heavy league. Porto, Benfica, Sporting CP, and Braga are very good teams. After that, there is typically a huge drop off. Last season, Boavista finished 12th in the 18-team league.

Normally, this wouldn’t be too impressive for a player who is on the inside of the USMNT 23-man roster. But there are other factors. For one, Boavista is under new ownership and should be well-funded to the point where it should improve, even if it isn’t near the level of the top four. Second, it should be realistic for Cannon to play there while also adjusting to life outside the United States. Third, the new Boavista owners also own Lille in France and if Cannon succeeds, he could move to the powerful French club after a single season. Clubs that fit under a common-owner umbrella can be useful (look at Tyler Adams at Red Bull or even Jesse Marsch as a manager).

Lille will probably be looking to sell right back Zeki Çelik and Boavista will be the stage for Cannon to tryout to be the replacement.

For Dallas, this is a win. The club can now finally say it has solid a homegrown-player to Europe. Even with the injury troubles of Paxton Pomykal, it has a lot of very promising line of young American players on its first team, its reserve team, and in its academy. It will want to show that staying with the organization can get you on the U.S. team and to Europe. If this pipeline had been in place, it might have been able to keep Weston McKennie for the start of his career and been able to reap the rewards of his talent on the field plus his extremely lucrative value.

Lichaj heads to Turkey

For the first time since he was in college in 2005, Eric Lichaj, 31, is no longer with an English club. The Chicago native has signed for Fatih Karagümrük S.K – a club which was just promoted to the Turkey’s top flight, the Superlig.


After initially signing for Aston Villa, Lichaj has been well established in the Championship where he has been the captain of both Nottingham Forest and Hull City. Now the fullback who can play both on the right and the left, will be tasked with bringing stability to a team that will attempt to remain in the Superlig.

Cardoso earns another start

New Jersey-born Johnny Cardoso, 18, earned his second straight start for an Internacional side that is currently atop Brazil’s Serie A table. While there are injuries at the cub that have paved the way, the teenager has not looked out of place in his defensive midfield position.

On Saturday, Johnny went 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Bahia. He was subbed out in the 90th minute with what appeared to be cramping.


His numbers for the game were solid given where he is at this stage in his career. What is particularly impressive is his long-range passing has been really solid the past two games.

It is not impossible to see Brazil’s U-20 team reach out to Johnny at some point and he might end up accepting since that is a prestigious team and he was raised, currently lives and plays in Brazil. Long-term, however, he has a promising future with the U.S. team. He could get a look with the full team, while also potentially being part of the 2021 U-20 team, the 2021 U-23 team, and the 2024 U-23 team. That is a lot of potential opportunities.



Holmes injured for Derby

American attacking midfielder Duane Holmes, 25, started for Derby County in a league cup game vs. AFC Barrow – which was recently promoted to League Two for the upcoming season.

Holmes missed the end of the season for Derby due to a thigh injury. He appeared to be moving well and looked decent at the start of the game against Barrow. Unfortunately for the Columbus, GA-born Holmes, he was subbed out in the 56th minute with what appeared to be a reinjury of the thigh injury. Fortunately, Holmes revealed it was precautionary.


Holmes is at stage where he has proven his talent, now he just needs to stay on the field. If he is playing well, Derby could contend for a playoff position this year.

Lletget and Galaxy rolling

Chicharito is injured at the moment but the Galaxy are playing their best soccer of the season with a high number of players doing very well.

Sebastian Lletget is chief among them. The U.S. national team midfielder has four goals and two assists over the four games since the MLS is Back tournament. His two goals on Saturday in the 3-0 win over rivals LAFC stood out including the outstanding bicycle to round off scoring in the 83rd minute.


But Carlos Pavon is dominating the league right now and Julian Araujo is developing nicely. But as a result, the Galaxy now have a perfect 12 points from its last four games. It’s been quite a turnaround from Orlando when the team looked like a total mess.

Atlanta United’s season up in the air

Atlanta United had an eventful week. The club sold Pity Martinez to Saudi Arabia and then needed a late equalizer from Adam Jahn to draw Orlando 1-1. With Martinez now gone, an interim head coach at the helm, and Josef Martinez still sidelined with an ACL tear, Atlanta United now has a lot of holes.

The club still has the talent to win games but this is a far cry from 2018. The good news is that if the team is going to take a year to rebuild and make decisions for the long-term future, 2020 is as good as a year as any to take time, think things over, and get it right.

Impressive youth

We know about the success of Aaronson, but he is far from the only young player who has done well. But looking back to midweek when a record of nearly 60 players eligible for U.S. youth national teams played on a single matchday, it has been up and down in terms of who is succeeding. While some have been struggling- here is a look at the young American players who impressed the most.

Cole Basset:
the Colorado-homegrown is flying under the radar at the moment for the sole reason being that he plays in Colorado. But he had an assist in a 1-1 draw vs. San Jose on Saturday (off a corner) and he was very good helping to dictate the midfield.


Eryk Williamson
: There is a lot to like about the way Williamson is playing right now and with Pomykal out for awhile and Brenden Aaronson potentially sold in the months ahead, Williamson could be playing a big role with the U.S. U-23 team. He was exceptional in a 2-1 win over Seattle on Sunday. He scored the opening goal and assisted on the winner while completing 27/29 passes over a full-90. He was a perfect 10/10 passing in the final third


Julian Araujo: The U.S. U-20 right back/right midfielder has been key to the recent surge from the Galaxy. His passing from the right side of the field has been very effective and defensively he has also been strong. He could very well end up being the U.S. U-20 captain.

Daryl Dike: The Orlando City forward was drafted fifth overall by Orlando in the 2020 draft and is now playing like a player who could be a huge boost to the club. Dike, 20, has three goals and an assist in five games since the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando and could emerge as a key U.S. U-23 player – if he elects to play for Orlando over Nigeria (his brother, Bright Dike, played for Nigeria).

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