Morning update

Morning update: FIFA Youth WC mess, MLS thoughts, Tuesday's games, new poll

ASN kicks off your Tuesday with some thoughts about a bunch of topics including FIFA's youth World Cup mess, MLS thoughts, best teenage American poll, and Tuesday's games. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 04, 2023
9:05 AM

TO KICK OFF your Tuesday, ASN is here with our morning update to talk about the news or any other random thoughts we have and might want to talk about. Today, we’ll start with FIFA and move on from there.

In case you missed it - as we do every Monday, we went very deep into the weekend for Americans abroad and we published it later yesterday to incorporate Monday’s games.

But first a few housekeeping items – and we’ll start with a new poll.

In terms of best American teenagers, the last few years this was centered around Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah, Joe Scally, and Ricardo Pepi. But as is often the case, they grew up. Now, they are all in their twenties.

So, who is next? Kevin Paredes has been an effective super-sub off the bench for Wolfsburg this season but still hasn’t even played 400 minutes this season or 500 minutes total the past 18 months? In Europe, Gaga Slonina and Paxten Aaronson have the hype but is that enough to earn a vote? Meanwhile in MLS, Caleb Wiley and Noel Buck look to be next couple of players to earn a hefty transfer.

Did we miss anyone? Caden Clark and Jalen Neal fall into the “other” category, but is that fair?

Another housekeeping note. A few have been asking when is the next ASN 100? Sit tight my friends. They take a long time to put together but we’ll be looking for one before the end of next week – maybe sooner.

Coming up this week, ASN will have its usual MLS Youth Roundup plus a few interviews and some thoughts on the news.

Ok, let’s get away from ASN and talk about some current topics.


Peru Withdraws as U-17 WC host


Things at the youth levels within FIFA are a mess. Last week, FIFA had to remove Indonesia as hosts of the 2023 U-20 World Cup because of the Bali governor’s refusal to allow the qualified Israeli team to play in its venue. On Monday, FIFA removed Peru as the hosts of the 2023 U-17 World Cup slated to begin in November. This was done because Peru has fallen way behind on its infrastructure requirements.

This is a huge embarrassment for FIFA which takes risks to allow smaller countries the right to host youth World Cups. But now within a few days, both World Cups have been removed. The U-20 World Cup is slated to begin in on May 20, which is just 46 days from now.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said Argentina is the frontrunner to host the U-20 World Cup with the aim of keeping the same dates. The Argentina federation (AFA) wants to host the tournament for a number of reasons.

First, Argentina failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup and hosting the tournament would allow its U-20 team to participate. Second, AFA wants to ride the positive momentum for the country’s national team program following winning the World Cup in December. And finally, the government could use the distraction the tournament would bring given the horrible shape of the country’s economy. In March, Argentina’s inflation hit 102.5% (per the BBC) and times are bleak.

But FIFA really needs to ask itself if it is prudent to move the U-20 World Cup to a country whose economy is spiraling out of control? Is the labor force and infrastructure going to be in a great shape to handle it? It’s obvious the Argentine government could use a distraction, but FIFA needs to be thinking about taking the safest route possible. The tournament is less than seven weeks away.

As for the U-17 World Cup, FIFA has some time but it should also be thinking about taking a safe route.

But the best options for FIFA also need to be willing to host. Would that mean the United States? Europe? Japan and Korea? Australia or New Zealand – which are hosting the Women’s World Cup this summer?

It would be a lot of fun to have the United States host these tournaments but FIFA would need to relax some of the rule requirements (such as venues must not be used 14 days before the FIFA event and not used at all during the FIFA event, except for the FIFA games).


MLS matchday six


A bunch of things happened in the sixth round of the MLS season over the weekend.

For one, ASN looks like it was very wrong about Minnesota United. Without Emmanuel Reynoso, we figured they were dead in the water. Full credit to Adrian Heath which has stressed a compact team defense. The result is that the team has yet to lose and has conceded just three goals from five games. Over the weekend it was a 1-0 away win over an overachieving St. Louis City.

But St. Louis will now be tested. They almost seemed to be riding an unbelievable wave of positive emotion to start their season 5-0-0. But now with a loss, have they been figured out and or is it now less about emotion and more about talent? That was always going to be the case.

Jose Mourinho once said that “sometimes you win games on emotion.” That’s true. But over the course of a season, that fades. Then it comes down to talent, coaching, and chemistry. We’ll find out about St. Louis soon enough.

It was also great to see Jesse Marsch stop by and speak to Apple about St. Louis. Bradley Carnell is part of Marsch’s coaching tree.

In terms of disappointments, the LA Galaxy take the cake, so far. Through five games, they have yet to win and over the weekend they lost to Seattle 2-1 at home. The team is playing well below the sum of its parts and Greg Vanney is having a tough time righting the ship. Fans are protesting for the removal of team president Chris Klein. It’s going to be a tough problem to fix as there seems to be a lot of negativity around the club.

Seattle, meanwhile, is in good shape. Everyone is talking about Jordan Morris playing like he did before his last ACL tear. But Leo Chu has been on another level to start this season. My big worry about the Sounders was age and the need for a younger player to carry some of the load. Chu has done that.

There is a lot to like about Columbus right now after its 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake, which was on the heels of a 6-1 beatdown over Atlanta. But, if you take the “buying stock” or “selling stock” approach with your analysis, buy Columbus. Wilfried Nancy has this team rolling and he’s only just getting started.

Also, buy Aidan Morris stock.  The young American defensive midfielder is in the midst of a breakout season and he had two goals against RSL. But he’s doing well in every area. He’s scoring goals, he’s winning duels, he’s playing defense, he’s passing efficiently.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have some problems. The 1-0 loss to Atlanta was telling. Offensively, they just can’t turning their pressing into dangerous chances. Gerhard Struber has a lot on his plate right now. He needs to get Dante Vanzeir on the field. He needs to find a way for Luquinhas to become more active. Also, this team takes a massive hit whenever Lewis Morgan is out - like he was vs. Atlanta. The Red Bulls typically outshoot their opponents, like they did vs. Atlanta, but opponents always seem to have the better of chances.

One team I am also bullish on is Cincinnati. Right now, they have 14 points from six games and they have yet to have Brenner and Brandon Vazquez really firing on all cylinders. I think that will happen.  Both of those players have the pressure of having scouts watching them play. If Vazquez catches fire before the summer, things could get interesting.


Tuesday’s games


The DFB Pokal quarterfinals get underway today and three Americans could feature when Eintracht Frankfurt host Union Berlin. Jordan Pefok has been very quiet since September and should once again be on the bench. Timothy Chandler and Paxten Aaronson will most likely be on the bench for Eintracht.

The biggest game in Europe today for Americans is when Leeds United hosts Nottingham Forest. Leeds has fallen a point into the relegation zone and their next two games are critical – home today and then home this weekend against Crystal Palace. After that, the schedule becomes harder but these are two games where they should pick up points. Brenden Aaronson and Weston McKennie should start for Leeds but this team misses Tyler Adams tremendously.

Days after firing Graham Potter, Chelsea returns to the field to host Liverpool under interim manager Bruno Saltor. We don’t yet know what this means for Christian Pulisic, but the American winger has dealt with so many managerial changes over the years, he knows how to deal with uncertainty.

Then in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Philadelphia Union host Mexico’s Atlas in the first leg of their quarterfinal. By now, everyone knows MLS teams have to win at home against Mexican teams and Atlas is among the more beatable Mexican teams remaining (just 13 points from 13 games in the Clausura). But for Philadelphia, the team was expected to be among the best in MLS this season but has struggled offensively out of the gate. This is a big test for Jim Curtin to deliver a big result against midtable Mexican team. They can’t go to the altitude of Guadalajara trailing from a result at home.

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