Morning update: USMNT preview, Vines, Gomez blunder, Tessmann and more
July 15, 2021
WE ARE NOW AT THURSDAY, and it’s a USMNT gameday. On the flip side, while ASN ran a preseason update which had large portions dedicated to player movement, there is now even more to talk about in that aspect.
So with all that said, let’s get into it.
After a lackluster win over Haiti to open the 2021 Gold Cup, the USMNT will now face Martinique on Thursday night in Kansas City. Martinique lost to Canada 4-1 in its opening game.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter is likely to utilize squad rotation as the team’s toughest group stage opponent, Canada, awaits on Sunday. With limited rest, it seems might use a combination against Martinique to ensure he can start his strongest squad on Sunday. Saying that, it is hard to imagine players will start all three games of the group stage.
Berhalter also indicated that both Reggie Cannon and Paul Arriola are still recovering but are not ready for Martinique.
The injuries could keep Shaq Moore on the field but expect to see Daryl Dike perhaps getting a start. Rotation also might open the door for Eryk Williamson getting minutes while Acosta rests. Matthew Hoppe might make his debut in place of Jonathan Lewis. Cristian Roldan might play for Sebastian Lletget.
Speaking of the European interest that is surrounding many players on his team during this camp, Berhalter made this point.
"We've gotten to a point where there is a critical mass," he said. "We have had enough American players who have been successful overseas in Europe that now clubs are looking at the United States as a market. They are focused on us for our young players, to bring them in and develop them, or continue their development, and then potentially resell them. It is a good point we are at. Credit Major League Soccer, and U.S. Soccer for the Development Academy that started years ago. Now, we are seeing the fruits of that."
He's right too. There has been a steady stream of sales among MLS teams for homegrown/academy players. Every year we are seeing several players fetch a decent amount and it doesn’t even have to be players on the level of the USMNT either (Chris Durkin is a good example). Meanwhile, the league has spent more on imports and in reinvesting into academies so that the pipeline will continue.
The Weston McKennie moment was a wake-up call when an elite player left the FC Dallas academy for free. Since then, then teams have made smart decisions about how to keep players here for the start of their career. It began with more minutes to homegrown players and it was followed by a more willingness to sell.
Now players seem far more receptive to starting their career domestically before moving abroad. This also gives players leeway. When clubs pay transfer fees for players, the players are wanted and are going to get a chance. An 18 year old player showing up in Europe without any professional experience will often see clubs treat them as a low-risk, number-filling, commodity.
Vines nears Royal Antwerp move
The Athletic and the Burgundy Wave both reported that the Sam Vines move from Colorado to Royal Antwerp is nearly done.
This is a good move for Vines, 22, who has a lot of experience now as a player. To date, he has 4506 MLS minutes with Colorado after a 2303 minute season in USL with Charlotte. Every season he has gotten better.
He’s also the story of how prospects can change quickly. Vines was cut by the 2019 U.S. U-20 team in favor of Chris Gloster and Matt Real. He hasn’t had the hype of Kobe Hernandez Foster, George Bello, or Jonathan Gomez. But he’s played, worked hard, and improved. People who have watched his career aren’t surprised. The people who are surprised are the ones that haven’t been watching him consistently with Colorado.
Vines still needs to improve in certain areas. He is a smart player and an excellent passer. His defensive positioning still needs some work.
As for his national team prospects, it doesn’t change much. He is close to being a call-up to the first-choice team but maybe not quite there. After Antonee Robinson at left back, the other option seems have Sergino Dest sliding from right to left. Vines is probably after that.
Playing in Belgium doesn't necessarily give you the inroads into the USMNT the way a Big 4 or Big 5 league would. Brenden Hines-Ike was a starter there for stretches, Chris Durkin isn’t part of the current USMNT picture. But Vines is going to Antwerp - which is a top five team in that league.
There's always a difference. If he was going to Cercle Brugge (for example), it'd be fair to ask why he's leaving Colorado.
When you get outside the "Big 4" or "Big 5" leagues, the question becomes more about the club and less about the league. Is he going to Celtic or Ross County? Is he going to Ajax/PSV or is he going to RKC Waalwijk/Go Ahead Eagles? Vines is going to a team that should compete well in Belgium and there is an opening at left back with Antwerp. Last season the left back was Jordan Lukaku but he was there on loan and has since returned to Lazio.
Louisville’s Gomez blunder
If you want to see one of the biggest blunders in American transfers, look no further than Jonathan Gomez who looks set to move from Louisville City to Real Sociedad.
For this move, Louisville is set to receive peanuts. Per The Athletic, there was a clause that said he could leave for free if head coach John Hackworth left the club – which happened.
That is absolutely unheard of to have that clause in a contract.
Tessmann’s Venezia deal done
According to the Italian media, Tanner Tessmann is officially a Venezia player and is transfer from FC Dallas to the newly promoted club is now complete.
It makes sense since it is known that Tessmann is in Italy at the moment for the club’s preseason.
The club also is among the front runners to bring in U.S. national team midfielder Gianluca Busio and Philadelphia homegrown Jack De Vries on a loan.
As for Tessmann, the expectation should be that he’s going to Italy to play. The club is paying serious money for him and, to do that, he’s checked the boxes for the coach and the technical director. It is not simply the case of an American owner wanting an American player.