Silverware for CCV & Wingo, Pulisic scores but others struggle, plus Open Cup & U-20 thoughts
May 12, 2022
IT’S THURSDAY and it’s been a relatively busy week in American soccer on both the domestic and the abroad sides. There was both plenty of good and bad to break down. So let’s do a morning update for everyone to get into the swing of things.
Carter-Vickers & Scotland win title
It has been expected for months, but Celtic finally clinched the Scottish title on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw away at Dundee United. Cameron Carter-Vickers can finally call himself a champion after seven loans from Tottenham within the English Championship. Now it will be interesting to see if Celtic can muster the money to complete a transfer. The big issue is whether or not a lower/mid-table Premiership team comes in for him.
Carter-Vickers is reportedly set to join the USMNT later this month and there is now room with the injury to Miles Robinson. Walker Zimmerman and Chris Richards seem like locks. Erik Palmer-Brown, John Brooks, Carter-Vickers, Tim Ream, Mark McKenzie, and Aaron Long are in contention for the remaining two or three spots.
Even if CCV comes up short, he should be in strong competition to start the next cycle as others age out.
CCV joins Brenden Aaronson in Austria and Henry Wingo in Hungary as the other American players to win European leagues in the 2021/2022 season so far. While he doesn’t play much, Zack Steffen is also in the mix at Manchester City.
Other notes in Scotland
American winger Joe Efford, 25, scored for Motherwell in a 2-1 win over Hearts. The Georgia native was easily able to finish in the third minute off a spilled rebound. It was his second of the season and he performed well enough to be a regular starter for the club next year – his first in the Premiership.
Reigning Herman Trophy winner Dante Polvara made his second straight start for Aberdeen. Unlike his impressive outing over the weekend in a 1-1 draw with Hibernian, Wednesday was a tougher outing – going 56 minutes in a 1-0 loss to St. Johnstone. Polvara is still getting used to the professional game and Aberdeen see him as one with a lot of potential. With little to play for in these remaining games, now is a good time to get through some of the learning curves. On a related note, Aberdeen allowed American striker Christian Ramirez to start his offseason early.
St. Mirren and Livingston played to a 0-0 draw. Two Americans played for Livingston, with nothing on the line for the club. Scott Pittman went 81 minutes in central midfield and was his steady, typical self. Sebastian Soto, meanwhile, went the final 27 and his loan from Norwich to Livingston has been unimpressive. Aside from a nice, but brief, loan to Telstar in the second tier of Holland, Soto’s has struggled to find a spot to play. This upcoming offseason is looking like a make or break decision.
Wingo wins Hungarian Cup
Henry Wingo, 26, is not a player mentioned frequently when talking about Americans abroad, but the Seattle native has a growing trophy collection. On Wednesday, the Seattle native won the Hungarian Cup (formally the Magyar Kupa) with Ferencvaros. He was subbed into the game in the 76th minute and helped see out a 3-0 win over Paks.
Wingo has been a frequent starter for Ferencvaros but was coming off an injury which had kept him out most of the past two months.
Since moving from Seattle to Molde and converting from a winger into a right back, Wingo has won a Norwegian title, two Hungarian titles, and now a Hungarian Cup. Not bad.
Tough stretch for de la Torre
It has been a great season for Luca de la Torre. He’s played a ton in the Eredivisie and has forced his way onto the USMNT. The past two games, however, have been his toughest stretch of the season. On Saturday, de la Torre struggled as Heracles in a 2-0 loss to last-place Willem II. Then on Wednesday, it was another poor outing in a 2-0 loss to RKC Waalwijk – another team in the bottom third of the league.
De la Torre hasn’t impressed these past two games and the rest of the team has looked poor. It also puts Heracles under pressure. If Heracles loses is season finale this weekend to Sparta Rotterdam and if Fortuna Sittard defeats NEC, then Heracles will be forced into the promotion/relegation playoff.
Gallegos & SonderjyskE relegated
The number of Americans who have already been relegated this season out of top-flight European leagues continues to grow. SonderjyskE allowed a late equalizer to Nordsjaelland and the game finished 1-1. Jose Gallegos started and played 78 minutes in the draw and wasn’t on the field for the equalizer.
Gallegos made the move from San Antonio of the USL in January, and he has made five starts for SonderjyskE down the stretch. Last month, he scored a goal in a 2-1 win over AGF.
The list of Americans who have been relegated out of top flights is as follows:
- Jose Gallegos: Sonderjsyke
- Julian Green: Greuther Furth
- Tyler Boyd: Rizespor
- Josh Sargent: Norwich City
That list is likely to grow as Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio, and Venezia are in dire shape in Italy. George Bello and Arminia Bielefeld need a miracle to falling out of the Bundesliga. Jesse Marsch, as a head coach of Leeds, has also fallen into a perilous situation. Same with Stuttgart and its American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo. Later this year, Joe Gyau and Joe Corona are with teams in Sweden who could be in a tough spot.
On a site note, SonderjyskE’s relegation could also affect Haji Wright. The American forward has been on a tear in Turkey and his contract is owned by SonderjyskE. Wright and SonderjyskE are not on great terms following his forced loan in August, but SonderjyskE is going to have to sell Wright to raise money.
Bassett gets 45 for Feyenoord
Cole Bassett was able to play a full half for Feyenoord on Wednesday and the Colorado homegrown came off the bench and played the second half of a 1-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles. The score was 0-0 when he came on.
Bassett, 20, is on an 18-month loan from Colorado and Feyenoord has an option to buy. His playing time since January has been erratic with mostly late game subs making up his six appearances. In the win over Go Ahead Eagles, he was rusty but still had nice moments where he made a positive impact.
Cole Bassett: Raw # for Feyenoord in 1-0 win vs. Go Ahead Eagles— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 11, 2022
2 chances created
1/3 ground duels
For players like Sands, Bassett, and Che – who are all with European teams on 18-months loans with options – it was always about what they’re going to do next season. This season is about getting adjusted to an new environment and a new culture.
For Bassett, the upcoming preseason is critical. He needs to build a case to play next season.
Pulisic scores but Marsch in trouble
In a pivotal game in the relegation zone, Chelsea defeated Leeds United 3-0. The sixth goal of the season from Christian Pulisic helped deal a tough blow to Jesse Marsch and Leeds United. For Chelsea, the win put Chelsea in a great spot for a top four finish (it leads Tottenham by eight points, with Chelsea having two games remaining, Tottenham have three).
Pulisic! Goal! pic.twitter.com/1ku1JzDQ1V— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 11, 2022
Leeds United just completed its toughest stretch of the season (Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea) and did not pick up a point The final two games are against midtale Brighton & Hove and Brentford – two teams with nothing substantial to play for.
Marsch needs points. He is in the relegation zone only on goal differential but the two teams it is chasing (Everton and Burnley) have three games remaining. It will be a true test of his coaching abilities to have his team put the last three games behind them and play with the emotion he typically can get from his teams. Unfortunately, he also needs luck in the help of other results breaking his way.
In the goals in an important win! ????— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 11, 2022
More from the Christian Pulisic on #LeeChe. ??
Open Cup fourth round concludes
Most of the games involving American players this week was domestically in the Open Cup. The fourth round saw a lot of MLS teams in action – including many MLS teams facing each other.
Unlike in the third round, whenever MLS teams faced off against lower-tier opponents, they took care of business. Charlotte thumped Richmond 5-1. Inter Miami dispatched South Georgia 3-1. NYCFC easily got past Rochester 3-1. The Galaxy struggled but advanced in the end over Cal United. Houston got past San Antonio 1-0.
The best game of the bunch was Nashville’s thrilling 3-2 win over Atlanta United. Atlanta United had a 2-0 lead but Nashville equalized late in the second half – before winning it in extra time.
Atlanta United fans should be concerned. Gonzalo Pineda fielded a strong lineup in this game and despite starting strong, the team could not seal the deal. This team is clearly playing below the sum of its parts.
Even more unimpressive was DC United which dropped a 3-0 decision to the New York Red Bulls at home. RBNY has been dominant on the road lately, but this game was a complete walk in the park. DC United needs a coach and probably a rebuild. There just isn’t a good foundation there – on top of not being good.
Young-ish Americans Daniel Edelman, John Tolkin, Dylan Nealis, and Omir Fernandez all started for the Red Bulls and impressed. Edelman should be a strong option at the No. 6 with the U.S. U-20 team and John Tolkin, like Frankie Amaya, is having a breakout season.
The Red Bulls are fun to watch and if they can start playing well at home, they’re going to be tough.
The most relevant note from a national team perspective is that Aaron Long was forced out of the game in the first half but the initial prognosis is that he won't miss much or any time.
Jim Curtin rolled with a very young starting XI in what was a disappointing 2-1 loss on the road to Orlando. Orlando is pretty good but Philadelphia lost possession quite a bit. It was good to get Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan on the field together and those three are starters with the U.S. U-20 team.
For Orlando, Andres Perea has struggled since the failed Olympic qualifying effort last year. He previously played for Colombia at a U-20 World Cup and made the switch to the USA. It hasn’t worked out, but he is still young. Maybe this outstanding goal was a sign of better things to come for the Florida-born defensive midfielder.
Andres Perea… ripper pic.twitter.com/MK5XePJKIV— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 11, 2022
Seattle is the new kings of CONCACAF and Brian Schmetzer has been giving his veterans some time off after the emotional Champions League final last week. Over the weekend, he rotated his squad nearly entirely as Seattle dropped a 2-0 decision to Dallas. Now Seattle is out of the Open Cup after a shootout loss to San Jose. After rallying from a 2-0 deficit to equalize, Seattle looked to have been in a good spot. But after controlling extra time, Seattle couldn’t find a winner.
San Jose’s second goal came from teenage winger Cade Cowell who could/should be a big part of the U.S. U-20 team this summer.
With his size and strength, Cade Cowell is like a freight train coming at you. He’s 18. He’s gonna be tough to defend at the U-20 level pic.twitter.com/RNoyoCkvjk— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 12, 2022
The shootout ended up breaking in favor of San Jose 10-9 and all teams used all 11 of their takers. San Jose goalkeeper Matt Bersano scored the winner after saving a shot by Seattle keeper Stefan Cleveland.
Matt Bersano.— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) May 12, 2022
Open Cup hero.
Seattle played mostly with kids again. Josh Atencio played well over 120 minutes for Seattle and scored his penalty. Obed Vargas played the final 44 and converted his kick as well. A few veterans also did well but Seattle did not play Jordan Morris, Nico Lodeiro, neither Roldan brother, Raul Ruidiaz, or Stefan Frei.
Moving forward, it’s now clear for Seattle. They’ve had a week to get beyond the final. They’re now out of the Open Cup. It is only the MLS regular season and the team is behind the curve due to its prioritization of the CCL. Seven points from eight games has it behind the playoff curve – by seven points. Yes, the team has two or three games in hand on everyone else, but it hasn’t yet shown if it will struggle like Toronto did in 2018 after making the CCL final.
In another note, the FC Dallas – Sporting KC game was comically bad SKC won 4-2 in extra time but three of the goals were caused by terrible turnovers in inside the own half. This is what happens when teams rotate squads in the early stages of the Open Cup. The chemistry and decision making just isn’t there.
In the Open Cup, some teams experiment, Sporting Kansas City employs the #WPIOOTBGW strategy for no other reason than to see if we’re paying attention at #WPIOOTBGW Global HQ.. which we are. pic.twitter.com/rpk1ObaT76— When Playing It Out of the Back Goes Wrong (@wpiootbgw) May 11, 2022
Finally, the New England Revolution fielded a strong lineup and deservedly beat a Cincinnati team that did not. The 5-1 score line was completely deserved and while Cincinnati is very much improved in MLS, it is clear they weren’t taking the Open Cup as seriously as the hosts. The Revs looked much like the 2021 version and while they aren’t completely back, they’re heading into the right direction after a terrible start. Most importantly, Carles Gil and Adam Buksa are crucial for their hopes to contend and they’re looking like their peak form lately.
There is also another topic to close on. The U.S. U-20 team will assemble next month to attempt to qualify for both the U-20 World Cup and the Olympics. It is a critical tournament but one that is tough to prepare for since clubs are not required to release players.
Many releases should be fine. I think Philadelphia will allow Sullivan, Aaronson, McGlynn, and Craig to be released. I think some of the Euro players who aren’t regulars will be released – Justin Che and Kevin Paredes are the most obvious two. The New York Red Bulls also probably will allow Dan Edelman and Caden Clark (if he’s healthy) to go. Diego Luna at El Paso shouldn’t be a problem either.
I am not getting a good sense that Caleb Wiley will be released – and that could be a huge blow. The Atlanta United left back plays for their first team and Atlanta has been a problem. It is going to be a tough ask for Chicago to release Gaga Slonina and maybe even Brian Gutierrez. The Fire have been on an ugly skid and then parting ways with two starters puts them in a tough spot.
Obed Vargas also become a huge question mark too. Seattle has been good to him and has given him a ton of minutes. Initially, it seems like a release was guaranteed but the injury to Joao Paulo makes it a tougher ask to let him go for nearly a month
There is also Cade Cowell. The San Jose winger is trying to help the club in an uphill climb to make the playoffs and it would be a loss for San Jose to let him go for a month. San Jose did not release him for either of the past two camps.
Finally, the big question turns to Ricardo Pepi. We’ve all seen his struggles at Augsburg and Berhalter has indicated that he might not be on the upcoming USMNT roster. Is a reboot with the U-20 in the cards?