10717_isi_pulisicchristian_usmntjt100617269 John Todd/isiphotos.com
Friday kickoff

U.S. Soccer awards and Americans abroad preview

U.S. Soccer is wrapping up a difficult year in handing out its year end awards. Pulisic won the Player of the Year but the better race is for Young Male Player of the Year. Meanwhile Brian Sciaretta previews the weekend ahead for Americans abroad
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 15, 2017
6:00 AM
There is no denying that missing the World Cup will make 2017 a bad year for U.S. Soccer. Despite winning the Gold Cup, having strong years for both the U-17 and U-20 national teams, and seeing a large number of young players breakout professionally, everyone at U.S. Soccer is looking forward to turning the page on 2017.

That being said, U.S. Soccer has started handing out its year-end awards and plenty of Americans will be in action this weekend in Europe.

Pulisic wins Player of the Year

Giving Christian Pulisic the U.S. Soccer Player of the Year award was an anticlimactic no-brainer of a decision. Even when the national team struggled, Pulisic always seemed to play well. For his club, he was a regular starter for Borussia Dortmund where he played in important games such as in the knockout stages of the Champions League. At age 19, he is the youngest player to win the award.

But with giving it to Pulisic, U.S. Soccer can keep an eye towards the future and that is what everyone involved really wants.

Intriguing Young Male Player of the Year race

The more intriguing race is for Young Male Player of the Year. The nominees are all fully deserving: Luca de la Torre, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams, Jonathan Gonzalez, and Erik Palmer Brown. All six players have bring futures ahead.

There are different ways to look at this award. Do you primarily rate performances for youth national teams? Do you primarily rate performances for club? Or do you rate as a combination between club and youth national teams? All three methods will lead you to a different result.

If you overweight performances for U.S. Soccer and its youth teams, then Josh Sargent is the player of the year. Erik Palmer-Brown is close after captaining the U-20 team to the CONCACAF title as well as the U-20 World Cup quarterfinal. But Sargent played in two World Cups and scored 12 goals in 15 official games between the U-17 and U-20 national teams.

But if you consider club performances as the driving factor, then Jonathan Gonzalez is the young player of the year after standing out for Monterrey in a great Liga MX season.

But if you consider an even combination between club and country, then Tyler Adams is the easy winner after starting for Red Bulls all season, earning a full national team call-up, and featuring heavily for the U-20 national team despite playing up a cycle and being eligible for the 2019 U-20 team.

Full weekend ahead in Europe

There are a lot of games taking place this weekend for Americans abroad but here are the best.

On Friday, Borussia Monchengladbach hosts Hamburg in the Bundeslia. Gladbach’s Fabian Johnson and Hamburg’s Bobby Wood have both been dealing with injuries but Wood’s is most concerning. He has missed HSV’s last two games with lingering knee pain. But this knee pain dates back to 2011. He needs to get healthy and back on the field soon to help HSV in a relegation fight.

On Saturday in the Premier League, Stoke City will host West Ham. With Geoff Cameron back in the starting lineup for Stoke, he will try to help his club that has been struggling mightily: losing four of its last five and winning just three times in its last 15.

Also in the Premier League on Saturday, Newcastle will travel to London to face Aresenal. Newcastle is in a terrible stretch with just one point in its last eight games. DeAndre Yedlin is a regular starter but the team needs points as it sits just one point from the relegation zone.

In the Championship, Sunderland will host Fulham on Saturday. . Lynden Gooch could be on the verge of earning more playing time for Sunderland but the club sits in last place. Tim Ream is a mainstay for midtable Fulham but Luca de la Torre is beginning to earn time.

In the Bundesliga on Saturday, Borussia Dortmund hosts Hoffenheim. Christian Pulisic actually finds himself in a slump while getting settled under new manager Peter Stoger. Pulisic is so talented that he will eventually right the ship but it will be interesting to watch him do it.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Eintracht Frankfut hosts Schalke in what could be the highest quality game of the weekend for Americans abroad. Timothy Chandler was brilliant midweek for Eintracht Frankfurt with two assists in a win over Hamburg. As a result he was named to the Bundesliga team of Round 16. Meanwhile Weston McKennie is growing into a big role in Schalke’s central midfield

On Saturday, Bundesliga cellar-dwellers Cologne host John Brooks and Wolfsburg. Brooks is beginning to dominate in the way Wolfsburg hoped when they bought him for a steep price. Wolfsburg has conceded just one goal in its last three games.

In the 2.Bundesliga Greuter Furth hosts Darmstadt on Sunday. If you told American fans three years ago that Julian Green and Terrence Boyd would be playing against each other in 2017 while playing for two teams in the 2.Bundesliga relegation zone, they would be disappointed. It wasn’t long ago when Furth’s Green and Darmstadt’s Boyd were considered top national team prospects. That being said, both players have had some nice points this season while dealing with injuries. The door back to the national team is still open.

Post a comment