News analysis

U.S. YNT players on the move, Henry to Montreal, and U-20 qualifying set

The news has not died down during this international window. Players are on the move - including U.S. youth internationals, big name coaches are coming to North America, and the U-20 cycle timeline becomes clear. ASN's Brian Sciaretta looks at it all.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 14, 2019
7:00 AM
WHILE INTERNATIONAL windows are usually dominated by news with national teams, the start of the November window has seen the top American soccer stories involve player movement, managerial changes, and youth national team news.

Here is a quick rundown

Nagbe’s move to Columbus

The big story earlier this week is that Darlington Nagbe, who was great for Atlanta United and seemingly has no interest in playing for the national team, has been traded to Columbus where he will play under his former coach (at Akron and Portland) in Caleb Porter.

The quick take on this move is who will Nagbe play with in Portland. He’s typically been surrounded by quality talent. Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet Atlanta will spend what it can (and it received north of $1 million in allocation money) to make an impressive signing.

Henry to coach Montreal

The Montreal made a huge splash on Thursday when it announced that it has hired Thierry Henry as the team’s new manager. Henry was one of the best players of his generation and a champion at every level. But his transition to coaching has not been great when he bombed out at AS Monaco last year when he won just four of his 20 games and was fired.

Now Henry will take over a Montreal team that has struggled under recent coaches Remi Garde and Wilmer Cabrera.

This might be successful but also runs the high chance of being a disaster. Joe Saputo is a meddling owner and Henry is stubborn. There is a very good chance the two clash, sooner than later.

That being said, Henry needs success as a manger. If he wants to do this with his post-playing life, he can ill afford to have two brutal tenures to start his coaching career.

During his time as a player with the New York Red Bulls, Henry was a student of the league and new the details of opposing teams. He was also a mentor to Bradley Wright-Phillips who would later go on and have a remarkable run with the club.

Henry is bringing a huge presence to the team and to the league. But what support will he get from the front office? What caliber of players will be brought in?

Montreal has barely been relevant in recent years and any success has largely been because of Ignacio Piatti. Henry has a lot of work in front of him if he is going to get this team back to the postseasn.

On top of all this, Henry’s first games for Montreal will be in the CONCACAF Champions League, which will be a difficult test right up front.

Scally sold to Borussia Monchengladbach

New York City FC announced it sold academy graduate and recent U.S. U-17 right back Joe Scally to Borussia Monchengladbach.

The numbers were impressive – per the official press release.

“He becomes the first player to graduate NYCFC’s Academy and be sold to a major European club. The transfer is an unprecedented move for a player who has yet to make his Major League Soccer debut.

The initial transfer fee is the highest paid for a 16-year-old MLS player in league history. With potential bonuses, the seven-figure transfer fee could rise significantly to become one of the highest transfer fees received for a MLS player being transferred to a European club.

NYCFC will also receive a sell-on percentage if Scally is sold in the future.”

As ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle noted, the initial fee is $2 million and could rise as high as $7 million. Then there is the sell on percentage as well.

Scally will remain with NYCFC through the end of the 2020 season. He has a chance of also playing for the United States U-20 team as well which will begin qualifying for the 2021 U-20 World Cup in June.

Ritaccio signs for Liverpool

United States U-20 midfielder Matteo Ritaccio signed for Liverpool on Thursday. The New York native has been with Liverpool’s youth teams since the start of the 2018/19 season. This season he has been playing with the club’s U-18 team where he has one goal from five games.

Ritaccio is not the first U.S. youth international to have signed with the English giants. Brooks Lennon, Marc Pelosi, and Villyan Bijev have all played for Liverpool’s youth teams over the past decade.

U-20 World Cup qualifying dates

The dates of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying are known and the United States will begin its campaign in June 2020 in a location to be determined. The draw will take place next week.

The U.S. will enter the tournament in the second date where there are four groups of four teams. The top three teams from each group advance to the round of 16 along with four other teams from the previous first stage.

The knockout stages will take place in July 2020 and the four semifinalists will qualify for the 2021 U-20 World Cup in Indonesia.

The huge takeaway from this news is that this is the earliest U-20 World Cup qualifying has been in recent decades and U.S. needs a U-20 head coach very soon. That spot is now vacant. Right now, they are looking at only three camps before the start of qualifying.

On the flip side, the summer qualifying tournament likely ensures that the best players will be able to be released and participate.

If the best U-20 players participate in this cycle, it also likely eliminates the possibility they will also play for the U.S. U-23 team as well.

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