What to make of Pepi and Jong PSV, Copa America, Dallas lands top prospect, & more
December 05, 2023
HAPPY TUESDAY, it’s a week of MLS Cup but we also have offseason domestic news, news for Americans abroad, as well as transfer rumors beginning for the upcoming January window. Since it’s a busy time, let’s get right down to it.
Let’s start abroad.
Pepi plays for Jong PSV
Ricardo Pepi started and played 90 minutes for Jong PSV (reserve team) in a 5-0 loss to NAC Breda on Monday. Jong PSV currently sits 17th place in the 20-team Eerste Divisie (second tier). This comes less than a week after Pepi scored the winning goal for the first team in the Champions League against Sevilla.
There are a lot of takes on this. Some see it as a demotion, some see it as a way for him to get minutes since he was unable to play this past weekend in a 2-1 win over Feyenoord due to subs being required for injured players.
My take is that this is ultimately a good thing. PSV knows what he can do. Head coach Peter Bosz knows that he can do and is willing to sub him into Champions League games in a big moments. He knows that Pepi can deliver in the big stage and is not lost in the moment.
NAC Breda krijgt maandagavond te maken met Ricardo Pepi. De spits, die tien miljoen euro kostte en PSV vijf dagen geleden naar de achtste finales van de Champions League kopte, komt in actie in de Keuken Kampioen Divisie met Jong PSV.https://t.co/D1ubOVl3wv— Voetbal International (@VI_nl) December 4, 2023
But what is missing? Pepi hasn’t yet shown he can start for PSV. As we’ve seen with other young players, transitioning from a sub to a starter is a process (look at how hard it’s been for Kevin Paredes or Paxten Aaronson to go from sub to starter).
Look at PSV’s situation. Luuk de Jong is a great player and is the starting No. 9, but he is 33 years old and he can’t play at this rate the whole season. PSV looks like they’re going to make the knockouts for the Champions League (at worst Europa knockouts), so there are a lot of games ahead. Plus, PSV has a 10 point cushion in the Eredivisie after a perfect 42 point start from 14 games.
It’d be one thing if Pepi wasn’t playing at all and they needed to do something with him. But with him showing well in the limited minutes he has played (in big moments), this just seems like it’s part of the process of preparing him to start. It was telling he played all 90 minutes despite Jong PSV getting blown out. This was a way for him to practice a game with a 90 minute approach.
Copa America takes shape
Thursday will be the Copa America draw but we know the USMNT as the now qualified hosts will be one of the four seeds along with Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. There will be four groups of four with 10 teams from CONMEBOL and six from CONCACAF.
WE also know this about the group stage venues for the seeded teams.
- Arlington, TX
- Atlanta, GA
- Kansas City, MO
- Atlanta, GA
- Kansas City, MO
- Miami, FL
- Inglewood, CA
- Las Vegas, NV
- Santa Clara, CA
- Houston, TX
- Las Vegas, NV
- Glendale, AZ
Other cities that will host games, Charlotte, NC (Semifinal, third-place game), Kansas City, KS (1 game), Orlando, FL (2 games), Austin, TX (2 games)
There isn’t much to take from this other than this will start a long stretch of the USA hosting a lot of big tournaments: 2024 Copa America, 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, 2026, Men’s World Cup, 2027 Women’s World Cup (not final yet), and the 2028 Olympics.
FC Dallas completed the move for Enes Sali from Romanian club FCV Farul Constan?a on a long-term deal. The club used the U-22 Initiative to fit his deal within the cap. At 17, the winger has already been a first-team player in Romania since making his debut at just 15. He has scored four goals for his club in 50 league games.
Who is Enes Sali?!— Jacob Schneider (@_jacobschneider) December 4, 2023
The 17-year-old who trained alongside Neymar, Iniesta and Messi at Barcelona and crafted his trade in La Masia -- has now signed for @FCDallas
What the move means, and how he could potentially represent the #CMNT ???????? come 2026.https://t.co/oudSCES9ed
Sali was born in Canada but has opted to play for Romania and has even made his first team debut. He also spent time at La Masia.
Bottom line is that Dallas spent a lot to bring in a very highly rated young player it hopes to develop, play, win with, and then sell. The U-22 Initiative has been a good thing for the league and its teams.
Elsewhere, Atlanta exercised the purchase option on Xande Silva from Dijon. Atlanta acquired him on loan this summer and he had four goals, three assists, in 13 games in the second half of the season.
Tiago Brandão reported that Seattle is nearing a move for winger Pedro de la Venga on a DP deal from Lanus. De la Vega has 17 goals and 13 assists in 126 appearances across all competitions for Lanús and has represented Argentina at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics (delayed until 2021).This is what Seattle needs to do, get younger. But finding someone who plays with as much heart as Lodeiro in his prime is tough to do.
Mark Mckenzie was named to Belgium's Team of the Week for his performance for Genk in a 2-2 draw with Genk. I keep wondering if McKenzie would be best served with an overage spot on the Olympic team?
Thanks for bringing warmth in this freezing weekend! ???????? pic.twitter.com/3PUpC0Vvzd— Unibet Belgium (@unibetbelgium) December 4, 2023
Luca de la Torre had a lackluster outing for Celta Vigo in a 1-1 draw with Cadiz at home. Cadiz was reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute and de la Torre was subbed out in the second half of stoppage time. Playing at home, this was not a good result for Celta Vigo which are still two points deep in the relegation hole.