Americans Abroad 2022-23

67YAZ

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That’s really great movement by our boy - the give & go, staying inside, bursting into space. The chip is fantastico, but but the work to create the chance is class.
 

Kliq

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Josh Cohen gets the shut-out for Maccabi Haifa against Juventus.
 

rguilmar

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Hadn't seen this elsewhere and it's not brand new news, but Pelligrino Matarazzo was relieved of his duties at Stuttgart. They were winless in nine matches so it makes sense. It was clear in that statement that there was a degree of respect for Matarrazo still at the club. Another name in the hat of potential USMNT managers post WC22. I'd prefer someone with experience managing a national team, but if US Soccer is prioritizing American coaches than he's a solid option.

Also, Josh Sargent scored again and is tied for the lead in goals scored in the Championship.
 

candylandriots

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Hadn't seen this elsewhere and it's not brand new news, but Pelligrino Matarazzo was relieved of his duties at Stuttgart. They were winless in nine matches so it makes sense. It was clear in that statement that there was a degree of respect for Matarrazo still at the club. Another name in the hat of potential USMNT managers post WC22. I'd prefer someone with experience managing a national team, but if US Soccer is prioritizing American coaches than he's a solid option.

Also, Josh Sargent scored again and is tied for the lead in goals scored in the Championship.
That's too bad for him, but I think it's good for the USMNT. I like him a lot as a manager, and it was clear that despite their results, his players were most certainly not giving up on him and still performing as best they could. They were the recipients of bad luck -- their GD puts them 10th instead of 14th, where they are. I like him and would feel better with him than GB.
 

rguilmar

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InstaFace

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Ugh. LDLT was the only viable replacement for Musah. And he would've been a rotational starter, probably. The international-quality midfielder depth behind him is not great, not unless you pull Gio or Aaronson back to play the McKennie role.

On the pecking order of "please, lord, let me not have an injury to ___", he's probably not in the top 10, but he was probably in the top 15.

You know what, I'll make my own list for that, so we can argue over it - will put it over in the USMNT thread.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Also, Auston Trusty is a great name for a CB in the exact same way that Auston Shakey wouldn't be.
 

InstaFace

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Something tells me David Blitzer is not going to see a positive return on his investment.

Though he might recoup a decent fraction of it, depending on how the Pepi transaction with FCA is structured.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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In a world without Gazdag I’d say he’s going a year too early and should put together a solid MLS season first like his brother, but if Philly keep Gazdag then this makes sense for him
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Reyna with an impudent penalty take for 2 - 0.

He was also funny on the first goal because he expected a one-two and was giving classic Reyna petulance to Moukoko, who then uncorked an incredible goal as the “touché” there.
 

InstaFace

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I know some people on Scuffed who regard him as likely to be better than Brenden.

I personally have a hard time seeing it when I watch him on Philly though. Like, if he was ready to tear up the Bundesliga right now, you'd expect him to do more than just come into the MLS Cup playoff final in the 84th minute, right? Just has so much physical development to do that it's hard for me to focus on the technique and instincts. But he did pop pretty well at the U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament, basically bossing in a dual-8 role. Better than I've seen from Caden Clark, at least. I hope we'll still get to see him at the final tournament, in Indonesia next May-June.

One thing he doesn't lack is ambition on the field. He sees more advanced options and tries shit, it's just not coming off very often right now - his passing touch is kinda poor. He certainly has USMNT upside, though, even if you wouldn't call it "Gio Reyna upside".

Some links to his highlights can be found on the U20 tab of Justin Moran's excellent highlights spreadsheet:

View: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LiFZFWMmX8oLdxAy2jVVRksJYFK-E-tKtj2kCaXwFkY/edit#gid=337166294


Here's the biggest comp available, from this July, so it doesn't have the U20 CONCACAF Championship this year:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irI-yqO1Kcw
 

Pesky Pole

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Brenden Aaronson’s younger brother Paxton moving to Eintracht Frankfurt. Brenden is one of my favorites to watch on USMNT and Leeds. Any Philadelphia fans or someone who watches under-20s have a scouting report? Comparable to his brother? Possibly a future USMNT player?

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/philadelphia-union-transfer-paxten-aaronson-to-eintracht-frankfurt
As a Union fan, I was very surprised to see him move to Frankfurt. He played very limited minutes for the Union this year and seemed to feature only in the "fresh legs to run at tired defenses" role. Jack McGlynn more than doubled his minutes and looked way more dangerous (and versatile) when he was on the field. I agree with @InstaFace that he flashed at the U20 World Cup but it seemed like he needed to take a role in MLS before moving to Europe.

Of course, I also said that his brother should have dominated games in MLS before going to Europe and I couldn't have been more wrong when he was better at Salzburg than he was in Philly. They do both share that "sure I can dribble through 3 guys and try to curl the ball into the corner with the outside of my foot" gene.

The fun part is that there is a sister who is well regarded too. She's an '06 so we'll have to wait a bit on her.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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As a Union fan, I was very surprised to see him move to Frankfurt. He played very limited minutes for the Union this year and seemed to feature only in the "fresh legs to run at tired defenses" role. Jack McGlynn more than doubled his minutes and looked way more dangerous (and versatile) when he was on the field. I agree with @InstaFace that he flashed at the U20 World Cup but it seemed like he needed to take a role in MLS before moving to Europe.

Of course, I also said that his brother should have dominated games in MLS before going to Europe and I couldn't have been more wrong when he was better at Salzburg than he was in Philly. They do both share that "sure I can dribble through 3 guys and try to curl the ball into the corner with the outside of my foot" gene.

The fun part is that there is a sister who is well regarded too. She's an '06 so we'll have to wait a bit on her.
A lot of that is contextual though, Paxton has Gazdag in his position at an MVP level and Brendan didn’t.

Given that and Curtin’s relative restraint with substitutions, I think the thought is he wants to start training and getting spot minutes at the level he wants to be at, rather than the MLS level. We’ll see if it works for him I suppose.
 

InstaFace

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I'm riding shotgun. With apologies to MMS and other Falogun fanboys, I think Daryl Dike has the highest upside of the group. If he rolls the Champo this spring the way he did spring 2021, he will be in the Big 5 post-haste. And jumping right back in with a huge performance like this is going to get him minutes and excitement with the WBA fans, so it's wonderful that he's off on the right foot to this degree.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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When Wallace vaults onto his shoulders celebrating the goal his frame doesn’t move, it’s striking.
 

67YAZ

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I still say he has a real nose for space. There’s a lot here to work with.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I might like the assist even more than the goal in that regard. Really found the daylight in a packed penalty box.
 

InstaFace

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I still say he has a real nose for space. There’s a lot here to work with.
These are his 2020 highlights for Orlando City, when he was a 19yo rookie drafted out of college. They made my eyes bug out a bit, especially at the power of his full-effort shot:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7eWdZ5mhaA


(here's the supercut)

And his Barnsley highlights as a 20yo in spring 2021, now in the Championship (well known as a super-physical league), were not much less bug-out worthy, especially the Birmingham goal at the very end.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFVezW2M4aw



His balance and body control is kinda amazing for someone as big and strong as he is, and his touch isn't perfect but honestly is better than a lot of his teammates. And while he's a prototypical target man who's gotten worlds better with his head, he has fast-break speed and can slot it away as nimbly as any of the rest of our strikers. None of whom can fall back on power like his.

I'm telling you guys, if he puts it all together and stays healthy from here out, he's got "Champions League striker" written all over him, and we've never had one of those I don't think. Josh Sargent is a very useful player with a ton of skills and great mentality, but he's never going to be lining up opposite Barcelona and Bayern.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I’m certain I’ve said this before but the most eye-popping thing for me was when I first said something like “oh it’ll be great to have a big striker again, we haven’t had anyone with legit size since Jozy” only to go back and discover that Dike has about 3 stone on Jozy. Guy could play free safety.
 

SocrManiac

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I’m certain I’ve said this before but the most eye-popping thing for me was when I first said something like “oh it’ll be great to have a big striker again, we haven’t had anyone with legit size since Jozy” only to go back and discover that Dike has about 3 stone on Jozy. Guy could play free safety.
I don't see any comp to Jozy at all. Dike understands space in a way Jozy can't even pretend to process.
 

67YAZ

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Jozy is a natural second striker who came of age when that position had died off. For a few years there, he was the USMNT’s best final third passer (which also says a lot about our pipeline through 90s & 00s). Jozy was always miscast as a winger or 9 - he was built like a hold up & back to goal guy but wasn’t.

I don’t know what West Brom’s coaching staff are like and how much of developmental support they are providing, but I hope they see all the possibilities Dike presents.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I'll never forget Jozy's run up the left against England that resulted in him firing the potential go ahead goal right at the keeper.

And his AZ highlights MY GOD the AZ highlights!
 

Arroyo Con Frijoles

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His best goal for Sunderland was called back for a foul he earned outside the box as he battered his way through multiple Arsenal defenders. Always loved Big Joze and I'm not ashamed to say it.

Edit: note I might be embellishing this in my memory but don't correct me if so thanks
 

InstaFace

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I’m certain I’ve said this before but the most eye-popping thing for me was when I first said something like “oh it’ll be great to have a big striker again, we haven’t had anyone with legit size since Jozy” only to go back and discover that Dike has about 3 stone on Jozy. Guy could play free safety.
3 stone = 42 pounds, for those of us who don't speak British. :) And don't ask me why the plural of "stone" isn't "stones", because I don't know. Maybe ask John Stones.

And yeah, not only could Dike play free safety, if you read the stories about him growing up in OKC, the local gridiron football coaches were basically lusting after him. His parents forbade him from playing it due to head-injury concerns, and so he went with soccer*. But with his work ethic, intelligence and physical gifts I'm sure he could've been an NFL player if he'd gone that direction (everybody he's played with talks about his intelligence - look at this recent profile of him). I'm looking forward to him being a retort to the old "what if our best athletes played soccer?", because bruising CBs in the championship bounce off of him like he's made of rubber.

I enjoyed this quip / anecdote:
He looks like a linebacker. As a kid from Edmond, an Oklahoma City suburb, it’s almost shocking he isn’t one. But Dike, the youngest of five, had no choice. His parents, both Nigerian immigrants, played soccer. They also play a little tennis and badminton as well. And even though the alternate universe where Daryl is lodging a shuttlecock into an opponent’s thigh off a volley out of sheer force sounds amazing, soccer was always the focus. Matches were always on the living room TV in the Dikes' apartment.
...
He also literally had no choice. His parents wouldn’t let him on a football field despite pleas from local coaches. Too dangerous. Sometimes that even applied to soccer. At 16, Daryl’s club team went to play a USL League Two team made up of college players. His mom requested that he not play out of safety concerns. Daryl was already a giant on the field, and at the same age his brother Bright broke the arm of an opposing goalkeeper in the Oklahoma state tournament ... on a shot. To everyone else, it was unclear who the safety concerns should actually be for.
(the rest of the article is good stuff, too)

Dike's story isn't as inspirational as Ricardo Pepi's, and his soccer education isn't as blue-chip as Folarin Balogun's. But the more you read about him, the more convinced you become that he's destined for stardom as long as he stays healthy.


* ...and where does he end up playing? Target-man striker, where he's constantly swinging his head among a crowd of heads. His parents must require sedatives to watch his games.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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What are the best USMNT-focused podcasts? I’ve tried out a couple episodes of Scuffed recently, curious to know what else is out there as things start getting really fun in the next four years and beyond.
 
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InstaFace

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The only alternative to Scuffed that I think deserves mention is Total Soccer Show with Taylor Rockwell and Joe Lowery. They'll cover MLS and other soccer goings-on as well as the USMNT. They're a little more rah-rah and a little less contemplative than Scuffed (Belz and Greg have a McCartney-Lennon dynamic going on where the latter is the cheeky pessimist and the former is the optimistic ex-journalist who always sees the good in everyone), but TSS does have a wider, non-american perspective through Graham Ruthven. The other reason I don't like them is that they're part of The Athletic podcast network and this means lots and lots of in-show ad reads which are annoying to skip if you're, say, listening while out for a run, but I put up with that for some other podcasts so it's not fatal (and, hell, I still subscribe to TSS on my podcast feed) - just go in knowing that you'll be annoyed by it every episode.

There are also some podcasts hosted by, or with, USMNT players themselves, and they'll often have other players on as guests and do long-form interviews with them. Those can be real good supplements to the two analytical podcasts. In order of preference:

The Crack Podcast (DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu)
Orange Slices (Mark McKenzie and Heath Pierce)
Chum Chat (Tanner Tessmann and Jon Gomez's brother)
Indirect (Tim Ream)
 

rguilmar

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I'll also throw out In Soccer We Trust. I don't necessarily always agree with their takes, but the opinion of three former USMNTers does carry some weight- Jimmy Conrad, Heath Pierce (again), and old friend Charlie Davies. The Conrad schtick can grate on me at times, but they do have some nice insight into the process of being on the team, qualifying, selection and so on.

A bunch of us here are part of the Scuffed Patreon which is like $2 a month and gets you 2-3 times the content. You can also get on their Discord, though it's a bit much for me. Well worth it overall. They have instructions on subscribing on every episode.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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The only alternative to Scuffed that I think deserves mention is Total Soccer Show with Taylor Rockwell and Joe Lowery. They'll cover MLS and other soccer goings-on as well as the USMNT. They're a little more rah-rah and a little less contemplative than Scuffed (Belz and Greg have a McCartney-Lennon dynamic going on where the latter is the cheeky pessimist and the former is the optimistic ex-journalist who always sees the good in everyone), but TSS does have a wider, non-american perspective through Graham Ruthven. The other reason I don't like them is that they're part of The Athletic podcast network and this means lots and lots of in-show ad reads which are annoying to skip if you're, say, listening while out for a run, but I put up with that for some other podcasts so it's not fatal (and, hell, I still subscribe to TSS on my podcast feed) - just go in knowing that you'll be annoyed by it every episode.

There are also some podcasts hosted by, or with, USMNT players themselves, and they'll often have other players on as guests and do long-form interviews with them. Those can be real good supplements to the two analytical podcasts. In order of preference:

The Crack Podcast (DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu)
Orange Slices (Mark McKenzie and Heath Pierce)
Chum Chat (Tanner Tessmann and Jon Gomez's brother)
Indirect (Tim Ream)
I'll also throw out In Soccer We Trust. I don't necessarily always agree with their takes, but the opinion of three former USMNTers does carry some weight- Jimmy Conrad, Heath Pierce (again), and old friend Charlie Davies. The Conrad schtick can grate on me at times, but they do have some nice insight into the process of being on the team, qualifying, selection and so on.

A bunch of us here are part of the Scuffed Patreon which is like $2 a month and gets you 2-3 times the content. You can also get on their Discord, though it's a bit much for me. Well worth it overall. They have instructions on subscribing on every episode.
Awesome, thanks! Thinking I may have to join the Patreon. With my first couple listens to Scuffed I realized it gave me the same kinds of feelings I get reading TB's awesome work here and that I want more of it in my life.
 

InstaFace

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I'll also give a shoutout to the Max Bretos podcast. Experienced commentator with deep footballing knowledge, which will be a blend of MLS, USMNT and world football.

Anything Herc Gomez is speaking on, I'll eagerly listen - he's got a lot more wisdom than a lot of other ex-players. Not for nothing was his interview with Scuffed about dual-national feelings one of the top-5 scuffed episodes, and it had a lot more to do with Herc than with Belz. I think he's more on TV than on podcasts right now, but he used to do one with Max Bretos.

Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers also gets a lot of attention. He does concentrate on US soccer as much as he does other leagues. I guess he was doing it since before it was cool, before I was paying much attention even, and now he's got a whole "media network" built around the core pod. His jovial style can put a smile on your face on most occasions, even if it's a little loquacious, a little much for me to be a regular listener on. But for example, he's a perfect listen for yesterday's podcast talking about the World Cup Final, he's got a way with words, and his flights of fancy for that occasion seem more appropriate than usual.