A look at Perea's switch, the U-23s, midweek games, and transfers
January 13, 2021
WE HAVE HIT MIDWEEK and that brought several bits of news from both games abroad as well as from the United States national team camps for both the full team and the U-23 team. Both Gregg Berhalter and Jason Kreis spoke to the media in recent days and offered some insight on the status of the team.
The most significant news out of camp so far, however, was the announcement that Andres Perea had committed to the U.S. program.
Here is a look at the news
On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer announced that Orlando City defensive midfielder Andres Perea, 20, is now a U.S. international-eligible player after FIFA accepted his application for a one-time change. Born in Tampa, Florida to Colombian parents (his father was a former professional player and coach in Colombia), Perea represented Colombia at the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and the U-20 World Cup in 2019.
Last month, Perea participated in the U.S. national team camp in Florida but was unable to play in the friendly against El Salvador given he was still a Colombian player. That changed on Tuesday.
So, what does this mean?
Perea is still developing but is a player with high potential. When listening to both Berhalter and Kreis speak about him, both coaches have spoken highly about his “range” and his ability to cover ground. There are some interesting defensive midfield prospects emerging behind the obvious first-choice starter in Tyler Adams.
Johnny Cardoso is playing for Internacional in Brazil although he has been dealing with an injury since November. Jackson Yueill has quietly been effective for the U.S. team. Chris Durkin was sold for seven figures to St. Truiden. Owen Otasowie is promising, although his position is still undefined.
Perea is interesting because, stylistically, he is the most similar No. 6 in the player pool to Tyler Adams. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily better than the other options yet, but if he continues to progress, he could be a good backup for Adams in that the team would not have to readjust or realign its midfield. Perea can play the lone No. 6 role and cover the required defensive ground.
He still has a ways to go in order to get to that point but for now he looks to be a strong bet to start for the U.S. U-23 team in Olympic qualifying.
“Andres we find to be a really, really interesting holding midfield player for us – that is what we are looking at him as,” Kreis said on Perea with the U-23 team. “The amount of ground he is capable to cover defensively is a little bit different level than some of the other guys that we have in our pool. His processing of the ball, he's still learning a little bit about that and what we're looking for in a number 6. But he's showing marked improvement just from last camp to this camp. We can already see that he is taking on the ideas and applying himself really well."
U.S. fans should be excited about Perea’s potential. He is in Orlando because the club scouted him at Atletico Nacional and paid a good value to both bring him in on loan and then make the deal permanent. In 2020, Perea saw his minutes increase towards the end of the season as the club pushed into the playoffs. He has developed well under former Colombian international Oscar Pareja who has been very good with young players during his time as a coach over the past decade.
Moving into 2021, Perea should see his minutes increase and he is a player that has the potential to be sold to Europe for a decent price in the not-too-distant future.
When addressing the media, Kreis spoke about the U-23 team, the qualifying tournament, and a few of his players.
Daryl Dike, 20, is perhaps the most interesting newcomer in camp after he impressed in his first professional season. In 2020, Dike used not just his 6’2, 220 pound size to be effective but he also showed skill and ability as well.
Kreis seemed to hint the Dike was still a work in progress but one with a high upside.
“Daryl has some things to learn about what is different about what Orlando City wants from their strikers, which might perhaps be different from what we are looking for in ours,” Kreis said. “But he is a super, super, good, hungry and eager to learn young player. He really wants to learn and you can pick up on that every time you talk with him. I am eager to see how he progresses in his two weeks here.”
On other players, Kreis also singled out Sam Vines for praise while also adding that while Cole Bassett was not selected for this camp, he will be in contention for a spot on the qualifying team.
Kreis also added several nuggets during his call.
He said that he was expecting CONCACAF Olympic qualifying to be roughly the same time as it was scheduled in 2020. This would be straddling the March international window. He also wanted to have his team together for a few weeks before the tournament. The lack of clarity on the 2021 MLS Schedule, however, makes this difficult.
Kreis also added that the release of players from Europe would be tough but that U.S. national team general manager Brian McBride is handling those discissions. Kreis admitted that there are several players who he knows are obviously going to be rejected but he said that if he feels there is even a 15% to 20% chance of obtaining a release for a player he wants on the team; calls will be made to clubs.
How good is the U-23 team?
Obviously, the U-23 age group for the United States has been earning almost universal praise because it includes players like Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, and Gio Reyna. The problem, of course, is that Jason Kreis is limited in who he can select because clubs are not required to release players for youth levels – including the U-23 team. Everything must be voluntary.
When looking strictly at domestic options, the team is decent and should have a good chance to qualify. It’s not a great team but it is pretty good. Still there are a lot of holes.
The forward position with Daryl Dike and Jeremy Ebobisse is in good shape. Center midfield options at the No. 8 and No. 6 positions are also solid. Eryk Williamson, Jackson Yueill, and now Andres Perea give the team strength in and solid passing in that area of the field. The fullbacks are also solid with Julian Araujo, Bryan Reynolds, Kyle Duncan, and Aaron Herrera solid at right back. Sam Vines is a good left back as well – especially at getting forward.
But there is plenty of concern for the team in some areas and Kreis is going to have to make a push to obtain the release of abroad players.
The domestic winger position is very thin. Jonathan Lewis is on the roster, Brooks Lennon would have been if he wasn’t injured, while Jesus Ferreira and Djordje Mihailovic play on the wing as a second position. Kreis might have to push for Uly Llanez or Konrad de la Fuente.
Another question for the team is the creative midfield position as Djordje Mihailovic is the only true No. 10 on the roster in Florida. Others like Ferreira and Williamson play it as a second position. Last March, the 2020 qualifying roster contained Richard Ledezma, Brenden Aaronson, and Paxton Pomykal. With Ledezma and Pomykal injured and Aaronson transferred, that leaves a huge void.
Central defense is still pretty good with the existing domestic options. Miles Robinson, Aboubacar Keita, Mauricio Pineda, Henry Kessler, and even Justen Glad (not in camp) are competent options but the inclusion of Erik Palmer-Brown, Mark McKenzie, Chris Richards, or Cameron Carter-Vickers would be a massive addition.
Goalkeeping, however, remains perhaps the biggest concern as playing time has been minimal for both players based domestically as well as abroad.
The bottom line is that this team is improved from the two previous failed cycles but qualifying will be very difficult. With only two teams qualifying from out of the region, any mistake can sink this team - or any team.
When Berhalter addressed the media, he did not speak too much about the players he had in camp. Among the bits of news he addressed is that he was unlikely to add any new players for the camp during the final week after the U-23 merger. Instead, he wants to reward those who have been in camp the entire time.
He also added that he was impressed with not just the recent hat trick for Matthew Hoppe at Schalke but also with how the American displayed off-the-ball movement and finishing skills. He also expressed hope that Owen Otasowie would get a regular slate of games.
Meanwhile, Jordan Morris spoke to the media and one of his key points is that he is open to a move a broad and that talks with Seattle are “taking place.”
Two Americans found themselves being part of transfer drama on Wednesday. Molde right back Henry Wingo has been the subject of talk over a move Ferencvaros. On Wednesday, that inched closer as Molde’s sporting director told the media a transfer price had been set and now Wingo must agree to personal terms with the Hungarian Champs.
Report: Molde sporting director Erik Stavrum tells the media that the Norwegian club has agreed to a transfer price for American right back and former Sounder Henry Wingo with Ferencvaros. The player must now agree to personal terms with the Hungarian champs. https://t.co/V4eQctcgYZ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 13, 2021
The endless saga over FC Dallas teenage right back Bryan Reynolds continues with the latest from The Athletic now stating that Club Brugge is returning to the fold. Brugge had been interested before until reports of some of the biggest clubs in Italy being interested. Now the Belgian champs have returned into the mix. If this deal moves forward, it will be interesting to see how so much unreliable information was leaked out and how much of it was accurate.
Monday & Tuesday games
Among the games on the field early in the week, here were the top stories.
Cameron Harper made his professional debut for Celtic against Hibernian on Monday. Celtic won the game 1-0 and Harper played 62 minutes. A talented winger, Harper was expected to be a big part of the U.S. U-20 team in 2021 before that cycle was cancelled. Harper is in the final year of his contract with Celtic and perhaps this debut will open the door to him remaining.
The debut came in light of 13 Celtic players, head coach Neil Lennon, and an assistant being forced to isolate after a trip to Dubai during the winter break. Harper wasn’t particularly sharp in the game but only found out he was starting on short notice.
Powers sharp for Dundee United
In Scotland’s top flight, Dillon Powers, 29, had his strongest game in years when he was a standout for Dundee United in a 2-2 draw with St. Johnstone. Ian Harkes also started in central midfield to give the club an all-American approach in that area of the field.
While Harkes starts most games, this was a rare start for Powers who had his best game since moving to Scotland last year.
Dillon Powers: Raw # for Dundee United in 2-2 draw vs. St. Johnstone— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 12, 2021
1 key pass
3/8 long balls
15 duels won (!!) 7 lost
5x fouled (!)
5 aerials won/0 lost (!)
- Solid game from the Texan!
De la Torre strong for Heracles
Luca de la Torre, 22, might have had the best game of his career on Saturday when he anchored the Heracles midfield in a 4-0 win over FC Emmen in the Eredivisie.
Playing centrally, de la Torre created chances and passed effectively against the worst team in the league. As a player eligible for the U.S. U-23 team, he might be a player that Kreis seeks to bring into the fold.
Luca de la Torre: raw # for Heracles in 4-0 win vs Emmen— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 13, 2021
3 chances created
34/52 passes in attacking half
3 key passes
4 duels won (3 lost)
2 aerials won (0 lost)
- touch map pic.twitter.com/l96I8ahIqY
Heracles has now won three of its last four games to push into midtable in Holland.
Yedlin starts again for Newcastle
DeAndre Yedlin made his fifth straight Premier League start for Newcastle United on Tuesday in a 1-0 loss to Sheffield United. Yedlin, 27, played well but it was a tough assignment given that Newcastle was reduced to 10 players just before halftime. Yedlin was forced into long-stretches of defending and it was tough for them to push the ball into the attack.
But Yedlin has made the most of his opportunities over the past month and, from a national team perspective, has moved up the crowded right back depth chart.
But Yedlin is in the last year of his contract, and he has certainly improved his chances to earn a nicer contract for his prime years.
Cameron assists in QPR win
Geoff Cameron, 35, had a very nice game for Queens Park Rangers in a much needed 2-0 win over Luton Town on Tuesday. Cameron’s flick-on header in the first half ended up being the assist on Charlie Austin’s opening goal. Teenage American forward Charlie Kelman played the final minutes of stoppage time for QPR.
CHARLIE AUSTIN RETURNS pic.twitter.com/1JO4vUfwv4— QPR San Diego (@QPR_SanDiego) January 12, 2021