Preseason roundup

European preseason: Aaronson bros build cases, Pepi impresses, and much more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta goes through Europe and writes up his thoughts on the past few days of preseason - where many Americans featured. Also, some transfer news continues to trickle in. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
July 18, 2023
10:50 AM

THE EUROPEAN preseason is in full force, but it is still a little early and it is unwise to read too much into the results or even the performances. But there are a few items that are well worth watching, along with several American players still looking to make moves.

Some of the results are silly. Yes, Paxten Aaronson scored four goals and Timmy Chandler added another one for Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly. But the score was 15-1. Lennard Maloney and Heidenheim also won 14-0 over SV Mergelstetten although the American d-mid did not get on the board. The winner in terms of routs went to Venezia who defeated a local amateur side 31-0 with Andrija Novakovich scoring nine goals and Tanner Tessmann adding five assists.

Here are Paxten Aaronson’s four goals. His Eintracht Frankfurt team plays fourth-tier TSV Steinbach today.


Pepi scores for PSV


PSV pulled off a 2-1 preseason win over Blau-Weiss Linz on Saturday. The newly promoted Austrian Bundesliga team gave PSV a solid test at this point and it was USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi who scored the second PSV goal.

As I mentioned last week, this is a move to be optimistic about. Pepi is playing the same level of opponents, just with better teammates.


Reynolds nears Westerlo return


A report out of Belgium said that Bryan Reynolds was nearing a return to Westerlo on a full transfer from Rome. He spent last season with the Belgian club on loan. This report is similar to what I am hearing.

I think it is another good move for an American this summer, even if it is not changing clubs. Reynolds needs more stability. He doesn’t need to move around again (Dallas, to Rome to Kortrijk on loan, back to Roma, to Westerlo on loan) at a time when he has never really mastered the right back position after developing as a winger. Among fans, there is always an urge to see players take the next step quickly. Many times, however, there is a huge value in staying put.

Reynolds was twice the player at Westerlo he was a Kortrijk. But despite that progress, there is still more he can learn at Westerlo. In addition, Westerlo will have the financial incentive to invest in his development since they will own him.


Yow showing huge progress


Speaking of Westerlo, former DC United winger Griffin Yow looks to be part of the club’s first team plans and he is impressing in preseason. On Saturday, the Virginia native scored a goal and added an assist in a 2-1 win over PAOK.

Keep a close eye on Yow’s progress because it looks like he is taking big strides. If he does well, he could push for a spot in the Olympic team – although the winger position is crowded on the U.S. U-23 level with Kevin Paredes, Diego Luna, Cade Cowell, Taylor Booth, along with players like Paxten Aaronson and Brian Gutierrez who are attacking midfielders who can play as wingers.


Trusty & Balogun traveling to DC


Arsenal announced its roster that will head to the United States to play in the MLS All-Star game on Wednesday. Matt Turner is resting after a busy USMNT summer. But Auston Trusty and Folarin Balogun will travel with the team. Both players are coming off good seasons at very different levels and have an interesting month ahead.

Balogun has a legitimate chance of making Arsenal’s roster but he could force a blockbuster transfer as his 20+ goals in Ligue 1 have improved his stock. He has said he does not want to go on loan again. So what will it be? Arsenal or a huge club willing to spend a fortune on him? We will know more inside of the next four weeks.

Trusty, meanwhile, is unlikely to make Arsenal’s team. That’s not a bad thing. At this point in his career, he should not be a backup. He should go to a place where he can play. He stood out for Birmingham City last year with Birmingham City and Arsenal could either seek another loan (probably with an option to buy) or sell him. The most likely target would be to a better Championship team. But playing with Arsenal this preseason will only help his stock.


Covil nears return


American attacking midfielder/winger Vaughn Covil could have been in the mix for the U.S. U-20 team last cycle but suffered a torn ACL in a first team matchup with Hull City. He’s back now, but might need a short-term loan to shake off the rust.

There are reports he could be heading to the Irish league, which is weak but a place he could play before returning to Hull in January in the Championship.

Covil is yet to appear in a preseason game for Hull City.


Aaronson scores for Union Berlin


Brenden Aaronson scored after coming off the bench in the 58th minute for Union Berlin in a 2-1 loss to Hungary’s ZTE on Saturday. Aaronson’s goal was near the end and pulled Union back to within one. American forward Jordan Pefok didn’t contribute for Union Berlin nor did Iowa’s Eduvie Ikoba for ZTE.

I’m optimistic for Aaronson. I think he will thrive out of the Premier League in a less physical environment.

As for Pefok, he is coming into an important year for Union Berlin. After a strong start to the 2022/23 season, he has only scored once since last September. Ikoba, meanwhile, should hope to move on after a 10 goal season for ZTE in 2022/23. At 25, he needs to move up as soon as he can.


Weah arrives in Juventus


Tim Weah is now training with Juventus after completing his transfer from Lille. As you can say about 95% of transfers, if he plays, it will be a good move. There is an opening for Weah in Turin. Juventus spent real money on him, but not so much that he is a lock starter.

There are still so many questions about Weah. Is he really a right wingback or right wing? Is the No. 9 completely ruled out? Will he finally play 2000 minutes in a season?

We all know Weah has talent and can play at a high level. But we’ve only seen it in glimpses. I think this is how Juventus views him - a calculated risk worth taking. We don’t know if or when Weah will finally put it all together to be consistently dangerous.


Reyna still injured


Gio Reyna continues to miss time for Borussia Dortmund as he remains sidelined well into preseason due to the ankle injury he suffered in the Nations League final win over Canada.


For Reyna, this has been the story of his young career. Lots of talent but also lots of injuries. He’s never truly been able to get going.


Che lands at Brondby


Justin Che has landed at Brondby on a full transfer from Dallas. This comes after Hoffenheim declined the option to buy on its 18-month loan.

This seems a much more reasonable level for Che and one where the club is going to be invested in his development. We saw a lot of Che at the U-20 World Cup. His athleticism is off the charts. But now he will need to learn the tactical side of the game. It will be interesting to see if Brondby sees him as a right back or central defender.


Sonora a free agent


Alan Sonora’s brief but disappointing run at FC Juraez in Mexico is over after the two parties agreed to terminate the deal by mutual consent. Sonora made just eight appearances (three starts) since arriving in February.

Not sure what is next for him. Sonora might be able to find interest in MLS but not for the same amount as when he was entertaining offers from MLS teams back in December and January. He might also look to return to Argentina where he is familiar.

Sonora has played regularly with the USMNT in 2023 although it is hard to see him earning more call-ups until he is settled and playing better.


Fossey not for sale


Marlon Fossey has been playing for Standard Liege this preseason. But the club’s sporting director Fergal Harkin has come out and said Fossey and Noah Ohio are not for sale just yet because they think they can still develop more and become more valuable.

"Whether we are able to say 'no'? Of course,” Harkin said. “If we think it is a good thing for the club. But we know that these players will continue to develop in the coming months. So this is not the right thing to do time to sell them.”


Gooch takes America


For Lynden Gooch, it is rare but also rewarding to be back in the States. He’s with Sunderland on their North American tour and picked up an assist in a 3-1 friendly win over San Antonio of the USL Championship.

Sunderland should be in contention for promotion this season. Last season the club finished in the top 10 after earning promotion the year before. Gooch has been playing as a right back and has been effective in the Championship.


Rough preseason for Hoffenheim


It has been a rough week for TSG Hoffenheim in their preseason and American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo has some work to do ahead of the Bundesliga opener next month. On Saturday, the club lost 2-1 to SV Elversberg who are newly promoted to the 2.Bundesliga. Then on Monday, the club lost 2-1 to Strasbourg in France. John Brooks started both games.


Cardoso on the move?


At least one journalist in Brazil is saying that Internacional does not expect Johnny Cardoso to be with the club much longer – with a move likely by the end of July. The report also seems to indicate that Internacional wants to keep 30% of his rights.

The New Jersey native has been a regular starter for Internacional since the start of 2022.

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