Morning update: McKennie and KDLF rumors, Vazquez and Aaronson in USMNT camp, and more
January 24, 2023
HAPPY TUESDAY TO all of you loyal ASN readers. We are so grateful to all of you and we hope that you are enjoying the morning update returning to a regular segment. It’s a good time too with USMNT camp, transfer rumors, MLS preseason, and Americans abroad all in full swing. You don’t have to look far for stories.
Anyway, let’s get this started on the eve of the first USMNT game of 2023.
McKennie transfer rumors heat up
Juventus is in a tough situation after being docked 15 points. They’re not going to be in Europe. Weston McKennie, 24, rumors have been around for a few transfer windows now but they seem a little more real right now. The club hasn’t been as successful since his arrival, they’re probably going to want to make a fresh start given the punishment, and McKennie has been playing out of position at right midfield. While he’s doing well, they can probably find a true right midfielder if they needed.
All this adds to speculation that he will leave. Juventus doesn’t need McKennie to play out of position.
First, via Fabrizio Romano, we have reported interest from Leeds United. That would make McKennie the third U.S. international on the team under American head coach Jesse Marsch. Then you have interest from Arsenal per Gazzetta della Sport in Italy. On one hand, these rumors make sense because the Premier League seems like the best fit for McKennie.
There are certainly risks with each move. Arsenal is leading the Premier League and Mikel Arteta is not going to easily change a lineup that is working. McKennie would very likely play at Leeds but McKennie would likely be done with European soccer for years. Also, Leeds United is currently one point above the relegation zone. That is a scary situation because he does not belong in the Championship.
More clubs with interest will likely surface. We’ve seen Tottenham’s name float around as well. McKennie doesn’t need to move and should only move if it is a good fit. Despite the issues at Juventus, the status quo for McKennie isn’t bad.
I think McKennie only moves if a transfer is obviously a good fit. Otherwise, he stays the season and everything is revisited in the summer.
Konrad de la Fuente interest
European media reported this on Monday – Konrad de la Fuente is drawing interest from AZ Alkmaar.
This is also an extremely risky move. De la Fuente had a miserable 2022. He was injured and faded out of Marseille amid reports that questioned his professionalism. Then Marseille sent him to Olympiacos where he is not playing at all.
Now AZ Alkmaar? That move doesn’t seem to make sense. AZ is currently having a great season and is in contention to win the Eredivisie (just two points off the top). This doesn’t seem to be a club that would need an winger who barely played in 2022 for Marseille or Olympicos. Would this be a transfer or a loan? It might make sense if they can acquire him for a low price and see what he has at the reserve level. But otherwise, it could be a tough climb for de la Fuente.
The big reason why this is doesn’t make sense is that Konrad de la Fuente doesn’t have an EU passport (which is part of his problem in Greece). That means AZ would have to pay him the Eredivsie’s high non-EU minimum salary – or have it be supplemented by Marseille. That’s also a huge obstacle.
De la Fuente, 21, will move somewhere. But AZ seems like a tall task right now.
2015 U-17 team showcases in January camp
In total, four players from the 2015 U.S. U-17 World Cup team were in Qatar: Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, and Haji Wright. But two of the most promising newcomers into this January camp were two players from that player who are yet to be capped.
Brandon Vazquez is on the team after scoring 18 goals and adding eight assists for Cincinnati last year. Club America’s Alex Zendejas, meanwhile, played for Mexico but is still eligible for the U.S. team and has had a very good year with Club America.
"The camaraderie between our old squad is the same as it's always been," Vazquez told the media on Monday. "It's been, like, seven years since we've all had our group together. But the friendships are all the same. We all pretty much stay in contact still through social media and stuff. So coming back together and being together is always a lot of fun being able to catch up."
But Vazquez was also asked about Zendejas who arrived in camp on the heels of a 2-2 draw with Pumas where he scored and assisted on both of Club America’s goals.
“Alex is an absolute baller,” Vazquez said. “He's so shifty. His velocity and speed is great, and he's amazing on the ball. So going with him is always really, really fun.”
U.S. U-20 playmaker Paxten Aaronson is in camp ahead of his USMNT debut and he also spoke highly of Zendejas’ inclusion into the team.
“He's a really dynamic left footed player,” Aaronson said. “When he picks the ball up, he always looks like he's going to create something special when he has the ball on that left foot. He's a special player.”
Aaronson discusses Frankfurt move
Paxten Aaronson, 19, spoke to the media about his move to Eintracht from the Philadelphia Union. While he has only been there for a few days before returning for the U.S. national team camp, he is impressed with the Europa League champions. What sealed the deal on the move was their plan for him.
“When a club like Eintracht comes to you with a real plan and some identity for me what hooked me,” Aaronson said. “They came to me with a true plan and a plan to set me up for success. They weren't just buying me to buy me. They really do have a true plan, and I fit into their system the style they want to play. And that immediately caught my eye. And of course, when a team of that caliber comes in... it obviously turns a switch on my head. I want to go there and take that next step in my career.”
“It is going to take me some time to adapt, get used to the new tactics, off the field stuff, living alone, moving out there,” he added.
Aaronson said he speaks to his older brother, U.S. national team attacker Brenden Aaronson, on a regular basis for advice. He also said he has been playing as a No. 10 in his brief time so far at Eintracht but also noted that the club did not hesitate to release him for this U.S. national team.
It is still too early to talk about a timeline for Aaronson and what he wants to accomplish with the Bundesliga club and when he wants to accomplish it. But the fact that they release him likely indicates the club sees him as a longer term play.
That likely means the club would be willing to release him for the U-20 World Cup. While Aaronson could be an option for the Nations League or the Gold Cup (which he was enthusiastic about when asked), he also hopes to play in the U-20 World Cup.
Last summer, Aaronson was the best player and the leading scorer at the CONCACAF U-20 Championships which the United States won to qualify for the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics – ending a drought that dated back to 2008.
“We had a really special moment in that U-20 World Cup qualifiers - ending the Olympic drought and then going to the U-20 World Cup,” Aaronson said. “It would be an amazing opportunity to be able to get back with those guys. I love that group of guys. I love the coaching staff and I love playing with them. They're really just true friends. On the field, we have amazing chemistry. Hopefully I get the opportunity to be with them for the U-20 World Cup coming up. Hopefully if I keep taking the right steps, I get to be with them again at the Olympics.”
Fortunately for Aaronson, U.S. U-20 head coach Mikey Varas is an assistant with the USMNT this camp.
Americans abroad on Monday
Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson each went a full 90 for Fulham, but the Cottagers lost their second game in a row. This time a 1-0 decision at home to Tottenham in a London Derby. Robinson played particularly well on the left side but Fulham was held scoreless for the second game in a row.
Yunus Musah, 20, also played well in an otherwise disappointing result. The U.S. national team midfielder went the distance for Valencia in a 2-2 draw with Almeira. Valencia sit midtable in 12th place with Almeira nearby in 14th place.
Reggie Cannon, meanwhile, only played the final minutes of stoppage time for Boavista in a 1-1 draw with Chaves. Cannon is in a tough spot. He hasn’t played right back for Boavista in over a year and is struggling in central defense. At some point he will need to make a move because midtable Portugal was always seen as a stepping-stone for him. But what is the next step if minutes are harder to come by and he doesn’t play his best position?
Ikoba signs extension
Iowa native and Dartmouth graduate Eduvie Ikoba, 25, is the leading scorer in Hungary’s top division, NB I with 10 goals on the season for ZTE. On Monday, he signed an extension with ZTE to keep him at the club through 2025.
American forward, Eduvie Ikoba, 25, is currently the leading scoring in Hungary's top tier, the NB I with 10 goals for ZTE.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2023
- Today, ZTE announced a contract extension with Ikoba through 2025
- Ikoba & ZTE return to action tomorrow vs. Henry Wingo and leaders, Ferencvaros. https://t.co/qshYJOd7kQ
ZTE returns from break and will face current leaders and defending champions Ferencvaros which has fellow American Henry Wingo.
NYCFC's PEruvian defender Alexander Callens signed for Girona.
LA Galaxy's Samuel Grandsir has transferred to Le Havre in France's Ligue 2.
Cincinnati's Ronald Matarrita has been transferred to Dnipro-1 in the Ukraine.
Colorado Rapids signed Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, 24, from Wolverhampton
Minnesota United acquired Swedish central defender Mikael Marques from AFC Eskilstuna.
Houston Dynamo signed winger Amine Bassi from Ligue 2's Metz.