Pulisic, Picault & Yedlin Headline Action Overseas
April 25, 2016
AS AMERICAN FANS sit back and enjoy Christian Pulisic’s emergence in the top tier of the Bundesliga, there are several other good stories to consider. For one, DeAndre Yedlin might be the most improved American player in 2016.
Here are my latest observations on Americans playing abroad.
Pulisic Breaks Bundesliga Record
The hype machine is in full force and there is no point trying to stop it. Christian Pulisic, 17, is proving he belongs at Dortmund. On Saturday he scored in his second straight game as Dortmund cruised to a 3-0 win over Stuttgart. His goal came just before halftime and gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.
With the strike Pulisic became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to register two goals. If it's hard to wrap your mind around that record now being held by an American, well, you're not alone. Pulisic is almost certainly going to see plenty of time in Dortmund’s three remaining league games and maybe even in the German Cup final.
Pulisic is not a star yet but he might be the highest quality teenage prospect the U.S has ever had.
Picault builds on momentum
Two weeks ago, Fafa Picault was unknown to most American fans—outside of Ft. Lauderdale Strikers’ supporters. After a two-goal outing for St. Pauli last weekend, which was followed by a Twitter shoutout from Jurgen Klinsmann and a Q&A segment on U.S. Soccer’s webpage, all that has changed.
In St. Pauli’s next game on Friday, the New York-born, Florida-raised Picault, 25, had a lot more eyes on him than normal but handled the pressure well. He scored his team’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Picault's goal on Friday showcased his skillset. He is a speedster, and on the play he made a smart, opportunistic run into space to finish for the equalizer.
It may be too late for Picault to make the Copa America roster but he has a real shot for the Puerto Rico friendly, which will be limited to foreign-based players. Outside of Bobby Wood, most of the forwards in the player pool (Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Jozy Altidore) are in Major League Soccer.
Wood’s Streak ends
All good things must come to an end and for Bobby Wood his consecutive-game scoring streak was halted at eight as he failed to find the back of the net in Union Berlin’s 6-2 loss to promotion contenders FC Nurnberg.
Wood, 23, is still having a great season—his 17 goals have him in third place of the scoring race in the 2.Bundesliga. Wood is still in a very good position to make a potential move to the Bundesliga next year and even in the loss, the scouts still saw Wood make first-half assist.
With three games remaining, if Wood can reach the 20-goal mark it would probably create a nice competition among bidders for a summer transfer.
Yedlin gains confidence
Right now, all the Premier League talk is about Leicester City, and rightfully so. But there is some intense drama at the bottom of the table as Sunderland pulled out of the bottom three after being widely considered a lock for relegation.
Sunderland’s scoreless draw with Arsenal at home was enough to move it to 31 points, ahead of Norwich City on goal differential for 17th place—the first spot out of the relegation zone.
Yedlin, 22, made his 19th league appearance in the contest and with all due respect to Wood, he is probably the most improved American right now in 2016. This could have a huge effect on the U.S. national team as Yedlin has never seemed to earn the trust of Klinsmann to play in the backline against top teams. Instead he’s been used as a winger, with Fabian Johnson playing as a right back.
Yedlin is now making a strong case to move into that role which would free up Fabian Johnson to play in the midfield.
Despite the strong play of a bunch of younger players, there has to be a little concern right now for Geoff Cameron who has struggled at Stoke City in recent weeks. Stoke City’s 4-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday was the third straight game in which the club conceded four goals.
Cameron has been on the field every minute of those three games and has not played particularly well. As Klinsmann monitors the club progress of his players every week, he can’t be pleased with how things are going at the moment.
With Cameron struggling, John Brooks still injured, Matt Miazga struggling for minutes, Ventura Alvarado and Michael Orozco not getting on the field in Mexico, and Omar Gonzalez having had a poor outing recently for the U.S. team in Guatemala, the U.S. central defense looks even leakier than usual.