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Americans Abroad update

Pulisic's stunner, Parks debut, & Blanc says no?

The Hershey star ended a short slump by scoring one of the best goals of his career while Parks and McKennie made notable apperances off the bench. Elsewhere, however, there was some concern in the world of Americans abroad.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 18, 2017
5:00 AM
LAST WEEK, THIS COLUMN stated that Christian Pulisic was in a slump but that he was too good for it to linger and it would also be interesting to see how he broke out of it. Well, breakout of it he did with perhaps the nicest goal of the year scored by an American player.

No doubt there are many exciting young Americans breaking through right now both domestically and abroad. Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Jonathan Gonzalez, Justen Glad, Jonathan Amon, Keaton Parks, and Cameron Carter-Vickers are just a few. But the gap between all those exciting players and Pulisic is large at the moment.

But here is a summary of the top stories among Americans abroad

Pulisic's wonder goal

The chances are that you’ve seen this goal at least a dozen times by now, but we don’t care. Christian Pulisic’s 89th minute winner for Dortmund against Hoffenheim is worth watching on an endless loop. Everything about it is perfect: the vision, the first touch, the execution, and the timing of a later winner making it brilliant.

With the important win Dortmund returns to third place in the Bundesliga. It was the second win in a row for BvB and it reverses a long skid that cost manager Peter Bosz his job. Peter Stoger is a more defensive minded coach but he as clearly helped in his first few weeks on the job, thanks to the United States player of the year.

Parks makes Benfica league debut

It is rare for a young American player to earn minutes for a club as big as Benfica. Last month Keaton Parks made his first team debut for the Portuguese giants in a cup matchup vs. Vitoria Setubal and helped set up a goal.

Yesterday, the tall central midfielder from Texas came off the bench in the 84th minute of a 5-1 win over Tondela. It was his league debut for Benfica which currently sits in third place of Portugal’s top flight. The next step for Parks, of course, will be to get minutes in close games and figure out ways to impose himself.

Minutes at the end of a lopsided game are surely a nice place to start, but Parks will now look to make himself an impact player.

ASN recently interviewed Parks last week and the feature was published on Friday. He clearly is full of confidence at the moment and should be a player to watch in 2018.

McKennie strong off the bench

Weston McKennie, 19, did not start for Schalke but he made his presence felt off the bench when he came on in the 81st minute with Schalke trailing Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0. Schalke scored a minute after McKennie came on as well as again deep into stoppage time to force a 2-2 draw on the road.

Mckennie wasn’t directly part of either of Schalke’s goals but he helped set a better and more aggressive tone in the midfield as Schalke mounted a comeback. The point helped solidify Schalke in second place in the Bundesliga.

Still lots of lost points

Pulisic, McKennie, and Parks aside, there were still too many losses for Americans abroad. DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle are in the process of imploding and are now in the relegation zone after a 1-0 loss to Arsenal. Newcastle has just one point from its last nine games.

Things are not much better for Stoke City and Geoff Cameron. Typically a midtable club, Stoke has one win in its last eight. On Saturday it lost 3-0 at home to West Ham for its third loss in a row where it has been outscored 9-1 over that span.

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Sheffield United were once thought to be promotion contenders in the Championship but Carter-Vickers hit a poor run of form (along with most of the team) and it tumbled to yet another loss on Saturday, this time to Preston North End 1-0. United now has just one point from its last five games.

Blanc turns down the USMNT?

Most of us in the media are not expecting U.S. Soccer to name a new permanent manager for the U.S. national team until after the World Cup or the European season. By that point, there will be a new president of U.S. Soccer and numerous managers should be available.

But in an interview with Le Parisien, former France and PSG manager Laurent Blanc said he was offered the U.S. job but declined because he believed in international soccer, it much “touch your roots” and the Frenchman has no connections to the United States.

Over the coming months there will be many rumors floating around about who will be the next U.S head coach. Many will be completely untrue and some will be downright silly. But if the report about Blanc is true, it would be too bad because his experience seems to check a lot of boxes about what is needed. He is a strong personality that helped rebuild a French team that was embarrassed in 2010. He got the most out of his players and commands instant respect.

It would be too bad if Blanc said no but it is a promising direction if that is where U.S. Soccer is looking.

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