News analysis

Wild MLS midweek, Ream is Mr. Championship, U-20s to open cycle in Slovenia

The midweek action in MLS had people talking - which is good. It certainly wasn't all positive, but it was wild. Americans abroad was more mild but Tim Ream continues to be a rock in the Championship and Dest is breaking through at a high level. Also of note, the 2021 U-20 cycle will kickoff in September. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 22, 2019
2:00 PM
THE MIDWEEK slate of games turned out to be absolutely wild in MLS as it mixed a rare combination unbelievable goals, horrible officiating, poor behavior, red cards, and coaches losing their mind. All things said, it was great entertainment. The midweek abroad, meanwhile, was a lot tamer but still interesting.

Regardless of the officiating, blow ups, and meltdowns, it made for great entertainment and it actually provided moments that left people talking about two of the three games (the NYCFC win over Columbus was relatively tame). That is generally not too common for midweek MLS games in late August.

But here were some talking points from midweek action both here and abroad.

Rooney’s meltdown, Kamara’s goalzo, Robles saves

The Red Bulls’ 2-1 away win over DC United

Ever since he announced he was leaving DC United for Derby County at the end of the season, Wayne Rooney has been playing poorly. Then on Wednesday night, this happened.

A clear-cut red card for a forearm to the head of Cristian Casseres. It was ugly in an era where everyone is looking to penalize blows to the head. It’s a shame too because Rooney’s tenure with DC began with so much optimism as he produced and was true professional off the field. But DC United is seeing its season collapse and Rooney is part of the problem.

But just as the Red Bulls were dominating, Ola Kamara hit his first goal for the club. In any other week it would be the league’s best goal of the week, but not this week.

Then the Red Bulls quickly moved back in front because of a very questionable penalty decision. Daniel Royer made no mistake about converting the opportunity.

But the end of the game was defined by Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles who made a series of huge saves. It has been a recurring theme now where Robles has helped preserve a big result for New York. In recent memory it has been in wins over Orlando and Toronto where he has come up huge.

The problem for the Red Bulls, however, is that the team is struggling to put teams away after taking a lead. It gradually lets other teams back into the game. The team should be higher up in the standings.

LAFC puts on a show

Los Angeles FC is a wrecking ball right now and is destroying everything in its path. As good as Atlanta and the Red Bulls have been in recent years, LAFC is much better. With the 4-0 win over San Jose on Wednesday, its goal differential is +46. That is higher than the combined goal differential of every Eastern Conference teams with a positive differential.

But Wednesday night was a clinic. And the highlight came from Carlos Vela who scored one of the best goals in the history of the league.

And then, of course, you had Matias Almeyda melting down and getting ejected after the officials did not award San Jose a penalty – which would have been the correct call. But Almeyda’s reaction was on another level and he apologized after the game.

Ream & Fulham win

Fulham destroyed Millwall 4-0 on Wednesday and the game was never in question from the opening whistle. As is typical, U.S. international Tim Ream went a full 90 for Fulham in the win. Fulham has now conceded just a single goal over 270 minutes with the St. Louis native on the field.

Performances like these really show just how strong Tim Ream is at the Championship level. In this league, Ream has been named Bolton’s Player of the Year twice and Fulham’s Player of the Year once – in a year where it was promoted. Now Fulham is off to another strong start with Ream anchoring the backline.

The Championship is a tough league where teams have to slog it out over 46 league games and two cups. There is a huge range of talent and the physical nature of the games make it tough to stand out. The face that Ream has had so much success at this level is impressive.

Dest and Ajax earn away draw

Sergino Dest, 18, is making a very strong case his first U.S. national team call-up. After playing at a U-17 World Cup and a U-20 World Cup, Dest has broken into Ajax’s first team and is getting regular minutes. On Tuesday, Dest came off the bench in the 62nd minute in Ajax’s 0-0 road draw against APOEL in the first leg of its Champions League qualifier.

Of note, Ajax full back Noussair Mazraoui picked up a red card which only increases the chances Dest will start in the return leg.

In the game Dest held his own. He had some moments where he showed his quality and didn’t make any major errors. These experiences are extremely impressive and valuable for him at this stage of his career.

2021 U-20 Cycle to kickoff

ASN has learned that the U.S. U-20 team will open the 2021 cycle during the September international break with a camp in Slovenia from September 2-10. It will be coached by Tab Ramos and friendlies against Croatia and the United Arab Emirates are not finalized but tentatively scheduled.

Of course, the entire pool for the cycle is not available as players on the 2019 U-17 national team are preparing for the upcoming U-17 World Cup.

This camp will likely feature the key players of the 2001 birth year.

Possible callups could be: David Ochoa, Ulysses Llanez, Julian Araujo, Konrad de la Fuente, Taylor Booth, Ian Hoffmann, Ricardo Hategan, Cameron Harper, Matthew Hoppe, Thomas Roberts, Cole Bassett, Tanner Tessmann, Bryan Reynolds, Cameron Duke, Indiana Vassilev, and Matko Milijevic. Charlie Kelman might be possible although Southend United is in League One which plays through the international window.

Argentinos Junior’s Matko Milijevic has been featuring for Argentina’s youth national team lately and played once for the U.S. U-16 team. Per Arch Bell, Tab Ramos is speaking with Milijevic although that does not necessarily mean a call-up is approaching.

Another player to watch is England youth international Folarin Balogun who also played once for the U.S. U-18 last year but whose rise at Arsenal is likely to keep him in the mix for the Lions.

Overall, it is a pretty strong group but uneven. Some positions, like central defense, seem thin at this early point. But players are certain to emerge in the year ahead that are not even in the picture right now.

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