Morning update

Yow shines, Turner falters, Reyna & McGuire look for deadline moves, and more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with a update with big news from Reyna and Duncan McGuire. Plus, a look at the news from MLS preseason and Americans abroad where Griffin Yow is raising his game big time while Matt Turner is in a bad place.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 31, 2024
9:10 AM

WE’VE HIT WEDNESDAY, and it’s a big day with a lot of news to talk about as the European transfer window winds down, there is a full slate of midweek games, and MLS  teams in preseason are still adding to their rosters.

But first a little housekeeping. In addition to interviews, this week ASN will run a positional analysis on key positions within the USMNT right now and we’re going to start with the ugliest – goalkeeping. It’s hard for longtime fans to believe goalkeeping is so weak in the USA, but that’s where we are. Then we’ll look at forwards, centerbacks, fullbacks, etc.

So that’s a little bit of a look into the future. Before we got to that, we wanted to get through the transfer window.

But let’s look at the busy day ahead.


Yow’s big day


Griffin Yow, 21, is surging at Westerlo this season. After he was the team’s best player in preseason, the start to his season was delayed with a knee injury. But since his return in November, the right winger has been on fire.

Through 13 appearances and 932 minutes in Belgium’s First Division, he now has five goals, three assists, and a drawn penalty. This is coming after Tuesday's MOTM performance when he scored Westerlo’s first two goals in a 4-2 win over Cercle Brugge. The win was important as it continued to push Westerlo into the middle of the table (now in 11th place) after a disastrous start.

As for Yow, he did an in-depth interview with ASN earlier this month and in it he spoke of his top goal to get into the picture for the U.S. U-23 Olympic team. He now has a great shot for a March call-up as he is yet to be involved.

Right now, the U.S. U-23 team is very competitive and the toughest decisions will come in the winger/attacking midfield roles. With the total roster at 18 players, likely four players will come from these positions.

Pretty much Marko Mitrovic will have to take four players from a long list that includes: Griffin Yow, Paxten Aaronson, Kevin Paredes, Diego Luna, Esmir Bajraktarevic, Bernard Kamungo, Taylor Booth, Brian Gutierrez, Cole Bassett, Konrad De la Fuente, Agustin Anello, and perhaps others.

But Yow has a good chance through his hard work and solid performances.

Meanwhile, go back two or three years and tell fans that Yow would be ahead of Konrad de la Fuente or Taylor Booth. No one would have believed it. But things change quickly.


Turner’s woes continue


Matt Turner got a chance to start for Nottingham Forest on Tuesday against his former club Arsenal and once again made a mistake. This time he was beaten on a savable shot in the opening goal of a 2-0 loss. This came just a day after Forest manager Nuno said they were trying to build up Turner’s confidence.

But this is bad. Forest has been looking to bring in another keeper and will now probably up their efforts. It has just gone on too long for Turner.

For the USMNT, this is the worst possible news because there is no stability in the goalkeeping position. Ethan Horvath and Zack Steffen haven’t played for eight months and the other capped options are super young in Gaga Slonina and Patrick Schulte.


Cowell makes first Chivas start


After two substitute appearances, Cade Cowell got the start for Chivas and he went 58 minutes in a 3-2 win over Toluca. He left with the game 2-2.

Overall, his performance was decent but unspectacular. He was playing not as a winger, but more as a center forward. This is historically not his best role, but it is good that the club trusts him. Overall, his hold up play wasn’t great and his shooting was off but he was good with his passing and combinations. Just before he was subbed out he created a decent chance after beating a defender and making a long run into the final third.

Cowell, 20, is showing some good qualities but finishing is still a work in progress – as it has been for a long time in San Jose. But Chivas doesn’t seem to have a properly identified role for him yet which could delay him making an impact.

This is a big assignment for Cowell, going from his hometown in the Bay Area to Chivas where he is a USA international (breaking the club’s historical policy), not speaking Spanish, and having only tangential connections to Mexico. If he does well, watching the response will be very interesting.


Other Tuesday games abroad


In the Premier League, Crystal Palace fought from two separate deficits to avoid a humiliating loss at home and defeat Sheffield United 3-2. Chris Richards went 90 minutes at right back in the win and Auston Trusty went 90 minutes at left back in the loss.

Overall, it was not a great outing for either American but neither made many mistakes either. For Richards, he continues to play a variety of positions but never central defense. For Trusty, he’s just preparing for a return to the Championship next year as Sheffield United has no chance of avoiding relegation.

In Scottland, Scott Pittman scored for Livingston in a 2-2 draw with Ross County. Pittman, 31, is the club’s all-time leader in appearances and is doing what he can to pull the club out of the relegation zone and keep them in the Premiership. But it’s not a good situation as they are six points deep and need wins.


In the Championship, Haji Wright played an uneventful 32 minutes for Coventry City in a 2-2 draw with Bristol City.


Reyna loaned to Nottingham Forest


Per Fabrizio Romano, Gio Reyna’s loan to Nottingham Forest is complete and per subsequent reports there is no option to buy.

This move probably isn’t ideal for Reyna, 21, but it is realistic given that he has not even played 2000 minutes since the start of the 2021/22 season. There has been a lot of reported interest from teams but most of that was smoke and mirrors. Right now, Reyna is not a reliable player given his injury history.

But now he heads to the Premier League with a struggling team facing a possible points deduction. The question now becomes how fit is he to contribute? How will his body handle the stress of the Premier League?

The good news is that Forest’s manager Nuno wants Reyna and that is step one in any transfer. The player needs to be wanted by the manager. Fans lamenting this move are likely comparing it to options that just weren’t terribly realistic. This was probably the option that presented the most amount of minutes right away.

When it comes to Reyna, he’s at a point where he doesn’t have a lot of great options and the main goal for him is just to play regularly after two and a half seasons of rehabbing and only playing sparingly. That’s the main goal and if he does and stays healthy, then it’s mostly “mission accomplished.”


McGuire to Blackburn


In a deal that should be completed soon, Duncan McGuire, 22, is leaving Orlando City for Blackburn after scoring 15 goals in all competitions in his rookie season.

There are a lot of ways to view this transfer but here is my take. First, it came down to Orlando wanting to look to bring in an expensive Designated Player center forward which would have likely moved McGuire to the bench. McGuire had a great season, but it was his rookie season and the team likely had doubts that McGuire could maintain that level (aka the dreaded “sophomore slump”).

But on the other hand, McGuire has value as being a productive No. 9 and is too good to sit on the bench. Therefore, the club had to move him to capitalize on that value.

I am not one who believes that the bottom half of the Championship is a step up from Orlando. Blackburn itself doesn’t have a lot of money at all. But McGuire will get an excellent raise from his $67,000 salary in Orlando plus the vision for him at Blackburn is clear.

Blackburn has the single best forward in the Championship right now in Sammie Szmodics. He leads the league in scoring and has 20 goal in all competitions – and it’s just January. Blackburn, as mentioned, is poor and has more concerns over being relegated to League One again than competing for promotion. They currently sit in 18th place and haven’t won in seven league games.

Just by judging the situation, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they are forced to sell Szmodics. My guess would be this summer. A player who is playing that well will not have the appetite to spend his prime years in the bottom of the Championship.

That is where McGuire comes into the fold. The club needs to build up goal scoring options to prepare for the eventual departure of Szmodics. Instead of Orlando where McGuire was in a situation of threating to be replaced, at Blackburn McGuire is the one being looked to eventually replace someone.

Meanwhile on the international front, this doesn’t change much for McGuire as he is the top Olympic U-23 option of players not in the USMNT pool. That was the case before he moved to Blackburn and it is the case now. But the issue now is whether Blackburn is more inclined to release him to the Olympics this coming summer in late July, early August.


Other players needing a move


Deadline day on Thursday shouldn’t be that busy for Americans outside of Gio Reyna and Duncan McGuire. The next biggest name is Ethan Horvath. Forest is already looking to bring in another goalkeeper and this makes Horvath completely expendable. He wasn’t even registered to play in the fall. The last rumor was Cardiff City who are 14th in the Championship.

If Horvath can’t complete this move today, it is a disaster, and he needs to look at other options where he can move that have different windows. Perhaps a return to Norway or MLS? At this point, it doesn’t matter where as long as he plays.

Other players who need a move could be Alex Mighten, also at Forest after he had his loan to Kotrijk terminated in January.


MLS preseason

The league’s teams have been spending money to upgrade their rosters with just three weeks to go until the season.

The Galaxy are looking to get back into the postseason and upgraded with the purchase of Gabriel Pec from Vasco de Gama. The deal was reportedly for $9.6 million to make him one of the most expensive players in the west. But with the Galaxy, do they have the coaching and depth after a very disappointing 2023. But Pec is just 22 and has 26 goals and 14 assists in 178 appearances for Vasco de Gama.


Bringing in younger players is key, but now the Galaxy must make use out of his talent to eventually sell him and keep the pipeline flowing.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, LAFC added 21-year-old Mexican international left back Omar Campos from Santos Laguna. LAFC is looking to reload after coming up short in MLS Cup. But a lot of players have left and Carlos Vela is still up in the air. Campos is a nice upgrade, but the Champions League games are fast approaching and this team needs a lot more further up the field.

DC United defeated Sudan 6-0 and this goal from Jacob Murrell, 19, was terrific.

With the return of Kristian Fletcher and the potential rise of very young central defender Matai Akinmboni, DC United has a nice group of young players. We will see if Murrell can find his way too.


Post a comment