McIntyre's USMNT Stock Watch: Gio Reyna trending up, injured Zack Steffen down

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Borussia Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna (right) became the youngest American to play in the Bundesliga in Saturday's win over Augsburg. (Getty)
Borussia Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna (right) became the youngest American to play in the Bundesliga in Saturday's win over Augsburg. (Getty)

The American-heavy German Bundesliga is finally back in action following its annual mid-winter recess, and that means that Yahoo Sports’ USMNT Stock Watch — our weekly roundup of the U.S. men’s national team players (and hopefuls) making news with their clubs — is back, too.

There’s no shortage of places to begin. But despite our mandate to provide sober and measured takes on members of the player pool, the obvious entry point this week concerns the blue-chip son of a U.S. legend, a youngster who has already started to make a name for himself after just a few short months on the books of a European club regarded as one of the world’s top talent incubators. The Gio Reyna era, ladies and gentlemen, is officially underway.

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USMNT players trending up

M/F Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

The 17-year-old son of two-time U.S. World Cup captain Claudio Reyna became the youngest American to play in the Bundesliga when he came off the bench for BVB in Saturday’s come-from-behind win in Augsburg.

Takeaway: Widely considered the most promising U.S. prospect since Christian Pulisic, Reyna is following an identical path. Pulisic also made his top-flight debut following a standout winter camp back in 2016, and parlayed that playing time into his senior national team debut two months later, in a World Cup qualifier no less. If Reyna continues to get minutes with Dortmund, there’s next to no chance that Berhalter, a known admirer of the technical and fleet-footed attacker (and a longtime teammate of Claudio), doesn’t extend an invite for March friendlies at Wales and the Netherlands.

M/F Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England)

This might seem counterintuitive: An adductor injury forced Pulisic out of the Blues’ last two Premier League games, and he’s not expected to be healthy in time for Tuesday’s London derby vs. Arsenal, or this weekend’s FA Cup tilt with Hull City, either.

Takeaway: Chelsea missed Pulisic’s line-breaking dribbling mightily in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Newcastle, in which they produced just four on-target shots. If the Blues continue to struggle in the final third over the next few weeks, the 21-year-old could actually become a more crucial part of manager Frank Lampard’s plans than before he got hurt.

M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Germany)

After making his season debut in Leipzig’s final match before the winter break, Adams went 86 minutes in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Union Berlin.

Takeaway: Adams’ return to fitness is obviously great news, but perhaps more significant is the role he occupied over the weekend. The 21-year-old, who lined up at right back in the last match of 2019, is apparently manager Julian Nagelsmann’s first choice to replace midfielder destroyer Diego Demme, who was just sold to Italian Serie A power Napoli. This would seem to increase the chances that Berhalter keeps Adams in a similar spot with the U.S., especially if he excels in next month’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 matchup with Tottenham.

F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany)

The 19-year-old Sargent — he turns 20 next month — reclaimed his place in Florian Kohfeldt’s starting 11 following the hip injury that prevented him from playing in Bremen’s final four contests in December.

Takeaway: No, Sargent didn’t score in the 1-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf. But the soft-footed striker has clearly won the confidence of Kohfeldt and will be relied on by the coach as the 16th-place side attempts to climb away from the relegation zone.

G Bill Hamid, D.C. United (England)

Hamid made waves last offseason when he said he was better than the keepers Berhalter picked for the 2019 January camp. He backed up his words with a stellar season in the District, and got the call from Berhalter this month after CONCACAF Champions League-bound Atlanta United declined to release veteran backstop Brad Guzan.

Takeaway: Hamid probably remains behind Guzan and fellow vet Sean Johnson in the pecking order, to say nothing of U.S. No. 1 Zack Steffen. (More on Steffen later.) Still, Berhalter praised the 29-year-old for getting out of his comfort zone” when it comes to passing out of the back. “We put him in small possession exercises, he fits right in,” Berhalter told SBI’s Ives Galarcep last week. “He’s done a good job.”

M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)

The 25-year-old Georgia-born, England-raised speedster has started 16 league games in a row for the second-tier Rams and scored his first goal of the season — a stoppage-time equalizer against Middlesbrough — two weeks ago.

Takeaway: Holmes, who made his one and only U.S. appearance last May, is doing everything in his power to force Berhalter to give him a second look this March.

F-M Indiana Vassilev, Aston Villa (England)

Another Georgia native, the wonderfully named Vassilev, 18, made his Premier League debut on Saturday in Villa’s 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Takeaway: It’s wise to not immediately thrust every teenager who makes a top-flight cameo into the national team conversation. That certainly goes for Vassilev, who benefited from an injury crisis at Villa Park en route to becoming the second-youngest American (after Jonathan Spector) to play in the Prem. That said, Vassilev has impressed with Villa’s U-23s, and the winger/striker is universally well-regarded by U.S. youth coaches.

USMNT players trending down

Things haven't been great lately for Fortuna Dusseldorf's Zack Steffen. (Ina Fassbender/Getty)
Things haven't been great lately for Fortuna Dusseldorf's Zack Steffen. (Ina Fassbender/Getty)

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Steffen, bothered by a knee ailment all season, had to sat out Fortuna’s first game of 2020.

Takeaway: The Bundesliga’s month-long winter break was supposed to give Steffen a chance to rest the knee ahead of the second half of the campaign, so it’s worrying that things haven’t worked out that way. It also makes one wonder if the 24-year-old Manchester City loanee could require surgical intervention that would lead to a longer spell on the sidelines.

D/M DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle (England)

Yedlin avoided what Magpies manager Steve Bruce feared was a broken hand in a 3-0 defeat to Leicester on New Year’s Day, but the veteran defender still hasn’t played since.

Takeaway: It’s been a stop-and-start year for Yedlin, who missed the beginning of the season following groin surgery plus four matches in November and December because of a hip issue.

D Matt Miazga, Reading (England)

The big center back has played just 22 minutes for the Royals since Dec. 11, serving as an unused substitute in four of the second division club’s last five games.

Takeaway: If there’s any silver lining for Miazga, it’s that Reading manager Mark Bowen might be tempted to make changes on the heels of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Millwall. But even a return to the lineup might not be enough to move Berhalter, who didn’t summon the 24-year-old in November when he was playing regularly.

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