USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic is finding his form at the perfect time

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After an up-and-down campaign, Chelsea-bound U.S. star Christian Pulisic (right) is finishing the season strong in his final few matches with Borussia Dortmund. (Alexandre Simoes/Getty)
After an up-and-down campaign, Chelsea-bound U.S. star Christian Pulisic (right) is finishing the season strong in his final few matches with Borussia Dortmund. (Alexandre Simoes/Getty)

American players the world over have just a few weeks left to impress U.S. men’s national team Gregg Berhalter, who will name an extended training roster ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup during the week of May 21 before camp opens in suburban Washington, D.C. a few days later.

Christian Pulisic’s return to form is great news for the USMNT in the lead-in to the regional championship. The 20-year-old attacker, who is leaving Germany for Champions League-bound English power Chelsea next season, scored a brilliant individual goal over the weekend in one of his final appearances for Borussia Dortmund:

While Pulisic isn’t alone, the picture isn’t quite as rosy for fellow German-based U.S. starters such as injured pair Tyler Adams and John Brooks. As major decisions loom for Berhalter, here are nine Yanks worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks:

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M Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Pulisic’s goal on Saturday in BVB’s 2-2 tie with Hannover was his sixth across all competitions this season.

Takeaway: The minutes might be as important as the goal from a national team perspective; Saturday marked Pulisic’s seventh Bundesliga start and just the second time he’s gone the distance in a league match this calendar year.

D Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

He lost his starting job last month under new Quakes boss Matias Almeyda, but Lima has since won it back with aplomb; the 24-year-old right back has gone the full 90 minutes in four straight games during San Jose’s current 2W-0L-2T run, and he scored the game-winner in Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over expansion Cincinnati:

Takeaway: When he was riding Almeyda’s bench, Lima appeared in jeopardy of missing out on the Gold Cup. Now he has to be under consideration to start at right back for the U.S. this summer, especially with Tyler Adams injured and DeAndre Yedlin idle.

F Tim Weah, Celtic (Scotland)

The 19-year-old made his first start in more than a month and played 73 minutes, helping Celtic to a 3-0 victory at Aberdeen that clinched the club’s eighth consecutive Scottish title.

Takeaway: Weah has slowly gained the trust of interim manager Neil Lennon, who replaced Brenden Rodgers shortly after the Brooklynite arrived in Glasgow on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. Weah will now look to make his Old Firm debut next week against Rangers, but it’s still likely that he leaves the Hoops before the Scottish Cup final on May 25 and heads to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland instead.

D Antonee Robinson, Wigan (England)

The fleet left back overcame a midseason ankle injury to finish strong for Wigan, starting the Championship club’s final 14 matches and helping it avoid relegation to the third tier.

Takeaway: The 21-year-old remains a long shot to crack Berhalter’s Gold Cup roster but it’s not impossible given his steady play and the Americans’ dearth of left back depth. If Robinson isn’t called, he’ll surely spend some of his summer with the U.S. U-23 squad before head back to parent club Everton.

D Cameron Carter-Vickers, Swansea (England)

The Tottenham loanee won a center back job with the Swans in January and finished the season by starting 20 of the club’s last 21 games. He was particularly impressive in an FA Cup match against Manchester City last month.

Takeaway: He’s still more likely to be with the U-23s rather than the senior team this summer. However, Carter-Vickers could merit consideration as a Gold Cup reserve if the similarly left-footed John Brooks is unavailable. (More on Brooks below.) The 21-year-old can certainly pass the ball; he finished with the highest pass-completion rate in the Championship. Berhalter has to like that.

M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)

In his first game in a month following his return from a quad injury, the 24-year-old winger helped second-tier Derby qualify for the Premier League promotion playoffs later this month.

Takeaway: The Georgia-born, England-raised speedster remains a Gold Cup long shot, but don’t be surprised to see him called in for an early look. Holmes will get his USMNT chance eventually if he continues to perform — and especially if Derby is competing in the Prem next season.

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First-choice USMNT center back John Brooks has missed Wolfsburg's last two games with what the Champions League-chasing club is calling a "ligament strain." (Getty)
First-choice USMNT center back John Brooks has missed Wolfsburg's last two games with what the Champions League-chasing club is calling a "ligament strain." (Getty)

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany)

After starting all but one of Wolfsburg’s first 30 games (he was suspended a match for yellow card accumulation), Brooks has missed two straight with what the club describes as a “ligament strain.”

Takeaway: With the Wolves still chasing a Champions League berth and Gold Cup camp beginning later this month, the timing stinks. Unless Brooks recovers quickly, it will be a sour end to what had been a career season for Brooks — one has to wonder how the layoff will impact his form even if he does.

M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Germany)

Adams’ extended spell on the sidelines is beginning to become a serious concern for the USMNT; the 20-year has now been sidelined for over a month by an adductor injury.

Takeaway: Adams will have just two more opportunities, at Bundesliga leader Bayern Munch on Saturday and against Werder Bremen in the season finale the following weekend, to return to the field before Berhalter names his squad. Leipzig also has the German Cup final versus Bayern on May 25; if Adams gets back by then, he could still make the Gold Cup squad, which isn’t due to CONCACAF until June 3. On the other hand, after playing non-stop for most of the last 18 months, maybe it’s in everyone’s best interests to let Adams take this summer off.

F Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (MLS)

The Crew’s miserable five-match losing streak has coincided with a dry spell from Zardes. After scoring three times in Columbus’ first five matches, the 27-year-old has gone without a goal in his last six.

Takeaway: Zardes is still making the Gold Cup roster, what with Jozy Altidore still nursing a hamstring injury, other options scarce, and his former Crew coach Berhalter doing the picking. Following the rough spell with his club, linking up with the national team might even reinvigorate the striker’s game.

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