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USMNT Stock Watch: Pulisic is rising, but a lingering injury has Adams trending down

Doug McIntyre
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With the American-heavy German Bundesliga now back in action, so too is Yahoo’s regular U.S. men’s national team Stock Watch.

The USMNT will move on from its runner-up finish at this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup with two tricky friendly matches next month: a grudge rematch against tournament champ Mexico in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sept. 6, before a meeting with Luis Suarez-led Uruguay in St. Louis a few days later.

Who is positioning themselves for a call-up and/or major minutes from U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter? Here’s how America’s top talent is faring on the club scene, both at home and overseas.

Trending up

M Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (Premier League)

Pulisic has started the Blues’ last two games after coming off the bench in the season-opening loss to Manchester United, picking up an assist in the midweek UEFA Super Cup loss to Liverpool.

Takeaway: The 20-year-old also played well in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester. But was it good enough to keep his place? With no goals or assists in a home match that Chelsea was expected to win, and with veteran attacker Willian (who replaced Pulisic in the second half) nearing full fitness after returning from injury, there is no guarantee that it was. That’s something Pulisic will have to get used to in a hurry at one of England’s elite clubs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea FC during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic has started Chelsea's last two games, but has he done enough to keep his spot? (Chloe Knott/Getty)

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Bundesliga)

Not only did the former Columbus Crew backstop start the season opener for Fortuna, he made a whopping nine saves to help his new club — he’s on a season-long loan from Premier League titan Manchester City — secure an upset win at Werder Bremen.

Takeaway: It wasn’t even clear during the preseason if Steffen would be the No. 1 in Dusseldorf, so Saturday’s development is huge news both for the national team and for Steffen, who should go into this weekend’s home match against Bayer Leverkusen full of confidence.

F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)

Steffen may have stopped Sargent twice during the latter’s eight minutes on the field, but the fact that the 19-year-old saw action in club’s first match of the new campaign at all still represents progress for a player who made just two substitute appearances over the final three months of last season.

Takeaway: Sargent had a good training camp by all accounts, and he should see more playing time as the season progresses. That said, he’ll also be expected to score sooner than later.

F Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Morris began the Gold Cup as a reserve but supplanted newcomer Tyler Boyd on the wing by the end of the competition. With three goals and three assists in six starts since rejoining the Sounders, he’s carried that form back to his club side.

Takeaway: Barring injury or a sudden drop in performance over the next two weeks, expect Morris to keep his place on the flank when the national team reconvenes next month.

F Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC (MLS)

With five goals in seven games for TFC since returning from international duty last month, the 29-year-old is quietly playing as well as he has at any point in his long and winding club career. His latest strike rescued a point for the Reds in Columbus:

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Takeaway: Altidore didn’t feature as much as anticipated during the Gold Cup, but he’s spent most of the last two months stating his case to Berhalter that he deserves to be the USMNT’s undisputed No. 1 striker.

D Sergino Dest, Ajax (Eredivisie)

The Dutch-born fullback broke into the Champions League semifinalist’s first team following his appearance for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and he has yet to relinquish his spot. Dest started in Ajax’s Eredivisie-opening 4-1 win over VVV Venlo on Saturday.

Takeaway: While winning the starting job is a triumph for Dest, holding onto it will be an even bigger challenge for the diminutive 18-year-old, who is still looking for his first senior cap.

Trending down

M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Bundesliga)

Still recovering from the adductor ailment that bothered him for much of last season and kept him out of the Gold Cup, Adams didn’t dress for Leipzig’s Bundesliga curtain-raiser on Sunday.

SEEFELD, AUSTRIA - JULY 16: Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig looks on during the RB Leipzig Training Camp on July 16, 2019 in Seefeld, Austria. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams remains sidelined by the adductor injury that forced him to miss the Bundesliga's opening weekend. (Getty)

Takeaway: New RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann referred to Adams’ injury as “complicated” last month, so his absence wasn’t unexpected. Still, the hope will be that the 20-year-old New York Red Bulls product will be healthy and available by the time the Champions League group stage kicks off next month.

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)

Brooks also missed the Gold Cup through injury, so his return to the Wolves’ lineup for the first game of the new season was a welcome sight from a USMNT perspective. However, Brooks was caught sleeping on Cologne’s late goal in a 2-1 win.

Takeaway: Consistency has always been an issue for the rangy center back, who is easily the Americans’ top defender when at his best. But Brooks’s occasional gaffes can’t be blamed on growing pains anymore; the Berlin native will turn 27 later this season.

D Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls (MLS)

Long has been a revelation for the national team this year, winning one of two center back spots and dominating at times during the Gold Cup. But he’s struggled in MLS play recently, ever since being linked to a transfer to Europe.

Takeaway: It’s not unusual for off-field business to temporarily impact performances on the pitch, and Long was understandably frustrated at Red Bull’s decision not to sell him this summer. So it’s not overly concerning, at least not yet.

D DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle (England)

It’s taken Yedlin longer than expected to recover from the groin surgery that ended his 2018-19 season prematurely and ruled him out of the Gold Cup. The Seattle-born speedster has missed both of the Magpies’ two league matches so far.

Takeaway: At this point, there would appear to be little chance of Yedlin being fit enough to join up with the national team for next month’s friendlies.

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