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The Bundesliga is back following its month-long winter break, and so is your U.S. men’s national team Stock Watch. The timing is good. There is no shortage of American players impressing with their clubs early this year.
That’s a welcome change from 2018, when more than a few USMNT regulars found consistent minutes hard to come by. It’s not all kittens and ice cream this week, though. Here are 10 Americans based in Europe, MLS or Mexico who are making waves right now, for better or worse.
M Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany)
The 20-year-old midfielder got the start and the game-winning assist in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Wolfsburg and USMNT teammate John Brooks.
Takeaway: The helper was a bonus; McKennie was excellent throughout Sunday’s match. It was an ideal beginning to the second half of the season for the hard-running Texan, who started just eight of Schalke’s first 17 games, partly — but not entirely — because of injuries.
F Tim Weah, Celtic (Scotland)
Weah got his six-month loan from Paris Saint-Germain got off to a perfect start, coming off the bench to score a well-taken goal on his Celtic debut:
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@ussoccer_mnt) January 19, 2019
Takeaway: Sure, it was a Cup match against semi-pro side Airdrieonians. Still, don’t underestimate the impact the strike could have on the 18-year-old’s Weah’s confidence, especially after spending the last four months idle at PSG. It can’t hurt when it comes to earning the trust of manager Brendan Rodgers, either.
F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany)
Sargent only played the final 10 minutes of Werder’s 1-0 win at Hannover but he filled a crucial role in helping kill off the match by drawing one late time-eating foul and committing another.
Takeaway: It was just the latest mature cameo by the Missouri-born striker, who continues to impress in limited minutes. For a player who only made his Bundesliga debut in December, it’s obvious that Sargent is now fully integrated in Florian Kohfeldt’s squad. A first start can’t be far off.
M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)
The fleet-footed winger built on his standout recent performances by notching his first goal for the Rams in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Reading.
Takeaway: Holmes, 24, has now started three of second-tier Derby’s last four matches, and he entered off the bench to help Frank Lampard’s team knock Premier League Southampton out of the FA Cup in the other. He’s making a strong case for consideration when Berhalter convenes his first full-strength USMNT for a pair of March friendlies.
M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)
The Berlin-born tri-national (U.S, Germany, Peru) had the game-winning assist in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over Bundesliga struggler Augsburg.
Takeaway: Morales hasn’t played for the U.S. since 2016 but he’s quietly put together a strong season for Fortuna. Questions remain about where the two-way midfielder would fit with a U.S. side stacked in the center of the field, but a fresh look under Berhalter could be in the cards. Why not? At 28, Morales is still young enough to play a role this cycle.
D Ventura Alvarado, Necaxa (Mexico)
U.S. fans haven’t seen Alvarado since 2015, when he made all of his 13 international appearances, including four starts at that summer’s disastrous Gold Cup. But he’s since emerged as a key player for Liga MX mainstay Necaxa, making 19 consecutive starts since July.
Takeaway: Still just 26, the Phoenix native is just the sort of slick passing center back Berhalter covets. More important, his defending has improved considerably over the last three years. He’ll get another USMNT look eventually if he continues to impress south of the border.
D Greg Garza, FC Cincinnati (MLS)
Garza was flying high after returning from an injury-plagued 2018 in time to help Atlanta United win MLS Cup. However, a quad injury forced the combative left back to leave USMNT camp last week.
Takeaway: It’s a blow for the 27-year-old, who had a real chance of making an impression on Berhalter at a notoriously hard to fill position. A strong start to the season with expansion FCC, which traded for Garza’s rights last month, could get him back in the mix by March, especially with youngster Antonee Robinson still recovering from ankle surgery.
G Bill Hamid, D.C. United (MLS)
Hamid made headlines over the weekend when he told reporters that he’s “better than all four” keepers currently in camp with the USMNT – a list that includes Manchester City-bound Zack Steffen.
Takeaway: Confidence is good, and Berhalter probably knew Hamid’s feelings already; the pair spoke after the 28-year-old’s omission from this roster. That said, it’s hard to see how Hamid’s public declaration helps him with Berhalter, who has made off-field cohesion within the squad one of his main priorities this month. It also raises questions about how well Hamid would handle being the number two or three keeper on the national team’s depth chart—roles that demand a team-first approach at all times.
D Matt Miazga, Nantes (France)
Miazga didn’t dress for Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Angers. On Monday, Les Canaris manager Vahid Halilhodzic said that the 23-year-old had returned to parent club Chelsea to terminate his loan with the Ligue 1 side—without informing Nantes first. “He just wanted to leave the club,” said Halilhodzic, who also accused the American of faking a back injury, according to Goal.com. “He didn’t warn anyone.”
Takeaway: If true—and we’ve yet to hear Miazga’s side of the story—it’s not a good look. On the other hand, the writing was on the wall for the former New York Red Bull as soon as Halilhodzic arrived early this season and buried him on the bench. The challenge for Miazga will be to find a better fit before the transfer window closes.
D Shaquell Moore, Levante (Spain)
Moore recently returned to La Liga club Levante after his loan to second division Reus Deportiu, where he made just eight appearances, was terminated.
Takeaway: It seems that the 22-year-old right back will play with Levante’s reserves in the third-tier for the remainder of the season, barring a call-up to the senior side. That’s not impossible, as Moore has made six top flight appearances including a start against Barcelona last year. But it’s hard to see him stay in Berhalter’s plans without regular action against better competition.