Americans Abroad 2021-22: The Hype Train Is Leaving The Station

67YAZ

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All of a sudden Leeds’ season have become a huge make-or-break test for Americans in the EPL.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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The best case scenario for that one is that he means "Americans/Canadians who had the best seasons in their European leagues". More likely just nonsense for engagement's sake.
 

67YAZ

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Luca de la Torre headed to Celta Vigo.

He was a regular starter for Heracles this last season, but they were relegated from the Eredivsie. I don’t know what Celta’s midfield options look like, but this is a nice step up for de la Torre. If he can bed in quickly, he’ll really make a case for Qatar.
 

rguilmar

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Luca de la Torre headed to Celta Vigo.

He was a regular starter for Heracles this last season, but they were relegated from the Eredivsie. I don’t know what Celta’s midfield options look like, but this is a nice step up for de la Torre. If he can bed in quickly, he’ll really make a case for Qatar.
I think it’s a great move. Celta are a good team, capable of going toe-to-toe with the big boys on any given Saturday but not a huge squad. It depends how they want to play, but they have Fran Beltran as a box-to-box and Renato Tapia at the 6 (though they can move him back to CB too). Regardless, LDLT should get plenty of minutes. If he can get into the lineup, passing to Iago Aspas will definitely improve his goal contribution stats.

It should be noted the Luis Campos is still the sporting director there in some capacity, and he’s famous for his eye in finding talent.

edited to add Celta usually play a 4-4-2 diamond. I imagine he’d be rotating as one of the 2 box-to-box players. Didn’t realize that Celta also added Oscar Rodríguez from Sevilla who’s a nice player and will be in the mix. Does LDLT have Spanish citizenship? That could help him in Spain with regards to roster rules.
 
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InstaFace

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His Dad was born and grew up in Spain, IIRC, so I would assume he registered Luca long before Luca turned 18. I assume that had something to do with how he was able to move to Fulham's academy.
 

Senator Donut

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I'll get around to this eventually...
The world will never know that Julian Green has already scored for Greuther Fürth in the 2. Bundesliga, whose season bizarrely started last weekend. (They are taking an eleven week break this winter! Promotion/relegation playoffs don't end until June 6.) Green had zero league goals in the top flight last year.
 

candylandriots

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I'll get around to this eventually...

In the meantime, it looks like Chris Richards is close to a move to Crystal Palace.

View: https://twitter.com/Plettigoal/status/1549066507077840897
I was just coming to post this—Americans all over the place! Richards won’t be the starter at Palace, with Guehi and Andersen in front of him, and I’d assume he’d be after Tomkins on the depth chart at CB. Would he be a better choice than Martin Kelley at this point (obviously with much more upside)?

Just grabbed some preseason tickets today for Union against Nottingham Forest so we can say a proper good bye to Taiwo. Hopefully will get my first look at Pefok as his replacement.
 
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candylandriots

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I’ll also add this prediction: after playing at Union, Pefok will become the USA’s #1 or #2 choice at the 9. I can’t wait to see him playing for Urs Fischer. I know I keep saying this, but what that guy gets out of a team of no-names is amazing. I, and pretty much every Union fan I’ve ever talked to, would be happy if Fischer never left, and are terrified he’s going to get a big team sniffing around any day.
 

rguilmar

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I’ll also add this prediction: after playing at Union, Pefok will become the USA’s #1 or #2 choice at the 9. I can’t wait to see him playing for Urs Fischer. I know I keep saying this, but what that guy gets out of a team of no-names is amazing. I, and pretty much every Union fan I’ve ever talked to, would be happy if Fischer never left, and are terrified he’s going to get a big team sniffing around any day.
GGG doesn't seem to rate him, but I wonder if coming off the bench in the Bundesliga will help his cause. I imagine he will be a late game sub at Union, the same role he would potentially have for the USMNT. If he's coming off the bench and scoring in Germany, perhaps he sneaks in as the #3 striker (I'm assuming the US brings 3 strikers now that the 26 player squad has been confirmed).

With regards to Richards, Bayern and Palace need to agree to terms. It would be interesting to see Richards play in a back 4 as he's spent most of professional career in a back three. I imagine he would be in the rotation but not a starter. Breaking in as a starter will be tough with Guehi, who has captained the English youth national team in the past, and Anderson, who Palace paid quite a bit for. Given what I imagine will be a tight fixture list, the need to rotate the squad, and whatever injuries happen. I'm guessing he will play more when Palace plan to have the ball more. I'm all for Americans going to places where they can play a little but have to fight for their place and more playing time.
 

candylandriots

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GGG doesn't seem to rate him, but I wonder if coming off the bench in the Bundesliga will help his cause. I imagine he will be a late game sub at Union, the same role he would potentially have for the USMNT. If he's coming off the bench and scoring in Germany, perhaps he sneaks in as the #3 striker (I'm assuming the US brings 3 strikers now that the 26 player squad has been confirmed).

With regards to Richards, Bayern and Palace need to agree to terms. It would be interesting to see Richards play in a back 4 as he's spent most of professional career in a back three. I imagine he would be in the rotation but not a starter. Breaking in as a starter will be tough with Guehi, who has captained the English youth national team in the past, and Anderson, who Palace paid quite a bit for. Given what I imagine will be a tight fixture list, the need to rotate the squad, and whatever injuries happen. I'm guessing he will play more when Palace plan to have the ball more. I'm all for Americans going to places where they can play a little but have to fight for their place and more playing time.
I’m of the understanding that Pefok was brought in to replace Taiwo Awoniyi, who was Union’s top scorer last season, until he bolted to Forest (he’s always wanted to play in the PL, and now with his experience for the Nigerian National team, he can get a visa). So I’m expecting to see a lot of Pefok at Union. It’s not a rich team, which makes their achievements all the more impressive. I mean, according to Transfermarkt, their entire team is worth a sliver more than ManU paid for Harry Maguire. Here’s their top values (noting that Leite and Baumgartl are both on loan from other clubs, and Baumgartl is unlikely to play much as he recovers from testicular cancer):

5E45DF55-5995-4159-A3B9-085B3CC3C56B.png

If Pefok is the #1 guy at Union (likely), and can pick up how Fischer wants to play, he’s going to score 12-15 goals this season in the Bundesliga. Which would seem to force Berhalter’s hand somewhat, right?

With respect to Richards, there has been talk of Vieira wanting to go 3 ATB, so if that’s true, that could be a great move for him, especially with the fixture congestion, as you note.
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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If Pefok is the #1 guy at Union (likely), and can pick up how Fischer wants to play, he’s going to score 12-15 goals this season in the Bundesliga. Which would seem to force Berhalter’s hand somewhat, right?
That probably gets him on the plane, assuming he gets enough of those goals in the right time frame.

It feels like Berhalter really wants a combining, between the lines false or false-ish 9 as his main option and that is probably going to be Jesus Ferreira assuming he doesn't collapse in the back half of the MLS season. After that, it's anybody's guess and all comes down to who in that Pepi, Pefok, Sargent, Dike clump is actually scoring goals and looking good in the fall.

Pefok will be in the highest level and most functional team of all of those guys, which should help him if he can make that adjustment.
 

rguilmar

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I think I’m making an ASSumption about Pefok’s role at Union. I pencilled him in as a bench player because he doesn’t seem to fit their system, more as a “late game sub when a goal is needed” kind of guy. What @candylandriots points out about Union’s roster certainly points against what I imagined his role would be. This isn’t a club who spends money on a lottery ticket or to say “we got the leading goal scorer from his domestic league.”

Also, I can’t claim to have seen Pefok play aside from in the Champions League and for the USMNT, so I might have a bad read on how he’d fit into the way Union Berlin play. They do usually play with two strikers which helps, but my impression is that they require more mobility than Pefok offers. Like I said, I could be wrong.
 

candylandriots

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I think I’m making an ASSumption about Pefok’s role at Union. I pencilled him in as a bench player because he doesn’t seem to fit their system, more as a “late game sub when a goal is needed” kind of guy. What @candylandriots points out about Union’s roster certainly points against what I imagined his role would be. This isn’t a club who spends money on a lottery ticket or to say “we got the leading goal scorer from his domestic league.”

Also, I can’t claim to have seen Pefok play aside from in the Champions League and for the USMNT, so I might have a bad read on how he’d fit into the way Union Berlin play. They do usually play with two strikers which helps, but my impression is that they require more mobility than Pefok offers. Like I said, I could be wrong.
I’ll expand on this a little, with the note that I’ve really been watching the sport seriously for less than 10 years and never played it after the age of 8 or 9. So my knowledge is constrained, and judging by your other posts, you clearly have a better grasp on talent and strategy than I do.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, part of the reason I’m so high on this acquisition for Pefok, Union and the USA, is that Urs Fischer is Swiss, has coached Swiss clubs at their top level, and presumably knows how an unqualified talent at the top level in Swiss soccer will be able to perform in the Bundesliga. He had a shitton of goals (22!) in the Swiss league (+5 in other competitions) despite missing an entire month. You’re right that Fischer generally likes to play with two strikers, but a lot of that was with Max Kruse, who played like more of a 10 than a striker when I’d watch them. Once Kruse left, it was mostly Awoniyi playing CF with Becker playing more of a winger type role, but officially as a striker. Guys like Kevin Behrens (who is the soccer equivalent of the big dorky center on an NBA team that somehow just scores), and Sven Michel who is already 32 and bald AF and plays more of a #10 role seem more likely options off the bench (and they ARE good - this substitution saved the season, see here: View: https://youtu.be/CnLblZLM44Q
). But my point is that it’s Pefok’s job to lose IMO, he’s in a system that wouldn’t spend money on him without reasonable assurance he’d fit in, and he’s playing for a coach with a proven track record of taking castoff players and turning them into serious players for a top team in a top league. I’ve probably jinxed myself six ways to Sunday with this post, but as a USMNT fan and a Union Berlin fan, this is kinda best case scenario. Don’t get me wrong, all things equal, I’d rather have Awoniyi than Pefok, but I trust the judgment of Union and Fischer that Pefok + €15mm > Awoniyi. And I trust it enough that I think that Pefok can mostly fill his shoes, and even without the price difference.

I hope I’m right for a lot of reasons.

I’ll end with this note. My first Union game was in 2016. Bobby Wood scored a brace, and they LOVED that guy. I don’t know if that means Americans are destined to do well at SadaF or Union fans are bad judges of talent, but I am excited to see another American here.

I’ll be at the preseason game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. I’m hoping I’ll get some sense of what will happen from that, and will definitely report back. I’m trying for tickets for week one on Friday too. Fingers crossed I can give a better educated assessment then.

PS - If you watch the YouTube video above, the final goal is pure Urs Fischer football. Not all their goals are that beautiful, but it’s clearly the aspiration of how this team is supposed to work. When it does, it’s really a thing of beauty and I sincerely hope that Pefok will pick it up, it will continue, and Americans will further appreciate how exciting this team is to watch (without the likes of Dortmund or Bayern noticing Fischer haha).
 
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candylandriots

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I’ll also add, if mobility is what Union needs, Sheraldo Becker is probably the fastest guy in the Bundesliga (that’s probably his only real world-class skill, TBF). So a pairing between those two could be fruitful.
 

OCST

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That school also gives your league the veneer of academic respectability, in the increasingly unlikely scenario where you care.
 

67YAZ

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Credit to Heitz for getting $15m from Chelsea for a teenaged keeper even after Slonina’s agent publicly declared Madrid was his preferred destination.

Gaga got his 10th clean sheet of the season tonight.
 

dirtynine

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He’s gonna get loaned out, right? Curious as to what level league it’s assessed he could be a starter in right now. Dutch maybe?
 

Stanley Steamer

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Three assists for Aaronson yesterday in Leeds 6-2 pre-season win over Cagliari. Adams also played reasonably well. Insert comment about quality of competition.
 

candylandriots

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Pefok with a beautiful goal. Side note: I hate how Europeans refuse to call him Pefok.

View: https://twitter.com/usmnt_tracker/status/1554156454327816193?s=21&t=gWMfPxpXHWCwpqijP6fQ1w
I forgot about the game tonight. After seeing this clip, I only started watching at the beginning of the second half.

Jordan (@rguilmar I’m not sure that his name is really a European thing. His shirt for Union says “Jordan”. His Instagram is @theosonsmith. The Union fans chanted Sie-bat-cheu once he scored. I honestly don’t know what he wants to be called at this point) played until the end of the first half of extra time. From what I saw, he looked good, aside from the goal, which was beautiful. However, the assessment of the ESPN announcer was that he was “flawless” which I’ll happily take. And that also, he seemed to fit perfectly into Urs Fischer’s system, which to me, is VERY high praise. I’m not an expert, but in my mind, Fischer is the best manager you’ve never heard of. Union Berlin’s entire team is worth €95 million on transfermarkt. That is, #100 on their top 100, behind such powers as KRC Genk, Bologna and Dynamo Zagreb. And Norwich ‍:rolleyes:

Union outplayed Chemnitz from what I saw, and deserved to win. I don’t take too much solace in that at all, since Chemnitz is in the FOURTH division. Like, the same level and league as the team that’s going to be basically in my backyard (I’ll be seeing a lot of 4th division German soccer if my apartment ever gets finished). Chemnitz should be proud of that performance, and Union better have a serious week of training before the first game against Hertha on Saturday.

The decisive goal came from Kevin Behrens. I hated that acquisition. He’s big, old and slow. But he scores huge goals. It’s a little bit like if the Sox picked up Ortiz at 30 and he wasn’t yet Big Papi. Well, maybe not even exactly, but you get the idea. He’s now one of my favorites.
 
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67YAZ

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Slonina to Chelsea done.

Gaga stays through the end of the MLS season, which makes plenty of sense for his development. The Fire are hot right now and flirting with a playoff position. If those dreams get extinguished, I think we’ll see Chris Brady get rotated in towards the end of the season.

Either way, Brady is the next man up. It’s really nice to be happy for a young player making his big and being happy that there’s another exciting prospect ready to step in to the gap.


Edit: I’m not sure what Chelsea will do with Slonina once he arrives. Both PSV & Vitese, Chelsea’s usual Dutch loan partners, have prime-aged and teenaged keepers on their rosters already. Maybe Gaga spends that first half season with the club, they get a full sense of him, and then loan options will be more abundant next summer.
 

tmracht

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Good morning for the EPL contingent. Aaronsen, Adams, Robinson all start.
 

Pesky Pole

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Jedi played well against Liverpool and someone needs to remind me why Tim Ream isn't at least a backup CB for the USMNT (especially with all the injuries).