USMNT: Soccer's Coming Home

InstaFace

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On the one hand, poor Ricardo Pepi.

On the other, you always need at least two strikers and they're very different styles (though not as different as Dike, if he comes good), injuries happen, and it's our position of greatest need. Plus Balogun is farther along the development curve.

Absolutely the most impactful dual national battle we were fighting, and we won it. If Ledezma switches back to Mexico, well, so be it. We got the one that mattered.
 

Senator Donut

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If there were a 21-year-old American leading MLS in xG, I'd be really excited to have him in the fold. Balogun is doing all that in a big boy European league.

Any nation should have him in their top-23; what a great pickup for the USMNT and a tremendous squander by England.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Great news.

It’ll be interesting to see where Balogun lands this summer. I think he is likely to leave Arsenal. Big clubs in Italy have been rumored but I imagine there will be significant PL interest as well.
 

wonderland

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Great news.

It’ll be interesting to see where Balogun lands this summer. I think he is likely to leave Arsenal. Big clubs in Italy have been rumored but I imagine there will be significant PL interest as well.
What’s the situation at Arsenal that makes it likely for him to leave? Obviously there’s Jesus but there will be a lot of big games for Arsenal next year. Does his play not fit Arsenal’s style of play?

It seems odd they’d want to move on from a young, homegrown striker.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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What’s the situation at Arsenal that makes it likely for him to leave? Obviously there’s Jesus but there will be a lot of big games for Arsenal next year. Does his play not fit Arsenal’s style of play?

It seems odd they’d want to move on from a young, homegrown striker.
The balancing act with homegrowns is that they’re important for roster rules, but also selling them is pure profit on a balance sheet for all the financial rules.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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What’s the situation at Arsenal that makes it likely for him to leave? Obviously there’s Jesus but there will be a lot of big games for Arsenal next year. Does his play not fit Arsenal’s style of play?

It seems odd they’d want to move on from a young, homegrown striker.
I'm not totally confident in what will happen, its just my sense from what I read.

There are a number of factors at play.

-His contract is up in 2025 and he has made it clear that he isn't going to sign another one at Arsenal unless he has a very clear role in the team.
-He is very unlikely to beat out Jesus anytime soon and we also have Eddie Nketiah and now Trossard who Arteta preferred at times doing a false 9 role when Jesus was injured.
-Arteta sometimes has trust issues with players and he trusts Nketiah in a certain kind of backup striker role and has yet to show that same level of trust in Balogun.
-Arsenal are planning a big summer in the transfer market and need to generate money via player sales so either Balogun or Nketiah is almost certainly going out. Balogun and Nketiah share the same agent which makes this even more complicated.

I think it all adds up to a Balogun sale this summer. I'm not sure whether that is wise but it seems to be where things are heading.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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FWIW, Balogun's agent is both very aggressive and very savvy, the same guy that managed to get Jadon Sancho a 350k per week contract from United at 21 and is on the verge of getting Bukayo Saka 300k per week from Arsenal. He is going to monetize the hell out of this opportunity, both in terms of driving endorsements and using Balogun's standing in the USMNT as leverage in negotiating his next club contract.

View: https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1658475810351898624
 

rguilmar

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On the one hand, poor Ricardo Pepi.

On the other, you always need at least two strikers and they're very different styles (though not as different as Dike, if he comes good), injuries happen, and it's our position of greatest need. Plus Balogun is farther along the development curve.

Absolutely the most impactful dual national battle we were fighting, and we won it. If Ledezma switches back to Mexico, well, so be it. We got the one that mattered.
With the caveat that development is not linear or the same for everyone, but Pepi is nearly two years younger. Two seasons ago, Flo was still on the Arsenal U-23s. Hell, he started last season there as well. This is not to say Pepi has been more impressive in his age 19 season necessarily, nor that he will surpass Balogun at any point, just that there is the possibility that Pepi still ends up as the better player. Or that he gets close enough where it comes down to team fit and/or game flow (or is it Flo?).

There are people out there who are saying that this will be good for Pepi, that he’s a fighter and will work as hard as he can to earn starts. Competition is exactly what this program needs.

Whatever the case, awesome to have two promising 9s who, as you note, bring different strengths to the USMNT
 

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(sidenote: I think the most important dual-national battle, now that Balogun has declared, is probably whether we keep Jonathan Gomez or not. Left-back is Jedi and a bunch of guys who are not USMNT level and probably will never be - Bello, Vines, etc)
 

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(sidenote: I think the most important dual-national battle, now that Balogun has declared, is probably whether we keep Jonathan Gomez or not. Left-back is Jedi and a bunch of guys who are not USMNT level and probably will never be - Bello, Vines, etc)
Whither Caleb Wiley and Kevin Paredes?
 

InstaFace

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Kevin Paredes is not picking the fuckin' Dominican Republic over the US team he has every chance of having a great senior-team career with.

Oh, you meant as a LB. Wolfsburg sees him as a winger or wing-back, and who am I to second-guess that? I guess we could Fabian Johnson him in a pinch, but it wouldn't be the first thing I'd reach for.

Caleb Wiley is also a pretty good prospect, we may see just how good next week at the U20s, but Atlanta United is a terrible place to be developing him, he needs to GTFO from there as soon as possible. Just look at what analysis was done about how ATL ruined George Bello, basically focusing on all the wrong things until it was too late for him to learn any better - the pro extension of youth coaches playing the best athletes so they can win the games, rather than focusing on teaching technique that might translate at a higher level. There aren't many MLS clubs that would be worse for him than Atlanta, though I defer to our MLS-heads on the particulars.

By comparison, Gomez going from "USL-C Best XI as a 17-year-old" to a respected La Liga club renowned for deeply investing in their young talent, bringing them along slowly and doing everything player-development The Right Way, leads one to be far more optimistic about him, even if he's not yet getting senior-team minutes the way Wiley is right now.
 

rguilmar

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I have Wiley ahead of JoGo, but admittedly that’s more because we can actually see what Caleb is doing and the improvement he is making. We just can’t watch third tier Spanish soccer here, or anywhere as I think their TV deal collapsed. Also, Wiley has been very impressive and MLS is at a higher level than the RFEF Primera.

In many respects you’re absolutely correct w/r/t Real Sociedad @InstaFace. They invest heavily in their cantera and it’s very difficult to make the cut as someone from outside of the province of Gipuzkoa. That being said, they do shuttle kids back and forth between the first and second teams pretty routinely as injuries and performances dictate. They introduced something like 10 kids this season. They are not conservative about bringing a youngster up even in the midst of a battle for a Champions League spot. If/when Gomez gets some time for the big club, even for a brief cameo before being sent back to the B team, we will know how the club views him. Until then he’s just an enticing mystery. Wiley is just a more known quantity, at least as far as a teenage prospect just beginning his first true professional season can be.
 

Titans Bastard

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Caleb Wiley is also a pretty good prospect, we may see just how good next week at the U20s, but Atlanta United is a terrible place to be developing him, he needs to GTFO from there as soon as possible. Just look at what analysis was done about how ATL ruined George Bello, basically focusing on all the wrong things until it was too late for him to learn any better - the pro extension of youth coaches playing the best athletes so they can win the games, rather than focusing on teaching technique that might translate at a higher level. There aren't many MLS clubs that would be worse for him than Atlanta, though I defer to our MLS-heads on the particulars.
I think this view of Atlanta is a bit out of date at this point. Atlanta didn't really know what they were doing early on, and their mistakes combined with some bad luck with Andrew Carleton (lack of athleticism and general asshattery) and George Bello (lost time due to injury at a critical age) made for a particularly terrible reputation. At certain moments in their youth Carleton was the most-hyped '00 and Bello was the most-hyped '02 (yes, even more than Reyna), so their failure to come close to their perceived potential obviously reflected poorly on Atlanta. FWIW, I think Atlanta screwed up with both of these guys but in retrospect I think both were overhyped and wouldn't have reached expectations in any environment.

But at this point with Caleb Wiley, we're talking about a guy who has been with the club since he was 11, came through their reserve team, and has developed into a key starter for the first team who is likely going to be sold for a solid chunk of change and who just got his first USMNT cap, and he won't even turn 19 until after the season is over. I think it's very incongruous to decry his situation when his career is on a rocket ship right now.

One thing to note: Wiley is 14 months younger than Gomez and is nearly eligible for the next U20 cycle.
 

sezwho

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With the caveat that development is not linear or the same for everyone, but Pepi is nearly two years younger. Two seasons ago, Flo was still on the Arsenal U-23s. Hell, he started last season there as well. This is not to say Pepi has been more impressive in his age 19 season necessarily, nor that he will surpass Balogun at any point, just that there is the possibility that Pepi still ends up as the better player. Or that he gets close enough where it comes down to team fit and/or game flow (or is it Flo?).

There are people out there who are saying that this will be good for Pepi, that he’s a fighter and will work as hard as he can to earn starts. Competition is exactly what this program needs.

Whatever the case, awesome to have two promising 9s who, as you note, bring different strengths to the USMNT
Was thinking this exactly - there should be plenty of opportunities for both, and even Dike as noted above should still have chances at only 22.

Beyond excited to see Balogun at 9 for the USMNT.
 

Titans Bastard

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Balogun is such an impressive recruit. Historically, it's been so rare for the US to win these types of recruiting battles: a guy who was born in the US, but who doesn't have American parents and who grew up abroad, and who is in demand by a very big NT program. The only other player who fits this description is Yunus Musah, but even he's a little different because he split his childhood between two countries and was already living in a third by the time he committed to the US.

It's amazing how much stronger the USMNT forward depth chart looks when everyone is pushed down one notch.

What's also amazing is that Balogun's great goalscoring stats are actually an underperformance of his underlying fundamentals, suggesting what he's doing in Ligue 1 is not just sustainable, but might be undershooting his capability.

View: https://twitter.com/PaulCarr/status/1658468423913943040?s=20




Another note is that LAFC midfielder Timothy Tillman has filed a one-time switch. Tillman came up in Greuther Fürth, left for Bayern where he played for five years but didn't progress past the reserves, went back to Fürth, and then joined LAFC this past winter. He's done well and will be in the mix for one of the backup 8 slots. We just don't have much past McKennie, Musah, and de la Torre right now, so I expect him to get a big opportunity this summer.
 

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Titans Bastard

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Bearing in mind that there are a variety of xG models floating around and it can be difficult to tell which sites draw from which models, here's the current situation according to whatever FBRef uses:

Balogun does in fact lead Ligue 1 in xG right now, BUT

Mbappé is ahead of him in xG/90, npxG (non-penalty xG) and npxG/90.


Balogun has played 180 more minutes than Mbappé this season, and has attempted seven penalties to Mbappé's four.
 

67YAZ

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Says here Jesse is “very close” to taking the USMNT job, to start after the Gold Cup. No idea what kind of connections Calabrese, who is still in college(!), has to Marsch or the NT program, but he does run a Chicago Fire news site & had an internship with the club. So if his source is one of Jesse’s old friends from the club…like Klopas?
 

Titans Bastard

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Says here Jesse is “very close” to taking the USMNT job, to start after the Gold Cup. No idea what kind of connections Calabrese, who is still in college(!), has to Marsch or the NT program, but he does run a Chicago Fire news site & had an internship with the club. So if his source is one of Jesse’s old friends from the club…like Klopas?
In my experience, Calabrese has a small but accurate track record. He's never been at the forefront of a story this big before.

My question: if Marsch (or anybody) is basically a done deal, then bring them in for the summer tournaments. It makes no sense to wait until after the GC if it's all lined up.

If it is indeed Marsch, I'm lukewarm on the choice.
 

rguilmar

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My question: if Marsch (or anybody) is basically a done deal, then bring them in for the summer tournaments. It makes no sense to wait until after the GC if it's all lined up.

If it is indeed Marsch, I'm lukewarm on the choice.
I’m with you 100%. This doesn’t make sense in terms of timing or the actual hiring of Marsch. I don’t understand why they would wait, nor do I understand what they see in him and his coaching history that stands out. He strikes me as a manager he stubbornly sticks to his system, a system that seems like a poor fit for our top players. My initial reaction is “I’d rather have GGG” and I’m on record as being pretty anti-Gregg. And now I’m even more curious about what Uruguay is paying Bielsa.

All of that being said, Jesse strikes me as a smart guy who gets buy in from his players. Perhaps there is more to him than meets the eye. I’ll reserve judgement (assuming this is the hire) until we see what his plans are on the field.
 

sezwho

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I’m with you 100%. This doesn’t make sense in terms of timing or the actual hiring of Marsch. I don’t understand why they would wait, nor do I understand what they see in him and his coaching history that stands out. He strikes me as a manager he stubbornly sticks to his system, a system that seems like a poor fit for our top players. My initial reaction is “I’d rather have GGG” and I’m on record as being pretty anti-Gregg. And now I’m even more curious about what Uruguay is paying Bielsa.

All of that being said, Jesse strikes me as a smart guy who gets buy in from his players. Perhaps there is more to him than meets the eye. I’ll reserve judgement (assuming this is the hire) until we see what his plans are on the field.
I wonder whether Balogun's decision impacts the coaching choice. Maybe overstating the impact (recency bias) but he pretty clearly fast forwards/bumps the USMNT, and by all accounts has a wide array of skills, but I don't know enough to say whether he needs a specific type of style/coach to maximize the potential. His coach at Reims seems a young star himself.
 

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CONCACAF has posted the 60-man preliminary rosters for the Nations League. It really doesn't mean much, but it's kind of interesting to see what names the USSF adds to such a huge list.

GK: Callender, Horvath, Johnson, Steffen, Turner
RB: Cannon, Dest, Fossey, Gressel, Moore, Reynolds, Scally, Yedlin
CB: Brooks, Long, McKenzie, Miazga, Neal, Palmer-Brown, Richards, M. Robinson, Trusty, Zimmerman
LB: Jones, A. Robinson, Tolkin
CM: Acosta, Adams, Busio, Cardoso, de la Torre, Ledezma, McKennie, A. Morris, Musah, Pomykal, Sands, Soñora, Tessmann, T. Tillman, Yueill
WG: B. Aaronson, Arriola, Booth, Boyd, Mihailovic, J. Morris, Pulisic, Reyna, Roldan, Weah, Zendejas
FW: Balogun, Ferreira, Hoppe, Pefok, Pepi, Sargent, Vazquez, Wright

Ream, M. Tillman, Carter-Vickers, Dike, and Williamson are injured. Nobody at the U20 WC is on this list.
 

rguilmar

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I wonder whether Balogun's decision impacts the coaching choice. Maybe overstating the impact (recency bias) but he pretty clearly fast forwards/bumps the USMNT, and by all accounts has a wide array of skills, but I don't know enough to say whether he needs a specific type of style/coach to maximize the potential. His coach at Reims seems a young star himself.
At the very least, his skill set allows for tactical creativity and flexibility. He does so many different things well. I imagine his biggest impact besides goals is the space he opens up behind him. I’m still a big believer in Pepi and his potential, but Flo clearly jumps to the front of the #9 line. I don’t know how it impacts coaching choice, but I would hope it wouldn’t change things much. Just pick the best guy for the job who has a track record of getting more from a team than the sum of their parts. The team is still young and a lot can change between today and 2026.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I guess, re: Marsch, is there any chance he would be less inflexible in a NT setting? Of course, I suppose there is really no way to know until you’re in it. It’s not like our tactics have ever been amazing or anything before now.

If we know the issues, the decision makers presumably do too. Such a different skillset as we’ve discussed plenty of times here.

I can’t tell if I’m talking myself more into it or more out of it. I dunno, seems like a good gig for a more interesting choice but I really have no sense of the candidates in general.
 

67YAZ

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Really, I want this to happen for Calabrese now. Imagine breaking this story as a college student over summer break? That’s a helluva get and would really pump his fledgling career.
 

rguilmar

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Just because I haven’t given up hope, Julen Lopetegui could be available soon as Wolves haven’t been able to bring in players he was promised. Rumors across the pond are that he’s looking to leave the club as a result.

I’ll keep riding this train till it falls off the track. He’s wanted the job in the past, has a track record of success both with club and internationally, and speaks English. The fact that he wasn’t even interviewed last time around because someone clearly just wanted GGG is a shame. Yes, he made a poor decision while managing Spain that rightfully led to his dismissal, but it was not on-field related. It would be a pay cut for him but does offer comparative job security. I think he’s a great manager and would be a good fit with our player pool. And he would also presumably be available this summer.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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If there wind up being rumors of an actual process happening, with multiple managers mentioned, then the timing makes sense given the club season and I am annoyed at a level of .2 Sarachans, tops.

If it all winds up being exactly what we expected and could have happened in March (feel free to insert an s into that month name) but instead happens in August after the summer tournaments, then I will be annoyed at a level of .5 to maybe even .7 Sarachans.
 

dirtynine

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Slovakia - USA at 2pm ET in the U20 World Cup, if you need an excuse to kick off you holiday weekend a bit early
 

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Callaghan is an old Union assistant to Jim Curtin. He’s followed Jim since their days at Villanova. He’s well thought of for his strategic analysis. His roots go all the way back to youth soccer in my area so folks are excited for him and I’ve been told he’s a really good guy as well.
 

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Not sure if it's worth its own thread, but the USMNT U-20 are through to the QF after stomping New Zealand 4-0 yesterday and will play the winner of Friday's Uruguay-Gambia match. Lots of R16 games of interest today, as England play Italy, hosts Argentina are in action, as is Brazil. Games today are at 1:30pm and 5pm ET.
 

67YAZ

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That would mean Champions League football and a chance to train under one of the hottest, brightest young coaches in Europe. That’s really good attention for Pepi to be receiving.
 

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The Nations League roster is out. It's the "A" team, but there are a lot of injuries: Adams, Carter-Vickers, Dike, Horvath, Ream, Sargent, Steffen, and M. Tillman are all sidelined.

I'm excited to see Balogun and Pepi. The central midfield feels bleak without Adams and with so many guys coming off tough seasons. I'm not sure exactly how we'll line up because there isn't even an Adams-lite stylistic option in the mix.

The most obscure player on the roster is Josh Cohen, who spent years in USL before joining Maccabi Haifa in 2019. He actually got a clean sheet against Juventus in the Champions League group stage this year (and they lost the other five games). At age 30, getting the call is a nice career achievement.

The Gold Cup roster reveal will be wilder and far more unpredictable. You always know most of the players who are going to be on the A team roster.

View: https://twitter.com/USMNT/status/1664308627593740305
 

rguilmar

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24 players on the training roster with 23 kept. One of the keepers is the obvious choice to be left out. Word is that it’s likely to be Cohen as he wasn’t on the provisional roster.

This is a strong roster and I like it. I probably would have replaced Zim with someone like Mark McKenzie as his leadership and minutes were probably better suited for a likely young and inexperienced roster at the Gold Cup. But that is pretty nit picky of me. Rolling with a 4-2-3-1 seems likely. I wonder if they’ll get creative with a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 but that seems unlikely.

Mexico will be missing Tecatito, Chucky Lozano, and Erick Gutierrez which are three huge misses. They put out a massive combined NL/GC roster.
 

InstaFace

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The most obscure player on the roster is Josh Cohen, who...
No way man, the most obscure player is the guy behind Josh Cohen. What the heck is a Drake Callender? He's got Miami barely in the top 3rd of MLS's psXG+/- per 90 rankings, but same goes for Chris Brady for Chicago, McCarthy for LAFC, Joe Willis in Nashville, Stuver in Austin, all of them ahead of Callender.

Biggest surprise for me is Johnny Cardoso getting the call. I haven't watched all his comps, but he hasn't really stood out in the Brasileirao, I figured if we were going to test our DM depth it would be some mix of Acosta, Aidan Morris, James Sands, Mihailovic (even if he's more of a CM). Also, Alan Soñora showed me nothing in Camp Cupcake or in El Cashico last month, I'm not sure what they see in him.

Positive surprises, in the "yay! he's earned it!" sense, include Trusty, Booth and Zendejas.
 
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rguilmar

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No way man, the most obscure player is the guy behind Josh Cohen. What the fuck is a Drake Callender? He's got Miami barely in the top 3rd of MLS's psXG+/- per 90 rankings, but same goes for Chris Brady for Chicago, McCarthy for LAFC, Joe Willis in Nashville, Stuver in Austin, all of them ahead of Callender.

Biggest surprise for me is Johnny Cardoso getting the call. I haven't watched all his comps, but he hasn't really stood out in the Brasileirao, I figured if we were going to test our DM depth it would be some mix of Acosta, Aidan Morris, James Sands, Mihailovic (even if he's more of a CM). Also, Alan Soñora showed me nothing in Camp Cupcake or in El Cashico last month, I'm not sure what they see in him.

Positive surprises, in the "yay! he's earned it!" sense, include Trusty, Booth and Zendejas.
Cardoso has had a couple of strong stretches this season, included the last few weeks. He’s caught the eye of several European teams, with a couple of Serie A clubs and Real Betis being the most commonly rumored. I imagine he is planning on being in preseason in Europe as soon as possible, at the very least to start getting used to a new club/league/country/continent/language, so the only likely chance to get him into a camp was for the Nations League.
 

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Callender has been called to USMNT camp earlier this year and plays in a much bigger league!