Players like Brad Friedel, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard have shown that American talent can thrive within the elite leagues in Europe. The following list highlights the next potential American soccer stars that are causing a real stir in European soccer.
Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player that is currently playing in Europe, but I wanted to highlight players that are not as well known as the exciting winger.
TIMOTHY WEAH (19): PSG/CELTIC
First on the list is 19-year-old Timothy Weah, son of former FIFA World Player of The Year George Weah. Like his father, Timothy Weah is a striker who has blistering pace and can conjure a goal from nowhere. Currently, Weah is on loan at Celtic, from PSG, and the striker has made a real name for himself in Scottish football.
Celtic’s offer to make the deal permanent was swiftly been rejected by PSG as the French club recognizes that Weah can be the ideal candidate to replace the ageing forward Edinson Cavani. Having already made his debut for the USMNT; many hope that Weah can become the striker that American soccer has been craving for.
Like many modern soccer players, it is hard to identify which position is Weah’s strongest. He excels in the number 9 role but also plays fantastically as an inverted winger. Weah has the pace, trickery and dribbling ability that allows him to eviscerate defenders in one-on-one scenarios. This unique skill-set is what makes him such an exciting prospect.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Weah’s game is his ability to create chances for his team. From wide positions, he can swing in crosses which are almost impossible to defend. His crossing technique reminds me of the way in which Di Maria plays balls into the box. Also, Weah’s technical proficiency means that he has the touch needed to be able to play intricate passes in tight spaces. He currently has a passing accuracy of 81%, which is impressive given the offensive positions that he finds himself in.
Weah has scored 3 goals this season and shown, in glimpses, that he can become an attacking force in soccer. This kid has a tremendous upside and, after Pulisic, is America’s next best young talent.
WESTON MCKENNIE (20): FC SCHALKE 04
20-year-old Weston Mckennie is a midfielder who plays for German club FC Schalke 04. Born in Texas, Mckennie turned down opportunities to play at the collegiate level, at the University of Virginia, and even rejected a Homegrown Player contract with Dallas.
The talented midfielder joined FC Schalke in August 2016 and spent only one year in the academy before being promoted into the senior squad. FC Schalke has a rich history of producing exceptional soccer players. The club’s youth academy, known as Knappenschmiede, has given rise to some of the world’s greatest players. Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Julien Draxler all speak highly of their time at FC Schalke. Now you can add Weston Mckennie to the list of exciting youngsters whose careers began at the German club.
His prodigious talent has seen him become a key component of Schalke’s squad and his versatility as a player has given him more exposure to first-team soccer. Predominately deployed as a central-defensive-midfielder, McKennie’s skill set makes him more suited to play as a box-to-box midfielder. However, his positional flexibility is due to his mastery of the fundamentals of soccer.
When his team are pressing the opposition, McKennie’s soccer IQ means that he does not make positional mistakes which is remarkable given that he is only 20 years old. McKennie has exceptional passing capabilities and his passing range is perfect for the modern game. The midfielder has a pass accuracy of 83% and he also averages 1.5 key passes per game. The combination of his positional sense and passing abilities allow him to play in a variety of positions.
As with any young player, McKennie has a lot that he can improve upon but I predict that he will become a permanent fixture in the USMNT’s midfield for many years to come. His game and mentality means that he is built for elite soccer.
JOSH SARGENT (19): WERDER BREMeN
The 19-year-old currently plays for Werder Bremen and has already made his debut for the USMNT. Sargent has shown in his short career that he can become an elite striker. The kind of striker that can consistently score 20+ goals per season. A transfer to one of Europe’s elite clubs is on the cards for Sargent, especially if he continues the trajectory that he is currently on.
His efforts this season has seen him been compared to Werder Bremen’s legendary striker Claudio Pizzaro. Whilst Pizzaro represents former glories for Werder Bremen there is a growing belief that Sargent can help usher in a new period of success for the German giants. Though Sargent is not a regular starter, or a permanent fixture in match-day squads, there is a growing belief that this will change sooner rather than later.
Due to the limited game time that Sargent has received, it is difficult to imagine just how good can be. What is for certain is that he has the skills needed to reach the very top. Within Sergeant’s game, there are glimpses of his supreme talent, but there is also a naiveness to his play; which is to be expected of a 19-year-old experiencing first team football for the first time.
There are qualities within Sargent’s game that make a mockery of his young age. When thinking of elite goal-scorers they often split into two types. The strikers who have worked tirelessly to improve their finishing, such as Harry Kane and Robert Lewandoski, and those who are instinctive finishers. Sargent is more of the latter and his incredible start to his career demonstrates this.
Sargent’s goal scoring ability is clear as he has scored, 7 goals in 12 games for Werder Bremen’s under 23 side. Also, for the first team, he has scored 2 goals in 9 appearances. Indeed, for the USMNT he has scored 2 goals in 6 games. Clearly, Sargent has a real eye for goal.
There is plenty of room for growth in all aspects of Sargent’s game. However, within a short space of time, Sargent is developing into a clinical striker.
American soccer’s Youth movement
There is a revolution taking place within American soccer which is seeing America’s talented youngsters flock to Europe. There are so many young Americans that are trying to make their way in the world of soccer through Europe’s youth academy systems.
The 3 players that I have selected in this article are those who I believe are not getting enough attention. They are incredible talents and I expect them to become household names sooner rather than later.
Any suggestions, questions or comments then do not hesitate to get in touch! Remember, if you have any requests for future articles then you all you have to do is ask! Whether it’s about a manager’s tactical philosophy or an in-depth analysis about a specific player, if it is soccer related; I will look into it!