Amidst an influx of impressive young talent coming to Major League Soccer from South America, the Bundesliga is raiding the U.S. for young players. So while American teenagers may not be having any luck breaking into lineups at home, they’re finding more opportunities in the league of the world champions. To steal a line from Taylor Twellman, what are we doing?
The fallout from Jonathan Gonzalez’s switch from the United States national team to Mexico has been expectedly fierce, especially so when coupled with the current state of U.S. Soccer. Here was a California native who’d progressed through the U.S. youth system, including run-outs at the U-17, U-18 and U-20 levels, who joined Mexican club side C.F. Monterrey in 2014 “bleeding red, white and blue.”
17-year-old Missouri native Josh Sargent made his Werder Bremen debut on Tuesday while appearing for the club’s U-23 team in a friendly versus Dynamo Dresden. Sargent officially joined the club on Jan. 1 and won’t be able to sign a professional contract until turning 18 on February 20, but the eagle has landed.
When FC Barcelona signed 12-year-old prospect Cristobal Munoz from a youth side affiliated with Malaga last March, the deal was heralded by Barcelona-based daily Sport as the capture of “the hottest young prospect in Spanish football.”
Alex Collado, born in the city of Sabadell in Catalonia (the birthplace of Sergio Busquets), joined La Masia back in 2011 as a 12-year-old. The central midfielder has since risen through the club’s youth ranks, appearing for Barca’s Juvenil A (the premier U-19 side and the final stage of progression at La Masia) throughout the 2016-17 season as a 17-year-old.
Collado played a vital role in Barca’s run to the semifinals of last year's UEFA Youth League, which culminated in a 2-1 defeat to eventual champions Red Bull Salzburg.
Make it back-to-back hat-tricks for 17-year-old Liverpool talent Rhian Brewster at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. After hitting the United States for three in England’s 4-1 victory in the quarterfinals, the London-born striker again found the back of the net thrice, this time in the Three Lions’ 3-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals.
Brewster, who scored on his Liverpool U-23 debut back in January, now leads the tournament’s Golden Boot race with seven goals. He also bravely struck the first penalty in England’s Round of 16 shootout triumph over Japan.
Tim Weah is the son of a Ballon d’Or winner. Tim Weah is a Paris Saint-Germain player. Tim Weah is American. Tim Weah scored a hat trick on Monday. Tim Weah helped the U.S. into the U-17 World Cup quarterfinals. Tim Weah is, like, Weah good.
Being handed his Norwegian senior debut at 15 and promised first team training with Real Madrid at 16 was clearly too much too soon for the now 18-year-old Martin Odegaard, but to call the precociously talented midfielder a burn out for failing to disrupt the back-to-back European champions’ starting XI is obviously extremely harsh.
Tuesday was a nightmare for U.S. soccer, but soccer does not stop because the U.S. won’t be in the World Cup next summer in Russia. In fact, the U.S. is competing at a World Cup right now — the U-17 World Cup in India — and the team is doing quite well.
Because Christian Pulisic is too old and will never accomplish anything, we present to you the next American Messi: 9-year-old Alessandro Cupini (no relation to Cuphead). The Kansas City native will be moving to Italy next year to train with AS Roma according to a press release, an impressive step for a young American.