With preseason underway, a look at the top stories for Americans in Europe

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ASN’s Brian Sciaretta chimes in with a massive preseason report for Americans in Europe – with a very detailed look at the good and the bad.


BY

Brian Sciaretta



Posted

July 07, 2021

3:00 PM

As we progress deeper into July, the European offseason is now over and preseason has begun throughout most of the continent. With that, many American players have rejoined their clubs to a variety of situations. Some are hoping to make first team rosters, some are hoping to build cases to start, and some are still in the process of looking for new clubs.

ASN will be running updates throughout July to cover preseason. Here are tidbits on games, transfers, and other news.

 

Marsch and Adams reunite

 

In Germany, RB Leipzig have opened up camp and the move has formally reunited United States national team midfielder Tyler Adams and head coach Jesse Marsch. The two have a long history dating back to when Adams won USL and Marsch was the first-team coach. Then Marsch oversaw his integration into the first team and were part of the 2018 Supporters’ Shield title (which Marsch left midseason).

On Wednesday, Marsch spoke about working with Tyler again.

“Obviously, I know Tyler so well,” Marsch said. “What’s been interesting in the last two days is now – obviously I know him as a person so well and a player – but now being a little bit further away from him for two years and now being up close again for two years, I can see all of the progress and things that he’s made and then still areas where he needs to improve. That’s certainly the benefit of our relationship as we know each other so well and there’s a lot of trust involved.”

“I think that I can help him make some next big steps in his in his life and in his career,” he continued. “Everyone here in Leipzig sees the player and person that Tyler is and the potential that he has – not just as a player, but as a leader. He’s still a young man. He’s still got a lot of development and a lot of potential to achieve. But I do believe he can be a really big part of the team this year and continue to grow and improve and hopefully in many ways, not just the way he plays, but also in his leadership skills.”

 

Marsch addresses Caden Clark

 

While Jesse Marsch won’t have Caden Clark for the preseason at RB Leipzig, he will have the talented teenager in January. The transfer of Clark, 18, from the New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig has already been made official but it was agreed that Clark would remain with New York through the end of the season.

Marsch is still personally connected to the New York Red Bulls after starting his coaching ascent there (not including an ill-fated tenure in Montreal) and Marsch has now coached three prominent teams under the Red Bull empire.

On a recent trip back home to the United States, Marsch met with Clark to get to know his future player.

“I was back home back at the end of May and I went to the New York Red Bulls training center and I met him for the first time that day,” Marsch said. “I’ve had a follow up conversation with him a couple of weeks after that. For me, that’s always the key is trying to get to the personality of who a player is, especially young players. Caden, you can see, has energy, and he has confidence and he has self-belief. It’s borderline cockiness, but it’s also rooted in just confidence in who he is and what he’s about. So that, for me, is always the best starting point. I can even remember meeting Tyler Adams when he was 15 years old and being like, OK, we have something here. So that is exciting.”

“Clearly, he has the potential to play football the way that we think,” Marsch continued. “He can run. He is aggressive. He’s talented with the ball. He’s creative around the goal. He’s clearly shown that he has quality. I think a combination of a really aggressive personality with an aggressive way of playing fits really well with the way that we think about football here in Leipzig. It’s important for him to stay focused. And that was my message to him the last time I spoke to him. It’s really important for him to stay focused on his development there in New York and committing himself 100 percent into what’s going on there in New York and Leipzig should be something that’s in the back – not in the forefront right now. But I think he’s mature enough to understand that.”

 

Pefok starting under Wagner

 

Four-time reigning Swiss Champions BSC Young Boys have played a few friendlies already under David Wagner. A 4-1 win over Neuchatel Xamax and a 1-0 loss to Altach. The team will play its first competitive games of the season on July 21 in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

 Jordan Pefok Siebatcheu has started both games for Young Boys and the fact he is playing is great news as his injury for the national team in the 4-0 friendly win over Costa Rica looked potetially dangerous. The fact he is playing is a relief.

As for Wagner, his coaching career has generally consisted of him doing well with a limited hand. He got Huddersfield promoted to the Premier League and avoided relegation in his first season. That is no small feat. Obviously he was fired at Schalke, but history has shown that Schalke was unsalvagable.

Now the former U.S. national team forward is working with a team which is expected to win. It will be an important and revealing season for Wagner in that respoect.


 

Aaronson’s strong preseason start

 

The Austrian Bundesliga preseason rolls on and Red Bull Salzburg will once again enter as the favorites despite the typical heavy turnover at the club. Head coach Jesse Marsch moved to Leipzig, leading scorer Patson Daka moved to Leicester City.

While Aaronson became an important player for Salzburg in the second half of last season, this season he will aim to be a top player and showcase himself not just as a good player, but the type of player that can command a huge price tag. Salzburg is a team that is just on a completely different level in the Austrian Bundesliga where it wins titles with a youthful roster and regularly sells players.

Now under new manager Matthias Jaissle, Aaronson will attempt to raise his game even more and dominate the league. In his first preseason game this weekend, Aaronson scored in a 3-1 loss to Monaco.

 

As for whether Aaronson could eventually move up within the Red Bull empire to Leipzig, Marsch was coy when addressing the media this week.

“Brenden was another young man that when I when I first talked to him, I could see the energy and his personality,” Marsch said. “And so, when he came to Salzburg, it was a big adjustment. The speed of play, the level of training, the expectations that we have for players. But he adapted so quickly and the more information we gave him, the hungrier was for us to give him even more. And then I think even as the type of personality as he is, the team accepted him so well and he became almost immediately a big part of the group. So, it says it says two things. It says a lot about who Brenden is, and it says a lot about the type of environment that we had there in Salzburg.”

“I’ve said this often: there’s like 15 players from Salzburg that I’d like to bring here, but it’s not so easy,” he continued.  “Brenden is a good player and certainly he has big ambitions and he has a big future in front of him. I don’t want to put any pressure out in the media or any pressure on any one particular player. I want those guys to enjoy their time together and enjoy, enjoy what they’re doing in Salzburg. But certainly, just from the fact that I’ve worked there and I have such a good relationship with Brenden, I certainly keep my eye on what he’s doing.”

 

Moves for Mendez, Llanez, Vassilev, Roberts, & Soto

 

Five young Americans who have struggled for minutes in recent years have either found moves for the upcoming season or are on the verge of moving. Four a via loans.

Alex Mendez is moving to FC Vizela – which was recently promoted to the top flight in Portugal. After struggling to break through at Ajax, he will now head to a smaller club in Portugal that will attempt to survive in the top flight. Mendez has a great left foot, but clubs that are fighting for survival often require everyone to work hard on both sides of the ball, it will be a big test.

Uly Llanez is currently with St. Poelten – in the Austrian second tier and St. Poelten and Wolfsburg now have an affiliation agreement after Wolfsburg disbanded their reserve team. This is a tough situation. Due to injuries and personal situations, Llanez has played only very limited minutes the past year – and he now has to work his way up from a low level at a small club. It will firmly test his resolve.

Thomas Roberts is heading on loan from FC Dallas to newly promoted Austrian Bundesliga side SK Austria Klagenfurt in a move that was first reported by 3rd Degree but can be confirmed by ASN. Roberts was once expected to be a main contributor to the 2021 U-20 team but was overtaken by others like Cole Bassett, Tanner Tessmann, and others because of a lack of playing time at Dallas. The lower levels of the Austrian Bundesliga seems to be a useful place for Americans in that regard so perhaps it will work for Roberts and he can return to Dallas an improved player ready to help their first team.

Sebastian Soto confirmed his loan from newly promoted Norwich to Porto B where he will apparently also have the opportunity to train with the first team. This is a move that would have made a lot of sense if he was 18 years old. But Soto will turn 21 this month and will be under pressure to perform. His career has been a strange ride since he left Real Salt Lake’s academy to sign a professional deal with Hannover. He made a few Bundesliga appearances in late-game cameos after relegation was assured but fell out with the club. He then moved to Norwich but was loaned to Telstar. He played well in the Dutch second tier but was recalled to play with Norwich’s reserve team. Now he heads to Portugal to play with Porto’s B team (on loan with an option to buy) in hopes of paving a way to the first team. He has talent but it is beyond time for him to get going.

Indiana Vassilev was played in the Premier League just last year in 2020 with Aston Villa. Granted that was during a time of a wave of injuries at the club but still, it was a great experience. The 2020/21 season, however, was met with two very unsuccessful loans – the first to Burton Albion in League One. That loan was terminated in January and he moved to Cheltenham Town in League Two – where he only made late-game substitute appearances. Now he will head to Inter Miami on loan. While it is a dysfunctional club in MLS, if he trains well, he can play at a higher level than either of his two recent loans. It is up to him. If this loan doesn’t work out, it will bring about the question of what’s next?

 

Richards training individually

 

After a successful loan last season to Hoffenheim, Chris Richards is back with Bayern right now and is training on an individual basis as he recovers from a thigh injury.

 

It remains to be seen what will happen once he’s healthy but it seems like the most logical step is another loan at Hoffenheim. He is rated at that club and it gives him the chance to play regular Bundesliga minutes. Why send him elsewhere when there is a chance he might not play as much? For Bayern, it keeps him developing within the same league with assured minutes.

If he’s not going to stay at Bayern Munich, a loan to Hoffenheim (with a recall option for Bayern) just makes too much sense.

 

Barcelona’s disaster

 

It will be really interesting to see what happens at Barcelona this season. The clubs debt reportedly surpasses €1 billion and then this week, a report dropped that indicated that the club is going to have to shed salary very quickly – in the vicinity of €200 million.

 

It’s a mess and it is hard to see the team being able to compete at the same level it historically has for the coming years – if the current rules are enforced against the club. That hasn’t always been the case.

As for United States international Sergino Dest, he seems like the type of player the club would like to keep as, relatively speaking, he is not expensive but is still quality. Still, Barcelona seems likely to listen to anything these days.

One thing to watch regarding Dest is the environment around the club. Despite the financial mess, the pressure on the players will be the same – but now it probably doesn’t have the resources to live up to expectations. How will Dest handle that aspect of it if Barcelona actually struggles in La Liga?

 

Horvath rumors/Robinson reports

 

After a now legendary performance at the Nations League for the U.S team, Ethan Horvath is still without a club. He has the offers but needs to find a path where he can start as his minutes have been extremely light the past two years.

The latest rumors have Horvath pegged to Fulham.

 

He’d have to compete with Marek Rodak – which is winnable – but Rodak is only 24. If Horvath loses that competition, he could be on the bench for a long stretch.

Speaking of Fulhan, Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream reported for duty and are training. Robinson could be the subject of transfer interest but for now, he’s with the Cottagers preparing for the Championship season.

 

Sargent rumors

 

After a brutal season for Werder Bremen which resulted in relegation, Josh Sargent is back with the club ahead of the 2.Bundesliga season.

On Wednesday, Sargent played the 2nd half in a 2-2 draw with Zenit.

So, will Sargent remain with Werder Bremen this season or will he earn a transfer this summer? The way it seems right now is that Werder will listen to offers but won’t sell him cheaply. It’s a tough situation for Werder because the money is tighter in the 2.Bundesliga and an expensive sale can pay the bills. On the flip side, Werder wants to return to the Bundesliga ASAP and there is enormous pressure for them to do so. Selling players puts them in the hole.

The latest report this week suggest that Werder is looking for €10 and that Bayer Leverkusen could emerge as a buyer. The problem with Leverkusen is Patrik Schick is an established starter coming off a very strong European Championship campaign with the Czech Republic. There is also Lucas Alario, who is injured at the moment but still a strong forward. The move only makes sense for Sargent if Schick is sold.

 

Wright looking for SonderjyskE move

 

Haji Wright is looking for a move out of SondrjyskE after a strong season where he scored 11 goals in 29 games – with a majority of the goals coming in the first half of the season.

Wright, 23, is not in the club’s preseason roster and is apparently dismayed about the club turning down offers for him.

 

This will be an interesting story to follow during the times where there is a cash crunch for many teams throughout Europe. Wright has struggled at Schalke, VVV Venlo, and Sandhausen before having a good season in Denmark with SonderjyskE. How high of a price will that fetch for Haji?

 

Boyd in Limbo

 

Another American not on the preseason roster for his club is Tyler Boyd at Besiktas. It has been clear for some time now that the club does not rate the New Zealand-born American winger. Last season, he was dropped from the active roster before getting a loan to Sivasspor.

 

Boyd, 26, is one of the Americans most in-need of a move and has done enough in his career to find takers. Moving elsewhere in Turkey, back to Portugal, Germany, or even MLS are options.

 

Loan Army still on hold

 

Many Americans are part of the “loan armies” of big clubs. As of now, many key players are still up for grabs: Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, and Taylor Booth.

There is interest in Palmer-Brown, Carter-Vickers, and Miazga and realistic destinations should become known inside of the next week. For Booth, he had a pretty good season in Austria with St. Poelten in 2021 despite the relegation. He’s training with Bayern at the moment but will probably be a candidate for an improved loan this summer.



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