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USMNT

Donovan or Dempsey or…Pulisic?!?

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Donovan or Dempsey or…

Who is the best ever, Landon or Clint?  Clint or Landon?  Dempsey or Donovan?  Been a topic for a decade at least in USMNT circles.  Landon has the USMNT numbers, but Clint has the European career.   But is it really between those two or has Christian Pulisic already eclipsed both?   Let’s do this sports radio style and try and break it down between the three iconic USMNT attackers.  Let’s assess them in the four pillars of soccer development and then their national team career.

Physical Ability 

This is a measure of a player’s size and strength, but also coordination and speed.  All three were top athletes with superior coordination.  Donovan was faster than Dempsey.  Dempsey was bigger and stronger than Donovan.  I don’t know who would be faster at top speed, Donovan or Pulisic, but watching both play, Pulisic is faster getting to top speed with the ball at his feet.  I think we can leave it at that, Donovan probably fastest at top speed, Pulisic quickest, and Dempsey the strongest.

Verdict:  Even 

Technical

This is the ability of the player to manage the ball individually.  While Donovan and Dempsey had good first touches and were technically sound, especially for an American of their eras, they don’t measure up to the technical skill Pulisic has.  Finishing with the feet and head is also apart of the game and Dempsey is by far the best header in the group.  Donovan was also an excellent shooter even if his most famous goal was an easy one.   But there is a reason one of the biggest clubs in the world paid $70MM for one of these players.

Verdict:  Pulisic

Tactical

This is a harder category to quantify.  All three probably have a sound tactical understanding or they couldn’t have been dominant players for the USMNT.  So, let us use who has played at the highest level and thus, had to use their tactical knowledge closest to the peak of the sport.  In that case, one player has more Champions League caps than the other two combined.  Not only does Pulisic have more Champions League appearances than Dempsey and Donovan, he has more than any other American ever, and had that at 21!.  Chelsea and Dortmund are bigger clubs than Fulham or Everton or Tottenham at the time Dempsey moved there.

Verdict:  Pulisic

Psychological

This is another tough one to quantify.  We also haven’t seen Pulisic’s full career play out and how he handles adversity in the future.  To date, it is impressive as he went to Europe at 16 and is showing the way forward for an entire generation.  Donovan had short stints in Europe but mostly couldn’t handle the mental aspect.  But he also had to carry the burden of an entire league for a long period.  Dempsey had tremendous adversity as a young player just trying to get on the field.  He was an incredible competitor on and off the field.  

Five years from now, this one might be more obvious for or against Pulisic.  Right now, it is hard to pick between the three.

Verdict:  Dempsey and Pulisic

USMNT career

A final category that is not part of the four pillars but very much what people will want discussed.  Certainly, Pulisic is by far the best at 19. 

He is on pace to exceed the 57 USMNT goal record shared by Dempsey and Donovan.  Missing the 2018 World Cup and the Covid epidemic did not help though.  Also, his club career could also get in the way as there are fewer games for players not based in MLS.  Donovan has the trump card of 58 assists which is far more than Dempsey and doubtful Pulisic gets that many (he has 9 to date).  Will Pulisic get to the 157 caps that Donovan reached?  Hopefully!  Until then, you have to give this to Donovan.

Verdict:  Donovan

Winner:  Christian Pulisic

This incredibly scientific thesis comparing three players that hardly ever played in the same league at the same time in their careers, has come to the conclusion by a 3-1-1 margin that Christian Pulisic is the best American attacker ever.  Who will be next to enter this conversation?

Open to all arguments on twitter @pkeeler167.  

USMNT

What’s in a Resume?

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Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X and us_keeper on Instagram)

A look back at the full-time USMNT Manager’s resumes before they were hired

You can’t go anywhere on social media today without seeing passionate fans, former USMNT players, and media asking for Gregg Berhalter to be fired, and rightfully so after the USMNT was grouped at the 2024 Copa America. The USMNT became the first  team since 1993 when the tournament went from a Round-Robin format to a Group Stage & Knockout Stage format to not make it out of the group stage.

Most fans are well aware of how, but maybe not why Gregg Berhalter was hired not once, but twice as the USMNT manager and continue to wonder why he was the chosen one due to his unimpressive resume.

History of the past Full-Time USMNT Managers

The USMNT hired its first full-time manager in 1976 a decade and a half after beating England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup, during that stretch the USMNT would hire and fire 17 managers with only George Meyer being rehired who failed twice to qualify the USMNT for the World Cup.

Since 1976 the USMNT has also employed 17 managers three who have managed the national team multiple times and five who were caretakers. 

Here’s a look at the resumes of the nine full-time managers at the time of being hired to lead the USMNT along with their records as national team manager.

Walter Chyzowych – July 1976 – November 1980
8 Wins, 10 Draws and 14 Losses, GF-26, GA-50

Walter Chyzowych’s coaching career started as the caretaker of the Philadelphia Textile in 1961 and he ended up coaching the team until 1975, during that time he was also an assistant for Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals from 1971 to 1975.

In 1975 the U.S. Soccer Federation hired Chyzowych as their director of coaching a position he would hold until 1981. Chyzowych the first full-time USMNT manager would coach the national team for two World Cup cycles (1978 and 1982) failing to qualify for the World Cup both times. Chyzowych’s signature win came on the road against 21st ELO-ranked Hungary a 2-0 win on October 26, 1979. It’s also worth noting that Chyzowych’s older brother Eugene managed the USMNT for three matches in 1973.

Alketas ‘Alkis’ Panagoulias – January 1983 – June 1985
6 Wins, 7 Draws and 5 Losses, GF-19, GA-21

Panagoulias’s coaching career started in 1967 when he coached the New York Greek Americans to three consecutive National Challenge Cup titles in 1967, 1968, and 1969. In 1972 he was hired as the assistant coach for Greece under the legendary Billy Bingham of Northern Ireland. Panagoulias would be employed as the Greece national team manager in 1973. He would coach the Greece national team until 1981. Panagoulias would help Greece qualify for the UEFA Euro 1980, where they would fail to get out of the group.

In 1981 Panagoulias left the Greece national team and would coach Olympiacos for three seasons where he would win the Alpha Ethniki title in 1982 and 1983.

In 1983 US Soccer hired Panagoulias as the USMNT manager, at that time Panagoulias would manage the national team, Team America (1983), and the 1984 US Soccer Olympic team. Panagoulias would fail to qualify for the 1986 World Cup, but came very close to advancing to the final round of qualifying, but lost in a must-win home match to Costa Rice 1-0.

Bob Gansler – January 16, 1989 – February 23, 1991
15 Wins, 6 Draws and 16 Losses, GF-43, GA-41

The former USMNT defender held several coaching positions with the youth team from the mid-1970s until 1989 when he led the U-20 USYNT to fourth place at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, while also serving as the head coach at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee men’s soccer team from 1984 through 1988. Gansler also coached the USMNT for one match in 1982, a 1-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago. Bob Gansler was the first USMNT manager in 40 years to qualify for the World Cup.

Bora Milutinović – March 27, 1991 – April 14, 1995
30 Wins, 31 Draws and 35 Losses, GF-116, GA-110

Bora started his coaching career in 1977 when he was hired as the manager of the UNAM Pumas where he coached until 1983. Bora would win two trophies as the UNAM manager of the Concacaf Champions League and Mexican Champion in the 1980/1981 season.

Bora would next become the Mexican National Team manager in 1983 and coach them at the 1986 World Cup hosted by Mexico. The team would finish sixth and end up losing in penalty kicks to West Germany, who would lose in the Final to Argentina.

After leaving Mexico in 1986 Bora would have a handful of other manager jobs in South and Central America and on short stint in Italy where he would coach Udinese nine matches.

Bora was hired as the Costa Rican National Team manager in 1990 and would coach them at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Bora would once again get his team out of the group and into the knockout stage. Costa Rica would end up finishing 13th after losing to Czechoslovakia 4-1 in the Round of 16

Steve Sampson – April 15, 1995 – June 29, 1998
26 Wins, 14 Draws and 22 Losses, GF-83, GA-69

Steve Sampson’s coaching career started as the boy’s varsity soccer coach at Awalt High School in Mountain View, California, where he would coach for two seasons, followed by being an assistant coach at Foothill Owls and the UCLA Bruins where he would be part of the coaching staff of the team that would win the 1985 NCAA men’s soccer championship.

Sampson would finally get his first college coaching job when he was hired by Santa Clara Broncos in 1986. Sampson would lead his 1989 Santa Clara Broncos to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship against Virginia who was coached by Bruce Arena. The teams would battle through regulation & four overtime and end up being named Santa Clara and Virginia as co-champions.

In 1993 Sampson was hired as an assistant to Bora Milutinović and was on the staff during the 1994 World Cup team.

Bruce Arena – October 26, 1998 – July 14, 2006
71 Wins, 29 Draws and 30 Losses, GF-210, GA-98

Arena was hired as the head soccer coach of Virginia a job he would keep for 18 years. In his time with Virginia Arena won five NCAA Division I men’s soccer championships (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994) and would coach many USMNTs like Claudio Reyna, Jeff Agoos, Ben Olsen, John Harkes, and Tony Meola.

In 1996 Arena would leave Virginia and coach in the inaugural first season of Major League Soccer for D.C. United where he would end up winning two MLS Championships, one Concacaf Champions Cup, and one Supporter Shield

Arena would also coach the U-23 USMNT team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia where they would finish third in the group with four points.

Bob Bradley – December 8, 2006 – July 28, 2011
43 Wins, 12 Draws and 25 Losses, GF-134, GA-97

In 1982 Bradley began his coaching career at Ohio University where he coached for two seasons. Bradley would then become an assistant coach under Bruce Arena at Virginia before returning to his alma mater Princeton where he would coach for 11 seasons he would win two Ivy League titles and finished fourth at the 1993 NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament.

In 1996 Arena would once again hire Bradley to be an assistant coach with him at D.C. United for two seasons. Bradley would also be the Arena’s assistant coach at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Bradley would finally get his first manager job in the MLS when he was hired by the Chicago Fire in 1998 where he won the MLS Cup as well as the U.S. Open Cup in their first season in the MLS. Bradley would go on to also coach the MetroStars (New York Red Bulls) and Chivas USA while complying with a record of 150 Wins, 74 Draws, and 108 Losses with those three MLS teams, before being hired as the USMNT.

Jürgen Klinsmann – July 29, 2011 – October 13, 2016
55 Wins, 16 Draws and 27 Losses, GF-178, GA-109

Jurgen_Klinsmann

Klinsmann would be hired as the German National Team manager in 2004 after a disastrous showing at UEFA Euros. Klinsmann would lead the Germans to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup where they would lose in extra time to Italy and end up defeating Portugal in the Third Place playoff match. Soon after the 2006 World Cup Klinsmann declined the offer to renew his contract.

Klinsmann would become the coach of Bayern Munich in July 2008. Klinsmann would get Bayern Munich to the quarter-finals where they would lose to eventual UEFA Champions League winner Barcelona. Klinsmann would be fired with five matches remaining in the Bundesliga season 2008-2009 but would finish in second place in the table two points behind VfL Wolfsburg.

Toronto FC hired Klinsmann in November of 2010 as the team’s technical consultant to help with coaching and player evaluation.

Gregg Berhalter – December 2, 2018 – TBD

44 Wins, 13 Draws and 17 Losses, GF-144, GA-65

In Berhalter’s third and final season as a player with the Los Angeles Galaxy was added as one of the assistant coaches due to his leadership abilities. Berhalter played very few matches due to ongoing and lingering injuries. The Galaxy led by Bruce Arena would end up winning the 2011 Supporters’ Shield and the 2011 MLS Cup

Manager Rumors and Speculations

We’ve seen many lists and thoughts on who the next USMNT manager should be if Gregg Berhalter either steps down or is sacked by US Soccer.  The USMNT needs an experienced manager who can get the most out of the group while providing winning results.

American Manager Options

Several American options are currently under contract like Steve Chreudolo (Los Angeles FC), Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union), former USMNT manager Bob Bradley (Stabæk), or Pellegrino Matarazzo (TSG Hoffenheim) all seem very unlikely unless they can find a way out of their contracts, which was a problem when hiring Gregg Berhalter, which is why they waited over a year to hire him.

Then you have several former unattached USMNT players Tab Ramos (former Youth Technical Director and U-20 USMNT manager) Hugo Perez (former El Salvador manager) and David Wagner (former Norwich manager) who could be considered, all who would make great assistances to the next manager and or candidates for the 2030 cycle. 

There is also Bruce Arena who’s sitting at home right now and might want to redeem himself.

Foreign High Profile Managers 

These lists also include big names like Jurgen Klopp who is currently traveling around the United States on this 4th of July weekend or Marcelo Gallardo formerly manager of Al-Ittihad or Mauricio Pochettino most recently the manager of Chelsea for one season. Other big name managers who are currently available include Xavi formerly with Barcelona or Zinédine Zidane but those options aren’t going to happen.

Ideal International Manager Options

At this point in the cycle, the USMNT must hire a manager with International experience to prepare the USMNT for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Here’s a look at managers with International expertise and their record as an International manager.

Joachim Löw (64) – Free Agent – Former German National Team Manager (2006-2021)
124 Wins, 40 Draws & 34 Losses, GF-467, GA-200

  • 2008 – UEFA Euro – Runners Up
  • 2010 – World Cup – Finished Third
  • 2012 – UEFA Euro – Lost in semi-finals
  • 2014 – World Cup – Champions 
  • 2016 – UEFA Euro – Lost in semi-finals
  • 2017 – Confederations Cup – Champions
  • 2018 – World Cup – Finished 22nd & last in their group
  • 2020 – UEFA Euro – Lost in Round of 16

Joachim Löw International’s resume and results speak for themselves. While I am not sure if he would accept an offer to coach the USMNT he checks all the boxes.

Hervé Renard (55) – France WNT
70 Wins, 38 Draws & 46 Losses, GF-205, GA-142

  • 2010 – CAF Africa Cup of Nations – Lost in the Quarter-Finals in PKs – Finished 6th
  • 2012 – CAF Africa Cup of Nations – Champions
  • 2013 – Eliminated in the group stage – Finished 12th  
  • 2015 – CAF Africa Cup of Nations – Champions
  • 2018 – World Cup – Eliminated in the group stage – Finished 27th
  • 2022 – World Cup – Eliminated in the group stage – Finished 25th

The French women’s national team manager is preparing for the 2024 Olympics, whose contract ends after the 2024 Olympics. Renard’s International experience with five different nations over six stints with Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Angola, and two stints with Zambia.

Jorge Sampaoli (64) – Free Agent – Former Chile (2012-2016) & Argentina (2017-2018) National Team Manager
34 Wins, 13 Draws & 12 Losses, GF-116, GA-65

  • 2014 – World Cup – Lost in Round of 16 in PKs
  • 2015 – Copa America – Champions
  • 2018 – World Cup – Lost in Round of 16

While Sampaoli’s International coaching career has been limited he has been successful in his stints as well as winning four trophies as manager of Club Universidad de Chile in the early 2010’s

Senol Gunes (72) – Free Agent
38 Wins, 23 Draws & 21 Losses

epa09288984 Turkey’s head coach Senol Gunes reacts during the UEFA EURO 2020 group A preliminary round soccer match between Switzerland and Turkey in Baku, Azerbaijan, 20 June 2021. EPA-EFE/Ozan Kose / POOL (RESTRICTIONS: For editorial news reporting purposes only. Images must appear as still images and must not emulate match action video footage. Photographs published in online publications shall have an interval of at least 20 seconds between the posting.)
  • 2002 – World Cup – Lost in Semi-Finals – Third Place
  • 2003 – Confederations Cup – Third Place
  • 2020 – UEFA Euro – Eliminated in the group stage – Finished 24th

Gunes’ most recent run as International manager with Türkiye wasn’t as successful as his first but has the necessary experience with International soccer. Gunes won six trophies as a manager two with Trabzonspor in the mid-1990s and another two with Trabzonspor in 2010 while also winning two trophies over the last eight years with Besiktas.

Louis van Gaal (72) – Advisor with Ajax
41 Wins, 19 Draws & 4 Losses, GF-154, GA-51

Louis_vanGaal

  • 2014 – World Cup – Lost in Semi-Finals – Third Place
  • 2022 – World Cup – Lost in Quarter-Finals  – Fifth Place

At 72 van Gaal’s coaching days might be behind him, however, he did get the Netherlands to the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup and lost in penalty kicks to the eventual winner Argentina.  Van Gaal also has a very long and successful club coaching career with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United where he won 20 trophies.

Luis Enrique – Paris Saint-Germain
26 Wins, 14 Draws & 7 Losses, GF-97, GA-37

Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group E – Japan v Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar – December 1, 2022 Spain coach Luis Enrique reacts REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
  • 2020 – UEFA Euro – Lost in Semi-Finals in PKs – Third Place
  • 2020–21 – UEFA Nations League – Second Place
  • 2022 – World Cup – Lost in Round of 16 in PKs  – 13th Place

It was rumored that Enrique was one of the three or four named final candidates for the USMNT in 2023. While Enrique’s International experience is limited he has recently competed in several FIFA tournaments will solid results with Spain. Enrique has also had a very successful club career earning 13 trophies with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

Next steps for US Soccer and the USMNT

So where does US Soccer go from here? From the sounds of it, leaders inside US Soccer don’t want to part ways with Gregg Berhalter, but I have to wonder why not. Gregg met the expectations of many when the USMNT qualified for the 2022 World Cup and made it out of the group, but in my humble opinion he isn’t able to take this group any further, which is very clear based on recent results against Trinidad and Tobago on the road in Nations League semi-finals, a home Friendly against Colombia and the home lost at Copa America to Panama.

I fear that the USSF will either not fire Gregg Berhalter or fire him and hire another puppet MLS American to run the USMNT, which isn’t what is needed over the next two years if the USMNT is going to make a wanted and needed deep run at the 2026 World Cup.

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USMNT

Scheduling Conflict

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World Cup hosts USMNT, Canada and Mexico will have trouble scheduling quality Friendlies over the next two years.

Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X and us_keeper on Instagram)

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup less than two years away the USMNT will have limited opportunities to schedule quality matches as the rest of the Confederations compete in World Cup Qualifying and other tournaments, one of the disadvantages of hosting a World Cup.

US Soccer recently announced the USMNT will be playing home matches in the September FIFA window against Canada at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City and New Zealand at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. US Soccer also announced one October match against Panama at Q2 Stadium in Austin Texas. It’s worth noting that Mexico could be the second match scheduled for the October FIFA window as there have been recent rumors indicating the likelihood of that happening.

The scheduling of quality opponents for the USMNT has been criticized by fans in recent years but with the creation of new Confederation tournaments in UEFA and Concacaf, the window for schedule matches between those Confederations has become increasingly challenging.

The USMNT rival to the south seems to be able to schedule additional Friendlies during a window as well as better-quality opponents. Mexico was able to schedule a third match during this June window as opposed to the USMNT which only had two matches. Mexico also scheduled three matches to USMNT one match in 2021 before the 2021 Gold Cup and yet again in 2022 scheduling three matches in the June window before the 2022 Nations League Finals along with scheduling two Friendlies before the 2022 World Cup.

I suspect over the next two years that the USMNT, Canada & Mexico will partner with one another in trying to schedule the same opponents for matches likely played in the United States, which happened during the 2023 October FIFA window when the USMNT and Mexico both played matches against Germany and Ghana.

Breaking Down of Confederation Schedules

US Soccer will have to work hard and be creative when trying to schedule matches for the 2025 windows in June, September, October, and November. It will get somewhat easier once teams in each Confederation move to the different rounds of World Cup qualifying.

Here’s a look at each Confederation by window 

AFC (Asian Football Confederation)

September 2-10, 2024 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 6 Teams)

October 7-15, 2024 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 6 Teams)

November 11-19, 2024 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 6 Teams)

March 17-25, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 6 Teams)

June 2-10, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 6 Teams)

September 1-9, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

October 6-14, 2025 – Fourth Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Match window – 2 Groups of 3 Teams)

November 10-18, 2025 – Fifth Round – AFC Playoff – Winner advances to the inter-confederation play-offs

March 23-31, 2025 – Inter-confederation play-offs (To include One team from AFC)

The USMNT has scheduled and played over 780 matches but has only played 11 away (7) or neutral (4) match Friendlies since the 1990 cycle, which is partly to do with the logistics.

CAF (Confederation of African Football)

September 2-10, 2024 – Africa Cup of Nations

October 7-15, 2024 – Africa Cup of Nations

November 11-19, 2024 – Africa Cup of Nations

March 17-25, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifying (5 Groups of 6 Teams)

June 2-10, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

September 1-9, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifying (5 Groups of 6 Teams)

October 6-14, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifying (5 Groups of 6 Teams)

November 10-18, 2025 – Second Round – Group Runners Up – Winner advances to the inter-confederation play-offs

March 23-31, 2025 – Inter-confederation play-offs (To include One team from CAF)

Similar to the AFC the USMNT has only played five away (4) or neutral (1) Friendly matches since the 1990 cycle, which has mostly to do with the party logistics.

Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football)

September 2-10, 2024 – Concacaf Nations League

October 7-15, 2024 – Concacaf Nations League

November 11-19, 2024 – Concacaf Nations League

March 17-25, 2025 – Concacaf Nations League

June 2-10, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

September 1-9, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 4 Teams)

October 6-14, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 4 Teams)

November 10-18, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (3 Groups of 4 Teams)

March 23-31, 2025 – Inter-confederation play-offs (To include Two teams from Concacaf)

The USMNT needs to avoid scheduling Friendly matches with teams from Concacaf as much as possible.

CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation)

September 2-10, 2024 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

October 7-15, 2024 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

November 11-19, 2024 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

March 17-25, 2025 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

June 2-10, 2025 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

September 1-9, 2025 – World Cup Qualifying (1 Group of 10 Teams)

October 6-14, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

November 10-18, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

March 23-31, 2025 – Inter-confederation play-offs (7th team in standings to be included as the One team from CONMEBOL)

Over the last ten years, the USMNT has played 21 Friendly matches with CONMEBOL teams which has been their best chance to get regular quality opponents.

OFC (Oceania Football Confederation)

September 2-10, 2024 – First Round – World Cup Qualifying (Lower four seeds play in a knockout series)

October 7-15, 2024 – Second Round – World Cup Qualifying (2 Groups of 4 Teams)

November 11-19, 2024 – Second Round – World Cup Qualifying (2 Groups of 4 Teams)

March 17-25, 2025 – Third Round – World Cup Qualifying (Knockout series winner qualifies for Inter-confederation play-offs)

June 2-10, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

September 1-9, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

October 6-14, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

November 10-18, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

March 23-31, 2025 – Inter-confederation play-offs (To include the One team from OFC)

The USMNT has only ever played five matches, soon to be six matches against only Australia (Former member of OFC) and New Zealand 

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations)

September 2-10, 2024 – UEFA Nations League

October 7-15, 2024 – UEFA Nations League

November 11-19, 2024 – UEFA Nations League

March 17-25, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifiers (Groups of 5 Teams Play) or UEFA Nations League

June 2-10, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifiers (Groups of 5 Teams Play) or UEFA Nations League

September 1-9, 2025 – First Round – World Cup Qualifiers (All Groups of 4 & 5 Teams Play)

October 6-14, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

November 10-18, 2025 – No World Cup Qualifying matches in this window

March 23-31, 2026 – Inter-confederation play-offs (To include the One team from OFC)

I am unsure if there will be an opportunity for the USMNT to play any of the UEFA teams that aren’t part of the groups of five teams as some of those teams are likely to be participating in the quarter-finals or promotion/relegation play-offs of the UEFA Nations League. It’s also possible that any idol teams in those groups of five will be available from a Friendly in Europe. It’s still to be determined until the groups are drawn for the UEFA World Cup qualifying.

Other Match Possibilities

In 1993 and 1994 the USMNT scheduled and played the most FIFA matches in a year in back-to-back years playing 34 matches in 1993 and 27 matches in 1994, a feat likely to never be repeated. In those years the USMNT also scheduled many matches against top-tier club teams like Bayern Munich, Kedah, and FC Zurich.

While I see this as an unlikely option we may see some closed-door sessions with club teams like we saw before the 2022 World Cup when they played Al Gharafa SC or before the 2023 Gold Cup when they played Flash FC.

With the recent failure at the 2024 Copa America, where the USMNT was grouped, the team and players need every opportunity to schedule matches against the best quality of talent to make the needed progress forward and US Soccer will need to be on the ball in making sure other nations don’t get matches scheduled before they do.

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Club News

The Top 10 Americans in Europe this Season

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The season is over for most of the major European leagues and compared to last season, this was a better season for Americans in Europe.  The US had several Americans win a trophy this season or were promoted with their club.  Both Tim Weah and Weston McKennie won the Coppa Italia, while Cameron Carter-Vickers won the double in Scotland.  You also had Nick Gioacchini, Gianluca Busio, and Tanner Tessmann gain promotion to Serie A in their respected clubs.  In this article we will cover who we consider to be our top 10 Americans this season in Europe.  The stats information for each player comes from FotMob.

Lennard Maloney

Few Americans played in the Bundesliga this season and even fewer had a good season in the German topflight.  Lennard Maloney was one of those Americans who had a successful Bundesliga season.  Maloney was the main central defender for the newly promoted club Heidenheim.  Last season, he helped them win the 2. Bundesliga to get their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga.  This season, he helped Heidenheim qualify for the UEFA Conference League, their first ever continental competition.  Few American soccer players can say they have that accomplishment.  It was only until this season did Maloney get his first call-up to the USMNT.  Maloney was spectacular on the stats sheet, but it was what he did off the ball that made him one of the best American players this season in a top European league.  At one point during the season, Maloney was leading in distance covered.  His ability to stop the opposition’s transition to the attack helped Heidenheim to have 1.6 goals conceded per match and a possession of 42.1%.  Maloney outperformed 97% of Bundesliga midfielders in aerial duels won and 90% in defensive actions.  Between the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal, Maloney started in 29 matches out of 31 matches played with 2 goals and 1 assist.  He also had an 83.5% passing accuracy, 69.4% long ball accuracy, 29 tackles for 80.2%, 79.1% aerial duels won, 29 interceptions, and 144 recoveries.  For me, Maloney barely makes it in the top 10 list due to his low stats.  His accomplishments for Heidenheim and being a major piece to their successful season can’t be ignored.

Chris Richards

April 21, 2024: Crystal Palace v West Ham United Premier League 21/04/2024. Chris Richards 26 of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park, London, England on 21 April 2024. Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See www.football-dataco.com , Copyright: xNigelxKeenex PSI-19528-0101 (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

It took a while for Chris Richards to get a start for Crystal Palace and it was worth the wait.  When Richards began getting minutes this season, it was at defensive midfielder.  He took people by surprise with his solid performances in the position.  With the injury of Marc Guehi and Crystal Palace moving to a back 3, Richards became a lock starter in the defense.  It was rocky at first for him, but that all changed when Oliver Glasner took over the club.  In the first match under the new manager, Richards got a goal.  Richards became one of Crystal Palace’s best CBs.  In the 30 matches played, Richards started in 27.  Richards finished ahead of 83% of the CBs in the Premier League in aerial duels, and 66% in both defensive actions and goals.  Across all competitions, Richards had 1 goal and 1 assist, 85% passing accuracy, 59.2% tackles won, 54.5% duels won, 37 interceptions, and 106 recoveries.  There is hope next season for Richards.  Guehi is gathering interest from other EPL clubs once again and Glasner will be returning next season.  If Richards retains his starting role next season, we could see Richards be one of Palace’s best defenders.  Due to not appearing in every match, having some inconsistent matches before the Glasner Era, and not unlocking his full potential this season until Glasner took over is why Richards is 9th on my list.

    Josh Sargent

    Norwich City v Southampton – Sky Bet Championship – Carrow Road Norwich City s Josh Sargent during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture date: Monday January 1, 2024. EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxIRL Copyright: xAdamxDavyx 74979369

    One of the US’ most prolific scorers this season came from Josh Sargent in the English Championship.  Missing 22 matches due to an ankle injury did not stop him from scoring double-digit goals, but it did stop him from winning the league’s golden boot.  Sargent finished 6th in goals scored with 16 in 26 league matches played with 2 assists.  If Sargent had not sustained the injury, he would have been in the argument for the league’s golden boot.  Across all competitions, Sargent started in 25 matches out of 28 matches played.  When you compare his traits to other strikers in the English Championship, Sargent finished ahead of 65% strikers in chances created, 83% shot attempts, and 96% goals.  In league play, Sargent had an 81.8% passing, 23 chances created, 47.5% dribbles completed, 45.4% duels won, and 39 recoveries.  Even with the injury, there have been rumors that Premier League clubs are monitoring him.  Maybe we will see him back in the EPL next season.  The reason he falls just short of the top 5 is because between the months of May and April, he had only 2 goals and 1 assist.  As a striker, you cannot have only 3 G/A in 2 months.  The injury also allowed others, mainly Haji Wright, to pass him in the top 10 Americans in Europe this season.  If he was not out for 4 months and was in contention for Championship Golden Boot, he would have been a top 5 American.

      Johnny Cardoso

      Johnny would be much higher on this list if he had played a full season in Europe based on his form with Los Verdiblancos since joining in January when you compare him to the other Americans in a top 5 league.  Johnny took LaLiga by storm and quickly took a starting role in just his second match, which happened to be against Barcelona.  He also received how praises from Manuel Pellegrini just after his first week with the club.  Johnny was awarded the LaLiga EA Sports U23 Player of the Month in February, his first full month for Real Betis.  Johnny’s quick adoption to LaLiga and excellent performances has already caused inquiries from major clubs, one of those clubs being Barcelona, and being a LaLiga U23 Player of the Season nominee.  Across all competitions, Johnny had 3 goal contributions, 72% long ball accuracy, 9 chances created, 78.9% successful dribbles, 34 tackles won for 65.9%, 51.2% of duels won, 35 interceptions, 101 recoveries between LaLiga and Europa Conference League.  In just half of a season, Johnny beat 96% of midfielders in LaLiga for defensive actions and 92% of them in aerial duels.  For playing only half a season in a top 5 league, these are very impressive numbers, and it made him one of the most exciting Americans to watch in Europe this season.  His nomination for LaLiga U23 Player of the Season, winning a U23 Player of the Month, and the quality of the teams he faced compared to other Americans in Europe is very difficult to ignore when placing him on this list.  Johnny only playing half the season in Europe does keep him from being higher up in the top.  If he can continue this form next season, he will for sure be a top 5 American in Europe.  Next season, Real Betis will be taking part in the Europa Conference League once again.

        Malik Tillman

        The American player who had one of the best loan spells this season was Malik Tillman.  After his successful loan at Glasgow Rangers last season, Malik Tillman proved that he could conquer a top 7 league after putting up 19 goal contributions for PSV in the Eredivisie.  His effort on the offense helped PSV win the league title.  Amongst all attacking midfielders and wingers in the Eredivisie, Malik finished ahead of 94% of the players in touches and 92% in chances created.  Also, he beat out 90% of them in defensive actions and 71% in goals.  Malik started in 24 matches out of 39 across all competitions with a total of 21 goal contributions (his one match with Jong PSV is not included).  Tillman also had 71% shots on target in league play; 81.6% passing accuracy, 67.8% long ball accuracy, 61 chances created, 47 successful dribbles for 47.8%, 3 penalties won, 36 tackles for 81.2%, 48.2% duels won, 25 interceptions, 9 blocks, 171 recoveries, and 39 possessions won in the final third.  On May 10th, PSV made the announcement at the end of the season that they had acquired Tillman permanently through 2028 and Bayern retained their buy-back clause.  PSV were not the only club that was pleased by his performance this season.  His parent club, Bayern, was reportedly to be very happy with his season as well.  Maybe we will see Tillman back in a Bayern shirt in the future.  Tillman not being higher on this list was due to his inconsistent performances in the Champions League and early in the Eredivisie season.

          Segiño Dest

          The player with arguably the best loan spell of the Americans in Europe was Sergiño Dest.  After appearing in only 14 matches for Milan AC last season and his second season with Barcelona under Xavi Hernández.  A step back to the Eredivisie was the right move for Dest to rejuvenate his career.  Due to Jordan Teze being PSV’s RB, Dest played LB this season and was successful at it, showing he can play on both sides.  In the Eredivisie, Dest made it on the Team of the Month on multiple occasions.  There are still improvements that need to be made in his defensive game, and that was evident in the UCL matches.  In the Eredivisie, Dest finished ahead of 90% of other fullbacks in chances created, 88% in touches, and 90% in shot attempts.  Across all competitions, Dest finished with 9 goal contributions, 86.9% passing accuracy, 69.1% long ball accuracy, 52 chances created, 62.4% dribbles completed, 58.5% ground duels won, and 163 recoveries.  Dest played a critical role in PSV winning the Eredivisie this season.  He did make some mistakes in the UCL matches, but he was still one of PSV’s better players in the competition.  Even though the Eredivisie is not a top 5 league in Europe, Dest was one of our top performers and most informed American players in Europe.

            Haji Wright

            Arguably one of the top 3 Americans in England this season, it did not start well for Haji Wright in his record transfer to Coventry City.  In his first 3 months at the club, Haji only had 2 goals and 2 assists.  Things did not start to turn around for him until November when he scored 3 goals in 4 matches.  By the end of the 1st half of the season, Haji had 12 goal contributions.  What changed for him?  Manager Mark Robins moved Haji to LW and occasionally as a left striker.  That move in position helped provide Haji Wright his best season of his career and one of the best American players this season.  His most iconic goal in my opinion this season was scoring the winning goal at the last minute against Wolves to help get Coventry City into the FA Cup Semi-Final followed by his goal against Manchester United.  By the end of the season, Haji had 25 goal contributions across all competitions, tying him with Christian Pulisic for most goal contributions by an American in a top 10 European league.  In league play, Haji and Sargent tied for 6th in goals with 16.  Haji was better than 93% attacking midfielders and wingers in aerial duels won, along with 97% in goals, and 98% in shot attempts.  Haji finished the season with 75.9% in passing, 32 chances created, 4 penalty goals, 36 completed dribbles, 49 fouls won, 63.9% tackles, 47.8% aerial duels won, and 114 recoveries.  If Haji Wright can recreate this season again next year in the English Championship, I will have no doubt he will be linked to a move to the Premier League.

              Weston McKennie

              Another player who was consistent for his European club this season was Weston McKennie for Juventus in the Serie A.  McKennie was one of the most informed players for Juventus this season and their leading player in assists with 7.  There has been discussion by Serie A media since January that McKennie deserves to be on the Serie A Team of the Season.  He spent a good amount of the season at RWB and was very successful.  He did not move to his natural position (central midfielder) until later in the season due to injuries.  Even with being one of Juve’s best players this season and being in discussion for Serie A Team of the Season, Juve refused to give the salary raise that McKennie asked for, leaving his future with the Italian giants in doubt.  McKennie started in 33 matches out of 38 matches.  He finished the season with 10 assists. 77.4% passing accuracy and 64.4% long ball accuracy across all competitions.  He also created 46 chances, 60.8% completed dribbles, 31 completed tackles for 80.2%, 168 duels won for 42.3%, 20 interceptions, and 128 recoveries.  When you compared McKennie to other Serie A midfielders, he outperformed 87% of them in chances created and 65% for aerial duels won.  After how things went last season for him, he had one of the biggest improvements in performance for an American along with Christian Pulisic.  The reason he finishes behind Pulisic is because he did not score a single goal and he was beginning to struggle in form towards the end of the season.  He was one of the few Americans to win a trophy this season by winning the Coppa Italia.

                Christian Pulisic

                It is a close call between Pulisic and Weston McKinnie for the 2nd best American this season and even 1st between Pulisic and Antonee Robinson.  I must give it to Pulisic because of his offensive work rate and productivity, and his European competition performance this season.  Pulisic finished the season with 15 goals and 10 assists across all competitions (1 goal being in the Champions League (UCL), and 2 goals and an assist being in the UEL) bringing a total of 25 G/A, the most he has had in a single season.    In Serie A, Pulisic tied for 4th of all players in the league for goals and assists.  For Milan, he was their 2nd highest goal scorer and had the 2nd most assists.  Pulisic started in 44 matches out of 55 matches played across all competitions.  Pulisic was nominated by the league for best midfielder of the season.  When compared to attacking midfielders and wingers in Serie A, he scored more goals than 91% of other players in those positions.  He also had an 83% passing accuracy, 60 chances created, 28.5% crossing accuracy (in the league, Pulisic was in the 72.7% ranking), 66 successful dribbles for 49%, 181 touches in opposition box, 71.3% tackles won, 198 ground duels won for 46.3%, 24 blocks, 11 interceptions, and 138 recoveries.  Since becoming a professional athlete, this was Christian Pulisic’s best season of his career.  People would argue he only performed as well as he did because he took a step down.  Even with Serie A not being at the level that the EPL is at, it is still a top 5 league in the world and Milan is one of the biggest clubs in Europe.  The reason why he is not the #1 American for this season is because Pulisic was not being consistent, especially against major opponents.

                Antonee Robinson

                  It was a tight decision between Antonee Robinson and Christian Pulisic for best American player in Europe this season, but I must hand it to Antonee.  Antonee Robinson was arguably the best LB in the English Premier League this season and even argued to be the best fullback this season.  This is very challenging when talking about the best league and the world where you have the likes of Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Andrew Robertson.  For the USMNT, he was perhaps the most consistent American in Europe this season.  Antonee started a total of 42 out of 44 matches.  He had a total of 6 assists this season, making him one of the top EPL defenders in assists this season.  He also finished with the most interceptions in the EPL with 80, 15 more than Lewis Cook, who had the 2nd most in the league.  This does not just include the EPL, but Jedi also had the most interceptions across Europe’s top 7 leagues.  In the top 7 European leagues, he came in 3rd in possession won in defensive 3rd with 145.  When comparing him to other fullbacks in the EPL, he outperformed 95% of the league’s fullbacks in defensive actions, 80% in touches, and 68% in aerial duels won.  Across all competitions, Antonee had 35 chances created, passing accuracy of 76.5%, 23% crossing accuracy, 49 successful dribbles for 60.3%, tackles won, 56.5% duels won, and 264 recoveries.  Antonee has made it on several reviewers’ EPL Team of the Season and is being monitored by top clubs for this summer by the likes of Liverpool and Bayern.  Compared to other Americans in Europe this season, Jedi made it on more continental stats leaderboards and competing in this best league in the world making him the best American in Europe this season.

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