Playing time for U.S. men's national team players in Europe diminishes

U.S. men's national team coach Dave Sarachan has consistently called up a core of young players breaking in at clubs across Europe, but their struggle for first-team playing time intensified in the last month.

Of the 18 players called in for the friendlies against England and Italy, six haven't played for their first teams in league play since the October FIFA break -- and five of them haven't even dressed.

Yanks Abroad: USMNT league minutes since Oct. window
360/360 John Brooks, Wolfsburg (GER)
360/360 DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United (ENG)
328/360 *Bobby Wood, Hannover 96 (GER)
328/360 Julian Green, Greuther Fuerth (GER/D2)
270/450 Ethan Horvath, Club Brugge (BEL)
270/450 *Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic (ENG/D2)
226/450 Romain Gall, Malmo (SWE)
207/360 Weston McKennie, Schalke 04 (GER)
165/450 Kenny Saief, Anderlecht (BEL)
102/450 *Cameron Carter-Vickers, Swansea City (ENG/D2)
54/360 Christian Pulisic, Bor. Dortmund (GER)
0/360 Jonathan Klinsmann, Hertha Berlin (GER)
0/360 *Matt Miazga, Nantes (FRA)
0/360 Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (GER)
0/360 Tim Weah, Paris SG (FRA)
0/360 *Luca de la Torre, Fulham (ENG)
0/360 *Shaq Moore, Reus (ESP/D2)
*On loan for 2018-19 season.
Note: USMNT players called in for November friendlies.

The two young Americans who have received the most attention are Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. They have been rotated as their respective clubs -- Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 -- battle in Germany and Europe, where they are positioned to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League, but their playing time has recently dropped.

Both players missed the USA's October friendlies against Colombia and Peru to heal injuries and returned to action when the Bundesliga resumed after the break. But Pulisic did not get off the bench in first-place Dortmund's dramatic 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich in Saturday's Der Klassiker and played just 54 league minutes, all as a sub, in the last month. McKennie scored winning goals in back-to-back games in early October but has not started Schalke 04's last four games.

The most spectacular fall involves defender Matt Miazga. He went from starting at storied French club Nantes to playing for its reserve team following a disastrous Ligue 1 game against Bordeaux. That game just happened to be veteran coach Vahid Halilhodzic's first game in charge. Since Miazga lost his starting spot, the Canaris have won four games and tied the fifth and conceded just two goals. More important, they climbed out of the Ligue 1 basement and moved into the top half of the standings.

Miazga is one of six European-based players who are in camp in Brentford, England, and are on loan from other clubs. Only two of them -- Bobby Wood and Antonee Robinson -- played more than one quarter of the time for their first teams in league play in the last month.

Only two players played every minute for their European teams in league action in the last month, and they are both World Cup 2014 veterans: John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin. The third holdover from Jurgen Klinsmann's 2014 World Cup team among the European-based players is Julian Green, who started all four games for Greuther Fuerth in the German second division.

The most encouraging development in the last month is that Ethan Horvath regained the starting job in goal at Club Brugge and was named to the UEFA Champions League team of the week for his performance in last week's 4-0 win at Monaco.

Traditionally, the makeup of European-based national team players has been that of established players who have firm roles at their clubs. Few of those players remain as more players have been lured back to MLS. But as Sarachan has worked on jump-starting the rebuilding process following the USA's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he has not hesitated to call in young players at the beginning of their European careers.

That these young players are struggling for playing time is normal. Tim Weah scored for Paris St. Germain in its Ligue 1 opener and started in its second game but hasn't dressed since PSG's World Cup stars all returned from vacation. Josh Sargent is training with Werder Bremen's first team but his only playing time is with its U-23s in the German fourth division. Both are still only 18.

More than half of the players are at clubs in Europe's big five leagues, and competition for playing time from other young players is fierce.

Since returning from France's U-19s late in preseason, Moussa Diaby has been spectacular for PSG in the role of a winger, like Weah plays for the USA.

For two seasons, Pulisic was Dortmund's bright teenaged star, but that role has now been filled by 18-year-old Englishman Jadon Sancho. While Pulisic's CIES transfer valuation has dropped from $94.5 million to $55.3 million in the last year, Sancho's has increased from $7.6 million to $56.8 million.

6 comments about "Playing time for U.S. men's national team players in Europe diminishes".
  1. beautiful game, November 13, 2018 at 10:59 a.m.

    Players on the USMNT bubble should be given a chance to play full 90-minutes in either contest in order to finally determine their metal and future. Time to unload anyone that does not meet the standards...that is, if there are any such standards.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, November 13, 2018 at 11:09 a.m.

    BG, players will come and go and come and the forthcoming manager will decide. I think many people are incorrectly assuming we are a lock for Qatar. Going to be interesting to say the least.

  3. frank schoon, November 13, 2018 at 11:17 a.m.

      Personally , I would like to see Pulisic leave Germany for I like to see Pulisic develop more technically as a player. The style, the philosophy, the German mentality about the game is not conducive for him. It is a good experience for him in Germany but if he is going to develop better he needs to leave. I would to see him go to Spain, but Germany and England is a no go for him...

  4. Goal Goal, November 13, 2018 at 2:26 p.m.

    If they are not playing games whether first, second or third teams they will be stale.  You can train all you want but you have to have the game experience.

    Frank you brought up some good points and I am still trying to analyze them.  When and if I do I will try and come back with some thoughts.


  5. frank schoon replied, November 13, 2018 at 3:21 p.m.

    Fine with me RW..that's good.

  6. Kevin Leahy, November 13, 2018 at 5:13 p.m.

    I agree with Ships. The bubble will change with the new coach. It is very upsetting to realize the people who weren't interviewed

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