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Keeping up with young Americans in Europe Jan. 4

Keeping up with young Americans in Europe Jan. 4, 2021: Leon Flach, Zach Steffen, Sebastian Soto

January 4, 2021 By Juan Aguerrevere
This edition of ‘Keeping up with young Americans in Europe’ features names that USMNT fans have been hearing about for some time now, and a teenager from Humble, Texas, who gained international attention after scoring a wonder goal for St. Pauli in the 2. Bundesliga this weekend. Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet midfielder Leon Flach.

U.S. Men’s National Team players performed at the highest level in some of Europe’s most prestigious leagues. At the same time, some younger players in smaller leagues who have not quite become regulars in the national team are also doing their best to reach the next level in their career. Let us take a look at the best American performers in Europe in the first week of 2021.

Leon Flach – St. Pauli

Meet 19-year-old Leon Maximilian Flach from Humble, Texas. The teenager has been rising the ranks at St. Pauli since his arrival to the club in January 2016 in his young teens. Now, at his late teens, the American born defensive midfielder shocked social media on Sunday by scoring a 30-yard rocket in a 2. Bundesliga game against Greuther Furth shortly after being subbed into the game.

Flach’s substitute appearance on Sunday was his fourth of the season, playing a total of nine minutes in his previous three showings. The goal might have not won the game, but it won the attention of thousands of USMNT fans and other lovers of the sport around the globe. 

For those interested in Flach’s international availability, he has represented both the USMNT and Germany – where he has lived since age five – in youth levels. He made two appearances for Germany’s U-18 in April 2019 and made two appearances for the United States U-20s in January 2020. It is up to U.S. Soccer to further scout and possibly pursue the services of young Leon Flach.

Zach Steffen – Manchester City

Now onto a familiar face in 25-year-old USMNT goalkeeper Zach Steffen who made his Premier League Debut against Chelsea on Sunday, becoming the eighth American ‘keeper to play in England’s top-flight league. 

Steffen had been waiting for this very moment since joining Manchester City from the Columbus Crew in July 2019. Despite playing three EFL Cup games and the last UEFA Champions League group stage game against Marseille so far this season – all ended in wins and two clean sheets – Steffen had yet to make his Premier League debut. But after City’s No. 1 Ederson tested positive for COVID-19 days before their big clash against Chelsea on Sunday, the American goalkeeper knew his chance had just arrived.

Steffen faced his fellow USMNT teammate Christian Pulisic, who started for Chelsea, and it was the man between posts who came on top after nearly keeping a clean sheet in Manchester City’s 3-1 victory at Stanford Bridge. He made one save before conceding to substitute Callum Hudson-odoi in the 90th minute.

Sebastian Soto – SC Telstar

Striker Sebastian Soto is back and firing after serving his two-match suspension for a straight red card in late November. The natural No. 9 scored a goal in a 5-2 win over NEC Nijmegen in the second tier Dutch league with Telstar after just 24 minutes of playing time. Soto averages a goal every 81 minutes this season, scoring seven goals in 11 games. No wonder Norwich City manager Daniel Farke is interested in recalling the young American from his loan. Norwich is currently sitting in first place in the Championship in its search for promotion to the Premier League. 

Reggie Cannon – Boavista 

Right back Reggie Cannon recorded his 12th Liga NOS start and helped Boavista to its fifth league clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Maritimo. The 22-year-old has only been in Europe for no more than four months and he has caught the attention of bigger European clubs, including Portuguese giants Benfica. The eagles are eyeing the American, but Boavista will not listen to any bids under $12 million. Cannon’s value has risen 400% in just four months.

Weston McKennie – Juventus

Reigning U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year Weston McKennie registered 73 minutes of playing time in a 3-0 loss to Fiorentina in the Serie A on Tuesday, Dec. 29. However, Juventus bounced back on Sunday, Jan. 3, with a 4-1 win over Udinese where McKennie played 65 minutes before being subbed off by Brazilian midfielder Arthur. 

The 22-year-old midfielder has solidified his status as starter in La Vecchia Signora and a key instrument in manager Andrea Pirlo’s plans to take the club back to first place in Serie A. As of now, Juve sits in in fifth place on the table with a game in hand and 10 points from first place Milan.

Gio Reyna – Borussia Dortmund 

Attacking midfielder Gio Reyna helped Borussia Dortmund to a 2-0 home win over Wolfsburg on Sunday, Jan. 3. The teenager faced-off against veteran compatriot Jonathan Brooks, who played as a center back in in Wolfsburg’s backline of four. Reyna played a total of 90 minutes, coming off in stoppage time after another great showing under new manager Edin Terzic.

Tyler Adams – RB Leipzig 

Twenty-one-year-old Tyler Adams was a part of RB Leipzig’s two wins last week. The Red Bulls defeated Augsburg 3-0 away from home on Tuesday with Adams coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute. On Sunday, Leipzig conquered VfB Stuttgart by a goal to none in the German Bundesliga. Adams played 81 minutes in the right back position.

Sergiño Dest – Barcelona

Full-back Sergiño Dest was named in the starting lineup twice last week and saw a variation in his positioning. On Tuesday, Dest played as a right wing back in a line of four midfielders in a 1-1 draw to Eibar. However, Barcelona avenged its midweek woe with a 1-0 away win at Huesca. This time around, the 20-year-old played on the right side of a line of four defenders, helping the team to a clean sheet.

Yunus Musah – Valencia 

Midfielder Yunus Musah returned to Valencia’s starting lineup this Monday to close La Liga’s 17th matchday. He had a quiet outing in the 64 minutes he spent on the field.

Christian Pulisic – Chelsea 

Forward Christian Pulisic had a rough outing on Sunday when Chelsea fell to Manchester City 3-1 at home. Pulisic also featured in the starting lineup against Aston Villa in a midweek fixture that ended in a one-all draw. It is good to see the 22-year-old looking fit after a series of injuries dating back to last season.

Josh Sargent – Werder Bremen

Striker Josh Sargent played the entirety of Werder Bremen’s Bundesliga game against Union Berlin on Saturday. Unfortunately, Bremen suffered a 2-0 loss at home. Anyhow, Sargent played the entirety of the game and hustled as he usually does.


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