Stock Up, Stock Down for USMNT Stars Playing in Europe for Week of March 1
Another week, another slate of up and down performances by Americans in Europe. With nearly 20 men playing in the continent's top five leagues and an even larger contingent a level or two below, there's always someone to watch.
For supporters of the United States men's national team, there's never been a better time for Hop(p)e. Here are the most relevant storylines from this week, the players who saw their fortunes rise and fall the most.
Daryl Dike: Forward, Barnsley FC, on Loan from Orlando City
Games: 75 minutes in 2-1 W against Millwall (Championship); 56 minutes in 3-1 W against QPR (Championship)
Daryl Dike jumped right into the Championship fray, starting four of six league matches and scoring a goal against Stoke City and another versus QPR as the Tykes look to make a promotion push. The on-loan Orlando City forward is big, strong and skilled, a handful in England's rough-and-tumble second division.
Dike is just 15 months removed from being named the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and his first professional start came six months ago. He earned his first call-up to the USMNT in November. More are coming (assuming he doesn't choose to play for Nigeria, which capped his older brother Bright and sister Courtney). This is a rocket ship, folks.
Matthew Hoppe: Forward, Schalke
Games: 74 minutes in 5-1 L against VfB Stuttgart (Bundesliga)
For Matthew Hoppe, there was before Jan. 9, 2021, and after it. Before, he was a mostly anonymous American teenager toiling in Germany. After it, he was Matthew "Hat Trick Hero" Hoppe, a forward who tallied three times against Hoffenheim and then once in each of his next two matches.
Five goals in three games, thousands of excited tweets from U.S. supporters.
Then, of course, the crash back to earth.
He's still getting minutes, which is great—American fans should never complain about a 19-year-old forward starting in the Bundesliga—but Schalke are awful, sitting in last place with a -45 goal differential and on their fifth head coach of the year.
Hoppe has gone seven games without a goal. He did get a nice Rookie of the Month trophy, though, so that's something for the mantle.
Josh Sargent: Forward, Werder Bremen
Games: 79 minutes in 2-1 W against Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
So Josh Sargent did find the back of the net last Friday, a nice finish where he thought he was offside but wasn't. Overall, however, it has been a season to forget for the forward who just turned 21.
According to Fbref, in three seasons at Bremen, Sargent's goals and assists per 90 minutes have fallen from 0.85 to 0.38 to 0.27 while his expected goals and assists per 90 have dropped from 0.71 to 0.34 to 0.26. That would be the opposite of progress.
WhoScored.com describes his playing style as "Likes to play short passes" and "Likes to do layoffs." Not exactly the type of dynamic attacking you'd like to see if you're hoping Sargent realizes his promise.
Aron Johannsson: Forward, Lech Poznan
Games: 90 minutes in 2-1 W against Warta Poznan (Ekstraklasa); 90 minutes in 2-0 L against Rakow (Polish Cup)
For a brief moment half a decade ago, Aron Johannsson looked like the answer to the USMNT's goal-scoring woes. The Icelander-by-way-of-Alabama boasts a smooth style, a knack for getting into good spots and a confident finishing touch.
Unfortunately, like so many of his age-mates, Johannsson never fulfilled those hopes and dreams, plagued by injury and inconsistency.
He now finds himself in Poland, playing for Lech Poznan. With two goals in his first two games, and 14 goals in his last 20 matches across all competitions, 30-year-old Johannsson is making a case to find his way back to the American squad. It's likely too little, too late, but stranger things have happened.
Yunus Musah: Midfielder, Valencia
Games: 54 minutes in 3-0 L against Getafe (La Liga)
It's been quite a season for Yunus Musah. The New York-born, Arsenal-trained winger who played with England's youth sides made his U.S. senior debut in a November friendly against Wales, a few weeks before his 18th birthday.
Valencia has mostly used Musah as a substitute, a team just five points off the relegation zone in La Liga, and his form hasn't been stellar. But he flashes pace, quickness and creativity, and there's so much promise.
Musah is eligible to play internationally for England, Italy, Ghana and the United States. He reportedly will make a decision by this month's international break and could be leaning toward England. Despite his recent struggles, Berhalter getting him onboard would be a coup and a long-term boon.
Stats via WhoScored.com unless otherwise noted.