Ninety-five days to go now. There's still so much to prove but so little time for our boys in r̶e̶d̶, white and blue ahead of the World Cup.
The past week in Europe saw the emergence of a young star, strong performances from guys on the fence and two locked-in starters enter transfer purgatory.
This is the second edition of our report. Here are last week's musings.
Americans Abroad Soccer Power Rankings
3 Guys Trending Way, Way Up
#1. Malik Tillman
When Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer convinced Malik Tillman to swap Germany for the United States, the player pool immediately gained an attacker with one of the highest ceilings in the program's history.
The move left the DFB stunned: here was a player who'd excelled at various international youth levels and was making his Bayern Munich senior breakthrough as a teenager. Now on loan at Rangers this season for consistent minutes, Tillman has wasted little time in emphasizing how clearly Germany's loss is America's gain.
After scoring in the Champions League midweek, 20-year-old Malik Tillman scores his second goal for Rangers, this one in the Scottish Premiership. The USMNT international settling in remarkably quickly in Glasgow. pic.twitter.com/fq8Woijj9Y— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 13, 2022
How likely is the 20-year-old to pre-board the plane to Qatar with his car seat and stroller despite having only two previous caps to his name? There's always a wild card. In 2014, Julian Green was a 19-year-old with just two appearances. In 2010, Edson Buddle was in the team with just three caps after a remarkable start to the MLS season.
If Tillman keeps scoring and impressing, he's that wild card.
#2. Tim Ream
After a standout performance in Fulham's opening draw against Liverpool on Aug. 6, Ream (with USMNT starter Jedi Robinson to his left) was again a commanding presence in a 0-0 result against Wolves on Saturday.
As the U.S. continues to reconsolidate at center back after Miles Robinson's injury, it looks like we can start to rule Free Agent John Brooks out of the running. It's good to see Mark McKenzie, Erik Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers getting consistent minutes at the start of the season, but Ream's start to the season as Fulham's captain has been the clear standout.
Most ball recoveries in 22/23 (#PL):2⃣9⃣: MAX KILMAN
2⃣1⃣: Mohammed Salisu
2⃣0⃣: Diego Llorente, Jan Bednarek, Lewis Dunk, Tim Ream#Wolves #Wolverhampton pic.twitter.com/QQiV1eI5Bq
— playmakerstats (@playmaker_EN) August 16, 2022
#3. Josh Sargent
After being limited to a substitute's role in Norwich's last two Championship games, Sargent was given a rare opportunity to lead the line Tuesday night because of an injury to Teemu Pukki.
The Desperate American delivered. Sarge scored one and got Huddersfield's Tom Lees sent off for a tactical foul during his 68 minutes on the pitch.
Josh Sargent GOAL vs Huddersfield pic.twitter.com/bkNmTWBjYU— Kranks (@dis_possessed) August 16, 2022
He joins the "Americans Abroad League Golden Boot Race," where all our combatants — Jordan Pefok, Haji Wright, Malik Tillman (maybe even Jozy Altidore and Kenny Saief) — are locked at one.
2 Guys Playing Themselves Off The Plane*
*They'll be on the plane.
#1. Christian Pulisic
Ever since watching on in horror from the touchline as a 17-year-old Pulisic celebrated his first goal for Dortmund by dabbing, Thomas Tuchel has never trusted the American.
The German manager prefers an attack spearheaded by defenders and Jorginho from the spot, so Pulisic has been given a total of 31 minutes this season. He needs a transfer and the rumor mill initially churned out Atlético, AC Milan, Juventus and Newcastle as the possible destinations.
However, Wednesday morning saw Manchester United enter the race. Things might get worse before they get better for the Next LeBron.
#2. Sergiño Dest
Ronald Araújo was Xavi's preferred option at right back to start the season, and the versatile Sergi Roberto also clearly has the manager's trust. The club wants him gone, but Dest realized his dream by moving to Barça and still has three years on his contract.
And now? He's been linked with a loan move to Manchester United. Joan Laporta is cruel like that.