As the World Cup looms, Americans abroad are attempting to secure minutes on the pitch to prove themselves worthy of a roster spot.
Jordan Pefok made himself a relevant part of the conversation, delivering an impressive 19th goal this season for Super League side Young Boys. But on the other end, Zack Steffen’s disappointing performance for Manchester City put into question his starting role for the USMNT.
Here's what the American figures abroad are up to...
1. Zack Steffen struggles in FA Cup semi-final
USMNT goalkeeper Steffen replaced Ederson as Manchester City took on Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday at Wembley. Steffen struggled on the pitch, making a grave mistake minutes into the first half.
In an attempt to replicate a goal line clearance, the goalkeeper stalled to subsequently allow Sadio Mane to close down and divert the ball into the net. After the match, head coach Pep Guardiola insisted this was an isolated incident, and revealed the player will not lose his place in the squad.
“I haven’t spoken to Zack. It was an accident but we need him to try because that’s how we play our football. It was an accident, it happens. Edi was close in the last game as well. We need that to create our football we use our keeper to move our opponents into different situations,” said Guardiola after the match.
“I’m pretty sure Zack didn’t want to do it. Sometimes the strikers miss in front of the keeper, other times the keeper makes a mistake. It was a decision [to play him] from days ago. It is unfair when you play cups and you don’t play them. He deserves to play and after that he had a good game. He made good saves and is an exceptional keeper.”
2. Erik Palmer-Brown secures a starting role
Palmer-Brown is the latest American to cement his place in a starting line-up abroad. The USMNT figure started once again for Ligue 1 side Troyed as they held Strasbourg to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
The defender ground out an impressive performance, recording seven clearances, two interceptions and making five of nine duels. He also won both of his tackle attempts to lead Troyes clear of the relegation zone.
Time on the pitch is crucial as the World Cup looms.
3. Jordan Pefok strikes again
Pefok netted again in Young Boys’ 2-1 loss against Zurich. Trailing by two, the American turned a pass into a left footed strike to pull one back in hopes to reach the draw.
Despite the score, Pefok continues to prove himself worthy of a spot on the World Cup roster. The player has a career-best 24 goals in 41 club games this season, with 19 league goals in 29 matches this season.
4. Honorable mentions
Sergino Dest made his return for FC Barcelona, coming off the bench during their mid-week loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
Tyler Adams started in RB Leipzig’s 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Gianluca Busio started in Venezia’s 1-0 loss to Fiorentina on Saturday.