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What I Learned – Sargent, Boyd score; Konrad plays for Barcelona: Americans Abroad

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The new domestic seasons across Europe are either just underway or about to get started, and there are some positive early returns for U.S. players abroad–whether it be in preseason, domestic cup or domestic league matches. With headliners Christian Pulisic (Chelsea vs. Brighton in the Premier League) and Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund vs. Duisburg in the DFB Pokal) able to make their season debuts on Monday, here’s how some of their countrymen fared over the weekend:Sargent gets off to a great startJosh Sargent is entering a big season with Werder Bremen, with the expectations beginning to grow after a decent if not unspectacular and inconsistent 2019-20 campaign. He got it started with a goal, heading Werder Bremen in front of fourth-tier Carl Zeiss Jena in their DFB Pokal first-round clash. Werder Bremen went on to win 2-0.Sargent already had won over the faith of his manager, Florian Kohfeldt, during the preseason, which followed the club’s great escape to remain in the Bundesliga and avoid relegation. “Right now, I can’t imagine a starting XI that doesn’t include Josh Sargent,” Kohfeldt said recently. “For me, he’s in pole position for the opening weekend of the season.””The combination of his strength, physicality, work off the ball, his improved tactical understanding and positional flexibility–it all speaks volumes for him as a player.”He brings a lot to the table. He can play wide or as the central striker in a 4-3-3, and he can play as a second striker in a 4-4-2. He showed real progress during the end of last season.”That vote of confidence can only bode well for the 20-year-old, who scored four goals in his first full season with the first team this past season (28 appearances, 15 starts in league play). Werder Bremen opens the Bundesliga season this Saturday at home vs. Hertha Berlin.Elsewhere in the DFB Pokal’s first round, where some ugly scores are commonplace due to the David-vs.-Goliath-type matchups: Julian Green (Greuther Furth) scored and had an assist in a 6-1 rout of fifth-tier Meinerzhagen; Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) went the distance and was handed club Man of the Match honors in a 3-0 win over 2. Bundesliga’s Nurnberg; John Brooks (Wolfsburg) was unused in a 4-1 win over fourth-tier Union Furstenwalde Boyd on the board for BesiktasTyler Boyd began his second season for Besiktas in spectacular fashion, netting a highlight-reel goal. After taking a pass from Canadian veteran Atiba Hutchinson, Boyd cut centrally and fired an 20-yard curler inside the far post to open the scoring vs. Trabzonspor. Besiktas went on to win 3-1.Boyd, the 25-year-old, New Zealand-born winger, had suffered a PCL injury in training late last month, but he recovered to play two weeks later. He’s already matched his Super Lig goal total from a season ago (he scored one goal in the Europa League and one in the Turkish Cup as well in 2019-20), so perhaps his hot start will yield a bigger payoff as he settles in for a second year in Turkey.McKennie suits up for Juventus in preseasonWeston McKennie is a Juventus player, and there’s video proof of it. The 22-year-old Texan shared the field with Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time, playing the first half of a 5-0 preseason rout of Novara on Sunday.McKennie is technically on loan from Schalke for the season, but there’s a full expectation that Juventus will make the arrangement a permanent one. The Italian champion will reportedly be obligated to if McKennie appears in 60% of the club’s matches, but it shouldn’t come down to that.”I know that they see a long-term investment in him and that Juventus, they don’t want to keep him just for one year. This was clear,” Schalke director Jochen Schneider told Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus last week.Whether McKennie is involved from the start for Juventus as it goes for a 10th straight Serie A title will be known on Sunday, when Andrea Pirlo’s side hosts Sampdoria.De La Fuente gets first-team run with BarcelonaKonrad de la Fuente isn’t expected to be a first-team contributor with Barcelona anytime soon, but after being part of the club’s Champions League squad vs. Napoli last month, he got some preseason run in the second half of Saturday’s friendly vs. Nastic, even having a goal overturned for offside.A year at Barcelona B sure seems to be in the 19-year-old De la Fuente’s future, but getting the chance to get acquainted with new manager Ronald Koeman up close can only help his big-picture prospects.Cannon quickly settles inReggie Cannon has been a Boavista player for a matter of days, but he’s already been part of the preseason action in Portugal, and he’s even put his name on the scoresheet.The former FC Dallas right back finished into a vacated net after a poor Tondela clearance some 20 minutes into his new side’s 4-1 win, making a nice first impression after crossing the Atlantic.Boavista’s Primeira Liga season begins Saturday at Nacional.


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