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Americans Abroad Player of the Week: Haji Wright

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Gregg Berhalter has continued to search for his starting striker with the U.S. men’s national team and one potential option is making a name for himself in the Turkish Super Lig this season.

Haji Wright scored twice on Sunday as Antalyaspor rolled past Hatayspor 4-1, staying alive in the race for European qualification next season. Wright has scored four goals in his last four matches and his most recent performance helped him earn SBI’s Americans Abroad Player of the Week honors.

The former Schalke striker scored in the 16th and 35th minutes respectively as Antalyaspor earned a fifth-consecutive league win this weekend. Wright leads the Turkish club with nine goals in his first season in Turkey.

The 24-year-old has yet to make his senior debut for the USMNT, but continued performances during the final six league matches this season could help him force his way into the picture this summer. Wright and Antalyaspor will next face off with Alanyaspor on Saturday before matches against Kayserispor and Trabzonspor to close April’s schedule.

Here is a look at some of the other top Americans Abroad performers from the past week:


John Brooks


Wolfsburg continued to move itself further away from the Bundesliga relegation picture and John Brooks excelled during Saturday’s lopsided win over Arminia Bielefeld.

Brooks logged his 26th league appearance of the season, helping Wolfsburg earn a 4-0 home victory. The USMNT veteran defender won four of eight duels in the match and also made eight recoveries to go along with 63 completed passes. Brooks has made 12 starts for Wolfsburg in 2022 and despite not being called into the last two World Cup Qualifying windows with the USMNT, hasn’t hurt his stock over recent weeks.


Terrence Boyd


German club Kaiserslautern remains well in contention for promotion to the 2. Bundesliga this season and Terrence Boyd has showed zero signs of slowing down for his new club.

Boyd scored once and assisted once in Kaiserslutern’s 2-1 win over Wurzburger Kickers on Friday, helping the third-tier club move two points clear of Eintracht Braunschweig for the final automatic promotion spot. The 31-year-old has made nine appearances since joining Kaiserslautern from Hallerscher FC and has scored seven goals.


Sam Vines


Royal Antwerp is fighting to maintain its place in the Belgian League’s top four, to earn the place in the championship playoffs that goes with it, and Sam Vines was a big part in the club’s hard-fought 1-1 draw with Cercle Brugge on Saturday.

Vines was one of the top defensive performers in the Jupiler Pro League this weekend, delivering three key passes and completing 52 of 64 passes, while also contributing three tackles and two clearances to help keep Royal Antwerp one point ahead of Gent for fourth place in the Belgian League standings.


Reggie Cannon


Boavista earned back-to-back league wins for the first time August and Reggie Cannon was at the forefront of a strong defensive performance for the Portuguese club.

Cannon started on the right side of a back-three for Petit’s side and excelled individually in a 1-0 victory. The 23-year-old Cannon won six of his seven duels, won his lone tackle attempt, made three clearances, and seven recoveries as he continued to earn a spot in the starting lineup.


What did you think of the top Americans Abroad performances this past week? Who impressed you the most? Who didn’t make the list that you feel deserved a mention?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. What I don’t understand is he goes through 5 league games in Feb. and only plays a total of 32 minutes. Then he goes 4 straight starts with 4 g. He seems to have these ups and downs last year scored 7 g in first ten matches then scored 1 in last 9 matches. Finishing with 4 g in 10 against bottom half league in relagation playoffs. 19/20 started first half of the year then got benched second half until the season was canceled.

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  2. I’ve always liked Haji and have been rooting for him to come good! I think he’s taken a step at each successive stop for the last 18 months. Maybe the next 6 mos. will be another positive step.

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  3. Any US eligible striker scoring in a strong league deserves a call-up at this point. Pepi/Sargeant/Pefok/ferreira not sufficient from what we’ve seen so we need to test test test

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  4. Haji Wright is probably our most Cyle Larin-like striker. He’s actually got 9 goals in 26 appearances for 9th-place Antalyaspor whereas Larin’s got just 6 in 24 for 7th-place Besiktas this year, though Larin did have 19 in 39 games for 2020-2021. Wright’s also three years younger…and interestingly, an inch taller with similar speed and athleticism and a similar frame.

    Problem I always had with Wright, though, that I suspect hasn’t gone away – he’s got rocks for feet…like, as bad as Gyasi Zardes. “Heavy” touch is putting it mildly. I haven’t seen him play in awhile but unless that’s improved dramatically I’m still iffy how good he’ll be against opposition athletic enough he can’t just bound past them or leap over or bully in the box.

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    • But he is scoring at a decent rate in a decent Euro league. I have been rooting for him to figure it out and emerge as a viable striker for a few seasons now. He did very well in Denmark last season, and has delivered another solid season this year in a tougher league. He is very streaky going through bursts of dominance and long unproductive periods. If he can stay warm for the first half of next season he might be a useful weapon for the USMNT in Qatar.

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    • Haji’s bread-and-butter move is to get behind the defense on a through ball. He is also good with headers.
      His weakness is playing with his back to goal. His touch was weak. I believe he used to be Pulisic’s teammate during his youth years.

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      • It looks like he dribbled the endline to knock in a goal last weekend, and then faded back in the box to blast one in from near the top of the box on another. Perhaps his touch has improved? I have not seen him much other than highlights since his u17 days, but he has a good amount of experience at different levels under his belt at this point. This will be his second season in a row hitting double digits in Europe. Not in the best leagues in the world, but certainly respectable levels of competition. We sure could use a #9 who can finish. I hope GB brings him in for a look in June. He might be another Pefolk, but he could surprise like LDLT as well. At least he was born in the USA and grew up here.

    • Hadji is probably not going to be a target guy . There’s not a lot of a subtlety to his game. Get him in behind and , with his power and physicality,, a bit like young Jozy but not as good, and he has a chance.

      In this way he’s like a lot of the candidates we already have. I like him but he’s not better than Josh. Of course, I haven’t seen him for a while so maybe he’s gotten better than I know.

      Except he’s actually scoring. And that matters. You get the feeling that some teams can handle his directness and some teams never will.

      I’m rooting for him but teams like England, Iran and Wales( who I expect to get through) will be able to handle a guy like him pretty well.

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