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Malik Tillman continues impactful run in Rangers victory over Aberdeen

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Rangers’ quest to catch Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic continued on Tuesday with Malik Tillman delivering his latest impactful performance in Michael Beale’s squad.

Tillman helped set up the winning goal for Rangers in a 3-2 comeback road win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie. It was the second-consecutive start for Tillman following the World Cup break and another example of Beale’s continued trust in the 20-year-old.

Fashion Sakala’s opener for Rangers came in the 12th minute, giving the visitors an early advantage against their third-place opponents. However, Aberdeen swung momentum in its favor before halftime as Luis Lopez equalized to make it 1-1 after 45 minutes.

Leighton Clarkson’s long-range volley propelled Aberdeen in front only eight minutes into the second half. Rangers desperately tried to get back into the match and eventually earned an equalizer from Scott Arfield in the 95th minute of the match.

With Rangers fighting for a go-ahead goal, Tillman’s creative work on the right wing led to Arfield’s winner. Tillman danced his way into the box before creating enough room for a cross. Connor Goldson’s chest pass bounced to Arfield, who bundled home his shot and gave Rangers a dramatic 3-2 victory.

Tillman finished the match with 10 out of 15 duels won, three completed dribbles, two fouls drawn, and two chances created. Although Tillman wasn’t credited with the go-ahead assist, the U.S. men’s national team midfielder still played another key role for the Glasgow-based club.

“There was a little bit of an incident in the game second half which allowed me to get them back in and to tell them to calm down and to just keep passing the ball and just keep running, and something would happen,” Beale said postmatch.

“And it did, Ryan had a shot from distance, Scotty just being optimistic, gets in there and then Malik, fantastic down the right wing digs out a cross and we managed to find a winner through Scotty Arfield getting his second on the night,” he added.

Rangers moved six points behind league-leaders Celtic with the victory ahead of Friday’s trip to Ross County.

Comments

  1. Just watched this game. Tillman had another no look through ball pass earlier to Arfield, and had he finished it, it would have been a hat trick.

    A skillful player like him would flourish in La Liga. Scotland is good for hardening him against physical players though so still useful for his development. Give him
    another year here or send him to Spain, then he’ll be ready to start for Bayern.

    Reply
  2. Tillman is playing well in the Scottish Premiership, and seems to have the footwork and ball control skills to give defenses all sorts of issues but in order to get a LEADING role on the USMNT roster for 2026 he needs to prove himself and be a regular starter in one of the top 5 leagues in the world. Currently MLS is superior to SPL, even though Rangers are better than most if not all the teams in MLS.

    https://www.globalfootballrankings.com/compare?first=MajorLeagueSoccer&second=ScottishPremiership

    With the lack of overall competitive, “day-to-day” game quality and experience, Tillman is not doing himself justice, in term of growth or elite level experience by staying with Rangers.

    Reply
    • I agree but that’s almost certainly coming. The thing I saw out of Tillman was absolutely magnificent athleticism and technical skills, but a sluggish pace-of-play and speed-of-thought because he’d been playing in the B3 with Bayern II. Think of it like an old-style game of Miss Pac Man…the further you get in the game, the faster the levels get, and if you jump from Level 1 to Level 10 you’ll die ugly because your brain and eyes just aren’t moving that fast yet, but if you progress incrementally your brain and eyes “dial it up” until they’re used to the faster speed…though there is a ceiling to how fast some folks’ eyes and ears can run and they cap out at a certain level. (Which is why, say, some guys look magnificent in the slightly-slower Serie A but struggle hugely when they jump to the ultra-fast EPL. They may have just hit their ceiling.)

      Right now they’re just dialing Tillman up. Next year they probably loan him out to a Dutch or lower-Bundesliga squad, and it’ll likely be the year after that before we’re talking about him vying for the first team. Another good example of that would be striker Falorin Balogun, who I badly covet for the USMNT…he’s under contract with Arsenal but wasn’t ready, so last year they loaned him to Middlesbrough, this year they “dialed him up” to French Ligue 1 side Reims, where he’s been scoring goals for fun. Arsenal may recall him next year if they think he’s ready, but if they don’t, expect another dialed-up loan for Balogun, this one likely to a lower-half Prem side. Just how the progression goes.

      I personally think Tillman’s ceiling is one of the top 2-3 guys with the USMNT and I think it’s very possible he even cracks the Bayern lineup. His ceiling looks almost unlimited, to me. I just think he’s probably a couple years and a couple moves from that ceiling, and we’ll see him get there around 22-23 years old, which is absolutely fine. Keep in mind Tillman lost more than a year to an ACL tear, so even though he’s 20 in playing years he’s actually 18 and a half.

      Reply
      • “…if you jump from Level 1 to Level 10 you’ll die ugly because your brain and eyes just aren’t moving that fast yet…but if you progress incrementally your brain and eyes “dial it up” until they’re used to the faster speed”

        +1
        Wow….excellent analogy quozzel

      • bizzy-

        Actually not my analogy. That’s just standard youth-coach jargon. We all talk about “dialing up the pace of play”…that’s why you take the elite youth groups and play them a year up at the Challenge level even though you know they’re going to suffer that first year. They get forced to see it faster, get the ball off their foot faster, do it cleaner, and all the slow sloppy crap they can get away with at the lower level gets punished. After they take their beatings, though, they come out just a mile ahead of the kids who didn’t go through the pressure cooker.

        Also why a lot of us play our teams indoor a ton. It’s like soccer pinball. Small-sided, ton of touches, lightning fast, makes kids work in a shoebox.

    • That ranking isn’t very convincing. Actually I’m pretty suspicious of rankings where the teams don’t actually play each other on some kind of regular basis :

      Celtic are 6 points better than Rangers who are about 13 points better than Philly
      While Austin is only one point better than Aberdeen

      According to your rankings, Celtic and Rangers are significantly better than any team in MLS ( and the SPL) according to your ranking data.

      That ranking site says they get their data from Global Soccer Club Rankings
      Here’s the fun part for USMNT fans:

      Rank

      BVB 20
      Juve 35
      Valencia 41
      Crystal Palace 51
      Celtic 53
      Leeds 71
      Rangers 83
      Fulham 89

      Philly 115

      https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/soccer-predictions/global-club-rankings/

      I notice CCV who just played in the World Cup and gave reason to think he should play more for the USMNT, plays for Celtic.

      Antonee plays at Fulham who are ranked lower than Rangers. So by your logic, Antonee needs to move from Fulham and maybe Tyler and Brenden need to move from Leeds.

      But, like Malik, they are getting regular playing time and are pretty important , which it looks like Malik might be at Rangers.

      I’m not against Malik moving up but he’s quite young and chances are he moves to a better club in Europe soon if he stays in form anyway and maybe even gets back to Bayern.

      But for now Tilman is doing just fine at Rangers.

      Reply
      • “Antonee plays at Fulham who are ranked lower than Rangers. So, by your logic, Antonee needs to move from Fulham and maybe Tyler and Brenden need to move from Leeds.”
        lol….do you not understand how overall league level of play works or how it affects player development? MLS is ranked higher than SPL overall even though a few teams in the SPL (Celtic and Rangers) are better than all MLS teams on paper. Now to put things into perspective, only one MLS is ranked higher than the LAST EPL team yet Celtic is better than 8 EPL teams and Rangers ranked better than 5 EPL teams…..YET AGAIN, MLS is still ranked higher than SPL overall. In other words, the level of play, speed of the game, strength of the opposition, quality of the individual athletes etc. IS BETTER AND STRONGER overall in MLS than SPL regardless of a few individual teams being at a higher level.
        I’m not saying Rangers is not a good team or Tillman is not doing well. All I’m saying he just shouldn’t be automatically selected for the USMNT and base off were he his playing he is STILL in the “realm” of Christian Roldan (CM), Djordje Mihailovic (ACM), Julian Green (CM), Brandon Vasquez (CF), Jesus Ferreira (CF), etc.

      • bizzy,

        “All I’m saying he just shouldn’t be automatically selected for the USMNT and base off were he his playing he is STILL in the “realm” of Christian Roldan (CM), Djordje Mihailovic (ACM), Julian Green (CM), Brandon Vasquez (CF), Jesus Ferreira (CF), etc.”

        Who is the new player that is automatically selected for the USMNT? When does that happen?

        I thought we were discussing how to evaluate Malik not where MLS is ranked in the world. That’s irrelevant.

        And Roldan, Djorde, Green, Vasquez, Ferreira, ad nauseam, are only relevant to Malik if they are competing with him for a spot. If so then the only way to do that is have them compete live and in person.

        Using these ranking systems in the fashion you suggest for evaluating
        Malik means you’re evaluating him on an indirect basis.

        That will give you some information and is a useful method if you’re evaluating large batches of players like NFL teams do and don’t have the time or the resources to focus more closely on an individual player.

        But it’s not a substitute for the deeper dive a national team need to take when evaluating a player like Malik.

        If you’re the manager or a trusted assistant, instead of going to Leadership Conferences, go to his games and watch him play. Talk to his manager, coaches and team mates. Talk to the staff. Find out what kind of person he is. Do this at Rangers AND at Bayern. Talk to the opposition if possible and see what they say.

        And when and if you call him up try to get him at least a half if not the whole game so you can see what he’s like when he’s tired or when he subs in or when the tactics change and he’s still on the field. Giving him 10 minutes of garbage time at the end of a blowout friendly makes it pretty hard to learn anything substantive about any player.

        Whoever the manager is you would hope that they would find the time in their busy schedules to put that kind of time into evaluating Malik or any player.

  3. There is absolutely nothing in this video that would’ve been of use to our world cup squad. Like everything I saw, Jordan Morris can totally do. And you know I’m right, right?

    Reply
      • when one of your best players acts like a child, and is almost sent home because of said immaturity I don’t think Greg had much choice. Listen, before the WC, and whenever Gio Reyna was fully healthy(which was rare)in a USMNT camp, he started every game. The Reyna and Berhalter family are are close(maybe not anymore lol), so this idea that Greg somehow had it out for Gio, or that he rates MLSers above our euro players is a corrupt train of thought. People can detest what Greg did once the team returned stateside after the WC, and I’d agree that he handled talking about what happened in Qatar at that leadership symposium awfully, but how he handled the situation at the WC was spot on for me. You can’t let a player ruin everything that the team worked for to get to Qatar, which tbh Gio wasn’t a big part of bc of his consistent injuries, and allowing him to act like a child and then turn around and play him would have sent a bad message to the rest of the team. Yes, he apologized to the team, and yes the team forgave him, but you also sit your ass on that bench and watch the players that did everything the right way fight for the chance to win the cup, you try again 4 years down the line and hopefully in that time he’s grown out of this “me” first attitude.

      • GB is terrible. The very few people that state GB didn’t have a choice and handled the Gio situation correctly during the WC reeks of humor. This could and have and should been hadled before the Wales game. GB’s ego is bigger than any of his players. Greg has as much skill as a piss-ant when it comes to people skills. It’s his way or the highway. Any decent manger could have handled this fine without all of this drama. There was no cosach vote to see if Gio would be sent home. This is another lie. The only thing GB is good at is lying. First he says that Gio is hurt and then he says he didn’t play him for tactical reasons. The only reason he lied is because people would think he was an incompetent for not starting Gio. The real reason why he didn’t start Gio wasn’t because he had an attitude problem, it was because he didn’t rate him over the box-to-box guys. Then, in the Wales game, he put in Morris as a sub. HAA!!! BG is such a garbage coach. The reason why people dislike him so much is because he has never been transparent about anything. If he were honest, people might think that he’s an incompetent; but at least, they would respect him. Nobody respects a liar.

      • “when one of your best players acts like a child, and is almost sent home because of said immaturity I don’t think Greg had much choice.”

        Gregg is paid to get a player like Gio to produce.

        You can argue that Gregg failed with 1 out of 26 and that isn’t bad but when the one player is arguably more talented than the other 26 then it’s bad.

        The World Cup had more than it’s share of hyper-talented childish prima donnas. They didn’t all wind up like Gio. Even CR7 wound up behaving and being productive, more or less.

        Why is that? Is Gio some kind of monster ?

        This should not have come as a great shock to Gregg. He’s had lots of time to think about how to handle a Gio situation that has been developing over time.

        Gio was wrong to behave as he did but Greg should have seen this coming a mile away. That’s what you pay him the salary for; to deal with these situations and get the player to be a productive member of the team.

        The USMNT talent level is not so high that it can afford to flush a player with Gio’s talent down the toilet.

        He failed with Gio and that’s a big failure.

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