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Wright, Sargent, Pulisic headline SBI’s Americans Abroad Best XI for 2023-24

As the Americans Abroad contingent continued to grow in Europe over the past season, many players excelled at club level and took their roles to new heights in 2023-24.

From Christian Pulisic’s impressive first Serie A campaign to Haji Wright’s productive season with Coventry City and Malik Tillman’s stellar loan spell with PSV, there was plenty for American soccer fans to be excited about heading into a busy international summer schedule.

Weston McKennie answered the call in his return to Juventus while Chris Richards took a major step forward in his development.

Gabriel Slonina made the most appearances among USMNT goalkeepers in Europe this season, setting himself up for a tougher challenge next season.

Here is a closer look at SBI’s Best XI for the past international season:

**This post will be updated with final statistics for the European season when it concludes.


2023-24 SBI Americans Abroad Best XI


Gabriel Slonina, Eupen


Gabriel Slonina entered the 2023-24 campaign needing to play regularly to help his overall development and the U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper did just that in Belgium.

Slonina, 19, registered five clean sheets in 34 combined appearances this season for Eupen. Despite the club’s consistent struggles and eventual relegation to the second-tier, Slonina was one of the lone bright spots in their season.

Now Slonina prepares for potential Olympic involvement and a new challenge at club level next season.


Sergino Dest, PSV


PSV ended the 2023-24 campaign as Eredivisie champions and Sergino Dest was a major reason for their success.

Dest logged over 3,100 minutes in 37 combined appearances for PSV, scoring two goals and adding seven assists. The USMNT full back mainly featured on the left side of Peter Bosz’s squad, delivering a stellar loan spell from Barcelona.

Despite suffering a torn ACL this spring, Dest was one of the bright spots in the PSV squad and will hope to carry that confidence into next year.

Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Joe Scally excelled for the Bundesliga side, featuring on both sides of the backline and playing a consistent role in the squad.


Auston Trusty, Sheffield United


Sheffield United’s forgettable English Premier League campaign shouldn’t take away from Auston Trusty’s impact at the club.

Trusty was a consistent starter for the Blades this season, logging 32 league appearances and totaling over 2,500 minutes. After transferring from Arsenal last summer, Trusty jumped right into the squad and rarely lost his place under two different managers.

Whether or not Trusty stays with Sheffield United in the Championship remains to be seen, but if he does, he has a strong chance of remaining a starter next campaign.


Chris Richards, Crystal Palace


Chris Richards took a major step forward in his role with Crystal Palace this season.

The 24-year-old centerback featured as both a defender and defensive midfielder in the Eagles squad. Richards made 26 appearances for the South London club, scoring his first Premier League goal and also adding his first assist.

Richards retained his spot following Oliver Glasner’s arrival at Selhurst Park and has a strong chance of staying a key player in the squad for 2024-25.

Cameron Carter-Vickers might’ve been in-and-out of the Celtic squad this season, but he’s remained a consistent starter when healthy for the eventual Scottish Premiership winners.


Antonee Robinson, Fulham


A career-best year for Antonee Robinson earned him a spot in this season’s Best XI.

Robinson missed just one Premier League match for Fulham this season, registering six assists, and being a strong two-way player for the Cottagers. Despite interest from both Manchester City and Liverpool, Robinson committed his long-term future to the club and remains one of the consistent starters at his position among Premier League left backs.

Domestic and European interest will likely come once again this summer but expect Robinson to stay in London going forward.

Kristoffer Lund‘s impressive first season with Palermo didn’t go un-noticed as the USMNT defender helped them earn a spot in the Serie B promotion playoffs.


Tanner Tessmann, Venezia


One of the more consistent midfielders in Italy’s Serie B division, Tanner Tessmann will be one to watch this summer.

Tessmann scored seven goals and added three assists in 41 league appearances for Venezia. The former FC Dallas homegrown featured often for the third-place finishers, teaming up with fellow American Gianluca Busio on a regular basis.

Gianluca Busio also impressed for Venezia, netting seven goals and adding four assists alongside Tessmann. He was an Honorable Mention for this spot.


Weston McKennie, Juventus


Weston McKennie returned to Juventus last summer with plenty of questions to answer and the USMNT star did just that this season.

McKennie registered 10 assists in all competitions, making 38 combined appearances. The 25-year-old showed off his versatility, featuring in midfield, and as a wing back at times.

Juventus lifted the Coppa Italia trophy midweek and clinched a top-four finish in Serie A.

Johnny Cardoso‘s impact with both Internacional and Real Betis earned him an Honorable Mention shout this season.


Malik Tillman, PSV


A second-straight loan spell for Malik Tillman earned him a permanent move to Dutch side PSV.

Tillman totaled nine goals and 15 assists in all competitions for the Eredivisie champions, excelling in Peter Bosz’s squad. Despite signing a contract extension with Bayern Munich last summer, Tillman’s productive loan spell earned him a transfer to Holland permanently.

The 21-year-old can still grow his game even more and Tillman will certainly aim for that this summer with the USMNT.

Griffin Yow delivered in so many levels for Belgian side Westerlo this season. Yow, 21, scored seven goals and added seven assists this season, taking a huge step forward in his development.


Christian Pulisic, AC Milan


Christian Pulisic’s permanent move to AC Milan brought immediate pressure on the USMNT star and the creative attacker answered the call in a big way.

Pulisic totaled 16 goals and 11 assists in 51 combined appearances for the Rossoneri, making an immediate impact in the squad. AC Milan did not walk away with a trophy in 2023-24, but Pulisic did help Stefano Pioli’s squad clinch a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

Up next is USMNT involvement at the Copa America.

Emmanuel Sabbi‘s jump to his biggest challenge yet featured many impressive moments in Ligue 1. Sabbi totaled five goals and one assist for Le Havre, being a creative spark in the final third.


Haji Wright, Coventry City


Haji Wright entered the season with plenty of questions coming his way and the American forward certainly answered them in style.

Wright was tied for the club lead at Coventry City with 19 goals scored across all competitions. While many players would’ve had a rough transition to the English game, Wright flourished in Mark Robins’ squad, helping the Sky Blues reach the FA Cup Semifinals and finish in the top half of the EFL Championship.

Wright’s productive season saw him return to the USMNT squad and lift a CONCACAF Nations League title.

Ricardo Pepi scored nine goals for PSV despite being a substitute for most of his appearances this season. Pepi will fight for a starting role next season as PSV returns to the Champions League and aims for domestic dominance in Holland.


Josh Sargent, Norwich City


Josh Sargent might have missed three months this season but it didn’t stop him from setting new career-highs with Norwich City.

Sargent scored 16 goals for the Canaries in 30 combined appearances, helping David Wagner’s men reach the EFL Championship promotion playoffs. His 2024 form alone should have him in the USMNT conversation this summer for the Copa America.

Sargent will certainly be on the radar of several clubs this summer after registering back-to-back campaigns with double-digit goals.

Alex Zendejas registered double-digit goals for the second-straight season, continuing his impactful run with Club America. Zendejas totaled 15 goals and eight assists in 50 combined appearances.


What do you think of the Americans Abroad Best XI? Who are you happy to see included? Who did we leave out that you feel deserved a place?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I can remember when you couldn’t find 11 Americans abroad. Now we have some good players who don’t make the first 11. As for the choices, I would pick Cardoso ahead of Tessman. I think CCV vs. Trusty is kind of a tossup.

    Reply
    • i didn’t think he had one of the most amazing european seasons ever — i wouldn’t nominate him for this list — but 4G 8A in germany is solid and we need IMO a more technical, finisher kind of AM in the mix. if people think LDLT — on the roster — is better than green, they need their heads checked.

      i could understand the monkey see monkey do mentality of the fanboys if we were running the table — winning every night, everyone played amazing.

      Reply
  2. at a loss on gaga here. team was bottom 4, a point off absolute bottom, and got relegated in their tournament. team had the most GA in the league and gaga averaged 2 GAA. i realize some candidates moved home (cohen) or got benched (turner), but horvath — whether i am still his fan or not — managed midtable finish behind an awful defense with numbers better than gaga did.

    gaga to me, CFC signing aside, keeps getting on lousy bottom of the table teams and then gets a pass on does he actually keep the goals allowed down that much, ie, whether he’s a solid adult pro keeper.

    my personal impression is the US GK pecking order needs a shakeup and more emphasis on performance. turner should be given some time off and we should have an actual competition for 2nd and 3rd shirts. US GK since roughly 2014 has been too much of a royal succession order foreordained regardless of how they play. an order that has seanjohn still in the mix, horvath, and gaga being prepared, hasn’t really updated in terms of performance in years.

    Reply
    • IV,

      “my personal impression is the US GK pecking order needs a shakeup and more emphasis on performance. ”

      That’s all very nice. But this is not high school , college or select teams any more.

      Matt is #1 on merit. Horvath is # 2 because while he’s shown flashes, he does not seem to inspire his team the way Matt does. But he’s got enough to be an okay, reliable #2. Sean looks like a good #3, good enough to play a game or two in an emergency but also likely to handle not playing without being disruptive.

      As long as everyone holds their form, that’s good enough for now. The USMNT has bigger problems elsewhere.

      If you want a shakeup, it’s going to have to come from an as yet unknown source. Your boy Cohen is just beginning to get going at Atlanta and if he comes on and tears the league apart then he might get some attention. Slonina? He’s just another guy to me. You could just hand him the #1 role in Copa America and see if he sinks or swims just for shits and giggles..

      Otherwise, I haven’t heard of any American keepers anywhere who look like they can challenge Matt. Europe seems to have a number of hot young keepers:

      Rankings were last updated January 1, 2024.
      Men’s Top 24 Under 24 Years Old
      rk. name – club, nationality (age)

      1. Arnau Tenas – PSG, Spain (22)
      2. Illan Meslier – Leeds United, France (23)
      3. Dominik Kotarski – PAOK Salonika, Croatia (23)
      4. Maarten Vandevoordt – Genk, Belgium (21)
      5. Franco Israel – Sporting CP, Uruguay (23)
      6. Giorgi Mamardashvili – Valencia, Georgia (23)
      7. Guillaume Restes – Toulouse, France (18)
      8. Julen Agirrezabala – Athletic Bilbao, Spain (23)
      9. Stefan Bajic – Bristol City, France (22)
      10. Jonas Urbig – 1.FC Köln, Germany (20)
      11. Noah Raveyre – AC Milan, Italy (18)
      12. Gavin Bazunu – Southampton, Ireland (21)
      13. Federico Magro – Lazio, Italy (19)
      14. Filip Stankovic – Inter Milan, Serbia (21)
      15. Marcel Mendes – Benfica, Poland (18)
      16. Mads Christiansen – Lillestrøm, Norway (23)
      17. Tjark Ernst – Hertha BSC, Germany (20)
      18. Oliwier Zych – Aston Villa, Poland (19)
      19. Alejandro Iturbe – Atletico Madrid, Spain (20)
      20. Lukas Hornicek – Braga, Czech Republic (21)
      21. Sebastiano Desplanches – Palermo, Italy (20)
      22. James Beadle – Brighton, England (19)
      23. Filip Jörgensen – Villarreal, Denmark (21)
      24. Razvan Sava – CFR Cluj, Romania (21)

      I don’t see any Americans there, do you? Gregg can’t develop a keeper , he has to find one and at the moment I don’t think there are any to to be found right about now.

      Reply
    • He absolutely should. I know Marsch-bashing is en vogue because he “failed” at Leeds, but unless you’re Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, when you take a Premier League team, at some point, you’re going to be fired. That doesn’t automatically make him Ted Lasso.

      And more relevantly to us, the Canadian position will show us pretty clearly if Marsch is a quality coach at the International level and capable of adapting to the pool he actually has – as opposed to forcing square pegs into round holes – because Canada’s got some impressive talent in spots but so-so talent in others, and it’ll be extremely intriguing to see what he accomplishes with it.

      Reply
      • as i pointed out on the other thread, marsch had a higher winning percentage for leeds, overall, than rooney has ever had at any stop in his career, including DC and a few english teams. we get one shot there and it’s all or nothing. english coaches in england will get recycled even if they are awful at their job.

      • that being said, if marsch defaults back to high pressing, to me that’s exhausting and often pulls the team all out of shape to defend as a unit. it has a kind of initial shock value which if withstood turns into a tired team that holds bad shape pushed naively way upfield.

        US soccer coaching is in a weird place right now, a lot of monkey see monkey do tactics, and the bigger name guys with european experience might be some of the weaker choices (wagner, matarazzo, marsch, GB). but then many of the interesting domestic ones with actual winning records have not been heads outside MLS and maybe only ever had one head job (dolo, schmetzer, porter, noonan).

      • quozzel

        “Marsch-bashing is en vogue because he “failed” at Leeds,”

        That’s because he did a lot that deserved to be bashed.
        I’ve criticized Gregg because he’s does a lot of things worth criticizing him for. It’s the same with Jesse.

        Where did he succeed at Leeds? His transfers in by and large failed. Tyler was of course hurt. It’s not fair but when your bedrock signing can’t get on the field , that is unfairly held against you. Brenden was an expensive 30 million bust. The main positive thing about Jesse is his passport so we’re not supposed to criticize a fellow American because the UK is anti American. There’s something weird about that.

        IV,

        “marsch had a higher winning percentage for leeds, overall, than rooney has ever had at any stop in his career, including DC and a few english teams.”

        That’s like saying the Titanic was setting a world speed record until it hit that iceberg. Take a bow Captain Smith.

        ” we get one shot there and it’s all or nothing. english coaches in england will get recycled even if they are awful at their job.”

        Name me a modern day top level manager, other than Pep and Klopp, who have never been fired.

        Leeds is an English club. In Rooney’s case, Plymouth is an English club. I expect them to be biased towards English coaches. Why wouldn’t they be? Do you expect them to hire an American manager? An American manager with a questionable record?. A manager who allegedly had talks with two clubs, Leicester and Southampton that choose not to hire him and eventually both got promoted. Ironic isn’t it?

        Plymouth is a small obscure club. It’s a perfect low level for Rooney to start learning his job. And his star status in very useful in many way in England that it might not be useful in fucking Washington DC.

    • I think he should be. Speaking of Jesse Marsch, my dude and Canada are coming out the gate swinging. Canada has friendlies lined up with both Netherlands and France in preparation for COPA America (with Argentina, Peru and Chile)…..thats hitting the ground running lol

      Reply
      • actual context on canada would be they have played a grand total of 1 game all year so far, and had a lousy year last year, blew the series with jamaica (so we played them instead), blew the gold cup (so our B team advanced). money troubles, etc.

        i want to wish jesse well because we get judged on how well our coaches travel, but canada is the enemy, so i am ambivalent.

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