Ahead of the 2020-21 European season, TDS will be previewing some of the top, youth national-team eligible U.S. players at clubs on the continent. The established first-team players that are regulars for the USMNT, won’t be covered.
Sergino Dest’s breakthrough at Ajax and decision to continue representing the United States means that the 2020-21 Eredivisie season is set to feature at least one American on a first team roster.
Dest isn’t the only American under contract at Ajax, as Alex Mendez enters his second season at the storied club. It’s not going to be an easy feat for the U.S. midfielder to make a push into the first team. The first step for the former LA Galaxy Academy standout is to get regular run at his preferred position for Jong Ajax; during games last season, Mendez lined up as a winger. That’s not going to hamper his development, but pushing for time in a position that he has the most experience is sure to reflect his standing within the club. When Jong Ajax games begin this week, it will serve as an indicator of the work ahead.
There are a handful of other players looking to make a similar step forward in the upcoming season. First up is Luca de la Torre. The central midfielder’s long Fulham stint ended during the summer, as he’s signed with Heracles in Holland. After signing a two-year deal, de la Torre will look to cement himself as a first-team player at his new club.
Outside of de la Torre, central midfielder Richie Ledezma serves as the other young American in close proximity to a first team. Having extended his contract at PSV Eindhoven earlier this year, Ledezma’s battled injuries that have slightly hampered his progress, and he remained with Jong PSV towards the end of preseason. That’s likely to be where he starts in the upcoming season, although media around the club has generally given Ledezma high marks, he needs a strong beginning to the season to have a chance at cracking the PSV first team sooner rather than later.
Ledezma’s teammate, Chris Gloster, is also on a hunt for a first team spot. He’s all but certain to begin the campaign with Jong PSV, which isn’t a huge surprise. The 20-year-old American needs to show that he’s capable of playing at the Eredivisie level before getting the nod.
While already covered in the England portion of the preview, since that was released, it was confirmed that Sebastian Soto will play in the Eerste Divisie (Holland’s second division) for SC Telstar. The forward recently joined Norwich City on a free transfer from Hannover. U.S. striker Andrija Novakovich previously played at Telstar.
Down in the youth ranks, midfielder Aethan Yohannes is part of the AZ Alkmaar Academy. The midfielder, born in 2004, should be a part of the 2021 Under-17 World Cup cycle with the United States – provided it takes place as scheduled. With his club, Yohannes will play with the Under-17 side after spending last year at Under-16.