Zack Steffen's EFL Cup success and Matthew Hoppe relegated

As the end of the season draws to a close, several USA soccer stars are starting to appear regularly across some of Europe’s top leagues.

Whether it be Weston McKennie or Christian Pulisic battling for European qualification with their respective clubs, Daryl Dike chasing promotion or Antonee Robinson fighting against relegation, numerous American stars are approaching the business end of the season.

In what could be a potentially golden generation of United States men's national team talent, there are numerous standout performers, such as Sergino Dest and Chris Richards.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup may prove a challenge too soon, however, Paddy Power has them as a 60/1 longshot for international success in the next major tournament.

Nevertheless, Planet Sport continues to follow their weekly progress in and around the continent.

Christian Pulisic

24th April, West Ham 0-1 Chelsea

Pulisic, who has three goals in his last three Premier League starts for Chelsea, started once more in the Blues' crucial fixture with West Ham.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the American forward repeatedly looked a threat, drifting inside and driving with the ball to cause the Hammers all sorts of problems.

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While Pulisic wasn't credited with the assist for Timo Werner's opening goal, it was his hard work to release Ben Chilwell which created the goal as he pulled the West Ham defence from side to side with his movement and speed.

After setting up Chilwell's assist, Pulisic was removed in the 73rd minute for Hakim Ziyech, with Thomas Tuchel potentially eyeing their Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid in midweek.

Rating: 7/10

Deandre Yedlin

24th April, Antalyaspor 0-1 Galatasaray

Galatasaray battled to an important 1-0 victory on the road, largely thanks to Lukas Podolski's needless second-half dismissal for the hosts.

They move within six points of first-placed Besiktas, however, Yedlin remains out with a leg injury sustained last month which will keep him out till at least halfway through May.

Rating: N/A

Zack Steffen

25th April, Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham

Despite it being the final, Pep Guardiola stuck true to his word and allowed Steffen another chance to prove himself even after a shaky performance in their FA Cup semi-final loss against Pulisic's Chelsea.

Given the wealth of quality in front of him, Steffen was largely uncalled upon in the first-half as he once again got the nod ahead of Ederson in the Citizens' cup run.

A few punches here and there were all that was required from Spurs' set-pieces as the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son rarely posed a first-half threat.

In the second half, however, Steffen was immediately needed, pushing around the post to stop Giovanni Lo Celso from opening the scoring at Wembley.

With the defensive wall of Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho working in front of him, it came as no surprise this was one of Steffen's only major involvements as City collected their fourth consecutive EFL Cup win.

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Notably, Steffen also becomes only the fourth American to lift the EFL Cup, following in the footsteps of John Harkes, Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel.

While talks keep cropping up as to whether Steffen needs to move on, a clean sheet in the final and a trophy to his name will only further prove the quality the American goalkeeper possesses.

Rating: 7/10

Sergino Dest

25th April, Villarreal 1-2 Barcelona

Barcelona's hunt for the LaLiga title marched on as they ran out 2-1 victors away to Villarreal to keep them two points behind league-leaders Atletico Madrid.

Dest started, as he has done since the turn of March, for Ronald Koeman's side on the right flank in front of the visitors' three-man defence.

Despite Sergi Roberto's recovery from injury, Dest was preferred to start ahead of the Spaniard and the right wing-back regularly caused problems for the Villarreal defence.

Linking up with Frenkie de Jong on a frequent basis, Dest and the Dutchman were unlucky not to create a goal or two as they reeked havoc down the right-hand channel in the first half.

Perhaps with a focus on rotation and the suggestion of a slight knock, given Dest's heavy workload in the last few months, Koeman brought on Roberto at half-time as he rewarded Dest with a well-deserved rest.

Fans of the United States men's national team and Barcelona alike will be hoping that Dest's removal was just for precaution and not due to injury.

Rating: 6.5/10

Giovanni Reyna

24th April, Wolfsburg 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

After an impressive showing last weekend, with Reyna returning to form and scoring his first Bundesliga goal since December, the American midfielder once again started in behind Erling Haaland for the visitors.

While Reyna didn't have a goal or an assist to show for his hard work on Saturday, he - much like Pulisic's direct running at Chelsea - repeatedly caused problems with the ball at his feet.

Reyna and 10-man Dortmund had Haaland's brace to thank for their win at the weekend
Reyna and 10-man Dortmund had Haaland's brace to thank for their win at the weekend

A 2-0 win, courtesy of Haaland's brace and despite Jude Bellingham's 59th-minute sending off, moves them two points behind third place and a point behind fourth as Dortmund chase Champions League qualification.

Reyna - who is son of Claudio Reyna - was withdrawn in the 69th minute as the away side opted for fresh legs in the form of Thorgan Hazard.

With Dortmund out of Europe, their focus will remain on qualifying for next season's Champions League as they continue to make ground on Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt above them.

Rating: 6.5/10

Matthew Hoppe

Schalke's relegation from the Bundesliga was confirmed in midweek and talks are still ongoing as to whether Hoppe will still be plying his trade there next season.

As Klass Jan Huntelaar's contract talks go on, suggesting a limited role again for Hoppe, speculation persists as to what is best for the American forward's career.

Nevertheless, Schlake didn't play this week and don't return to Bundesliga action until the 8th May when they travel to Chris Richards' Hoffenheim.

Rating: N/A

Tyler Adams

25th April, RB Leipzig 2-0 Stuttgart

Bayern Munich faltered on Saturday in their trip to Mainz, falling to a 2-1 defeat meaning they had to wait to collect their ninth successive Bundesliga title.

Knowing a loss would confirm the Bavarians' league title win without them kicking a ball, Leipzig overcame 10-man Stuttgart to keep their title charge alive, if only by the slightest of chances.

Adams, who has been shifted all over Julian Nagelsmann's team, operated as right wing-back on Sunday for the hosts and put in a solid performance.

Working as more of a winger, given Stuttgart's one-man disadvantage, Adams regularly got up and down the right flank, stretching the play to create chances for the home side.

The only downfall of Adams' game was the fact that Angelino caused as many problems on the opposite flank for Leipzig, who dominated the fixture from start to finish.

Surprisingly, Adams was removed in the 73rd minute with the game tied up as Nagelsmann allowed the American, who has become almost undroppable nowadays, a rare rest.

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Adams made his 50th Bundesliga appearance in midweek and he will be hoping next season he can top off a successful spell with Leipzig with a winners medal of some form too.

Rating: 7/10

Josh Sargent

24th April, Union Berlin 3-1 Werder Bremen

Florian Kohfeldt opted for a three-man defence for Bremen's trip to Union Berlin in which they ended up 3-1 losers.

Sargent dropped a little deeper for the away side, slotting into their five-man midfield as Milot Rashica and Niclas Fullkrug were given the chance to start up front.

Whether due to the unusual position or just a bad day at the office, Sargent struggled to get to grips with his role and rarely looked comfortable in possession.

United States men's national team followers were quick to question Kohfeldt's decision to move Sargent back, given he has been one of their best attacking threats, however, this doesn't serve as the sole excuse for an unusually poor performance.

Sargent will likely be hoping to move further forward in the coming weeks, searching for an extra Bundesliga goal or two to cap off what has been a fairly productive campaign for the American forward.

Rating: 5.5/10

Weston McKennie

25th April, Fiorentina 1-1 Juventus

As Andrea Pirlo shifted back to a three-man defence, McKennie had to settle for a place on the bench despite beginning to start a few games in recent weeks.

Pirlo then employed his usual method of introducing McKennie around the 70th minute as a slow and lacklustre Juventus side looked to steal a late winner.

McKennie's Juventus were left frustrated as they faltered once more in their hunt for Champions League qualification on Sunday
McKennie's Juventus were left frustrated as they faltered once more in their hunt for Champions League qualification on Sunday

An inch-perfect pass nearly carved open the Viola's defence for Juan Cuadrado, while McKennie also was near to teeing up a late Cristiano Ronaldo winner.

Unfortunately for McKennie, the Old Lady were not able to win it at the death and lost further ground in the race for the Champions League spots, with Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio all closing in their third-place spot.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tim Weah

25th April, Lyon 2-3 Lille

Sustaining a thigh injury against Montpellier last time out, Weah was unable to feature as third-placed Lille travelled to Lyon on Sunday night.

Knowing a win would take them back to top spot, a point ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, Lille went two goals down in the first half.

However, a brace from 35-year-old Burak Yilmaz and a goal from Canadian Jonathan David secured a memorable comeback victory to reinstate the visitors at the top of Ligue 1.

Rating: N/A

Daryl Dike

24th April, Barnsley 1-0 Rotherham

Barnsley confirmed their play-off berth with a 1-0 Championship win over Yorkshire rivals Rotherham on Saturday.

After scoring a stunning, acrobatic overhead kick against another Yorkshire side Huddersfield Town in midweek, Dike failed to recreate his remarkable form, which had seen him score nine goals in 16 Championship games before the weekend.

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Partnering up with Cauley Woodrow with Alex Mowatt slotting in behind the pair, the strike partnership rarely troubled a well-drilled Rotherham defence who are on brink of relegation.

Nevertheless, Dike and Barnsley's attentions will now turn to the play-offs in May as they look to secure an unexpected place at Wembley or, even better, a memorable promotion to the Premier League.

Rating: 6/10

Antonee Robinson

Fulham weren't in action this weekend as Tottenham and Manchester City played out their EFL Cup final instead of their Premier League duties.

With Burnley winning and Newcastle United earning a point at Liverpool, Fulham's chances of avoiding relegation became even slimmer, despite the Cottagers not setting foot on the pitch.

Scott Parker's men are now seven points behind 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion with just five games of the English top-flight campaign left.

Rating: N/A

Tim Ream

Like Robinson, Ream didn't play at the weekend due to Fulham's schedule giving them a week off, thanks to the EFL Cup final which took place on Sunday.

As the Cottagers' relegation from the Premier League comes more and more likely, Ream may be thinking he could return to the side in the Championship, a league he is familiar with and a level he has proven himself at.

Rating: N/A

Chris Richards

24th April, Freiburg 1-1 Hoffenheim

Despite Hoffenheim operating with a three-man defence for the majority of the season, for a third game in a row they preferred a four-man defence with Richards as the left-sided centre-back.

Having kept two clean sheets in three games, Richards and his side looked on course for another until the American loanee was forced off with an injury in the 77th minute.

Just four minutes later, Kevin Vogt - his replacement - conceded a penalty which ultimately offered the hosts a way back into the game and the chance to gain a point.

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Richards, who spoke in midweek about enjoying his loan spell, has remained quiet on where his future lies next season.

However, his first focus will be recovering from what is hopefully not a serious injury and getting his 12th-placed Hoffenheim team to finish as high as they can this campaign.

Rating: 7/10

Bryan Reynolds

25th April, Cagliari 3-2 Roma

After a few starts in recent weeks for Paulo Fonseca's Europa League chasing side, Reynolds dropped to the bench as Davide Santon was preferred at right wing-back.

Reynolds remained an unused substitute as his side fell to a surprise 3-2 loss at Cagliari, leaving them eight points off fifth-placed Napoli despite having played a game more.

Rating: N/A

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