Throughout the Premier League season, The Breakdown offers analysis, tactical focus and deeper dives into some of the best games from the best players on the planet.
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We’re back for Season 3 of Breakdown and Joe Prince-Wright will be joining you to discuss some of the things that stood out (or didn’t stand out initially) in the Premier League.
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Gap â 2022-23 Premier League season
First week of matches
2nd week of matches
3rd week of matches
BERLIN. Jordan Pefok’s bid for the World Cup helps Union Berlin have an unprecedented time at the top of the Bundesliga.
Pefok scored the opening goal in Union’s victory over Wolfsburg on Sunday, just four days after he was left off USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man roster for games against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
“Who doesn’t look forward to playing in the World Cup when their country qualifies?” Pefok asked.
Berhalter said he already knew what Pefok was capable of. But with only two months left before the tournament in Qatar, Pefok wants to make sure.
The 26-year-old forward tormented Wolfsburg’s defense, coming back time and time again, and then crowned his performance with a glancing header that took him to three goals in six Bundesliga games this season.
Union won 2-0, opening a two-point lead over Borussia Dortmund after seven matches. The club from Kopenick was at the top for the first time. Union was promoted to the Bundesliga only in 2019.
“I’d be lying if I said I knew how well things would go,” said Pefok, who joined Union in the off-season from Young Boys, with whom he was the top scorer in the Swiss league with 22 goals last season.
âI joined a fantastic group – the staff of the club, the fans, a really great environment. And I think that all this makes us successful today,â Pefok said. âWe are really a family that loves to spend time together, loves to have fun together. Even after defeats, we quickly put them out of our heads, talk, rest and continue. I hope that this will continue.â
[ MORE: USMNT roster for World Cup tune-ups ]
Union have only suffered defeats in European competition this season – both narrow defeats to Royal Union St. Gilloise and Braga in the Europa League, which Union play for the first time since their remarkable fifth place in the Bundesliga last season .
This season it is the only undefeated team in the German league.
Pefok played a key role in this, forming an exciting partnership with Surinam striker Sheraldo Becker, who scored the second goal on Sunday, assisting defense and scoring two goals in addition to the three he scored.
Pefok was speaking after Sunday’s game when Wolfsburg’s sporting director JÃ¶rg Schmadtke stopped by to congratulate the player on his performance.
French-speaking Americans hope that Berhalter, too, has taken notice.
[ MORE: Jordan Pefok scores for leaders Union Berlin; McKennie, Juve lose ]
USMNT coach selected Josh Sargent of Second Division club Norwich, JesÃºs Ferreira of Dallas and Ricardo Pepi on loan to Groningen of Augsburg for friendly matches against Japan in DÃ¼sseldorf, Germany on Friday and Saudi Arabia Four days later in Murcia, Spain.
âWe have been consistent that this may not be the best striker in the group. This is the guy who is best suited for what we do,â Berhalter said.
Pefok said he would be ready for the World Cup.
âThe coach decides,â Pefok said. âI play games out of happiness. I keep trying my best. After that, as we say in France, we pay the musicians at the end of the ball.”
Pefok, who scored one goal in nine games for USMNT, added: âI think it’s up to me to keep doing what I’m trying to do. Stay focused. I wasn’t called to this training camp, but now, my chances are not zero. In the end, we will see who will be called up for the World Cup.”
Open your crystal balls and tell us what the latest USMNT roster announcement tells us about the team that Gregg Berhalter will bring to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup later this year, while Yunus Musa, Chris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers worry about injuries. American fans want to be talked about.
Groningen striker Ricardo Pepi, AC Milan striker Sergino Dest and Royal Antwerp striker Sam Vines are back in action as Berkhalter named the men who will represent the US men’s team in friendly matches against Saudi Arabia and Japan later this month.
[ MORE: Top 25 players in the USMNT player pool ]
It has to do with absence. Of course, there are still injured and sick players who will not be involved in friendly matches, but still can make it to the squad for the World Cup.
Timothy Weah and Anthony Robinson are injured, Zach Steffen is recovering from a knee problem, Miles Robinson is still recovering from Achilles surgery and Valencia’s Yunus Musa has been ruled out of Europe against Japan and Saudi Arabia with a groin injury. Celtic’s Carter-Vickers and Crystal Palace’s Chris Richards were also not eliminated.
Latest injury news: Yunus Musa, Carter-Vickers out
Valencia boss Gennaro Gattuso has revealed that Mousa has not been training for days and will not play for Valencia in the weekend’s La Liga game against Celta Vigo due to a groin injury.
Paul Tenorio from Athletic It was then reported that 19-year-old Mousa would not enter the international break and would remain with Valencia to recover from his injury. Mousa has been in top form for Valencia at the start of this season, playing in all five La Liga matches. The USMNT confirmed the news and Johnny Cardoso was called in to replace him.
This injury news is a blow, but it doesn’t seem to be anything serious. The most embarrassing moment for Berhalter will be that Mousa will not get playing time alongside Weston McKenney and Tyler Adams in midfield as the trio are locked into a World Cup start. Well, as long as they’re good.
Johnny Cardoso, 20, was selected to replace Mousa, and the New Jersey native who plays for Internacional in Brazil was last called up in December 2021 for a friendly against Bosnia. He was in good shape, and this is the last and unexpected chance for him to impress Berhalter.
As for Cameron Carter-Vickers, he missed Celtic’s shock defeat at St Mirren and is now out of the squad. CCV took the hit during Celtic’s 1-1 UEFA Champions League draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the middle of the week.
It’s a big blow as Carter-Vickers looks to be the leader to partner Walker Zimmerman in center back for the World Championship and replays together in those two games would be valuable. Eric Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie have been called in as replacements by Gregg Berhalter as it seems like Tim Rome and John Brooks just aren’t what the USMNT coach wants in a centre-back.
Palace defender Chris Richards is also slightly injured as Berhalter won’t be thrilled to see two centre-backs go missing in his final World Cup training camp, especially since both were set to fight for a starting spot.