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USMNT, European review: Lewandowski leads Barca; Pefok, Sargent star

Jesse Marsch was optimistic after losing to Brighton, explaining the encouraging elements of Leeds United's performance.

Candidates for the center forward position on the United States men’s national team at the World Cup made it through multiple summer tournaments without putting a stranglehold on the starting spot for November in Qatar

That’s left in-form players to sound very real shouts to take the pitch flanked by Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, and/or Brenden Aaronson early this winter.

Weah, perhaps, has been the frontrunner to start up top with free-scoring but basically untested FC Dallas star Jesus Ferreira hot on his heels. Scoring for fun in MLS is one thing, but the USMNT’s brutally weak schedule means most of his finishing production has come against Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, both at home.

[ MORE: 10 things we learned in Premier League, Week 4 ]

So Jordan Pefok’s hot streak to start life in the Bundesliga (below) has sent waves through the USMNT world and expect similar vibes surrounding current in-form Championship forward Josh Sargent.

Missouri’s favorite ginger, 22, has now scored four goals in his last three Norwich City matches, all wins. The latest was a 76th-minute winner to beat Sunderland this weekend, and his performances will have plenty claiming that Sargent has a very good claim to join Teemu Pukki (Finland) and Ismaila Sarr (Senegal) as Championship strikers at the World Cup.

Bundesliga: Bayern is filthy but Sommer laughs last

Bayern Munich’s shows of strength have been impressive this season, even when the Bavarians drop points.

Borussia Monchengladbach entered Saturday’s match in Munich unbeaten and leaves it unbeaten after a 1-1 draw that saw the visitors lead at halftime but get outshot 33-5.

Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer was required to make a Bundesliga record 19 saves to get the point, while USMNT man Joe Scally went 90 minutes at right back, making six clearances and three tackles.

The result leaves the club two points back of leaders Bayern Munich and... Union Berlin.

Union is shining and USMNT forward Jordan Pefok’s partnership with Sheraldo Becker continues to reap rewards. Pefok set up Becker’s brace in a 6-1 smashing of hosts Schalke.

Other Americans in the Bundesliga: Ricardo Pepi started in Augsburg’s 1-0 loss at Hoffenheim. Timothy Chandler came off the bench for longtime club Eintracht Frankfurt, and Giovanni Reyna was not in the 18 for Borussia Dortmund.

Serie A: Juventus-Roma split

Dusan Vlahovic was at it again, putting Juventus ahead of AS Roma in the weekend’s marquee match. Jose Mourinho’s men had an answer as ex-Juve man Paulo Dybala set up former Chelsea starlet Tammy Abraham with 21 minutes to play in Turin.

USMNT man Weston McKennie came off the bench for Juve with the score already 1-1.

The draw makes Roma one of five teams with two wins and a draw on the season, joining AC Milan, Lazio, Atalanta, and Torino. Juve falls to a win and two draws. Napoli (2-0) faces 1W-1D Fiorentina later Sunday to settle the table for the weekend.

La Liga: Lewandowski, Barca’s revamped attack thrash Valladolid

Robert Lewandowski scored two goals, Ousmane Dembele had two assists, and Pedro scored to go with a Raphinha assist as Barcelona improved to two wins and a draw this season with a 4-0 blowout of Real Valladolid.

USMNT back Sergino Dest again did not dress, while Yunus Musah’s Valencia does not play until Monday (vs Atletico Madrid). Luca De La Torre was an unused sub for Celta Vigo.

Follow @NicholasMendola