Americans abroad analysis

2020 starts with a bang for with goals, transfer rumors, & breakthroughs

It's a busy time in American soccer as the transfer window is now open, the English schedule rolls on,  and winter break camps are open throughout Europe. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here to break it all down for you 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 03, 2020
9:00 AM
WHILE 2020 might only be in its third day, there has already been a ton of news to cover with Americans abroad as the seasons in England roll on, the MLS offseason brings a flurry of news, and the transfer window opens.

With that said, here are the top stories.

Pulisic strong in return

Christian Pulisic struggled to get on the field in recent games for Chelsea and a hamstring issue saw him miss the derby win over Arsenal on December 29. But the Hershey native returned on New Year’s Day with the start against Brighton and Hove Albion – playing well before being substituted out in the 66th minute. He left the game with Chelsea up 1-0 and was not on the field for the equalizer as it finished 1-1.

It was welcome news for Pulisic to have a strong outing as his season has been solid, albeit inconsistent. His best moments came to start the second half when he was making things happen on his side of the field with quick passing and aggressive dribbles.

Fortunately for Pulisic, there will be an FA Cup game this weekend against Nottingham Forrest followed by the schedule resuming at a more normal pace after playing several games in quick succession during the holidays.

Mixed Championship results

In the Championship, much of the results were mixed. Tim Ream and Fulham are on the verge of falling out of the promotional playoff positions after a mostly poor month. The 2-1 home loss to Reading on New Years Day did not help. One interesting spot is that San Diego’s Luca de la Torre made a cameo in the end as Fulham pressed for the equalizer.

Matt Miazga played the final 22 minutes for Reading in the win and breaking back into the team’s starting lineup has been tough for the New Jersey native since returning from injury. Reading has conceded just one goal over its last five games and that success has made it hard to justify a chance in the lineup.

Eric Lichaj and Hull City remain within striking distance of the promotional playoff positions after a 1-0 away win over Sheffield Wednesday. Currently in ninth place, Hull is just two points from sixth place – the final playoff position. That is quite a rise for the club which was expected to finish midtable.

Elsewhere, Geoff Cameron and Queens Park Rangers thumped Cardiff City 6-1 to remain in 15th place.

One of the more interesting stories in the Championship Derby County which has received a much needed offensive boost with the addition of Wayne Rooney. On Thursday, it defeated Barnsley 2-1 for its second straight win. Rooney had one assist and was dangerous throughout. American Duane Holmes should have had an assist with this beauty.

Young Americans train with the first team

The winter break camps are often a time when clubs give their top young players a chance to train with the first team and play in friendlies.

There are several United States youth internationals who will get that opportunity in the weeks ahead. Richard Ledezma will train with PSV’s first team in Qatar. Chris Richards will play with Bayern Munich elite first squad and Giovani Reyna will play with Borussia Dortmund’s first team in Marbella. In the 2.Bundesliga, Travian Sousa will play with Hamburg SV’s first team.

Historically, this has always been an important time when young players have broken through. Whether that happens here will be up to the players and how they perform. But the door is open for them.

Otasowie making the bench

One of the more interesting stories right now among young American players is Owen Otasowie. The defensive midfielder/central defender is now making the bench for Wolverhampton on a regular basis. He went as an unused sub on New Years Day in a 2-1 loss to Watford and this weekend the club faces Manchester United in the FA Cup. He has already made his debut in a League Cup match but his Premier League debut is coming.

Also eligible for Nigeria and England, Otasowie has played for the U.S. U-18 team in the past and should feature for the U.S. U-20 team this cycle. But his Premier League debut is indeed coming and that will be an exciting moment for the young American player.

Kelman scores for Southend

U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman scored his second goal of the season despite having dealt with injuries in recent months that have limited his time.

Kelman’s has played well and will be a nice player for the U.S. U-20 team this cycle but Southend United is playing dreadful soccer this year with just nine points through 24 games. Relegation seems almost guaranteed.

Sargent’s injury

Josh Sargent has been out with a hamstring injury since the beginning of December. With Werder Bremen set to resume training for its winter break friendlies in Mallorca, Sargent is back to training – although only on an individual basis for now.

It will be hard to say when he’ll be available to play but Werder is in a tough position right now after having fallen into the relegation zone after losing its fourth game in a row in a 1-0 loss to Koln just before Christmas.

Johnson linked with HSV

Fabian Johnson, 32, has had dealt with a wave of injuries over the last four years that have limited his playing time. This season, he has played just four times for a Borussia Monchengladbach team that is second in the Bundesliga.

But Johnson might be on the move sooner than later as he is being linked with a move to Hamburg SV. HSV is currently in second place of the 2.Bundesliga and is looking to make a return to the Bundesliga – where it has traditionally been a regular. Such a move would reunite Johnson with his former manager Dieter Hecking – who managed Monchengladbach from 2016-2019.

Johnson’s current contract expires in June so it will be interesting to see if he moves to HSV, whether or not a new deal would be in the works.

Greuther Furth dismiss Ferri

Greuther Furth has dismissed American midfielder Blaine Ferri from the club for “disciplinary reasons”, according to local reports. Ferri was one of four players from the club’s U-23 team that were waived for similar reasons.

Ferri, 19, was a member of the 2017 U.S. U-17 World Cup team and joined Greuther Furth once he was eligible at age 18. While he never made his first team debut there, he was a regular starter with the club’s U-23 team.

Powers on Dundee United trial

American midfielder Dillon Powers is currently on trial with Dundee United in Scotland after being waived by Orlando City. Powers, 28, has dealt with injuries and was limited to just seven appearances last year with Orlando.

A veteran of MLS since 2013, Powers played for Colorado from 2013 until a midseason 2017 trade brought him to Orlando. The holder of an Italian passport, Powers is now on trial with Dundee United which is 14 points clear atop the Scottish Championship and should be in the Scottish Premier League next year.

Should Powers sign with Dundee United, he would team with fellow American central midfielder Ian Harkes who has played in all 19 of the team’s games this season (making 15 starts).

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