5 American-Flavored Tidbits as European Season Ends
May 17, 2016
THE TOP LEAGUES in Europe all drew to a close this weekend and while no American players lifted major silverware, one Yank joined a new club in the Bundesliga while another said an emotional goodbye to his home for the past decade.
1. Wood finally joins HSV
It was a poorly kept secret but United States national team forward Bobby Wood, 23, has finally completed his transfer to Hamburg SV in the Bundesliga. HSV has had scouts at several Union Berlin games in recent months and Wood left Union late last week to negotiate final terms.
This was a move that had to happen and should be a good opportunity for Wood. The club is not too big where Wood will struggle to play but it is still a Bundesliga club with a long history. Hamburg finished in 10th place but was in a relegation battle for most of the season.
HSV scored just 40 goals in 34 games and Wood will be asked to help the team improve on that sorry statistic. Playing time will not be guaranteed, as HSV also have Pierre Lasogga, 24, and Michael Gregoritsch, 22, both of whom enjoyed solid seasons.
Wood has earned a shot at the Bundesliga and now he will have a big stage to showcase his quality as a player.
2. Howard’s emotional goodbye
It's not often when an American player gets a send-off like this. But on Sunday Tim Howard started in Everton’s final game of the season—his last appearance for the club as he will join the Colorado Rapids this summer.
Howard, 37, first joined Everton on loan from Manchester United to start the 2006-07 season but was soon purchased by the Liverpool-based club. Over the next 10 years, Howard would play in 352 Premier League games for the club and go onto become one of the best goalkeepers in England.
He was also a fan favorite and this was on full display in the emotional farewell he was given at Goodison Park.
3. Gonzalez and Pachuca into Semis
On Sunday night Pachuca rolled into the Liga MX semifinals after it defeated Santos Laguna 3-2 (4-3 on aggregate) at home. As usual, Gonzalez went a full 90 in the win to continue his impressive season since joining the club in December.
Also in the Liga MX semifinals are Club America, Club Leon (which starts American goalkeeper William Yarbrough), and Monterrey.
Gonzalez made Jurgen Klinsmann’s preliminary Copa America Centenario roster but making the final team is not guaranteed. John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, and Matt Besler are locks but Gonzalez is also competing with Matt Mizaga, Michael Orozco, and Steve Birnbaum for the final central defense spot.
Regardless of the national team picture, Gonzalez is aiming to become the first American player to win a Liga MX title and MLS Cup. That’s impressive.
4. Yelldell makes Bundesliga debut
In 2011, David Yelldell was having a pretty good season for MSV Duisburg in the 2.Bundesliga when he was called up to the United States national team by Bob Bradley. The Stuttgart-born, German-American played in a friendly against Paraguay in his only call-up but never played for the U.S. team again.
That summer, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen. On Saturday, nearly five years since joining the club, he made his first Bundesliga appearance for the club in a 3-2 win over Ingolstadt, coming on in the 47th minute. Before that game, he had made just one other first team appearance for Leverkusen, in a German Cup game in 2011.
So while playing time has been elusive for Yelldell, he deserves a lot of credit for his perseverance and it is nice to see him rewarded with an official Bundesliga appearance.
5. Bradley nearly pulls off a miracle
As Ligue 2 in France ended its season on Friday, it was assumed that Le Havre had no chance at promotion as the club needed to make up three points on Metz and reverse a seven-goal differential.
In one of the most remarkable rallies in recent memory, Lens defeated Metz 1-0 while Bradley’s Le Havre posted a 5-0 win on Bourg en Bresse to fall one goal short. It was agonizingly close too as Le Havre hit the woodwork four times and nearly found a winner in stoppage time when its goalkeeper moved into the attack on a set piece, focing a great save.
Bradley and Le Havre will be in Ligue 2 for at least one more year but following the game, Le Havre supporters were allowed on the field to give a thank you to the team for a valiant effort. Despite coming up short, there is a positive mood around the club that things are heading in the right direction under Bradley.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.