Midweek musings

Aaronson, Dest, & Busio have strong games in mixed midweek for Yanks

The midweek games for Americans abroad saw some Americans play at some very high-level competitions - to mixed results. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down with his thoughts and analysis.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 20, 2021
2:00 PM

SINCE THE WEEKEND concluded, the games have kept rolling on in Europe and American players have featured in La Liga, Serie A, and the Champions League. Some players did well, some struggled, but it was an interesting couple of days to learn about where certain players stand in their form.

Here is a an analysis of the games.


Busio continues to impress


Gianluca Busio, 19, continued to impress with his recent run of form with Venezia. On Monday against Fiorentina, the Sporting Kansas City midfielder made the difference in the game when his long ball set up the Thomas Henry who then played it to Mattia Aramu for the game’s only goal. Busio’s pass, however, was the moment Venezia got behind the defense.


With the win, Venezia moved into 15th place and three points clear of the relegation zone. It will be a close call for them to avoid relegation, but the team is competing well right now. It is a far cry from where they were in the first few games of the season.

Busio has been a big part of the club’s improvement. He has adjusted remarkably well into Serie A. He still needs to be more of a ball-winner in the midfield but his passing is having the same effect it did with Sporting Kansas City. He can break games open, switch the point of attack, and force the opponents to chase the game.

The recent exports out of MLS continue to do well.


Miazga impresses in loss


For Matt Miazga, this current season is decidedly mixed. On one hand, he’s playing very well in La Liga with Deportivo Alaves and he is anchoring a defense that has been tough to break down recently. On the other hand, Alaves can’t score and sit in 19th out of 20 teams.

On Monday, Miazga and Alaves held Real Betis to a 0-0 draw through 88 minutes but conceded a late goal (Miazga was not at fault. He was the closest defender to the ball, but a teammate had lost his man defensively) and Real Betis earned a 1-0 win.

Overall, Miazga played very well in this one but a relegation battle lies ahead for him.

It is frustrating for Miazga because at his age (26) it isn’t about development or an “experience” anymore. It is about winning and achieving results. He’s paid well while being on a constant stream of different loans from Chelsea. He hasn’t played consistently for a club he can call his own since the New York Red Bulls. Each of his loans have been mid to lower part of tables and aside from the Dutch Cup run with Vitesse, he’s never really had the experience of winning in Europe.

This season, however, Miazga is off to his best start in Europe. Perhaps that will finally bring about an opportunity for a non-relegation threatened club to buy him outright.


Adams’ rough moment vs. PSG


Tyler Adams started for Leipzig on Tuesday in a difficult Champions League matchup away at Paris St. Germain.

Adams was playing well all the way into the second half when Leipzig had a 2-1 lead. That came to an abrupt halt in the 67th minute when the U.S. international was caught in a tight space and a backpass was intercepted by Kylian Mbappé who then fed Lionel Messi for an equalizer.

From there, things unraveled for Leipzig which coughed up a winner for PSG on a penalty and then conceded another penalty which was missed. 


This has been a frustrating first few months of the season for Jesse Marsch and Leipzig which is still without a point in the Champions League having lost to Manchester City, Club Brugge, and now PSG. It also currently sits in eighth in the Bundesliga.

For Adams and Marsch, a big priority needs to be getting into the top four of the Bundesliga to return to the Champions League next season. Marsch needs to get the most out of his team (which is still playing very hard for him) and Adams needs to be part of the solution. They are both very possible.

In this game, Leipzig was playing well but it was undone by mistakes and a PSG team that simply had another gear by virtue of being one of the most talented teams in the world.


Aaronson bests Brooks


Two United States national team regulars met up with each other on Wednesday when Red Bull Salzburg hosted Wolfsburg in Group G.

Both Americans went the distance in this game and it was Brenden Aaronson and Salzburg who walked away with all three points in a convincing 3-1 win.

With the win, Salzburg moved clear atop Group G with seven points from three games. The goal of reaching the knockout stage of the top club tournament is looking more and more like a reality.

Aaronson played very well in this one, even if he was not directly involved in any of the three Salzburg goals. He had 41 touches, four key passes, 3/5 with accurate crossing, 1 shot, 3 fouls draw, and 4/7 of his duels won.

The former Philadelphia Union midfielder is playing as if this is his last season in Salzburg and a bigger league and club await him sooner than later.

As for Brooks, he is not playing well but everyone is struggling at Wolfsburg the past month. The club has lost its last three Bundesliga games (one point from its last four) and has just two points from its first three Champions League games. The team started off the season well under new manager Mark van Bommel but the team took an abrupt nosedive after the September international window.

Brooks continues to struggle and was partially at fault for the third goal.

It is important for the U.S. team that Brooks improves in the weeks ahead or else it could be a touch decision for Gregg Berhalter in November regarding calling up Brooks.


Dest starts at RW in Barca win


Sergino Dest started for Barcelona on Wednesday when they hosted Dynamo Kyiv in a Group E matchup of the Champions League. Dest, 20, started at right win but moved to right back in the second half as Barcelona walked away with a narrow 1-0 win.

Dest put up good numbers – especially with his dribbling – but Barca will probably be disappointed overall that the score was close.  


On another note, Dest received a big complement from Dani Alves.



McKennie starts in Juventus win


Weston McKennie returned to the starting lineup for Juventus on Wednesday for the first time since the October international window. McKennie went the distance as Juventus posted a 1-0 away win over Zenit in Group H of the Champions League. Juventus has a perfect nine points from three games in Group H and is cruising to a spot in the knockout stages.

This one wasn’t so easy as Juventus needed an 86th minute winner from Dejan Kulusevski to secure the win.

For McKennie it was the tale of two halves. In the first half he struggled a bit with his touches and passing despite getting into decent positioning. In the second half, he was much more effective as Juventus was able to increase its pressure and eventually find the winner.


Pefok & Young Boys fall to Villarreal


Jordan Pefok started for BSC Young Boys in Group F of the Champions League. The U.S. national team forward was unable to help his team prevent a 4-1 loss at home to Villarreal. With the loss, Young Boys have fallen to last of the group with just three points from three games. The standings remain tight, however, as just three points separate Young Boys from leaders Manchester United which has six.

Pefok was invisible for long stretches in this one with just 16 touches over his 70 minutes. He was subbed out with Young Boys trailing 2-0. He finished with just two shots which were both off target.

Pefok is a player who can finish with decent service. It doesn’t need to be great service, but he needs to get the ball. He typically doesn’t create for himself. In a game like this against top opposition, Pefok is going to be isolated if his team struggles.


Weah subs in late for Lille


Tim Weah struggled over the weekend in a start for Lille as he wasn’t dangerous in a 1-0 loss to Clermont Foot in Ligue 1. With that said, it wasn’t surprising to see him on the bench for this Group G Champions League matchup against Sevilla as Jonathan David returned to the starting lineup.

With the score 0-0, Weah replaced David in the 82nd minute and provide a spark with a nice move right off the bat. In the end, however, it was too little, too late for Lille. Weah was only able to have four touches in his brief outing.

Lille simply didn’t get it done in this game. They had just three shots and mustered 43% possession while playing at home. Lille is a far cry from the Ligue 1 winning team last season. Still, advancing to the Champions League knockouts is within reach. Despite having just two points from three games, it trails second place Sevilla by just a point.


Pulisic’s status


Christian Pulisic hasn’t played since the U.S. team rallied to a 4-1 win over Honduras in World Cup qualifying. He was the only Chelsea player unavailable for Wednesday’s Champions League 4-0 win over Malmo in Group H.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spoke about Pulisic on Tuesday in a press conference. He did not give specifics over Pulisic’s diagnosis – only revealing that it was indeed an ankle injury. He went onto add that it is a matter of Pulisic still dealing with pain.

On an optimistic front, he said that the club believes Pulisic is close to returning to training. He was slated to return last week but the pain continued.


U.S. national team fans continue to wonder about the November window. No one has any answers, but it seems like it will be a very close call. If Pulisic does join the team, he might be limited to sub minutes.




Zack Steffen returned to the bench as Ederson was out of quarantine. He watched as Manchester City crushed Club Brugge 5-1 on the road in Group A of the Champions League. Man City sits in second place with six points from three games. One point behind PSG in Group A.

Both Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream started for Fulham on Wednesday in a Championship match against Cardiff City. The Cottagers posted a big 2-0 win to move into second place in England’s second tier. Both Americans played well with team captain Tim Ream doing his share to keep a clean sheet.


Duane Holmes impressed for Huddersfield over the weekend in a 2-0 win over Hull City where he scored a goalazzo. The Georgia-born Holmes returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday at home against Birmingham City. The game ended 0-0 but it was enough for Huddersfield to remain in sixth place and keep up its surprisingly strong start to the season.

Holmes worked hard in the draw, winning 9/17 duels, connecting two key passes, and going 3/5 in dribbles. Holmes has work to do to get back onto the U.S. national team radar, but he’s playing much better as of late.

In the Europa League on Tuesday, Celtic hosted Hungarian champs Ferencvaros and it pitted two Americans against each other. Cameron Carter-Vickers started for Celtic and Henry Wingo started for Ferencvaros. Celtic ended up winning easily 2-0.

Carter-Vickers has been improving lately for Celtic and he was very good in this one with 116 touches, 3/5 long balls, 6/7 duels won, 7 clearances, 0 fouls and 95/102 passing. It is similar to the strong game he had over the weekend in a 2-0 win over Motherwell. Wingo, on the other hand, struggled and coughed up a penalty (which was saved) on a poor tackle. Celtic also seemed to be targeting his side of the field.

After three rounds in Group G of the Europa League, both Celtic and Ferencvaros trail Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis – which each have six points. Celtic has just three while Ferencvaros are still searching for their first point.

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