Americans abroad analysis
Aaronson, Miazga, & Yedlin lead the weekend for Yanks in season's home stretch
May 10, 2021
THE EUROPEAN SEASON is winding down with some leagues setting up for an exciting finish, in others the results are mostly a foregone conclusion. There wasn’t any significant silverware won by American players but this past weekend set the table for a few Americans to be part of league champions.
While most of the country was celebrating Mother’s Day, here is a recap (as well as some thoughts and analysis) of the other big stories that took place over the weekend for Americans abroad.
Aaronson's big day for Salzburg
Without question the American player who had the best day was Brenden Aaronson who was the MOTM for Red Bull Salzburg in a 3-1 away win over Sturm Graz. The New Jersey native scored two goals for Salzburg which is now nine points atop the table with three rounds remaining. A draw vs. Rapid Vienna on Wednesday will secure the Bundesliga.
Brenden Aaronson earned the start and scored two of Salzburg’s goals. The first opened the scoring in the game.
The second broke a 1-1 stalemate.
Aaronson ended up playing 84 minutes in the win. It was a huge outing for Aaronson who now has five league goals to go along with two Austrian Cup goals since joining the club in February. His adjustment has been very smooth from Philadelphia and it is only a matter of time before he secures an Austrian Bundesliga championship. After winning the Supporters Shield in November and the Austrian Cup earlier this month, Aaronson has built up a lot of success early in his career.
Brenden Aaronson: Raw # for Salzburg in 3-1 win vs. Sturm Graz— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 9, 2021
3 key passes
2/5 duels won
- MOTM from the #USMNT mid
- Salzburg can clinch title next weekend vs. Rapid
Following the game, there is naturally a lot of speculation about whether or not Aaronson will follow Jesse Marsch to Leipzig. It’s certainly possible although the most likely scenario is that Aaronson at least begins the season with Salzburg under its new management. Sticking in Austria, he will get to play in the Champions League group stages.
Moving to another club less than four months after arriving is rare, even for a selling club like Salzburg. Erling Haaland was at Salzburg for a season and a half. Dominik Szoboszlai played over two full seasons for Salzburg as well.
Aaronson is playing very well but remaining at Salzburg for at least the start of next season will allow him to thrive and make his Champions League debut – where he will be a starter for the team. Right now he is scoring against the top half of the league in the Championship standings, but his statistics will be impressive in an whole season against the entire league – which is pretty weak.
He will eventually move on, sooner than later, but he likely remains with Salzburg to start next season.
McKennie & Juve’s bad loss
On Sunday, Weston McKennie earned the start for Juventus at home against AC Milan and it was a horrible outing for Juventus as a team, and McKennie struggled. Preventing a three goal loss was the most important thing for Juventus. A narrow loss would allow it to overtake AC Milan on Serie A’s head-to-head goal differential tiebreaker.
In the end, Juventus was not able to do that and suffered a massive setback in a 3-0 home loss to Milan. McKennie struggled to contain Theo Hernandez in this game and it raises the question of whether or not McKennie is still dealing with a hip injury that saw him miss time last month.
Mckennie, at this point, needs the season to end and he needs to rest.
With the loss, Juventus fell to fifth place – one point behind Napoli - and is now outside of the Champions League positions with three games to play.
Miazga's salvages Anderlecht draw
On Saturday, Anderlecht took on Royal Antwerp in the Championship round of the Belgian Pro League. The game appeared to be heading for a big disappointing loss for Anderlecht, trailing 2-1 at home in stoppage time. Fortunately for Vincent Kompany’s club, Matt Miazga drew the club level with the final play of the game, deep into stoppage time.
Miazga had a strong game and was at fault for neither of the Antwerp goals. His goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time was an absolutely clinical header that was delivered with remarkable power and accuracy.
Miazga’s numbers in this game were outstanding across the board – from his long-ball accuracy to his aerials.
- 90 minutes
- 72 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 goal
- 60/66 passing (91%)
- 5/5 accurate long balls
- 5/10 duels
- 4/7 aerials won
- 2 clearances
- 2 fouls
- 1/1 tackles
- 1 interception
This was a disappointing result for Anderlecht in its quest to finish second and sneak into Champions League qualifying but individually, Miazga is playing really well.
Pulisic & Chelsea down Man City
In a preview of the Champions League final in a few weeks, Manchester City hosted Chelsea on Saturday with a chance to formally clinch the Premier League title. Instead, however, it was Chelsea that came away with a big 2-1. Manchester City will win the title but its clinching performance was put on hold for at least another round.
Christian Pulisic, 22, started and played the entire game for Chelsea. The Hershey native was quite solid in this game despite not playing a part in any of the goals. Passing wise, he was extremely accurate and that helped Chelsea to apply pressure on Manchester City throughout the game.
- 90 minutes
- 58 touches
- 1 shot
- 0 key passes
- 40/42 passing
- 1/1 long balls
- 6/12 duels won
- 2/4 dribbles
- 3x fouled
- 1/1 aerials won
With the win Chelsea now has a six point cushion on a Champions League spot with just three games remaining.
“It will not change too much no matter what the result but surely it’s not a disadvantage for us to have this experience to have the possibility to beat them twice,” said Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. “We know very well that if you play a final, it’s very special and you fight for every advantage. But it gives us the true belief that we can do it as we’ve already done it."
It’s an open question whether or not Pulisic will start in the Champions League final but having this experience, in this win, is a good sign.
Dest and Barcelona draw Atletico
It was one of the most important games in Europe this weekend when Barcelona hosted La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid. Sergino Dest played in the wingback position and had a good, but not great game.
His passing was sharp, he combined well on a few occasions but didn’t really generate too much.
- 75 minutes
- 60 touches
- 0 shots
- 0 key passes
- 32/35 passing
- 3 crosses
- 2/4 dribbles
- 1x fouled
- 1 interception
The 0-0 final result was disappointing – although helped greatly by Real Madrid’s draw vs. Sevilla on Sunday. Barcelona sits in third and even on points with second place Real Madrid. Atletico remains in the lead, two points ahead. Each team has three games remaining.
It’s been a very good season for Dest but these upcoming three games are critical.
Bundesliga round up
After this past weekend, the Bundesliga season now has two more rounds left and this past weekend made things a lot clearer across the table.
For Gio Reyna, his club, Borussia Dortmund, is on absolute fire. On Saturday it defeated second place RB Leipzig 3-2 (with Tyler Adams missing due to a back injury). Reyna played 83 minutes and was relatively quiet in this game. The win, however, was enormous and the club has surged into fourth place, the final Champions League spot. A month ago, this would have been completely unexpected. Now it is looking as if Reyna and his team will return to Europe’s top competition next season, once again.
Wolfsburg hasn't been playing particularly well lately but came up with an important 3-0 win over Union Berlin that puts them in the drivers' seat for a Champions League spot next season. Due to its massive goal differential edge, one win in the final two games should do it. Next week it visits Leipzig and then completes the season against Mainz.
Josip Brekalo led the way with a hat trick in this game but John Brooks was also important in the backline. He had 86 touches, won 4/7 duels, had six clearances, and completed 67/76 passes.
Meanwhile, Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen are in a definite relegation battle now for the second straight season. Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen was lucky for Werder – which had just 38% of the possession. Still, Werder managed to hold on and the point earned is the only thing keeping it out of the relegation zone.
Sargent played well over 84 minutes in his role as more of a playmaker. He completed 15/16 passes and had one shot along with one key pass. He won 6/10 of his duels and all three of his aerials. Still, for Werder to survive, he is going to have to play even better. The next game against Augsburg is going to likely determine survival. It’s out of the relegation playoff position on goal differential and out of full relegation by just two points.
Finally, Matthew Hoppe made a late cameo on Saturday for Schalke in a 4-2 loss to Hoffenheim (with Chris Richards still out injured). Schalke is one of the worst Bundesliga teams in over a generation and it now has a -60 goal differential.
Reynolds starts at left back
Bryan Reynolds earned the start for Roma on Sunday against an awful Crotone team but was playing in a different position – at left back.
AS Roma won the game 5-0 and Reynolds played about an hour. Crotone is not a fair measuring stick in Serie A as it sits in dead last, 16 points from safety – but Reynolds had his best game so far since joining from FC Dallas in January.
- 59 minutes
- 55 touches
- 31/34 passing
- 2/2 accurate long balls
- 5/9 duels won
- 2/2 dribbles
- 1/2 tackle
What is interesting about his performance at left back is that he didn’t play in a way that would have him cut into the field. His touch map reflects that he was dedicated to the left side of the field – and still completed a huge percentage of his passes.
If Reynolds finds himself in a position where he has to go on loan under next year’s manager Jose Mourinho, this game should give him confidence and build up his resume to find suitors.
Yedlin returns in big win
Last month, DeAndre Yedlin appeared to suffer a bad ankle injury for Galatasary. Fortunately for the Seattle native, it wasn’t as bad as it appeared. On Saturday, he returned to the club’s starting lineup in a huge matchup against league-leaders, Besiktas.
The big Istanbul derbies are always massively intense. In the end, Galatasary prevailed 3-1 and that completely opened up the title race in Turkey. With just two rounds remaining: Besiktas 81 points, Fenerbahce 79 points, Galatasaray 78 points
- 90 minutes
- 45 touches
- 0 shots
- 1 key pass
- 15/25 passing
- 1/2 crosses
- 6/13 duels won
- 1x fouled
- 4 fouls
- 1/3 tackles
- 2/3 aerials won
- 1 interception
Yedlin has made a very successful transfer in heading to Galatasary and he is now chasing silverware and in a much better position with the national team. If Sergino Dest is the starter for the team at right back, Yedlin’s resume looks very strong compared with Reggie Cannon, Bryan Reynolds, or any other right back. If Dest moves the left side, Yedlin could very well be the starter for the national team, once again.
Other Stories Around Europe
Tim Weah and Lille are inching closer to the Ligue 1 title. On Friday, Weah played the final 23 minutes for Lille in a huge 3-0 win over Lens. With second-place Paris St. Germain drawing on Sunday, Lille has a three point lead with two games remaining.
Tim Weah: Raw # for Lille in 3-0 win over Lens— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 7, 2021
0 key passes
2/4 duels won
- quiet day for Weah
- HUGE win for Lille. Inching towards the Ligue 1 title
Reggie Cannon and Boavista drew Tondela 1-1 on Friday. Boavista outshot Tondela 22-7 but still needed a late goal from former Houston Dynamo Alberth Elis to salvage a draw and he now has eight goals since joining the club in January. Cannon played 81 minutes in the draw. Unfortunately for Boavista, it has fallen into the relegation playoff position in Portugal.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Julian Green played 67 minutes for Greuther Furth in a 2-2 draw with Karlsruher. That's a tough result for Furth and sets them back in their push for automatic promotion. Furth is still in second and only one point ahead of Holstein Kiel – which has played two fewer games. Most likely Green and Furth will have to hope for promotion in the playoff.
In the relegation playoff half of the Austrian Bundesliga, Andrew Wooten had an assist for FC Admira Modling in a 2-0 win over Taylor Booth and St. Poelten. With the win, FC Admira Modling is now five points clear of last-place St. Poelten – which appears headed for relegation.
Also in the relegation playoff half, Altach defeated Austria Vienna 2-1 with Erik Palmer-Brown starting in the loss.
In Belgium’s Championship half, Genk came away with a huge 3-0 win over leaders Club Brugge. Mark McKenzie was subbed into the game in the 89th minute for Genk while Ethan Horvath was an unused sub in the loss.
Finally, one American who is likely on the move this summer is Nicholas Gioacchini who hasn’t had an easy time at SM Caen since new manager Fabrice Vandeputte took over in late March. The club has tumbled into the relegation zone of Ligue 2 with just one win over its last 18 games. Gioacchini has been left off the matchday roster the last three games as part of a managerial choice – and choices which are simply not working either. There is just one game remaining in the season and it looks like Caen will not survive. Gioacchini will likely soon move on to something better.