Americans abroad analysis
Aaronson wins Austria, Pulisic scores winner in highly eventful weekend abroad
It was a wild weekend abroad with some big moments including Brenden Aaronson and Salzburg winning a title and Christian Pulisic scoring a late winner for Chelsea. On the other hand, there is a big update as 10 yanks find themselves in tough relegation battles. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down with thoughts and analysis
April 25, 2022
AFTER SEVERAL subpar weekends in a row for Americans abroad, last weekend was the worst couple of days in at least a year. Things in soccer change quickly and this weekend had a bunch of good news – most of it on Sunday after Saturday was lackluster.
While Gio Reyna, Chris Richards, Daryl Dike, Josh Sargent, Konrad de la Fuente, Ian Harkes, and Weston McKennie remain out injured – this weekend saw others return to action in big ways. The best example is Brenden Aaronson who scored and added to his silverware collection.
Overall, it wasn’t a homerun. The difference was the highpoints such as Pulisic scoring, Weah playing well, Aaronson converting a penalty in a title clincher, Jordan Pefok and Haji Wright continuing to score in the No. 9 role. But there still remained a lot of causes of concern. Sergino Dest was pulled at HT for a poor outing. Tyler Adams started but his Leipzig team collapsed. Julian Green was the first of what could be a number of Americans relegated. A number of younger players continued to play only infrequently.
Here is all you need to know for the weekend.
Aaronson's return, Salzburg nears return
Brenden Aaronson has been injured since right before the March international break with an MCL injury. On Sunday he returned to Red Bull Salzburg’s starting lineup against Austria Vienna. A win combined with a draw/loss by Sturm Graz would clinch a ninth straight Austrian Bundesliga crown for Salzburg.
Salzburg did its part with ease coasting to a 5-0 win. Brenden Aaronson started and played 64 minutes and was very good in his time on the field – playing as the No. 10. He scored the team’s fourth goal when he converted a 54th minute penalty after Luca Sucic drew the call.
10 minutes later, Aaronson would be subbed out with his team up 4-0. He had a very strong performance in this one.
- 64 minutes
- 30 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 penalty goal
- 3 key passes
- 15/18 passing
- 1/2 dribbles
- 1/4 ground duels won
Overall, there was a little rust – which was to be expected. But Aaronson clearly is an important player to this team.
Brenden is just like all of us...— FC Red Bull Salzburg EN ???? (@FCRBS_en) April 25, 2022
???? Original video credit, IG: dillondotcom pic.twitter.com/QyhZgnP2si
Later in the day, Sturm Graz conceded an 89th minute equalizer to fall to a 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna. That was enough to clinch the title for Salzburg.
Aaronson has already been in Salzburg for only 15 months, and he now has two Bundesliga titles and one Austrian Cup. He can add a second Austrian Cup to is collection May 1 against Reid. It will almost surely be his exit from Salzburg as he has clearly outgrown what Salzburg can offer him and his market value has never been higher. A move makes sense for all parties.
Brenden is just like all of us...— FC Red Bull Salzburg EN ???? (@FCRBS_en) April 25, 2022
???? Original video credit, IG: dillondotcom pic.twitter.com/QyhZgnP2si
Pulisic scores Chelsea’s winner
Christian Pulisic, 23, had one of his best moments of the season on Sunday when he scored a 90th minute winner for Chelsea in a 1-0 victory over West Ham in a London Derby. Pulisic entered the game in the 76th minute as an offensive sub as Thomas Tuchel was pushing for a win.
Pulisic was active in his time on the field. He created another chance and was 8/9 in passing with 11 touches. The goal was an important moment for him – it was his fifth goal of the Premier League season (he also eclipsed the 1000 minute barrier this game and sits at 1004 in the Premier League). That is not a bad ratio considering the infrequency he has played. He also has two goals in 368 minutes in the Champions League. That is seven goals and two assists over 1374 minutes.
You’ve seen it already, but just in case - Christian Pulisic scores the winner for Chelsea against West Ham pic.twitter.com/d6WlV5HroM— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 24, 2022
The highest Chelsea can finish is third, which is where they currently sit – and they look strong to stay there. The Blues have a five-point gap on fourth place Arsenal and a seven-point gap on fifth place Tottenham for the Champions League next season.
For Pulisic right now, it is about building up confidence and momentum on a personal level. His production numbers are fine, it is just about staying healthy for a long season. He has had just one season in his career where he’s played 2000 league minutes in a season (2000 minutes would be 58% of a Premier League season and about 65% of a Bundesliga season). Finishing the season well would be very important for him.
Weah starts in Lille win
Tim Weah earned the start for Lille on Sunday and went the distance in an impressive 1-0 win over Strasbourg.
What was most impressive about Weah in this game didn’t turn up in the stat sheet. He worked extremely hard on both sides of the ball, won duels, tracked back defensively, and that played a big part in helping get Lille the win.
- 90 minutes
- 46 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 key pass
- 1/1 dribbles
- 4/6 ground duels won
- 1/2 aerials won
- 13 recoveries
Then there is the winning goal in the 87th minute. The play started with a Weah cross that was unsuccessfully headed out of danger by a Strasbourg defender. It deflected to Mehmet Celik who finished from close range.
Weah still does not have a goal on the season, and that is unfortunate. But this was one of his more positive performances of the season.
Dest struggles in Barca start
Sergino Dest started for Barcelona against Rayo Vallecano but was pulled at halftime. He was partially at fault defensively for Vallecano’s opening goal in the sixth minute (you can see the video below). Dest was not sharp but Barcelona ended up losing 1-0. The entire offense underperformed and that was not on Dest.
Warra goal from Alvaro Garcia ????— Ehsan (@LosBlancoEhsan) April 24, 2022
After the game, there were reports that Dest did not follow the scouting report in defending Alvaro Garcia during the goal. But on Monday it was revealed that Dest had picked up another hamstring injury and would be sidelined as a result.
The topic of Dest’s future at Barcelona is a hot topic. It’s hard to see him at Barcelona next season – whether it is a loan or a full transfer.
Adams starts in Leipzig collapse
Tyler Adams for RB Leipzig on Saturday against Union Berlin. The good news for Adams is that he went a full 90. The bad news is that his Leipzig team conceded two late goals and saw a 1-0 lead quickly turn into a 2-1 defeat.
Adams wasn’t directly at fault for either goal although he, along with all of the other remaining starting Leipzig players, was out of gas towards the end of the game. On the first, he was in the vicinity of the cross but didn’t have much of a chance to prevent the cross (it seemed like he was covering for another player). The primary responsibility was on the defenders marking the in the box. The second was on the entire Leipzig team for getting beat on an attack right up the middle of the field.
Adams was generally solid in the No. 6 role. He had 58 touches and was 37/41 in passing. He was 5/9 in ground duels and was 3/3 in aerials. He was also 2/2 in tackles.
The issue with Adams is that when he’s at his best, he is an engine. He can command 80-100 touches in a game. He can frantically cover on defense. But if he’s not playing regularly, it’s tough for him to be in both the rhythm and fitness to be that engine. More than most players, he needs to be playing regularly.
Adams wasn’t as fault for either Union Berlin goal, but he also wasn’t at his best towards the end of the game either.
Musah misses penalty in Copa del Rey final
It was a big stage for Yunus Musah in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday against Real Betis. Musah started the game on the bench and watched as Betis scored in the 11th minute and Valencia equalized in the 30th.
Musah entered the game in the 100th minute with the game in extratime and even at 1-1. He played the final 20 minutes of extratime.
When the game advanced into penalties, every side made all of their kicks until Musah went fourth for Valencia. He skied his over the bar and he appeared to change directions last minute – perhaps this was when he realized Claudio Bravo guess right.
Either way, it was a tough moment for Musah. It turned out to be the only miss on penalties for either team. It essentially was the decisive moment that lost the game for Valencia.
Musah is still just a teenager and, like what Dest went through this weekend, this was a tough learning lesson.
Pefok and Wright score again
The two hottest American forwards in Europe continued their wave of scoring over the weekend.
First, Jordan Pefok scored two goals for BSC Young Boys in a 3-1 win over Servette. The brace now has him with the league-high 21 goals in the Swiss Super League. Both goals were his typical finishing close into the box.
Who called a Jordan Pefok goal today? Me. I did. 20 minutes ago.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 23, 2022
- His 20th Super League goal and 25th across all competitions pic.twitter.com/BP79espGh0
I called one Pefok goal today, but I didn’t call two. His 2nd of the day for Young Boys and 21st in the Swiss Super League pic.twitter.com/wm8HhwaMRJ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 23, 2022
Pefok has had a great season even if Young Boys will see their four-year run as Swiss Super League champion end. Pefok, of course, had a rough international window in March be he has done enough to remain in the mix – absent anyone else raising their game to take his spot.
He might not fit into the national team’s tactics – he doesn’t get many touches, he doesn’t really hold the ball up or help in possession, and he doesn’t create for himself or anyone else. He just scores when given service close to the goal. Even if he doesn’t start for the U.S. team, he seems look a good option off the bench when the U.S. team is chasing the game late and getting balls into the box.
On the club level, selling Pefok makes sense. His value in Switzerland will never be higher.
Meanwhile in Turkey’s Super Lig, Haji Wright scored again for Antalyaspor in a 1-1 draw with Kayserispor. The California native now has scored in four straight games and has six goals in six games.
What’s more impressive is that he’s scoring goals in far different ways. In Denmark last season, he was scoring with his athleticism. That was the case earlier this season in Turkey. But lately, he’s been far more effective taking on defenders 1v1 with the dribble and shotting from distance.
This rifle outside the box was huge.
Wright is going to be sold this summer because his contract is own by SonderjyskE in Denmark. Wright went on loan to Turkey and his relationship with SonderjyskE had fallen apart after he failed to report in preseason. On top of that, SonderjyskE is going to be relegated and need money. He has put himself into the mix to get some high bids.
As for the national team, he has probably put himself into the mix – not because of simply scoring, but because of the variety of goals he is scoring. If he was poaching, it would be either him or Pefok. Now he is showing that he can offer something different.
If he gets a call in June, that will probably be his only window to make a case given the lack of opportunities the team will have before the World Cup. He will have to prove in camp that he is better than the existing options.
Bassett makes the most of cameo
With Feyenoord deadlocked with Utrecht 1-1 in the 84th minute, Cole Bassett came into the game for Feyenoord to help tip the balance. In a way he did, as his past to Luis Sinisterra eventually resulted in a wonderful game-winning goal from the Colombian international.
Was it an assist? It depends on who you ask. His pass was pretty far removed from Sinisterra’s goal and Bassett didn’t have much to do with creating anything. But I have seen an assist given to passes like this too.
Cole Bassett assist. Passing to Luis Sinisterra is always a good idea. pic.twitter.com/OlP1Y3j0NL— Daniel (@DanielSmith1022) April 24, 2022
In his limited minutes, Bassett had 11 touches and was 8/9 in passing. Whether or not he is credited with an assist, he had a net positive on the game to help Feyenoord win. Bassett was brought into Feyenoord on an 18-month loan and next season was fully about measuring him with the top of the Eredivisie. This season was about him getting adjusted. No matter what, he helped his case for more minutes – even if it is longer-sub outings.
Races: Relegation, promotion, titles, and European spots
Like in any other season, it’s not simply about following Americans in Europe as part of a national team “stock watch,” it is also about them achieving meaningful results for their clubs in their own right.
There are four meaningful races in league play that affect players and teams: championships, European places, promotion, and relegation.
Here is a look at the American players involved in each.
Brenden Aaronson won his title race in the Austrian Bundesliga with Red Bull Salzburg over the weekend. He became the first American league champion in 2022.
Zack Steffen probably won’t play much, if at all, for Manchester City but he looks to earn another medal as the backup keeper. Over the weekend, Manchester City defeated Watford 5-1 to maintain a one-point lead on Liverpool for the title.
Cameron Carter-Vickers continues to start for Celtic. The English-born Carter-Vickers played all 90 minutes for Celtic in a 2-0 away win over Ross County to remain atop the Scottish Premiership table. CCV's passing was okay at 43/51 and 1/4 in long balls. But he had five clearances, was 4/4 in aerials, and 2/3 in ground duels. Celtic has a six-point lead atop the table with four games to go. Next week’s game against Rangers could all-but seal it.
Josh Cohen is the mainstay starting goalkeeper for Maccabi Haifa in Israel’s Premier League. On Saturday, his Haifa team dropped a 3-0 decision to Maccabi Netanya but still have a six point lead atop the table with five games remaining. Cohen was the player of the season in Israel’s Premier League last year.
Henry Wingo is injured at the moment for Ferencvaros but the club's 2-1 win over Ujpest on Saturday clinched the NB I title. Wingo has appeared in 20 of the team's 29 games.
CHAMPIONS ???????? pic.twitter.com/X2NLH4CCUR— Ferencvárosi TC (@Fradi_HU) April 24, 2022
Many Americans are pushing for spots in Europe next season and this weekend’s games played a role in those races.
Christian Pulisic scored the winner to keep Chelsea firmly in third place of the Premier League in strong spot for a Champions League spot.
James Sands played the final 22 minutes for Rangers in a 3-1 win over Motherwell (Joe Efford started and played 73 minutes for Motherwell). Baring a miracle, Rangers will finish second in Scotland and that will qualify them for a spot in the Champions League qualifiers.
Konrad de la Fuente is injured for the remainder of the Ligue q season and his minutes declined for Marseille as the season went on. But the club's 1-0 win over Reims this weekend put it in strong position for a second-place finish and a spot in the Champions League group stages.
Weston McKennie is hoping to return to the field for Juventus this season despite being injured since mid-March. His Juventus team played Bologna to a 1-1 draw on Sunday to remain five points clear of fifth place. A top four finish puts Juventus in the Champions League group stages again.
Christian Cappis and Brondby have lost the first four games of the Championship round of the Danish Superliga (and have lost five overall). With that, the club is now three points behind the league's final European spot - a berth in the Conference League qualifiers. On Monday, Cappis & Co. host Midtjylland.
Sam Vines played 90 minutes for Royal Antwerp on Friday in a 1-0 loss to Club Brugge in Belgium's Championship round. The team is even on points with Anderlecht for third place and a spot in the Conference League qualifiers.
Mark McKenzie started and played 90 minutes for Genk in a 1-0 away win over Gent. The win was aided by Gent being reduced to 10 players in the 35th minute. McKenzie was not forced to do much defending as Genk outshot Genk 18-3 while holding 64% possession. Genk is two points behind Gent for a Conference League playoff spot.
Richard Ledezma saw a rare appearance for PSV as he was used as a stoppage time sub to kill off time in a big 2-1 away win over Cambuur. That win kept PSV in seven points clear in second place (but four points behind Ajax). Second place would put PSV in the Champions League playoffs.
Cole Bassett and Feyenoord are in third place of the Eredivisie after the 2-1 win over Utrecht (with Bassett assisting on the winner). Third place would put it in the Conference League qualifiers.
Gio Reyna is injured for the remainder of the season but his Borussia Dortmund team will likely qualify for the Champions League despite a 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich on Sunday. BVB holds a 11 point lead on a Champions League spot and is eight points clear of third-place Bayer Leverkusen.
Despite the collapse on Saturday, Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig have a two point lead on Freiburg for fourth place and the final Bundesliga Champions League spot.
Chris Richards is also done for the season and his Hoffenheim hasn't won in five games and is four points back of a Europa league spot. Justin Che was an unused sub on Saturday in the 2-2 draw with Eintrach Frankfurt (who also saw Timothy Chandler go as an unused sub).
Sergino Dest and Barcelona will still likely qualify for the Champions LEague next year despite the loss to Rayo Vallecano. Barca sits far behind leaders Real Madrid but in second place, six points clear of a Champions League spot. Whether or not Dest is with the team next year is another question.
Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and Fulham have already secured promotion to the Premier League – but now they are attempting to win the Championship and sit nine points clear of AFC Bournemouth after Saturday's 1-1 draw between the two clubs. Ream went the distance and Robinson played the second half.
Ethan Horvath went as an unused sub for Nottingham Forest which is five points behind Bournemouth for an automatic promotional place but is 10 points clear of Millwall for a promotional playoff spot. Horvath seems likely to be glued to the bench for the playoffs unless something happens to Brice Samba.
Duane Holmes and Huddersfield are in third place in the Championship and are only two points out of automatic promotion. On the other hand, they have two more games than Bournemouth - the promotional playoffs are most likely. Duane Holmes started and played 89 strong minutes in a 2-1 win over Barnsley on Friday. Holmes has been in and out of the lineup lately but this builds his case to start in the playoffs.
Andrija Novakovich started and played 83 minutes for Frosinone in a 4-1 win over third-place Monza. That result kept Frosinone in eighth place and the final promotional playoff spot in Serie B.
Shaq Moore and Tenerife sit fourth in Spain's Segunda after Friday's 0-0 draw with Huesca. Moore was an 89th minute substitute in this. Tenerife are six points out of automatic promotion but are also six points clear of a promotional playoff spot with five games to go.
The number of top-flight relegation battles that American players face is unprecedented this year.
One American has been relegated and the coming weeks could see a number of more players follow. In total, 10 players and one coach are in serious jeopardy of getting dropped. This includes only first-team players.
Here is how those races shaped up this weekend.
This weekend saw the first casualty as Julian Green started for Greuther Furth in a 4-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. That law saw Furth seal relegation to the 2.Bundesliga next year. Furth never really looked serious in competing in the top-flight and it was a very tough season for Green on an individual level.
Josh Sargent has been injured for Norwich but his team dropped a 3-0 loss to Newcastle to remain last in the Premier League. Relegation should happen next weekend and it will be Sargent’s second straight season with a relegation after his Werder Bremen team fell out of the Bundesliga last year (funny enough is that Werder Bremen actually sit atop the 2.Bundesliga table with Sargent having scored for them in the beginning of the season). Sargent has two Premier League goals this year – both coming against Watford in January.
Gianluca Busio started for Venezia on Saturday in a 3-1 loss at home to Atalanta. Busio played 60 minutes while Tanner Tessmann didn’t get off the bench. The loss was the eighth straight for Venezia which is now last in Serie A, six points from survival. Venezia’s next game is away against Juventus. The second half of the season has been very hard on Busio.
Erik Palmer-Brown and Troyes havae a tough schedule ahead and last week's loss to fellow relegation battling Clermont Foot was tough. Over the weekend, Palmer-Brown started and played well but couldn't prevent a 1-0 loss to nice with the goal coming in stoppage time. Troyes sit just two points clear of the relegation playoff zone. It's final four games are against Lille, PSG, Lens, and Lorient. The first three a huge challenge. Survival will be close.
Matt Miazga mostly goes as an unused sub these days and his Deportivo Alaves team sits last in La Liga, six points from safety. Alaves was off this weekend.
Matthew Hoppe and Mallorca were also off this weekend. Hoppe has only played 128 minutes this season and Mallorca are just two points clear of relegation.
George Bello transferred right into a relegation battle. Bello started and played 90 minutes on Saturday for Arminia Bielefeld in a 3-1 loss away to Koln. It was a tough outing for Bello. Bielefeld is now two points deep in automatic relegation but behind Stuttgart by just two points for the relegation playoff spot. Arminia Bielefeld is winless in eight games with just one point in that span.
Pellegrino Matarazzo and his Stuttgart team suffered a brutal 2-0 loss to Hertha BSC to sink four points from automatic safety. The club still has a two-point cushion for the relegation playoff position but that will be tougher this year – probably against Darmstadt. It’s been tough for the American head coach this year but there is a path for survival.
In Denmark, Jose Gallegos and SonderjyskE are 11 points deep in the relegation zone in Denmark with five games to play following a 1-0 home loss to Vejle Boldklub. After scoring in the previous game, Gallegos started and played 60 minutes in this game but struggled to generate chances against a Vejle team that sits one place ahead of it (but five points clear) in the table.
Finally in Turkey, Tyler Boyd and his Rizespor team are 10 points deep in the relegation zone after an embarrassing 6-0 loss at home to Fenerbahce. Boyd started and was pulled at the half. Rizespor will likely be relegated next game with just four games remaining in the Super Lig season.
Notes from around the globe
In England, Jesse Marsch and Leeds United will look to take another step securing survival when Leeds United visit Crystal Palace.
In the third tier League One, Lynden Gooch started and picked up an assist for Sunderland in a 5-1 win over Cambridge United. Gooch played 90 minutes and his team is in fourth place - and looking at a return to the promotional playoffs (it only has a one-point cushion on the playoffs).
In Scotland, Livingston defeated Aberdeen on the road in the relegation half of the table – although neither team is in danger of getting dropped. Scott Pittman started and played well over 90 minutes in the win while Sebastian Soto came on in the 86th minute to kill time. Christian Ramirez played the final 20 minutes in the loss while Dante Polvara was an unused sub for Aberdeen.
In the Eredivisie, U.S. national team midfielder Luca de la Torre started for Heracles in a 1-0 away win over Groningen. Heracles had just 39% possession despite getting the win. You’re getting the sense these are the final four games de la Torre will play for Heracles.
In France's Ligue 1, Nicholas Gioacchini came off the bench in the 85th minute for Montpellier in a 5-2 loss to Lyon.
In Germany’s Bundesliga, John Brooks started for Wolfsburg in an easy 5-0 win over a Mainz team that was down to 10 players starting in the 23rd minute. Defensively, Brooks wasn’t tested but he had 129 touches and was 109/120 in passing while also going a perfect 6/6 in duels (three in the air, three on the ground). Kevin Paredes made his second appearance of the season for Wolfsburg when he came on in the 83rd minute. He had six touches and was 3/4 in passing.
Meanwhile, Augsburg looks set for survival following a 2-0 win over Bochum. Ricardo Pepi’s troubling season continued as he did not get off the bench while watching his teammates win.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Erzgebirge Aue drew Hansa Rostock 2-2 on Sunday. Ryan Malone started and played the full 90 for Hansa. Jan George played the final 30 for an Erzgebirge Aue team seven points deep in the relegation hole.
In the relegation half of the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi played well when he came on at the half for OB Odense which rallied to a 2-1 win over AGF Aarhus.
In Sweden's topflight Allsvenskan on Monday, Joe Corona and GIF Sundsvall visit Elsborg. Joe Gyau, Jeff Gal, and Degerfors visit Vaernamo
In Portugal, Reggie Cannon and Boavista host Spprting. On Saturday, Alex Mendez started and played 69 minutes for Vizela in a 2-1 win over FC Arouca.
In Austria's 2.liga, Uly Llanez started and played 60 minutes for St. Poelten in a 1-0 loss to Grazer AK.
In Serie B, Anthony Fontana was an unused sub for Ascolin in a 0-0 draw with Cittadella on Monday.
In Argentina, Alan Sonora started and played 89 minutes for Independiente in a 3-0 loss to Rosario Central. Meanwhile, 2015 U.S. U-20 midfielder Joel Sonora played the final 35 minutes for Velez Sarsfield in a 1-1 draw with Barracas Central.
In Brazil, Johnny Cardoso did not get off the bench for Internacional in a 1-0 away win over Fluminense.
In Ecuador, Michael Hoyos started and scored a 51st minute goal for second-place LDU Quito in a 3-2 win over Mushuc Runa.
Finally, in the Canadian Premier League, California-born Osaze De Rosario scored his second terrific goal in as many weeks for York United. This time in a 2-0 win over Calvary.
In the Canadian Premier League, Osaze De Rosario, 20, scored a goalazo for the 2nd straight week. This DeRo (confirmed born in California) was playing in the Ukrainian Premier league, left days before the invasion - now in Canada where his dad is a legend pic.twitter.com/ILJrHfk6DC— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 23, 2022