Adams to face Bayern, Holmes riding red hot form, Reyna seeks encore, & much more
February 07, 2020
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY will be a fun time to watch games for American fans. Not only are there some intriguing matchups it will be interesting to track how players are performing with the March international window approaching that will see the U.S U-20, U-23, and full national teams all in action.
With all that on the line, here is what I will be watching, tracking, and following this weekend.
Bayern Munich – RB Leipzig
The Bundesliga: Sunday, Feb. 9. 12:00pm EST
By far the most high-profile game involving an American will take place on Sunday when the top two teams in the Bundesliga meet as leaders Bayern Munich host RB Leipzig. It wasn’t long ago when it appeared as if it would be RB Leipzig’s year to dethrone Bayern but the club has struggled to get results in recent rounds with a draw and a loss in its past two. Bayern, meanwhile, has won six in a row.
That has seen Bayern overtake Leizpig last weekend – and it now has a one-point lead.
Tyler Adams is now back for RB Leipzig and it is only natural that he is still rusty after missing most of 2019. This will be a massive test for him to see if he can help run the midfield against a powerful opponent.
Werder Bremen – Union Berlin
The Bundesliga: Saturday, Feb 8. 9:30am EST
Josh Sargent hasn’t played well in recent weeks and he is going through typical experiences that young players have at this stage of their career. But now the games are becoming more and more important – to a level that is different for Sargent. Werder Bremen has struggled and is firmly in a relegation battle. Can Sargent now raise his game and be part of the solution?
Swansea City – Derby County
The Championship: Saturday, Feb 8. 10:00am EST
Duane Holmes is one of the most in-form American players at the moment and is likely making himself impossible to leave off the upcoming U.S. national team rosters. He has two goals and two assists in his last five games across all competitions – including a goal against Lincoln City midweek in the FA Cup.
But sitting midtable, Derby visit a tough opponent in eighth place Swansea City. Derby is fun to watch these days with Holmes playing so well and Wayne Rooney hitting his stride. Now it is up to Holmes to continue striving to a return to the U.S. team.
VfB Stuttgart – FC Ergebirge Aue
The 2.Bundesliga: Saturday, Feb 8: 7:00am
American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo is off to a decent start with VfB Stuttgart. The New Jersey native has accumulated four points from his first two league games. Midweek his Stuttgart team was bounced from the German Cup after a tough 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen.
But it is all about promotion for Matarazzo and Stuttgart and the club sits in third – narrowly trailing Hamburg. Sixth-place Ergebirge Aue is a tough opponent and but a win will keep Stuttgart in the hunt.
Bayer Leverkusen – Borussia Dortmund
The Bundesliga: Saturday, Feb. 8: 12:30pm EST
By now, everyone knows what Gio Reyna did midweek in the German Cup. Despite Borussia Dortmund’s loss, Gio Reyna, 17, hit a goal for the ages for his first ever first-team goal. So how will he back it up?
What is even more exciting is the stage. Borussia Dortmund is currently in third and a win over Leverkusen will see it rise in the standings into second – due to the first two team playing each other. But fifth-place Leverkusen is a tough opponent.
It will now be interesting to see how much more responsibility he assumes. Dortmund will take it slow and steady due to Reyna’s youth, but he is building a nice case and his U.S. national team debut will likely come sooner than later.
FC Utrecht – Ajax Amsterdam
The Eredivisie: Sunday, Feb 9. 6:15am EST
United States national team right back Sergino Dest had one of the best games of his young career last weekend when Ajax defeated rivals PSV 1-0 to maintain its three-point lead atop the table. But a visit to seventh place Utrecht will also be a difficult test.
But Dest is starting to come into is own and raise his game. It has been a great season so far and on Friday De Telegraaf reported that Bayern Munich had a €20 million bid for Dest rejected by Ajax but that the Dutch club would probably settle for €26 million.
This offer and story raises the profile of Dest. Dest was a typical young start for Ajax – a club that has many. But how will the U.S. international now handle playing through the expectations that come with enormous transfer offers being issued by some of the world’s most prestigious teams.
Wigan Athletic – Preston North End
The Championship: Saturday, Feb 8. 7:30am EST
A little over a week ago, American left back Antonee Robinson was in Milan attempting to seal a transfer to AC Milan. But that fell through at the last minute and Robinson returned to Wigan – a club in the relegation zone of the Championship.
With the setback of that transfer collapse, Robinson did not play for Wigan last weekend and the club came away with a stunning upset 1-0 win over second place Leeds United away. Wigan is now two points away from clawing out of the relegation zone. But seventh place Preston North End will be a tough test.
The BBC reports that Robinson could be back for Wigan on Saturday for the first time since the Milan deal collapsed. It will be interesting to see how he responds – and perhaps works his way back towards returning to either the U.S. national team or the U.S. U-23 team.
Blackburn – Fulham
The Championship: Saturday, Feb. 8: 10:00am EST
Tim Ream returns from suspension and there is a chance that with a win, and a Leeds United loss to Nottingham Forest, that Fulham could sneak into the top two in the league and be on the automatic promotional positions.
The St. Louis native has been an excellent player in the Championship and his presence should boost the London club. Blackburn, however, is in 10th place and is six points out of sixth place – for a spot in the playoffs.
Wolfsburg – Fortuna Dusseldorf
The Bundesliga: Saturday, Feb 8. 9:30am EST
This game is going to be interesting to American fans based on who doesn’t play. In theory, three Americans could take part. But John Brooks has been benched at Wolfsburg and Fortuna goalkeeper Zack Steffen continues a slow rehab from tendinitis in his knee. Brooks is likely to be on the bench on Saturday and Steffen is listed as doubtful. That leaves Alfredo Morales as the only American to likely start in this game.
But it’s a huge game for Fortuna as it is in the relegation zone but could sneak out with a win and either a Mainz or a Werder Bremen loss.
Morales is playing well, despite the poor form of Fortuna. Last week he played well in the 1-1 draw against Eintracht and assisted midweek in a 5-2 away win over Kaiserslautern in the German Cup. His likely in a good position to play with the U.S. team in March with Michael Bradley injured, Jackson Yueill with the U.S. U-23 team, and Wil Trapp’s role diminishing.
St. Truiden – Eupen
Belgian Pro League: Saturday, Feb 8. 2:00pm EST
Chris Durkin has quietly had a nice season. The defensive midfielder went to St. Truiden on loan for the season from DC United. While playing time wasn’t easy to come by when he first got to Belgium but he’s now a regular starter for the club.
St. Truiden is not at a high level as it sits in 10th place in Belgium, but it is a useful step for Durkin to begin his career. St. Truiden’s opponents on Saturday, Eupen, are in 13th place but have won two in a row. Durkin is a long-time veteran of the U.S. youth national teams and will try to build a case to be part of the U.S. U-23 next month for Olympic qualifying.
In other news this weekend, Weston McKennie is questionable for Schalke against Paderborn after picking up an ankle injury midweek in the German Cup.
Tyler Boyd will hope to get minutes for Besiktas, most likely off the bench, when it hosts Gaziantep FK.
Bofo Saucedo has played well in Mexico for Pumas since moving in December. He will likely get the start on Saturday against San Luis.
Haji Wright will hope to finally get on the board for VVV Venlo when it visits Heerenveen on Saturday.
Similarly, opportunities have been few and far between for Sebastian Soto this season but the Hannover forward could get minutes on Sunday in the 2.Bundesliga when his team visits Greuther Furth – who will likely be without the injured Julian Green.
Andrija Novakovich and Frosinone visit Venezia on Saturday and the Wisconsin native and his club are firmly in the promotion hunt for a spot in Serie A as they currently sit in fifth place in Serie B.
In England’s League One, U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman is red hot for Southend United – who will visit Blackpool on Saturday.
Also in League One, Lynden Gooch was named Sunderland’s Player of the Month for January and his team will host Ipswich on Saturday.
In the Championship, Cameron Carter-Vickers might make his first start for last-place Luton Town when it hosts Cardiff City on Saturday.