Americans abroad analysis
Americans abroad: Pulisic & McKennie notch big assists in an uneven weekend in Europe
October 03, 2022
FOR MOST OF LAST week, there was a lot of media offering up their thoughts on why the U.S. national team underperformed in the September window. It was the dominant topic in American soccer as the World Cup is fast approaching and this was the final slate of games before the start of the tournament.
I agreed with some of the takes, and I disagreed with others, but the biggest issue by far is the form of the key players at their club level. With the 2022 World Cup taking place in the middle of the season, the is no month-long camp or pre-tournament friendlies. Unlike any other previous World Cup, this is all about the form of players in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.
What we saw in the underperforming in September was the result of poor form, injuries, or just the rust among too many of top U.S. players. Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah, and Yunus Musah were hurt. Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest have been playing inconsistent minutes for their clubs. Weston McKennie, like every other Juventus player, has been struggling. Only Tyler Adams has been playing well among the team’s core group.
The U.S. team needs this group to be playing well to have a chance at success. The arguments on roster spots 8-26 (whoever that might be) really don’t matter all that much unless 1-7 are in good shape.
For the coming weeks we’ll start off with an opening section looking at the core group because this will be the leading indicator, the bellwether, or the canary bird about the U.S. team’s chances this fall in Qatar.
The USMNT core
Christian Pulisic was the highlight for American players this weekend as he came into the game in the 84th minute and delivered the game-winning assist on Conor Gallagher’s outstanding goal. It gave Chelsea a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace (with Chris Richards still out injured) It was a big statement from Pulsic to new manager Graham Potter that he can help the team.
Pulassist pic.twitter.com/haespMI5Y4— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
Everything with Pulisic right now is wait and see. This assist was important, but he still only played six minutes plus stoppage time. We do not know if this means more minutes from Potter but it does help his cause. Pulisic needs to get a mixture of starts and longer sub appearances over the next 5-6 weeks to head to Qatar with momentum.
McKennie assists in Juve win
Weston McKennie started, played 60 minutes, and had an assist for Juventus in a 3-0 win over Bologna. Entering into this game, Juventus was struggling and almost every player on the team was in a poor run of form. McKennie is certainly among that list and his struggles with the U.S. team over the September window reflected that.
On Sunday, he got the start against Bologna and was playing well. For the first 58 minutes he wasn’t great, but he was doing well. Then in his final minute on the field, he delivered an outstanding assist to Dušan Vlahovi? to double the lead for Juventus at 2-0. Minutes after he left, Juventus made it 3-0.
It is too early to say if McKennie is on a good run of form. Bologna has been very poor to start this season with six points from eight games. But sometimes it doesn’t take much for form to change. McKennie is absolutely critical to the U.S. team having success in Qatar. He needs to deliver quality balls like this assist and he can’t have the turnovers he had.
Only time will tell if this a step towards a positive trend, but this was a positive step.
Adams & Aaronson start in draw
Leeds United and Aston Villa played to a 0-0 draw on Sunday at Elland Road. The game was made a lot harder for Leeds when Luis Sinisterra picked up his second yellow card on a careless play in the 48th minute. Leeds had to fight the entire second half to escape with a draw.
Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson both started. Adams played the full 90 while Aaronson played 79 minutes. It was a tough game for both players. Aaronson did not get on the ball nearly enough with just 31 touches and 12 completed passes. Tyler Adams helped in the end when Leeds was chasing the game while down a man but wasn’t proactive enough when the teams were 11v11.
???? ????????????????????: “Our fans don’t come here to watch a snail’s pace match” pic.twitter.com/Pibjr39TiI— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 2, 2022
Jesse Marsch stressed afterward that he wants his team pressing forward more and that the style is not nearly proactive enough. He’s right but it’s more that “bravery.” These players will make the proactive plays if they’re open, but Leeds is not dynamic with their movement. It’s something that is going to take a bit of work.
Dest on the field for comeback
Sergino Dest was subbed into Milan’s game at Empoli in the 72nd minute with the game scoreless. He was on the field for all of the four goals of Milan’s 3-1 win. Three of the goals were scored in stoppage time of a wild finale.
Dest’s most notable moment came on the final Milan goal with Empoli pushing for an equalizer. He got into the box and lobbed a clearance that eventually started a counterattack which Milan finished for a 3-1 lead. When Dest is sometimes criticized for his defense, it was positive for his most notable moment to come on a defensive play.
Here is the play.
90+2: Empoli 1-1 Milan— CBS Sports Golazo ?? (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 1, 2022
90+4: Empoli 1-2 Milan
90+6: Empoli 1-3 Milan
RAFAEL LEÂO ADDS THE THIRD IN STYLE! ???? pic.twitter.com/oTEw4IyuRe
Dest is at a point where he has not played much but it seems like more minutes should be coming soon. While he struggled in the last game before the break, Stefano Pioli is a good manager for Dest who should have him in a good spot within the team over the course of this season.
EDIT: The prognosis for Dest's playing time heading into the World Cup have increased substantially with Davide Calabria's injury. It's up to Dest to make the most of this.
Musah, Reyna, Weah, & Robinson
The rest of the core did not play this weekend. Borussia Dortmund manager Edin Terzi? announced that Gio Reyna was out 7-10 days when he returned from the international window. Dortmund fell to Cologne 3-2 on Saturday and no doubt miss the U.S. international while still taking a cautious approach.
Antonee Robinson was listed as doubtful midweek for Fulham, and it was not surprising when he was not in the lineup for its home match against Newcastle United. The game was a nightmare for Fulham as Nathaniel Chalobah was sent off in the 8th minute and that allowed Newcastle to bulldoze Fulham’s backline including Tim Ream. Former Atlanta United great Miguel Almiron had two goals en route to a 4-1 win for Newcastle. Layvin Kurzawa played poorly at left back and didn’t make a case for himself to take the starting job from Robinson
In what was a pleasant surprise, Tim Weah returned to the matchday lineup for OSC Lille at Lorient but he went as an unused substitute as Lorient found a late winner for a 2-1 victory. It was a very welcome sign to see Weah at least back making the squad. It will be interesting to see his form when he does return.
As expected, Yunus Musah was not in the lineup for Valencia in a 2-2 away draw with Espanyol. More data should be made available midweek on his condition.
Core player summary
What we saw this weekend still is not good enough to where it has to be for the World Cup, but there were clear signs of the potential for an upward trend. Pulisic, McKennie, and Dest all had positive moments.
Pulisic’s assist was good, but he needs more than late sub minutes. Dest also needs to be playing more, despite his sub appearance this weekend being more positive. While Robinson, Weah, and Reyna did not play, the impression is that each of their clubs very much is looking forward to having them back at 100%.
The bigger concern, however, is Adams and Aaronson who did play. Along with the rest of Leeds, they need to be more dynamic offensively.
We will know more in the weeks ahead about the direction of the core.
Rough weekend in the Bundesliga
Jordan Pefok is among the most talked about American players as he was controversially left off the U.S. roster for the September games and the U.S. team didn’t do itself any favors by not scoring a single goal in either of the friendlies.
On Saturday, Union Berlin dropped a 2-0 decision away to Eintracht Frankfurt. Pefok played the full 90 and had his worst game of the season. His hold-up play was decent at times, but Pefok was routinely beaten in the air (an in his ground duels as well) and his three shots (all headers) failed to hit the target.
This won’t quell the debate over his status on the U.S. team as he has still had a great start to the season, but if he can continue to put up numbers then it will continue to pressure Gregg Berhalter.
Meanwhile, Timothy Chandler did not get off the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt.
Scally & M’Gladbach routed
It was a terrible weekend for Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach who were demolished by Werder Bremen 5-1.
Scally, 19, had a good showing last week for the U.S. team in a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia but in this game, he had a tough time on both sides of the ball. His worst moment came in the 13th minute when he was beaten by Niclas Füllkrug’s goal which gave Werder Bremen a 3-0 lead.
In terms of Scally, this was his only poor outing of the season. His most impressive strength has been his consistency which has been on the level of a prime-age veteran. With that said, this game seems more of an anomaly compared with his career so far. We will see if this makes Daniel Farke contemplate a change at right back, but Scally will eventually recover.
Paredes subs into win
After a successful week with the U.S. U-20 team where he capped off a MOTM performance in a 2-0 win over Paraguay, Kevin Paredes was on the bench for Wolfsburg when it hosted a VfB Stuttgart team managed by New Jersey’s own Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Paredes, 19, subbed into the game in the 76th minute with the score 2-2 and won a header in the build-up to Wolfsburg’s stoppage time winner.
It wasn’t anything that is going to earn him headlines but it was yet another sub appearance that likely impressed the staff and has earned him positive grades upon video review. People forget how young he is, but he showed a lot with DC United in 2021 and is still on a very good path for Wolfsburg.
His first start seems like it is not too far away and the U-20 World Cup next May could be an exciting time for him to really breakout internationally.
Eredivisie: Pepi is the lone standout
Pepi scores again
Ricardo Pepi, 19, scored his second goal for Groningen and has impressed since joining the club. He now has two goals and an assist in his last three games. On Saturday against AZ Alkmaar, he had his most impressive moment when he scored a “Route 1” goal that was sheer determination. The 42nd minute goal cut AZ’s lead to 2-1.
Pepi… channeling his inner 1980’s English 2nd tier Route 1 forward here— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
The good news did not last long as AZ eventually rebounded and scored again in the 62nd. Pepi left the game in the 81st and then AZ scored in the 85th for a 4-1 lead, which is how it ended.
For Pepi, he earned positive reviews from the local media for his performance. It easy to see why. The gap in talent between AZ and Groningen is very wide but Pepi was the only one Groningen player to give his team a pulse. His hold-up play was pretty good and he completed 17/20 of his passes.
After a poor outing against Saudi Arabia, Pepi needs to build up his case with a long run of good games at Groningen to get to Qatar. If Berhalter goes with Pefok, it will likely come at the expense of Pepi so his current run is important. It would speak to the case that his struggles against Saudi Arabia is because of poor service as opposed to him being in poor form.
After Pepi, the rest of the Americans had a tough run in the Eredivisie.
Richard Ledezma was on the bench for PSV when they visited a Cambuur team in the relegation zone. With Cambuur holding a very surprising 1-0 lead in the 80th minute, Ledezma came into the game to replace Ibrahim Sangaré. Cambuur scored again two minutes later for a 2-0 lead and then again in stoppage time for 3-0 lead.
Ledezma wasn’t a major problem, but the fact Cambuur scored twice with him on the field isn’t good for his case to play more minutes in the coming weeks. This was a terrible loss for PSV to one of the league’s weakest teams.
Cole Bassett entered the game in the 81st minute for Fortuna Sittard when it led FC Volendam 2-0. The American was on the field to see out the victory without a chance in scoring. It was an uneventful outing as Bassett only had four touches and Volendam was unable to muster any thread since it had been reduced to 10 players since the 39th minute. It continues to be a tough situation for Bassett as he has been unable to play meaningful minutes and the team has been improving after its recent managerial change.
The biggest concern is for Taylor Booth who wasn’t even in the matchday squad for FC Utrecht in its 1-0 away win over Excelsior. Since the club brought back Jens Toornstra at the end of the window, Booth has been fading within the club. If he continues to not play, the prospect of a loan could be floated. He remains eligible for the U-23 Olympic team but needs to be playing.
Palmer-Brown starts in Troyes draw
Troyes played Stade de Reims to a 2-2 draw and Erik Palmer-Brown played a full 90 minutes on the left side of Troyes’ three-man backline. He picked up a yellow at the end of stoppage time just before the final whistle.
Palmer-Brown, 25, was steady and was at fault for neither goal. His passing remains a strength as he was 5/8 in his long range passing and was 60/68 overall. He was perfect in his duels at 3/3 in aerials and 2/2 on the ground.
It seems as if it will be tough for him to make the U.S. team. He has not been given much of a chance within the group and others are ahead of him (McKenzie, Carter-Vikcers, Richards, Zimmerman, Long). He is playing at a high level and probably will be a key factor in the team next cycle. He is going to rack up a lot of minutes this year in Ligue 1 and that will be good for his resume.
On another note, Folarin Balogun scored the opening goal for Reims and it was his sixth of the season – behind only Mbappe and Neymar. He dream of playing for England seems very realistic and a switch to the U.S. team doesn’t seem likely, at least anytime soon.
De la Torres subs into win
Luca de la Torre subbed into Celta Vigo’s 1-0 win over Real Betis in the 70th minute for his longest outing yet in La Liga. He did his job in helping to see out the 1-0 win. It was a relatively easier assignment for de la Torre as Real Betis was reduced to 10 players in the 20th minute. He had two nice passes to play the ball into the attacking third.
The issue with de la Torre has always been his physicality and that is why he never latched on at Fulham and it was also tough for him down the stretch last year in the Eredivisie. The test will come when he is given a run for Celta Vigo in an intense and even game.
Good weekend in Belgium
McKenzie and Genk win
Mark McKenzie continues to be a player on the rise in Belgium after Genk cleared the way for him to start after selling central defender Jhon Lucumi to Bologna. McKenzie has stepped into the starting lineup and has been part of the club’s remarkable run the past two months to now sit in second place.
Following Saturday’s 2-1 away win over Oostende, Genk now has eight wins and a draw over its last nine games. McKenzie was once again very solid as he is on the ball a lot and takes advantage of his time to play important balls into the midfield or directly into the attack.
Mark McKenzie: raw # for Genk in 2-1 away win over Oostende— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
- 90 mins
- 88 touches
- 68/74 passing
- 9 passes into final 1/3
- 10/14 long balls
- 2/3 tackles
- 2 blocked shots
- 2 interceptions
- 4/7 ground duels
- 4/5 aerials duals#USMNT
McKenzie remains on the bubble for the World Cup team but needs to beat out either Chris Richards or Cameron Carter-Vickers. But he is playing more than Richards and is taking his chances well in Belgium. While he wasn’t great during the September window, he still is in the running.
Reynolds features in Westerlo win
Bryan Reynolds, 21, had a nice day on Saturday for Westerlo in a 2-0 win over Zlute Waregem in Belgium’s top division. While it was against a poor opponent as Zlute Waregem is in last place, Reynolds has been increasing his stock in recent weeks.
Part of his rise requires people to still be aware that he is still very new to the right back position. He only played it for a few months before getting sold to Roma and when he was in Italy, Jose Mourinho showed little patience for giving him the minutes to develop at right back. Last season’s loan to Kortijk wasn’t a great fit to a struggling team.
Westerlo seems to be a much better opportunity and Reynolds is doing well. Saturday’s win was its third win in a row, and Reynolds has done well in each of the games.
Bryan Reynolds: raw # for Westerlo at RB in 2-0 win over Zlute Waregem— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
- 90 mins
- 59 touches
- 30/37 passing
- 2/6 long balls
- 0/1 crossing
- 0 shots
- 3 clearances
- 6/13 ground duels
- 1/2 aerial duels
- 2x fouled
- 3 fouls
- Westero now 7th, Zlute Waregem in last in Belgium
Reynolds is a player to watch internationally as he should be considered a prime right back candidate for the U.S. U-23 team which should start holding camps in 2023 as it prepares for the 2024 Olympics.
Vines & Antwerp suffer first loss
Prior to the international window, Royal Antwerp won each of its first nine games in Belgium and the team has thrived under new manager Mark Van Bommel. Sam Vines has played every minute of the nine games and that saw him get another chance with the U.S. national team in September.
On Sunday, Vines started for Royal Antwerp on the road to Kortrijk and were defeated 2-1 to drop its first points of the season. Vines played 77 minutes and left with his team trailing 2-0. Like he was with the U.S. team in September, he didn’t make any serious errors, but he also didn’t make any significantly positive contributions to improve his team’s chances to win.
He needs to raise his game down over the next five weeks because it seems like, as of now, Berhalter could likely opt to not bring a second left back after Antonee Robinson and instead have Sergino Dest serve as both the starting right back and the back-up left back. This game doesn’t help to change that narrative.
Other notes in Belgium
Club Brugge defeated KV Mechelen and Jorge Hernandez went as an unused substitute in the loss. Owen Otasowie was not in action for Brugge.
Standard Liege dropped a 2-0 decision to RFC Seraing on Friday but Marlon Fossey is still pushing to make his first matchday roster for Standard after moving to the club from Fulham this summer.
Solid Championship Weekend
Sargent steady in Norwich win
Josh Sargent played the full 90 minutes for Norwich City on Saturday in a 1-0 away win over Blackpool to remain in second place in the Championship. While he didn’t score or assist, he was dangerous – forcing two saves (one was challenging), creating chances, and winning duels.
Josh Sargent: raw # for Norwich in 1-0 win at Blackpool— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
- 90 mins
- 40 touches
- 3 shots, 2 saved & 1 blocked
- 18/24 passing
- 2 chances created
- 4/5 ground duels won
- 2/3 aerials#USMNT
This is the type of outing Sargent needs to have, even when he doesn’t score. The answer for Sargent is not to be invisible when he’s not scoring. Thus far this season, he’s done that. When he’s not scoring, he is still working hard to win balls and create chances.
Steffen & Boro fall to Coventry
Zack Steffen started for Middlesbrough on Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Coventry. He made three saves in this game and the one he allowed as a tough 1v1 that was savable, but it would have required a big save.
There is a lot of pressure on Steffen now as Middlesbrough has now fallen into the relegation zone and are playing poorly. They are not getting wins against the league’s weakest teams. In the last game, it was a 0-0 draw against Rotherham. Now it is a loss to a Coventry team in last place. Steffen is going to need to come up with game changing saves but thus far his season has been average. He’s had one or two bad outings, a few decent ones, but nothing outstanding.
On another Middlesbrough note, Matthew Hoppe is still playing for the Boro’s U-21 team and even if he does get to the first team, it seems like a dysfunctional environment. It has been a very tough move so far.
EDIT: On Monday it was announced that Middlesbrough had fired manager Chris Wilder. It came as no surprise given the results the club posted against weaker Championship teams. It probably won’t affect Steffen that much as he will probably be viewed as a starter. It can only help Hoppe, who seemed to have been going nowhere. Eventually, he will find a manager who gives him a shot. A relegation battle, however, is a tough place to trust an unproven youngster.
Middlesbrough Football Club have terminated the contract of manager Chris Wilder with immediate effect— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) October 3, 2022
Horvath save-less cleansheet
Ethan Horvath defeated Hull City 2-0 on the road on Friday and it was the second straight save-less clean sheet win for Horvath. He is playing well and there is more to goalkeeping than making saves, but he has not been tested much this season (he’s made 15 saves all season).
Horvath continues to have a good case to be the U.S. national team’s third goalkeeper but it is hard to see him breaking into the top two this cycle given the body of work.
The rest of the Championship
Auston Trusty continues to play consistently well for Birmingham City as another solid outing on the left side of a three-man backline on Saturday helped Birmingham City to a 1-1 away draw with Sheffield United. These are the kind of points that are going to help the club avoid a dire relegation fight – which was the goal from the beginning. Should he be successful, the likely path for Trusty is to earn a loan next season to a more ambitious Championship team or a first division team on the continent. The Premier League is possible for him but it is probably a few seasons away.
Duane Holmes started for Huddersfield on Saturday against Reading but was pulled at halftime with Huddersfield trailing 2-0. They ended up losing 3-1 and it has been an awful start to the season for Huddersfield which is in second to last place in the Championship.
Lynden Gooch earned positive reviews for his performance on Saturday as he went the full 90 minutes at right back for Sunderland in a 0-0 draw with Preston North End. The club looks like a steady Championship in its first season back since promotion.
In League One, Alex Mighten did not get off the bench for Sheffield Wednesday in a 1-0 away win over Port Vale. He is in tough position on loan from Nottingham Forest. He has gone to a level in League one where he should play but he’s gone to a winning team that does not want to alter a winning formula. He should be in the mix for a U.S. U-23 winger spot but he needs to play.
Americans in the 2. Bundesliga
There are a lot more Americans in the 2.Bundesliga this year than in recent seasons. This past weekend saw some mixed results.
George Bello had the toughest weekend. It was good that he started for Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday against Fortuna Dusseldorf as minutes have been tough to come by for the former Atlanta United left back. But he struggled and the entire team was poor in a 4-1 loss. Arminia Bielefeld, just months after getting relegated out of the Bundesliga, is now in last place of the 2.Bundesliga.
Bello is coming into a very tricky period of his career. What will be the next step for him if Arminia continues to fall?
Not fun times for George Bello. He went 90 in today's 4-1 loss which has Arminia Bielefeld near the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga table. Hard to believe they were in the Bundesliga last season. https://t.co/BHIkhLah1z— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
Terrence Boyd played the full 90 minutes for Kaiserslatuern in a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Eintracht Braunschweig on Sunday. Boyd missed two good chances but was always dangerous. He had seven shots in this game and was also effective in his hold-up play. For Kaiserslautern, it was their fifth consecutive draw. While they fell to seventh place, they are competing well in the 2.Bundesliga just after earning promotion.
Ryan Malone started and played 75 minutes in central defense for Hansa Rostock but was not on the field for his club’s 1-1 equalizer against Holstein Kiel. Malone, 30, continues to be a solid 2.Bundesliga player later in his career after his Division III college career with Springfield College saw him bounce around Germany’s lower levels for years. It’s been an impressive display of determination for him to reach the levels he has reached.
Julian Green scored his second goal of the season on Saturday for Greuther Furth off a header in the 48th minute to help his club to a 1-1 draw with Sandhausen. The point pulled Furth out of last place, ahead of Arminia Bielefeld on goal differential. Green played 77 minutes and was replaced by Timothy Tillman. It has been a tough year for Green, but he might play a key role for Furth in climbing out of the relegation. When he is in form, he can contribute at the 2.Bundesliga level.
Lennard Maloney started for Heidenheim on Saturday in a 0-0 draw with St. Pauli. He was subbed out in second half stoppage time. He continues to play well in his first season as a regular 2.Bundesliga starter. The draw was the third straight for Heidenheim which looks like it could contend for promotion if it had a slightly better offense. Maloney represented Germany’s youth national teams but most recently played for the U.S. U-20 team after a pair of call-ups in 2018. He continues to take some important steps in his career this season.
Finally, Bryang Kayo made his first team debut on Sunday for Nurnberg. While it was an important step in his career, the result did not go well. He came into the game in the 75th minute against Karlsruher with Nurnberg trailing 1-0. Karlsruher scored twice with Kayo on the field for a 3-0 win. It will be interesting to see if Kayo can build from this but Nurnberg continues to drift closer to the relegation zone.
Americans in Scotland
The top story in Americans in Scotland was in Edinburgh as Rangers posted a convincing 4-0 away win over Hearts. Neither James Sands nor Malik Tillman started but Sands played the entire second half and Tillman came into the game in the 63rd minute.
There isn’t much to take away from this game for either Sands or Tillman as Hearts was reduced to 10 players in the 39th minute and Rangers simply overwhelmed them. Tillman even had this very generous assist in stoppage time.
I earlier said Malik Tillman had an assist on the final Rangers goal of its 4-0 win over Hearts. That might be a bit generous. I’ll let you guys decide if this is an assist pic.twitter.com/v0VvPuZBlI— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) October 1, 2022
Tillman is going to be a bubble player for the U.S. World Cup team. He didn’t have a good international window but his versatility helps. His ticket will be if he can play well in Champions League games more so than games like these where Rangers has a huge talent edge on every other team aside from Celtic.
Christian Ramirez played the final 10 minutes for Aberdeen in a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock while Dante Polvara did not get off the bench in the win. It’s been a disappointing season for both players who had much higher expectations at the start of the preseason.
Ian Harkes and Dundee United remain winless and in last place in the Premiership after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at home to St. Johnstone. The recent coaching change hasn’t helped and Harkes is going to have to find another gear to help his team move away from relegation. He played 75 minutes in this loss.
Scott Pittman, 30, played the full 90 for Livingston in a 2-1 loss to St. Mirren. Pittman continues to be the club’s all-time leader in appearances.
Both Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers and Motherwell’s Joe Efford missed Saturday’s game between the two teams. Celtic won 2-1 to remain atop the Premiership table. Cameron Carter-Vickers is on the bubble for the U.S. World Cup team an desperately needs to return to the field to build his case as Mark McKenzie, Erik Palmer-Brown, and others are all playing well.
Americans in South America
Fresh off the heels of a U.S. national team call-up, Johnny Cardoso returned to the starting lineup for Internacional on Saturday for its 1-0 win over Santos. Cardoso was steady but unspectacular in the win. He was taken out in the 63rd minute after picking up a yellow card. Internacional remains in second place in Brazil’s Serie A but is seven points behind leaders Palmeiras. Thus far this season, Cardoso, 21, has played 968 minutes for Internacional. With nine games remaining in the season, Cardoso should beat his personal best of 1201 Serie A minutes in a season which he set last year.
Alan Sonora started and played 90 minutes for Independiente on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Arsenal de Sarandi in Argentina’s Primera. Sonora has been the subject of transfer rumors this season and January could be an interesting time for him. Independiente sits in midtable at 14th place but has won five in a row.
Konrad de la Fuente did not make the matchday roster for Olympiacos in a 2-0 win over Atromitos on Sunday. This move from Marseille continues to be a huge disappointment as the Miami-born winger is simply not getting minutes. Greece is also a difficult league to compete for non-EU players as teams can only dress five non-EU’s on a matchday roster. Olympiacos is one of the best teams in the league and they have seven other good non-EU’s on their first team.
Staying in Greece, Caleb Stanko played the second half for Asteras Tripolis in a 2-0 win over OFI. The former FC Cincinnati defensive midfielder preserved the 2-0 lead during his entire 45 minutes.
In Portugal’s Primeira Liga, Alex Mendez started and played a solid 87 minutes for Vizela in a 1-0 win over fourth place Portimonense. It was a huge win for Mendez & Co to pull away from the relegation zone by three points. It was their second win of the season but it was a great win over a very good Portimonense team. Alejandro Alvarado did not dress for Vizela as he only recently returned from international duty with the U.S. U-20 team.
John Brooks was an 89th minute substitute for Benfica in a 1-1 away draw against Vitoria Guimaraes. It was the second appearance of the season for Brooks but he has played just two minutes and stoppage time thus far. For Brooks, it is a tough situation because he was brought in for injury cover. When Morato and João Victor return from injuries, it will be even harder to play.
Reggie Cannon picked up an injury with the U.S. team last week and did not play for Boavista in its ugly 4-0 loss to Famalicao on Sunday. Cannon has had a strong year defensively for Boavista and was missed this weekend.
In Italy’s Serie B, Venezia posted an impressive 4-1 away win over Cagliari on Saturday. Cagliari scored first but Venezia scored four second half goals for the win. Three Americans took part in the win. Andrija Novakovich played the full game at forward and was effective in his hold-up play. Gianluca Busio played 89 minutes and Tanner Tessman played the final 30 minutes. Jack DeVries was an unused substitute. Venezia has had a tough start to the season, but this was an impressive win and the club will hope to climb the table from the momentum sparked by this win. They now sit in 13th place but are just three points out of 8th place, which is the line for the promotional playoffs.
In Austria, Sebastian Soto is still looking to make the matchday roster for the first time with Austria Klagenfurt and was not part of the club’s 3-2 away win over Hartberg. In the second tier, Uly Llanez played the second half for St. Poelten which took a 2-1 lead Amstetten in to the 86th minute but lost 3-2 at home.
In Norway, Sam Rogers returned from injury to play the second half for Rosenborg against Kristiansund. He entered with his team trailing 3-1 and they rallied to take a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately for the American defender, he scored an own goal which gave Kristiansund a 4-4 draw.
Kobe Hernandez-Foster entered the game in the 17th for HamKam due to injury and played 73 minutes in a 2-1 win over a Jerv team that is pure relegation fodder. The win moved HamKam three points clear of the relegation playoff position.
In Sweden, GIF Sundsvall will be relegated in the coming games as they sit deep into last place. On Sunday, it was another poor outing in a 3-1 loss at home to Norrkoping. Joe Corona went the distance in the midfield as did his fellow American Forrest Lasso in central defense.
Degerfors has at least a shot to survive in Sweden and it’s 3-0 win over Djurgarden on Sunday was a massive upset over the first-place team in the Allsvenkan. This stunning win enhanced Degerfors’ grip on the relegation playoff position. American goalkeeper Jeff Gal is normally the backup for Degerfors but he started and preserved the clean sheet win. Joe Gyau went the distance on the wing for the win.