Americans Abroad

Americans abroad: Sabbi, Pulisic, Sargent, and Wright score in slow week

ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through the week for Americans abroad in great detail. It wasn't a big weekend, but the highpoints were big. Plus, the Championship playoff race should be the big story down the stretch. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 09, 2024
5:05 PM

THE PAST WEEK FOR Americans abroad was far quieter than in recent weeks where there were significant contributions by USMNT players in all of the top leagues. Over the past week it has been far more subdued with only Christian Pulisic, Malik Tillman, and Haji Wright having big games among the prominent American players.

Aside from that list, it’s been the quietest week for Americans abroad since the calendar turned 2024.

But here are my observations of it all.


Up and down for Haji


Haji Wright scored a big goal over the weekend in Coventry’s 2-1 win over Leeds United. This was a win they had to have after Norwich (with Josh Sargent) came up with a surprising win over Leicester. Coventry didn’t make up any ground on the playoffs, but they avoided falling further behind.

Wright, 26, now has 15 goals in 2476 Championship minutes. Coventry has now won five out six to sit seventh in the Championship. They’re four points behind Norwich for the last playoff spot, but they also have a game in hand.

Wright’s goal in the 49th minute gave the team a 2-0 lead over Leeds. The goal came after Wright made a straight run up the middle and finished with a volley.

On Tuesday, however, Wright had an off day as Coventry fell to Sunderland 2-1 and Wright missed a penalty attempt (earned by a teammate) when he lost footing and saw his shot hit the post.

Wright is technically playing as a winger, but he cuts centrally a lot. Basically, it’s a role of freedom. He’s red-hot right now, but Coventry needs him to continue at this pace to earn a spot in the playoffs. It’s a huge challenge for him, but he’s lived up to what was expected of him as their most expensive purchase.

As for the U.S. national team, it’s a tight race for Wright but he’s put a lot of pressure on players like Balogun, Pepi, and Sargent. The first two are the incumbents and they just aren’t comparing favorably to Sargent and Wright right now.


Tillman notches two assists


PSV demolished AZ 5-1 to maintain its nine-point lead atop the Eredivisie with five games remaining. It was an impressive result against the fourth-place team. It was the last time PSV had a game against a top eight team opponent. The rest of their opponents are in the league’s bottom half.

In this game, Malik Tillman had two assists and then Sergino Dest picked up an assist on the final goal.

Both players are at PSV on loans from very wealthy clubs. How PSV handles buying the players (or not) will be a massive challenge for Earnie Stewart. Dest is a bit more known as he has played for Ajax, Barcelona, and then struggled at AC Milan. All clubs know his strengths and weaknesses as well as how he can help a team. Whether he stays at PSV or moves on, he’ll land on his feet.

Tillman is going to be a lot more interesting. He’s been great at excelling in leagues with teams that are a lot more talented than the opposition. If he leaves PSV, can he be part of Bayern Munich? How will he do in a Big 5 league?

He’s interesting to many, particularly among American fans, in that he has also struggled with the USMNT. He is a tough player to read as to whether he will ever translate over to the USMNT, if so – what will it take? Also, how will he succeed in a bigger league?

It was also worth noting that Ricardo Pepi did not play because of “a knock.”


Pulisic scores 10th playing the No. 10


Christian Pulisic hit a ripper on Saturday in AC Milan’s 3-0 win over Lecce. He’s had a great year and he now has hit double digits in goals and AC Milan has won five Serie A games in a row. They are essentially locked into second place.

Pulisic is having his best complete season from start to finish of his career. What was interesting about this game is that he played the No. 10 position compared with the wing. Everything is different in this role – from the way you received it, the passing lanes, and the spacing to dribble. Pulisic didn’t do everything well in this game, aside from the goal. He looked like he hadn’t played the position in a long time. But he also did a lot right, and he can certainly grow into this position should Stefano Pioli choose to.

It’s just one game. Watching this the remainder of the season will be well worth following.

On another note, Yunus Musah played the final 28 minutes of the game after Lecce was down to 10 men. It was a good shift for him, and he went 18/18 in passing, but Lecce had mostly given up at that point.


Sabbi rescues Le Havre


Emmanuel Sabbi, 26, had an important outing for Le Havre in the middle of a Ligue 1 relegation battle away at Lens. The 2017 U.S. U-20 World Cup attacker got the start for Le Havre away against Lens and Le Havre entered the game just one point out of the relegation zone.

With Le Havre trailing 1-0, Sabbi jumped to get on the end of a cross but was ruled to have been pushed in the box and was awarded a penalty. The American converted and it was enough to salvage a 1-1 draw for Le Havre.

With the point, Le Havre moved two points clear of the relegation zone.


Obviously a few words are in order about Sabbi. It was his fifth goal of the season and he’s been streaky, but has exceeded expectations. It took him a few months to adjust to Ligue 1 from the Danish Superliga, but he got there. What has happened is that he has really added a lot to his defensive game. While he scores goals, his athleticism has given Le Havre a good defensive presence on the wings.

It should be interesting watching Sabbi progress in the years ahead, although if Le Havre are relegated, what will be the market for Sabbi? With five goals, it’s hard to see him going to Ligue 2 unless Le Havre ask for too much. There should be interest.

Then there is the U.S. national team, which seems unlikely right now before the Copa America but maybe he can get an audition in a friendly later in the year if he continues to play well into next season. It’s important to note Gregg Berhalter worked with Sabbi in 2017. Sabbi was trying to make a move to Las Palmas in Spain but passport issues held up the deal. Instead, Sabbi trained with the Columbus Crew under Berhalter.


Maloney and Heidenheim down Bayern


There probably isn’t a better story in soccer right now than Heidenheim. Over the past 20 years, the club has climbed from the fifth-tier Oberliga and is now in its first season in the Bundesliga. This rise has all occurred under Frank Schmitt, who has been their manager since 2007 (after he completed his playing career with the club).

But few expected Schmitt and Heidenheim to survive this season in the Bundesliga. After Saturday’s historic 3-2 win over Bayern Munich, the club is in the Bundesliga top 10.

Lennard Maloney has been part of the team’s historic last two seasons and the German-American owes a lot to Schmitt, who converted him to a defensive midfielder from central defense.

Maloney is a limited player, but he has an identified and set role with Heidenheim. He ended up playing 90 minutes against Bayern. In the game he did what he always does. He sat deep in the midfield, ran a lot, broke up plays, won tackles, but didn’t contribute much offensively or in possession. At Heidenheim, he plays to his strengths well and he fits within the system.

It’s a great story. I am not yet sure if that role translates over to the U.S. national team. But Maloney has a pathway towards a nice, long career showing that he can be valuable to teams like Heidenheim or teams that play like Heidenheim.


Rangers hold edge after Old Firm draw


It was a wild Old Firm draw on Sunday as Rangers and Celtic played to a 3-3 draw. Rangers equalized in the 86th, Celtic retook the lead in the 89th, and then Rangers equalized again at 90+2.

Cameron Carter-Vickers went the distance for Celtic and put out a lot of fires defensively but wasn’t sharp with his passing. It wasn’t his fault that Celtic couldn’t get the result.

Celtic has just one more game to go before the Championship round starts but Rangers have two. Most likely, Rangers will have the lead heading into the Championship group but Celtic will get to host the final Old Firm Derby that will likely decide the title. 


Yanks in England


Mostly, it was very quiet for Yanks in England over the past week.

Tyler Adams is suffering from back spasms and missed Bournemouth's 2-1 away loss to Luton Town. A complete timetable for his return isn't known but bumps in the road for his road to recovery are to be expected.

Chris Richards is still injured and missed Crystal Palace's loss to Manchester City. He’s expected back in two weeks.

Antonee Robinson had a tough outing and Tim Ream continued to watch from the bench as Fulham fell to Newcastle at home 1-0. Fulham has not been playing well lately with just one point from three games. But their sitting safe in 13th place.

Nottingham Forest dropped a 3-1 result to Tottenham, a result that was tough in light of Luton Town's win. The result left Forest even on points with the relegation zone and only goal differential is keeping them safe.  Gio Reyna played the final nine minutes but was held in check. Matt Turner watched from the box.

Auston Trusty had another good outing and despite Sheffield United's certain relegation, both he and the club are playing better. In this game, he started again on the left side of the backline and went 87 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea. He left with his team down 2-1.

Josh Sargent was held in check in Saturday's game for Norwich but the Cannaries managed to win 1-0 by Ipswich. Then on Tuesday, Sargent wasn't held in check, he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. It was his 15th goal in less than 1500 minutes. But Sargent was subbed out in the 61st with Norwich up 2-0 and Sheffield Wednesday rallied for a 2-2 draw.

Now as of Tuesday, Norwich has a five point lead on Coventry with Coventry having a game in hand.

On Tuesday, Duane Holmes rebounded from being an unused sub to assist on the winning goal for Preston North End in a 4-1 victory over his former club Huddersfield. PNE is right in the midst of the playoff hunt with a win.

On Saturday, Ethan Horvath made some saves but couldn't stop Cardiff's 3-1 loss at home to Hull. For Horvath, this season is about getting back into a rhythm as he's not contending for promotion or threatened with relegation. Next season there will be more expectations.

The early returns for Reggie Cannon at QPR are not good. He's simply not playing anymore (although he had a few good games in January). He did not get off the bench for QPR on Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday and he also watched the club's 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lynden Gooch is injured and missed Stoke City's 2-2 draw with West Ham.



Yanks in Germany


It’s been very quiet for Americans in the top two tiers of the Bundesliga aside from Heidenheim’s stunner.

Borussia Monchengladbach defeated Wolfsburg 3-1 away and this game was noteworthy for how little presence there was for Americans. Kevin Paredes did not make the matchday squad due to injury. Meanwhile Joe Scally and Jordan Pefok both entered the game in the 88th minute for M’Gladbach.

Scally and Pefok are players to watch this offseason. It doesn’t seem as if M’Gladbach will exercise its option to buy on its loan with Union Berlin. Meanwhile, Scally hasn’t had a good season.

Wolfsburg, meanwhile, have won just one in 12 games and are only five points clear of the relegation playoff.

Brenden Aaronson started for Union Berlin and lasted 79 minutes in a 1-0 loss at home to leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Aaronson was mostly held in check in this game, despite being in good form over the past month.

Timmy Chandler made a late cameo in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen. It opens the question of how much longer he wants to extend his career. But Eintracht hold sixth place in the Bundesliga and could sneak back into Europe. For Werder, one week after making his Bundesliga debut, American forward Joel Imasuen, 19, was back with the reserve team.

Pellegrino Matarazzo's Hoffenheim ended a three-game skid with a 3-1 win over Augsburg. John Brooks went the last 26 minutes and Hoffenheim moved into eighth place.

Damion Downs played with Cologne’s reserve team and did not feature in the club’s big 2-1 win over Bochum. Cologne are still in the relegation zone but are now within reach of climbing out.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Fabian Hurzeler’s St. Pauli team lost to Karlsruher but still sit atop the table.

U.S. U-23 forward Jonathan Gomez went the last 28 minutes for Eintracht Braunschweig in a 2-0 loss away to Fortuna Dusseldorf. This loss slipped them back into the relegation playoff position.

U.S. U-23 defender Maximillian Dietz went 90 minutes for Greuter Furth in a 2-0 loss away to Osnabruck. Once contending for promotion, Furth have tumbled the last two months and are now 10 points out of the playoff. Julian Green continues to be out for Furth.


Yanks in Italy


Other than the big outing from Pulisic which included a good outing from Musah off the bench in the Milan win, it was an up and down weekend for Yanks in Italy.

In Serie A, Juventus defeated Fiorentina 1-0 which included a goal called back that would have credited Weston McKennie with an assist. Despite that, McKennie still went 90 minutes in the win. He was a bit quiet, only 11/16 in passing, but still handled the scrappy side of the game well as Juventus sit solid in third place.

In Serie B, there was a lot of drama in the promotional race.

Nicholas Gioacchini went the last 14 minutes for Como in a big 2-1 away win over Catanzaro. Como strengthened its grip on second place, and a spot for automatic promotion.

It was very disappointing for Venezia, which played Ascoli to a 0-0 draw away and fell into fourth place, and three points out of automatic promotion. Gianluca Busio played 63 minutes while Tanner Tessmann played the full 90 for Venezia. Venezia had 61% possession and a 11-6 edge in shots.

Palermo continues to skid and blow leads - squandering two leads in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sampdoria at home. Kristoffer Lund went 90 minutes at left back for Palermo, which looks locked into the playoffs positions. It was a quiet outing for the USMNT left back.  

Andrija Novakovich played 85 minutes for last-place Lecco in a 1-1 draw at Spezia. Mirandes


Yanks in Spain


It was a quiet weekend for Yanks in Spain with no La Liga games taking place.

In the Segunday, Jonathan Gomez had a tough outing for Mirandes in a 3-1 loss to Sporting Gijon at home. Mirandes fell to 17th and is just two points clear of the relegation zone. Gomez has been up and down this year, but hopefully has learned a lot. But he needs to be at his best down the stretch in what has turned into a relegation battle.

Just one week after being the man of the match for Eibar in a two-goal performance (his first ever league goals at the first team level), Konrad de la Fuente was not in action for Eibar in a 2-1 loss to Tenerife. Eibar fell out of the automatic promotion places. The club did not announce the reason De la Fuente was out but presumably it was injury.


Yanks in France


Despite having a brace off the bench last week in a Monaco rout over Metz, Folarin Balogun did not get the start for Monaco against Renes. Instead, he came off the bench in the 73rd minute with Monaco up 1-0 and with both teams playing with 10 men.

In ended up a quiet outing for Balogun as Monaco held on for a 1-0 win to remain in third place.

It’s tough to figure out Balogun because he’s been so inconsistent, but even when he gets some momentum this season, it doesn't last long. Even in his two goal outing last week, they were not goals where he combined with his teammates. And that has been a problem for him at both Monaco and with the USMNT, he’s not on the same page as the rest of his teammates.


Yanks in Belgium


Mark McKenzie had a good weekend when he played all 90 minutes for Genk in a 1-0 away win over Antwerp to move into fourth place in the Championship playoff. McKenzie was terrific in the area and cleaning up messes in the box for Genk. He has helped Genk to winning its first two games of the Championship round against tough competition.

McKenzie seems to be going neck and neck with Cameron Carter-Vickers for the fourth central defender spot on the USMNT Copa America team, but McKenzie seems like he could also be a good overage Olympic player if he’s released.

In the Conference League playoff position, Kahveh Zahiroleslam came off the bench in the second half for St. Truiden with his team trailing Mechelen 2-0 and was on the field for a stunning rally as St. Truiden came back and won on the road 3-2. The former Yale Bulldog didn't score or assist but he played well and helped his team keep up the pressure in the huge win. They are now trailing Gent by four points for the Conference League spot. Regarding the Olympic team, Zahiroleslam is eligible and he could get a last look in June if he ends the season well or if Duncan McGuire slumps down the stretch.

Marlon Fossey played 66 minutes at right back for Standard Liege in a 0-0 draw with OH Leuven. Standard is 12 points out of the Conference League spot and is simply playing out the stretch. Fossey has had his ups and downs this season but the fact that he contiues to show duribility is key. It's an open question whether he gets a shot with the USMNT (the odds are slim given emerging young options like Bryan Reynolds and Nathan Harriel on the Olympic team) but it's not out of the question either.

Finally, both U.S. Olympic team members Griffin Yow (right wing) and Bryan Reynolds (right back) started for Westerlo in a bad 3-0 loss for Gent. No one on Westerlo reportedly played well, including the Yanks.


Yanks in the Eredivisie


U.S. U-23 Olympic team attacker Paxten Aaronson did what he could do for Vitesse in a 3-0 loss to at home to NEC Nijmegen. Aaronson, 20, had five shots and created four chances but his team lacks talent to compete in this league and fell to last place.

Meawhile, Volendam moved out of last and into 17th place with a 3-2 win over RKC Waalwijk. Zack Booth, 19, started and played 80 minutes with his best moment coming in the 37th minute when he forced a save. The younger Booth brother right now isn’t in the mix for the Olympic team and it seems unlikely playing time is ready for him at his parent club, Leicester. For now, he’s simply looking for a better club situation in 2024/25, whether it be on loan or a full transfer. He has shown glimpses of talent, but standing out at Volendam has also been difficult.


Yanks elsewhere


Rokas Pukstas had a tough outing for Hajduk Split in a 1-0 loss to league leaders Rijeka. This was a game Hajuk needed to remain in contention for the title. Now they’re in third place and 10 poitns back. Pukstas,19, went 90 minutes but is in a little bit of a slump. That’s normal for a young player, he just needs to work through it.

In the Greek Super League, Caleb Stanko started but was pulled at the half for Lamia in a 5-1 loss at home to Olympiakos.

In the Austrian Bundesliga Championship table, George Bello played 88 minutes for LASK in a 1-0 loss away to Sturm Graz. LASK fell to fourth in the table. Meanwhile, Sebastian Soto is injured again and didn't play for Austria Klagenfurt in a 2-2 draw with Hartberg.

In Portugal, Alex Mendez was an unused substitute for Vizela in a 3-2 loss to Famalicao. With six games remaining, Vizela is five points deep in the relegation zone. Mendez has played just 350 minutes this season.

In the Swiss Super League, Lucas Pos was unused for last-place FC Stade Lausanne Ouchy in a 2-0 loss at home to Basel.

In Liga MX, Fernando Arce Jr. went 90 minutes for Club Necaxa in a 3-2 win over Tijuana, with Joe Corona out injured.

Alex Zendejas played the final 22 minutes for Club America in a 1-1 away draw with Santos Laguna. The USMNT outside mid scored the equalizer in the 76th minute.

Cade Cowell
started and played 56 minutes for Chivas in a 3-2 win over Puebla. He left with his team up 2-0. The U.S. U-23 winger had two shots, including one that forced a save in the fourth minute.

Finally in Mexico, Brandon Vazquez played the final 27 minutes for Monterrey in a 2-1 away loss to Cruz Azul.

Finally in Iceland, Aron Johannsson went 81 minutes for Valur which opened the season with a 2-0 win over IA Akranes.

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