Americans abroad analysis
Americans abroad: Solid weekend as the USMNT core impresses heading into Qatar
November 14, 2022
THE FINAL ROUND of games is now over, and attention will shift to the 2022 World Cup. For the U.S. team, the big story is that these final set of games had no new injuries, and the team should arrive in Qatar at full strength. Beyond the U.S. team, other players continued to play well, for the most part, as the season heads into break.
Aside from the injuries, there are also issues with form, which are a bit mixed. Before we shift focus to Qatar, let’s look at these games and asses the performance of the American contingent abroad.
The USMNT World Cup team
Reyna falls to Scally in NYCFC reunion
On Friday, Borussia Monchengladbach cruised to a convincing 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund. Gio Reyna started and played just the first half in the loss while Joe Scally played the full 90 in the win. It was a matchup between two good friends who grew up in the New York area and played for the New York City FC academy.
Reyna has had a very good last three weeks for Dortmund, but this wasn’t a good performance. He created one good chance and missed two other good chances. For Scally, it was a steady outing. He had six clearances but didn’t really standout out for good or bad. But it was a great win for Scally to be apart of and he will arrive in Qatar with momentum.
Pulisic & Chelsea lose again
Christian Pulisic played the second half of a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United off a goal that was assisted by former Atlanta United attacker Miguel Almiron. Chelsea is just a mess and while Pulisic was one of Chelsea’s better players on the day, that is not saying a lot. He finished with 25 touches, was 2/5 in his attempted dribbles and 3/7 in his attempted duels. He tried to make things happen, but it wasn’t enough.
Chelsea has lost three straight Premier League games with just two points from its last five. It hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in 222 minutes. Pulisic is in a tough spot at Chelsea and the entire team can very much use this World Cup break to get away from London. When the season resumes, Chelsea will sit eighth and five points out of a European spot.
Dest returns for Milan
After missing last week’s game with an injury, Sergino Dest returned to the field for AC Milan and played the final 34 minutes of a 2-1 win over Fiorentina at the San Siro. He was lively with 33 touches and his passing was crisp (18/20) and his dribbling was effective. He also won 4/5 of his duels while being on the field for the winning goal.
Dest was one of the bright spots for American fans this weekend. He both returned from injury and looked to be very much on his game.
Sargent scores in Norwich loss
For the U.S. team, the good news is that Josh Sargent is scoring and has momentum heading into the World Cup. The U.S. international scored in just the seventh minute to give his team a 1-0 lead at home against Middlesbrough. The goal was scored on American goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who was one of the most significant cuts made on the U.S. World Cup roster.
But the lead would not last long and Steffen would have the last lough. Boro equalized in the 64th minute and then found a winner in stoppage time. For a Norwich team attempting to earn promotion, a loss at home to a bottom third team was a terrible result. American forward Matthew Hoppe played the final 15 minutes for Boro but was relatively quiet.
Sargent played 84 minutes in this game with 33 touches. He managed two shots and was 11/16 in his passing. But he was also just 1/7 in his ground duels, 0/2 in his dribbles and 2/3 in his aerials. His finishing is quite solid and he is now in an eight-way tie for the Championship’s scoring lead with nine goals.
Adams & Aaronson start in tough loss
After two dramatic wins coming into Saturday, Leeds United suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss on the road to Tottenham. Leeds United had three different leads in this game: 1-0, 2-1, and a 3-2 lead which it had heading into the 80th minute. But it squandered and 81st minute equalizer followed by a Spurs winner in the 83rd.
Brenden Aaronson started and assisted on Crysencio Summerville’s 10th minute opening goal. He played the full 90. Tyler Adams, who was exceptional the last two games for Leeds, had a tough game and was sent off for his second yellow card in the 87th minute.
Aaronson, overall, had a good game although this was a step up physically compared with other Premier League games. He is trending upward heading into the World Cup and he’s made big strides this year in the Premier League compared with where he was at the beginning of the season.
Adams has had a good season but this was his toughest game for Leeds, so far. Even beyond the yellow cards, physically he had a tough time keeping up with Spurs.
Weah wins at right back again
For the second straight week, Lille manager Paulo Fonseca kept Tim Weah at right back and for the second straight game, Weah delivered in a nice win. On Sunday, Weah played all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Angers.
In interviews in the past, Weah has said he likes playing deeper positions with more of the field in front of him. He even once stated his love for playing the No. 8 position. A move is unlikely there for the U.S. team although with Dest at right back and Weah at right wing, there is the possibility for interchanging during games. That could be difficult for teams to stop.
In this game, Weah had 54 touches and was 32/34 in passing. When looking at his touchmap he rarely cut into the middle of the field and oversaw attacking the flank. It worked and he had significant involvement in the attacking third.
What Fonseca is doing is working and expect Weah to stay at right back when Ligue 1 resumes.
For now, he’s playing with momentum at his back heading into the World Cup – even if it is at a different position.
Horvath & Luton Town draw
We don’t yet know the hierarchy of goalkeepers on the U.S. World Cup team. Horvath could conceivably be in any of the three spots. He’s had a good season, but in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham United, he needed to make just one save. After conceding an opening minute goal, Luton Town secured a 90th minute equalizer to salvage a point.
Ream & Robinson fall to Man United
It was an absolute heartbreaking loss at Craven Cottage for Fulham on Sunday when teenager Alejandro Garnacho found a goal in the third minute of stoppage time to give Manchester United a 2-1 win when Fulham was just second from pulling out a draw.
Both Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson played the full 90 for Fulham in the loss. Despite the heartbreak, both played well although Ream’s speed was an issue. He remains one of the smartest players on Fulham and his distribution out of the back is excellent. There were stretches where he was one of Fulham’s best players on the field.
As for Robinson, he is obviously the best American left back by a wide margin. In this game, over half of his touches were in the attacking half with a high number in the attacking third. It continues to be the best season of his career.
This loss would have been a significant setback if Fulham had not had the strong start it has had. But the team still looks like a safe midtable club – which would be excellent one season after promotion.
Musah and Valencia cruise
On Thursday, Yunus Musah was sharp for Valencia when he went 85 minutes in a comfortable 3-0 win over Real Betis, who was reduced to 10 players in the 61st minute.
Musah has had a good season and this game showed why. His touchmap shows a thorough control of the game in the middle of the field. He made no severe mistakes, was dispossessed just once while completing 27/32 of his passes.
Musah should be arriving in Qatar with a lot of confidence, both because of his form and his role at his club now matches his role with the national team under Berhalter.
CCV & Celtic extend SPL lead
Cameron Carter-Vickers captained Celtic to a 2-1 lead over Ross County on Saturday. It wasn’t a great performance from Celtic, but with Rangers failing to win at St. Mirren, Celtic now has a nine-point lead atop the Premiership table.
Carter-Vickers played well and completed 83/89 of his passes but most of the Premiership games are easy for Celtic. Carter-Vickers will now head to Qatar, but he is likely the team’s fourth central defender.
Wright, Mckennie and LDLT
Three of the U.S. national team European contingent didn’t play this weekend. Luca de la Torre is still recovering from an injury and Gregg Berhalter said he hopes de la Torre will recover to 100% during the World Cup.
Weston McKennie is still recovering from a quad injury and did not play for Juventus in a 3-0 win over Lazio on Sunday.
Finally, Haji Wright and Antalyaspor saw their game on Sunday vs. Besiktas cancelled due to a terrorist bombing in Istambul before the game.
USMNT form watch
Overall, the U.S. team’s is in good shape based on individual form at the club level. Throughout most of the year, everyone expected more injuries. But the U.S. team has players like Reyna, Weah, Adams, Pulisic, Dest, Robinson, and Aaronson all capable of starting. McKennie’s injury should see him close to full fitness come the game against Wales.
When looking at the games over the past four weeks (as opposed to just this weekend) there are way more positives than negatives in terms of form.
If Gregg Berhalter was offered this level of form/fitness at any point of the cycle for a team heading into the World Cup, he would have taken it quickly.
Yanks Across Europe
Yanks shine in Eredivisie
In the Eredivisie, there was a lot to talk about for a bunch of young Yanks who didn’t make the World Cup team but who should be part of the team’s future, with a potential springboard in 2024 at the Olympics in Paris.
Fortuna Sittard posted a big 3-2 away win over FC Groningen among two bottom-half Eredivisie teams.
In this game, Colorado Rapids loanee Cole Bassett made his first start for Fortuna Dusseldorf while Ricardo Pepi started for Groningen.
In the 45th minute, Pepi scored the game’s opening goal. It was his fifth goal for Groningen to go along with just two assists in just his eighth Eredivisie game. Following the goal you could see the emotion from his teammates to support Pepi just days after he was left of the U.S. World Cup team.
Goal! Ricardo Pepi scores to put Groningen up 1-0 on Fortuna Sittard pic.twitter.com/JgkAsozRkA— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 13, 2022
Bassett, 21, played just 58 minutes in his first start. He completed 16/17 of his passes and won his duels, but he didn’t really create anything dangerous. He left before Fortuna Sittard scored its first goal.
The game fell part for Groningen which fell behind 2-1 and equalized in stoppage time. But just a minute late before the final whistle, Fortuna Sittard found a late winner. Despite the goal, it capped a brutal week for Pepi as Grongingen is just one point clear of the relegation playoff position.
It will also mark an interesting time for Bassett as Colorado holds an option to recall him from this loan if he does not play a specific number of minutes. He likely hasn’t met that threshold, so will Bassett remain at Fortuna Sittard or will Colorado recall him and send him out on another loan.
Another big story in the Eredivisie was Taylor Booth’s continued outstanding run of form with Utrecht. The Utah native scored again for Utrecht when he opened the scoring in the 14th minute of a 4-0 win over last-place Volendam. He left after picking up a knock in the 58th minute with Utrecht up 2-0.
Earlier, Taylor Booth scored this goal for Utrecht at Volendam. He was just subbed out with a knock in the 56th. Look for Booth in Paris 2024 with the U.S Olympic team pic.twitter.com/ypgDdXuafE— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 12, 2022
Booth’s rise has coincided with Utrecht’s four game winning streak to head into the break. During that stretch, Booth has two goals and two assists and has been named to the Eredivisie Team of the Week twice. Booth is finally playing like the prospect many pegged him to be when made the move to Germany as a 17-year-old. He should play a key role with the U.S. Olympic team in 2024.
Finally in the Eredivisie, Richard Ledezma did not get off the bench for PSV Eindhoven in a 1-0 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday. Look for loan rumors to surface in December when the January window approaches. He desperately needs some regular playing time.
Yanks in Germany
The rest of the Bundesliga was very quiet for Americans.
Timothy Chandler wasn’t in uniform for Eintracht Frankfurt in an away draw against Mainz. U.S. U-20 winger Kevin Paredes remained out injured for Wolfsburg and he missed out on his team’s win over Hoffenheim (who still have not named Justin Che to a matchday squad).
Things have gone from bad to worse for Jordan Pefok who did not make the U.S. World Cup team and has seen his form hit an ugly slump. He did not get off the bench for Union Berlin on Sunday in a 4-1 loss to Freiburg and Pefok has not scored since September 18. Union Berlin has also had a week where they lost 5-0 to Bayer Leverkusen, played Augsburg to a 2-2 draw at home, and now has lost 4-1 to Freiburg.
Union Berlin is a team that really can use this World Cup break.
The 2.Bundesliga was a lot more active for American players.
Terrence Boyd played 85 minutes for Kaiserslautern in a 2-1 away win over Fortuna Dusseldorf. While Boyd did not score in this one, he enters the break as the team’s leading scorer and tied for fourth in the league in scoring with eight goals. Kaiseslautern is surprisingly in fourth place of the 2.Bundesliga fresh off promotion. Boyd has been a huge part of that.
In Germany’s wildest game of the weekend. Heidenheim defeated Jahn Regensburg 5-4 with Lennard Maloney going the full 90 minutes in defensive midfield for third place Heidenheim. Overall, conceding four goals is not a good sign for a defensive midfielder but Maloney completed 9/14 of his long balls to help his offense stretch the field. Heidenheim looks like a strong contender for promotion heading into the break.
Perfekte Englische Woche zum Abschluss! Dank einer starken 2. Hälfte setzt sich der #FCK mit 2:1 bei @f95 durch. Kevin Kraus und Philipp Klement sorgen mit ihren Toren für den dritten Sieg binnen sechs Tagen und 29 Punkte nach der Hinrunde: https://t.co/AW2P8GNfF2 #Betze #F95FCK pic.twitter.com/fQNsf7LmIq— 1. FC Kaiserslautern (@Rote_Teufel) November 11, 2022
Ryan Malone started and played the entire game in central defense for Hansa Rostock in 1-0 away win vs. Eintracht Braunchweig. The Massachusetts native who played Division III soccer at Springfield College continues to be a steady presence in Hansa Rostock’s backline as they look like a solid midtable team as opposed to being threatened with relegation like recent seasons.
George Bello didn’t start but he played the final eight minutes for Arminia Bielefeld in a 3-1 win over Magdeburg. All of the goals were scored before he came on but he helped oversee the win which pulled it out of the automatic relegation zone and into the relegation playoff spot. Still, it’s been a tough season for Bello who is only playing a minimal role on an underperforming team.
Greuther Furth has been playing much better lately after a very slow start. On Sunday, the club played to a 1-1 draw with Darmstadt. Julian Green was forced to sub into the game in the 21st minute due to an injury and earned positive reviews for his performance. Furth was reduced to 10 men in the 48th minute and had to defend well to hold onto the point. With three wins and a draw over it final four games heading into the break, Furth now sits in 10th place at a time when it was firmly in the relegation zone in October.
Finally, Bryang Kayo was an unused for Nurnberg in a 2-1 win over Paderborn on Sunday.
Americans in Belgium
It continues to be a good season for Americans in Belgium, aside from the ugly injury to Sam Vines which will keep him sidelines until likely March.
Mark McKenzie started for Genk in yet another big win for the club. This time a 2-0 away win over Anderlecht. The club now has won 10 in a row and has 15 wins and one draw inside its last 16 First Division games.
McKenzie was likely one of the final players cut from the U.S. team as he has been part of Genk’s impressive success this season. In this game, however, he was rarely tested as Genk thoroughly outplayed an Anderlecht team that is a shell of its former self.
While McKenzie did not make this World Cup team, he remains a likely candidate to be part of the team next cycle as players like Zimmerman, Long, and Ream perhaps age out.
When Belgium returns from break, it is going to be very hard for anyone to catch Genk which now has a 10-point lead on second place Union SG. It has a 13-point lead on defending champion Club Brugge.
Bryan Reynolds started and played 78 minutes for Westerlo in a 6-0 blowout win over Oostende. This game was simply no contest. Reynolds was not part of any of the goals, but he was 47/54 passing, including an impressive 7/7 of his long balls. This has been a good start to the season after a rocky transfer to Roma and a mediocre loan to Kortrijk last season. This season he has been much better and Westerlo is in sixth place despite only getting promoted in May.
Marlon Fossey returned from injury and started for Standard Liege on Sunday. The 2017 U.S. U-20 right back went the distance in a disappointing 3-2 loss at home to second place Union SG. Despite the loss, Fossey played well and finally now has a bright future ahead in his career after injuries and a logjam at Fulham.
Yanks in Portugal
The weekend for Americans in Portugal’s top tier was rather lackluster.
Reggie Cannon’s brutal week continued. After he was cut from the U.S. World Cup team, he was sent off for Boavista on Saturday in the 58th minute of a 4-1 loss at home to FC Porto. At the time, Boavista trailed just 1-0.
John Brooks did not get off the bench for Benfica in a 3-1 win over Gil Vicente and this move is more reflective of an old player looking for one last paycheck as opposed to a player still 29. Benfica have given no sign they are interested in Brooks for anything more than just an emergency backup. Once Benfica has more players returning from injury (likely inside the next two months), Brooks might not even make the squad altogether.
Vizela beat last place Pacos de Ferreira 2-0 on the road on Sunday. Alex Mendez played final 30 minutes for Vizela while U.S. U-20 midfielder Alejandro Alvarado played final 10 minutes.
Joel Sonora played the final 24 minutes for Maritimo in a 1-0 loss to Vitoria Guimaraes on Sunday. Sonora recently left Argentina but this move doesn’t make for a bright future as Maritimo are firmly in the relegation zone and Sonora is not yet a starter for the club.
Yanks in England
The injury front in England is still mixed. Chris Richards was not able to return to Crystal Palace in time for the World Cup. But Daryl Dike was able to return before the break and he was a 90th minute cameo for West Brom on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Stoke City. The win moved West Brom out of the Championship’s relegation zone on goal differential but Dike’s return starting on Boxing Day should give the team a massive upgrade up top.
Auston Trusty started for Birmingham City in a tough 2-1 loss at home to Sunderland (with Lynden Gooch still out injured). Despite the loss, Trusty has been Birmingham City’s best player this season and is a reason why they are midtable as opposed to being in a relegation fight. He is one of several central defenders who look to compete for a spot on the U.S. team next cycle.
Duane Holmes played the final 25 minutes for Huddersfield on Saturday in a 0-0 draw against Swansea City. Huddersfield enter the break in last place in the Championship and a big relegation fight ahead of them in 2023. Holmes will need to raise his game and produce more if the team has any chance of surviving.
But congratulations are in order for Holmes in hitting 300 appearances with his hometown team of Huddersfield.
Yanks in Scotland
Aside from Cameron Carter-Vickers at Celtic, it has been a lackluster season for Americans in Scotland. This weekend was a good snapshot of that.
James Sands and Milik Tillman both went full 90s for Rangers on Saturday in a very disappointing 1-1 draw at St. Mirren. Catching Celtic seems extremely unlikely now. This also comes on the heels of a terrible Champions League campaign where they didn’t register a point. Sands and Tillman have both shown some glimpses of promise but also that they both have a way to go to reach the potential Rangers hold for them.
Tillman is an interesting prospect, but his consistency remains his biggest hurdle. He drifts out of games for too long. Sands, meanwhile, has been much better when asked to play a central defense role and if he plays that role more in the future, he could succeed at Rangers. Finding his set position (either d-mid or central defense) has always made his development harder.
Also in the Premiership, Scott Pittman subbed into Livingston’s 1-1 away draw vs. Hearts in the 69th minute.
Aberdeen defeated Dundee United 1-0. Christian Ramirez went as an unused substitute in the win while Dante Polvara continued to be out of action for the hosts. Ian Harkes played the final 23 minutes in the loss as Dundee United continue to sit in last place.
Pukstas, Sabbi, & Rogers score
Three uncapped American players found the back of the net in impressive fashion over the weekend.
U.S. U-20 midfielder Rokas Pukstas started and scored his first goal for Hadjuk Split in a 2-2 draw with Slaven. It was a career moment for Pukstas and Hadjuk Split enters the break in second place in Croatia’s HNL, six points behind Dinamo Zagreb.
Congratulations to U.S U-20 midfielder Rokas Pukstas who scored his first professional goal for Hajduk Split in a 2-2 draw at Slaven. Hajduk Split sit second in Croatia’s HNL pic.twitter.com/5thWxvrCar— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 12, 2022
The Norwegian season concluded and Rosenborg BK finished in third place despite a disappointing season ending 3-2 loss to Sarpsborg. Rosenborg’s American central defender Sam Rogers scored a 35th minute goal in this game to make it 1-1.
Check out the goal from Sam Rogers. Nice skills from a centerback pic.twitter.com/UlWFJIOcNT— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 13, 2022
Rogers and Rosenborg will take part in Conference League qualifiers next summer.
Finally, in the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi had a huge performance for fifth-place OB Odense with a goal and two assists in a 3-3 draw with Horsens. Sabbi had only recently returned from injury and has played well in his return to the field in Denmark.
Elsewhere across the globe
Erik Palmer-Brown was another player who was close to making the World Cup team but who came up short. In France’s Ligue 1 on Saturday, the started and played 90 minutes for Troyes in a difficult 2-1 loss away to Brest. It was a tough loss for Palmer-Brown to watch two of his teammates concede penalties for each of Brest’s two goals. Troyes is now winless in its last seven Ligue 1 games entering the break to sit in 13th place.
Venezia is home to five American players, and it was hoped that after its relegation out of Serie A in May, the American players could then lead a rebuild. That has not been the case and the team’s fans are starting to hit the panic button – for good reasons. On Saturday, Venezia posted a tough 2-1 loss at home to second place Reggina. Venezia now sits second to last in Serie B. It has to climb five points and leapfrog four teams to get to safety.
For each of the Americans, it has been a brutal run. In this loss, Gianluca Busio played 90 minutes and was ineffective. Andrija Novakovic played the final 20 minutes. Tanner Tessmann went as an unused substitute. Young players Jack DeVries and Patrick Leal were not with the team.
Christian Cappis played the second half for Brondby in a 2-0 loss at home to second-place Viborg. Normally one of the top clubs in the Danish Superliga, Brondby is in 10th place at the break.
In Hungary's NB I, Henry Wingo played the full 90 for Ferencvaros in a 2-0 away win over Budapest Honved. Philadelphia Union forward Daniel Gazdag was on hand to watch his former club, Honved, in the loss.
Iowa native Eduvie Ikoba will enter into the break as the co-leading scorer of the NB I but he was held in check on Saturday as his ZTE played to a 0-0 draw with second-place Kecskemeti TE.
Sebastian Soto made the bench for the first time this season for Austria Klagenfurt but he was an unused substitute in a 1-0 loss to Austrian Bundesliga leaders Red Bull Salzburg.
In Brazil's Serie A, Johnny Cardoso was injured and missed Internacional's 3-0 win over Palmeiras. Palmeiras had already clinched the title and Internacional finished second.
Cardoso finished the Serie A season with 24 appearances, 17 starts, 1414 minutes, and three goals. He should be in the running for a spot on the U.S. U-23 Olympic team which will begin preparations for Paris in 2023.