Americans involved in a huge slate of weekend games across the globe
September 11, 2020
THE 2020/21 EUROPEAN seasontakes big steps towards being fully underway with the top leagues in England getting underway while top teams in Germany will get underway in the German Cup – one week ahead of the league openers. Meanwhile, domestically, the MLS season continues with the end of another phase and the rest of the season is expected to be announced soon.
English opener lacks the excitement of previous seasons. Christian Pulisic is still not match fit and there are questions about DeAndre Yedlin being in the plans at Newcastle. Meanwhile, U.S. U-20 attacking mid Indiana Vassilev will hope to get minutes off the bench for Aston Villa. The best news is the return of American-friendly Fulham which will have two left-footed American defenders in Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson – and their season gets under way this weekend.
In the second tier, there are a lot of changes for Americans abroad. Cameron Carter-Vickers is awaiting another loan from Tottenham (AFC Bournemouth was one team reportedly with interest) but his plans aren’t set. Robinson and Ream are now in the top flight. Matt Miazga is no longer with Reading and another loan is likely for the New Jersey defender. Eric Lichaj has packed his bags for Turkey.
Derby County attacking midfielder Duane Holmes is one of the most interesting American players in the Championship but his recent preseason injury has made him doubtful for the season opener this weekend vs. Reading. Derby manager Phillip Cocu said yesterday on Holmes’ availability: "If I have to guess it today, I don't think he will be available."
After Holmes, the remaining Americans in the Championship is Geoff Cameron, now 35, who is still playing for Queens Park Rangers. Also, New Jersey native Mathew Olosunde will play at fullback for newly promoted Rotherham United.
The German Cup will likely see many Americans in action. Preseason for Bundesliga clubs has seen positives and negatives for American players. Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna and Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent both impressed significantly the past few weeks and both could be in store for breakout seasons.
On the flip side, John Brooks is not in a great situation at Wolfsburg at the moment and with the U.S. national team needing central defenders, his potential benching could be bad news.
In one of the better stories in American soccer right now, New Jersey native Pellegrino Matarazzo will manage Stuttgart in its return to the top flight.
The second tier of Germany mostly consists of Julian Green at Greuther Furth. Other Americans in the league such as Bobby Wood at Hamburg or Jahn George at Jahn Regensburg aren’t expected to play much.
This season in Germany, it will be interesting to see if many of the players in the youth levels earn a first-team promotion. Ulysses Llanez at Wolfsburg is rumored to go on loan but Schalke forward Matthew Hoppe and St. Pauli midfielder/left back Leon Flach might find ways to get first team minutes.
The Eredivisie will also get underway this weekend with a bunch of Americans in interesting situations. Sergino Dest and Ajax will once again be in contention for the title and Dest is still the subject of transfer rumors to truly elite clubs. But thus far in preseason, it isn’t clear that he is the starter for Ajax at the moment.
Luca de la Torre recently moved from Fulham to Heracles and the San Diego native will hope to crack the starting lineup. Also, Richard Ledezma has been around the first team at PSV but still awaits his debut. How much is he in the plans to start the season? For the reserve teams, Ajax midfielder Alex Mendez and PSV left back Chris Gloster are with their clubs on high non-EU wages. This year is critical for them to make inroads.
Elsewhere abroad there are some players to certainly follow this weekend. Turkey will open and there are two top-flight Americans. Eric Lichaj and Fatih Karagumruk will get under way while Tyler Boyd has been dealing with a PCL injury from preseason and could be in store for a loan away from Besiktas.
In Denmark, Emmanuel Sabbi has finally joined OB and will face a tough Copenhagen team to kick things off. Meanwhile, can Jonathan Amon finally stay healthy for Nordsjaelland?
Heading east in Austria, Jesse Marsch and defending champs RB Salzburg open the season and Erik Palmer-Brown returns to Austria Vienna for its first game vs. LASK.
Then in Sweden, old friends and former U.S teammates red-hot Aron Johannson and Mix Diskerud will be opponents.
Heading stateside, the last two rounds of games have set the stage for some interesting storylines as the fortunes of some teams has changed dramatically. Can LAFC fix its defensive woes as the defending Supporters Shield champions look like a shell of their former selves. Meanwhile, the Galaxy were terrible in Orlando but are in fine form right now. FC Dallas is continuing to push with youth but can it break into the top part of the standings as opposed to the middle ranks.
In the East, Columbus and Philadelphia have replaced Atlanta United and the Red Bulls as contenders. Philadelphia, however, might have to strike while the iron is hot as European clubs are circling for players Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson.
Finally, heading south in Brazil, Johnny Cardoso has impressed mightily in his first three games starting for the club. In a midweek win over Ceara, the New Jersey-born defensive midfielder put up great numbers.
More notes on Johnny Cardoso today:— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) September 11, 2020
- Johnny was the most accurate passer in game among players who played more than 45 minutes
- 14/17 in accurate long balls the last 3 games. That’s big for a d-mid in the style the #USMNT & #USYNT’s like to play these days
With all that said, here are the biggest games ASN will be watching from an American perspective.
Fulham - Arsenal
Saturday: 7:30am EST (NBCSN)
Fulham earned promotion last season by virtue of winning the Championship playoffs and U.S. national team defender Tim Ream continues to be a big part of Fulham’s backline. But now against better opposition, he will need to raise his game. Arsenal will be a tough test in this London derby. Will the team be better prepared for the top flight than its poor start in 2018.
U.S. national team left back Antonee Robinson earned the transfer to Fulham after impressing at Wigan Athletic last year during a tumultuous period for the club. He will have to compete well to earn playing time as Joe Bryan is a solid left back and was the hero for Fulham in the promotional playoff final where he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Brentford. If Robinson gets in off the bench, he will have to seize the opportunity and build a case compared with the popular Bryan.
Carl Zeiss Jena - Werder Bremen
Saturday: 9:30am (ESPN 3)
With forwards, everything is about momentum and Josh Sargent has plenty of it after a very good preseason with Werder Bremen. Now ahead of the Bundesliga opener, the St. Louis native will have the chance to play in a game that counts against an opponent that was recently relegated out of the 3.Liga and into the Regionalliga.
For Sargent, he should get his chances in this one but more important than helping Werder in this one, a solid performance is needed to continue the momentum heading into next week’s opener vs. Hertha BSC.
San Jose Earthquakes – LA Galaxy
Sunday: 11:00pm EST
This rivalry dates back to the early days of the league in the 90’s and exists to this day, despite two different iterations of the Quakes.
But this game is the story of two teams heading in completely different directions. The Galaxy are the hottest team in the league with four straight wins. At the front of this surge has been U.S. national team midfielder Sebastian Lletget who has four goals and two assists over this span. Argentine playmaker Cristian Pavon has also been playing at an elite level. U.S. U-20 right back Julian Araujo has also turned the corner
For the Quakes, the team has had embarrassing results in two of its last three games – a 5-1 loss to LAFC and most recently a 7-1 laugher at the hands of Seattle. There are some interesting Americans on this team like Nick Lima, U.S. U-23 mid Jackson Yueill, and 16-year-old winger Cade Cowell. But San Jose is not a positive environment right now.
Nurnberg – RB Leipzig
Saturday: 9:30am (ESPN 3)
After scoring a game-winner in the Champions League quarterfinals and becoming just the second U.S. player to play in the tournament’s semifinal, Tyler Adams will now look to build on his historic accomplishments. The top goal for the former RBNY defensive midfielder should be becoming a consistent starter, as he was in early 2019 when he first arrived in Germany.
But since returning from his injury in December he has mostly been coming off the bench or playing different positions such as right back. It will be huge accomplishment if he can assume the starting defensive midfield position.
Awaiting Leipzig is a downward spiraling Nurnberg team that was relegated from the Bundesliga in 2019 and only narrowly escaped another relegation in 2020.
Hansa Rostock - Vfb Stuttgart
Sunday: 9:30am EST
American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo will begin his first full season with Stuttgart with a cup game away against a Hansa Rostock team that finished last season sixth in the 3.Liga.
Stuttgart has a lot of pressure this season after earning promotion to the Bundesliga under Matarazzo’s leadership. But Stuttgart is one of the bigger clubs in Germany and remaining in the top flight is key. This cup matchup should be a nice test as to where the club is at right now heading into next week’s league opener vs. Freiburg.
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg
Sunday: 11:00am EST
Last season was a triumph for American manager Jesse Marsch. The Wisconsin native became the first American to manage a team in the group stages of the Champions League, he won the Austrian league, and he won the Austrian Cup. The team had a goal differential of +76 and scored 110 goals in 32 league games. This year, the team is restocked with young talent for Marsch to work with.
FC Dallas – Houston Dynamo
Saturday, 8:30pm EST
The two Texas-based MLS teams will meet on Saturday night and it should be a fun one. Former U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos has his Dynamo team playing the best soccer in recent memory with three wins and a draw in its last four games. The former U.S. national team playmaker is in his first season as a manager and is trying to revive the team back to relevancy in the league.
Meanwhile, FC Dallas will have its season determined by how well its young players do. Despite, selling homegrown right back Reggie Cannon to Boavista last week while also losing U.S. U-23 playmaker Paxton Pomykal to a season-ending surgery, Dallas still has a huge stockpile of young talent. Midweek it lost 3-2 on the road to a good Minnesota team while starting four U.S. youth national team-eligible players while having another six on the bench. While head coach Luchi Gonzalez has employed squad rotation, the best young players like Jesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, and Brandon Servania should feature.
Rodez – SM Caen
Saturday: 1:00pm EST
American forward Nicholas Gioacchini, 20, is an interesting prospect to follow and the U-23 eligible striker/winger has been contacted by Gregg Berhalter (who indicated Gioacchini was in the running for a March call-up for the now-cancelled friendlies).
Both of these teams have four points from their first two games of the season. Gioacchini has started both games for Caen and has played well but is yet to get on the scoresheet.
LAFC – Portland Timbers
Sunday: 11:00pm EST
Bob Bradley has a lot to figure out regarding his LAFC team. Defensively it is a nightmare and it has lost four of five games since MLS is Back. How can this team return to scoring in droves? How can its defense be functional?
Meanwhile, Portland has been up and down since winning MLS is Back last month. Now it must move forward without injured Sebastian Blanco who won’t return until 2021 after tearing his ACL. American fans will want to note the progress of Eryk Williamson who scored, assisted, and completed 27/29 of his passes (including 10/10 in the final third) in the team’s recent 2-1 away win over Seattle. Williamson has been a top player since MLS is back. Now it will be also up to U.S. U-23 forward Jeremy Ebobisse to return to the scoresheet.
Rangers - Dundee United
Saturday: 10:00am EST
Rangers currently sit atop the Scottish Premiership with 16 points from six games. It has been the best the Glasgow-based team has looked in years and it has ambitions of being the best team in the league again.
Its opponents, Dundee United, are hoping to stay in the league after earning promotion last season. Led by American central midfielder Ian Harkes, Dundee United will be aiming to pull off the upset and end a two-game losing skid. Meanwhile, fellow American midfielder Dillon Powers will hope to get minutes against the leaders.
Lille – Metz
Sunday, 7:00am EST
American forward/winger Tim Weah, 20, returned from injury in Lille’s last game and looked lively in an 11 minute-sub appearance during a 1-0 win over Reims. You could see his talent and it was refreshing for American fans to see that his drop-off wasn’t significant after essentially a lost season due to a hamstring injury and reinjury.
But will Lille up Weah’s workload? Will he see more minutes? Those are open questions as Lille want to see Weah remain heathy with a busy schedule ahead including league games, two cups, and Europa League games.
Sparta Rotterdam – Ajax
Sunday: 8:30am EST
Sergino Dest, 19, is one of the best young American players in the game but there are a lot of questions regarding his status that are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Has Dest lost his starting spot at Ajax? Or is Dest the target of transfer interest from elite clubs such as Bayern Munich or Juventus?
Ajax is one again favored to win the Eredivise this year and Dest made huge strides in 2019/20, his first season on the first-team. But now it will be important for him to show growth after his strong impressions last season.
Goias – Internacional
Brazil’s Serie A
Sunday, 5:00pm EST
Johnny Cardoso, 18, is earning very positive reviews for his three consecutive starts for first-place Internacional. But the defensive midfielder must continue to seize the opportunity because top starters at the club will soon be returning to health.
Cardoso has impressed both defensively as well as with his accurate long-balls. He has been singled out by U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter as an American player to watch and it is easy to see why he could be a solid addition with the way he can pass from deep-lying positions.
This should be a comfortable win for Internacional as Goias is in last-place with just five points from seven games. But winning games as a heavy favorite isn’t always easy.
Hammarby – Helsingborg
Sunday: 8:30am EST
Aron Johannsson and Mix Diskerud (both 29) are old friends from the U.S. national team – where both were on the 2014 World Cup roster. But the two will be opponents in Sweden’s top flight on Sunday when Diskerud’s Helsingborg (14th place out of 20) visit Johannsson’s Hammarby (seventh place).
Johannsson is the story to watch in this game as the Alabama-born forward has been terrific lately and is playing his best soccer in years. Midweek, he scored the opening goal in a 4-0 win away over IFK Goteborg. That goal was his fifth in his last seven games.
Meanwhile, Diskerud has returned to playing midfield after serving as an emergency central defender due to injuries at Helsingborg.
Philadelphia Union – New England Revolution
There will be a lot for American fans to follow in this game as Philadelphia hosts New England on Saturday. The Union have two of the most interesting domestically-based U.S. youth internationals in Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson. The latter scored a wonder-goal in his last game against the New York Red Bulls. That win not only gave the Union three points in a season where it can contend for MLS Cup, but it also impressed a growing number of European scouts. Meanwhile, the Union also has Alejandro Bedoya who has grown into a great leader and a crafty veteran at age 33.
Meanwhile, New England is sneaking back into relevancy in MLS after years in the abyss. For American fans, keep an eye on goalkeeper Matt Turner who is one of the best American keepers in the league.
Best of the rest
DeAndre Yedlin will hope to feature for Newcastle United in its Premier League opener away at West Ham United on Saturday.
Matthew Olosunde will aim for his Championship debut for newly-promoted Rotherham United when it visits Wycombe in its season opener on Saturday.
Eric Lichaj and newly promoted Fatih Karagumruk will host Yeni Malatyaspor in the Super Lig opener on Saturday for both clubs. The Chicago native jointed the club last week after his contract with Hull City expired last year (Lichaj was captain of that team).
Talented U.S. U-20 winger Cameron Harper will hope to make his Celtic debut on Saturday when they host Ross County. The Californian has been an unused substitute the last three games for Celtic.
Julian Green recently signed a new deal with 2.Bundesliga side Greuther Furth and the Tampa-born attacker will hope to begin his season in strong fashion in a cup matchup away at RSV Meinerzhagen on Saturday.
Alfredo Morales will get to take on his former club on Saturday when Fortuna Dusseldorf (recently relegated to the 2.Bundesliga) will visit Ingolstadt of the 3.Liga.
Luca de la Torre, 23, will hope to make his Eredivise debut on Sunday for Heracles at home against ADO Den Haag in the season-opener for both teams. The San Diego native made the move in hopes of finally having consistent playing time for the first time in his career.
Patrick Koffi, 18, came off the bench for Paris FC in the season opener but was sent off with a straight red card. With his suspension now over, will he be back in the plans for a Paris FC team that has six points from two games? The club hosts Amiens SC on Saturday.
U.S. U-20 midfielder/left back Leon Flach will be looking to earn his first-team debut on Sunday for St. Pauli of the 2.Bundesliga when it visits Elversberg.