Americans abroad analysis
Breaking down the key Americans abroad title races, relegation battles, and European pushes
May 14, 2021
THE MAJORITY OF European seasons are in their final weeks of action and there are bunch of Americans involved in games this weekend that will affect title races, cup titles, races for European competition, or relegation battles.
American players have already been involved in both good and bad situations already this European season. Jordan Siebatcheu, Zack Steffen, Brenden Aaronson, and Henry Wingo have all won Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary top flights, respectively. Sergino Dest, Ben Lederman, Gio Reyna, and Zack Steffen have all won domestic cups. On the flip side, Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream, Matthew Hoppe, Matthew Olosunde, Joe Efford, and Mix Diskerud have already secured their relegation.
This weekend will likely be revealing. Some Americans can secure titles, others can make a push for Europe, while others are still fighting for survival.
Here are the races we are looking at this weekend.
Bundesliga – Champions League positions
In the Bundesliga, no one will catch Bayern Munich for the title. Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig will almost surely finish second and even a worst -case scenario won’t see them fall out of the top four for a Champions League spot.
For the remaining two Champions League spots, there are three teams in the running. All three have American players.
John Brooks and Wolfsburg currently sit third with 60 points.
Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund sit fourth with 58 points.
Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt sit fifth with 57 points.
On this list, the hottest team, by far, is Borussia Dortmund which has won five Bundesliga games in a row and has won the German Cup during that span. On Sunday Borussia Dortmund visits Mainz at 12:00pm EST and should be heavily favored. Reyna did not play much in the German Cup final and it would not be surprising if there was an eye towards having him start this game. The final game is far more challenging against Bayer Leverkusen, so a win over Mainz is critical.
Brooks and Wolfsburg have the toughest challenge this weekend with a visit to Leipzig this Sunday at 2:30pm EST (Mainz in the finale is far easier). A loss to Leipzig could very easily see them fall out of the Champions League positions – which would be a disaster.
Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt have the easiest remaining schedule and can easily move into the top four should Wolfsburg or Dortmund stumble. On Saturday it visits Schalke at 9:30am EST before ending against Freiburg.
Serie A – Champions League positions
With two games remaining in the Serie A season, Weston McKennie and Juventus are in fifth and needs to find a way to overtake fourth-place Napoli to get back into the Champions League positions.
Unfortunately for Juventus, it’s schedule is not easy. On Saturday at 12:00pm EST it hosts already crowned champions Inter Milan before visiting Bologna in the finale. Sandwiched between those games is the Coppa Italia finale against Atalanta.
The pressure is squarely on Juventus and Napoli’s final two games against Fiorentina and Hallas Verona are more manageable.
Bundesliga - relegation battle
There were times this season when Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen seemed like they were cruising for a midtable position. But Werder has just one point from its last eight games and for the second straight season is in a tough fight for survival. Last year it survived only on a narrow playoff win.
Werder Bremen currently occupies 15th place – the final place for automatic survival. It is ahead of 16th place Arminia Bielefeld on only goal differential for the relegation playoff. Koln is in the automatic relegation zone in 17th place and trails Werder Bremen and Arminia Bielefeld by two points.
All teams have two games left.
It is simple, Sargent and Werder Bremen take visit Augsburg on Saturday at 9:30am EST with everything on the line. Augsburg is not a good team and is in 14th place – just two ahead of Werder and is not quite safe yet. This is a game Sargent hoped he would not have to play, but now that he’s here, he has to show up and impress. The final game of the season is against a much better Borussia Monchengladbach team.
Arminia Bielefeld have a tough but more manageable remaining schedule against midtable clubs Hoffenheim and Stuttgart. The big concern is Koln, who have a very easy remaining schedule against Hertha BSC and Schalke.
This game on Saturday against Augsburg is enormous because with a loss, relegation is a very real possibility.
FA Cup Final
On Saturday, Christian Pulisic and Chelsea will take on Leicester in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium at 12:15pm EST.
It’s hard to even put into context just how important every game Chelsea is playing and the pressure on this club is enormous. To keep this up every single game is a tough challenge. On Monday the club fell to Arsenal and that has jeopardized its hopes for finishing in the top four – for a Champions League spot.
Then combined with the Champions League final later this month and the preceding campaign to get to that point, Chelsea has had a lot on its plate.
Pulisic has been playing a lot lately and we will see if he starts the FA Cup final but he should, at least, come off the bench if needed. This is a big test for Tomas Tuchel in how he manages this team and thus far he’s been doing a great job.
It would be yet another huge accomplishment for Pulisic if he can add an FA Cup to his trophy collection.
Turkish Super Lig title
Galatasaray enjoyed an enormous midweek slate of games when it defeated Denizlispor and then saw both Besiktas and Fenerbahce drop home games. Galatasaray has now won five in a row and combined with Besiktas’ two game losing skid, Galatasaray has now leapfrogged Fenerbahce and is now even on points with Besiktas for the title. It trails by just two goals on the goal differential tiebreaker.
Deandre Yedlin has had a great season since moving to Galatasaray from Newcastle. In the win over Denizlispor, he was exceptionally sharp and does not look labored over his ankle injury last month.
On Saturday, the Super Lig will host its final round (all games starting at 1:30pm EST). Galatasaray will host 14th-place Yeni Malayaspor. Besiktas visit 10th place Goztepe – which has lost its last two.
Galatasaray has a good chance to win. For one, it most likely needs to win (it could win with a draw, but a draw then puts Fenerbahce back in play) and then hope Besiktas doesn’t play well. A Galatasaray win and a Besiktas draw or loss gives Galatasaray the title. If both teams win, however, Galatasaray can still win the title if it blows out Yeni Malayaspor to overcome the goal differential.
Ligue 1 title
The Ligue 1 title is coming down to the wire. There are two games remaining for each team and Tim Weah and Lille currently have a three-point lead on Paris St. Germain.
On Sunday all teams will play at 3pm EST. Lille can win Ligue 1 if it defeats 11th-place Saint-Etienne and PSG fails to defeat 13th-place Reims. While Weah is mostly a substitute, he still plays regularly and he is attempting to be the first American regular contributor to a “Top Five” European league championship since Thomas Dooley and Kaiserslautern won the Bundesliga in 1990.
Lille has been playing great down the stretch having won its last three games, and four of its last five. It can afford a draw in this game but it cannot afford a loss.
There are two games remaining for all clubs in Portugal's Primeira Liga. For Reggie Cannon and Boavista, relegation is going to come down to the wire.
Boavista currently sits in 16th place, in the relegation playoff position. It is one point away from 15th place Rio Ave for automatic safety and is ahead of 17th place Farense for automatic relegation.
On Saturday (10:30am EST), Boavista will host 13th place Portimonense. That is a far easier matchup than Rio Ave, which hosts second place Porto. Farense, meanwhile, hosts 12th place Tondela, which is struggling.
The season concludes for all teams on Wednesday. Boavista vists 11th place Gil Vicente, Rio Ave visits last-place Nacional, and Farense vists seventh place Santa Clara.
The final two games are not bad matchups for Cannon and Boavista but the pressure is on them to get a result. A path to survival is set up nicely for them, but they've been so inconsistent that is hard to be too optimistic.
Belgian Pro League - 2nd place
The Championship playoff round in Belgium’s First Division A has three games remaining for each of the four remaining clubs. Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge are in solid position in first, five points clear of second, but haven’t been playing the best soccer lately.
For now, the race is there for second place and that is extremely important. Second place advances to the Champions League qualifiers while third and four advance to the Europa Conference league qualifiers.
As it sits, Mark McKenzie and Genk are in second place with 35 points. Both Royal Antwerp and Matt Maizga and Anderlecht are at 32 points, with Antwerp having a one goal edge in goal differential.
If Matt Miazga and Anderlecht want to contend for second place, Saturday (a 2:45pm EST) is the day because it will host Genk with a chance to leapfrog both teams and move into second. This is the biggest game of Miazga’s season so far and one that could dictate if he will return to the club next season as he presses for a permanent club and move on from Chelsea’s “loan army.”