Americans abroad analysis
CCV delivers big performance in Old Firm win in quiet weekend for Americans abroad
April 04, 2022
AS EXPECTED AFTER a busy international window, it was a very slow weekend for Americans abroad. When you combine those players that were rested due to being busy with the U.S. team combined with those who are injured, and those who are benched, it made for a very slow weekend – with a few notable exceptions, primarily in the Old Firm.
The list of Americans who did not play was rather impressive. Here’s a look by category:
International Break Rest: Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Antonee Robinson, Reggie Cannon, James Sands, Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Gianluca Busio, George Bello, Yunus Musah.
Injury: Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Brendan Aaronson, Sam Vines, Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike, Ian Harkes, Thomas Roberts
Not in Matchday squad/Unused sub: Matthew Hoppe, Konrad de la Fuente, Matt Miazga, Kyle Duncan, Tanner Tessmann, Kevin Paredes, Sam Rogers, Anthony Fontana, Timothy Chandler, Kobe Hernandez-Foster
That’s a total of 27 American players that fall within our primary scope of coverage. On top of this, a few Americans in top leagues only played a handful of minutes. Gio Reyna played the final 16 minutes for Borussia Dortmund in a 4-1 loss at home to an Adams-less Leipzig team. Cole Bassett was a stoppage time sub for Feyenoord in a 2-0 win over Willem II.
So there really wasn’t all that much substance that there typically is in this weekly column. But a few Americans managed to stand out and here is a breakdown from those that played.
Carter-Vickers shines in Old Firm
Cameron Carter-Vickers, 24, has had a very good season in Scotland. While Celtic is better than just about every team in the league, the only time it is every truly tested is in Old Firm derby matchups against Rangers and in European play. Unfortunately, Celtic struggled in Europe this year, but things are much brighter in the Scottish Premiership this season.
On Saturday, Celtic traveled across Glasgow to visit Rangers at Ibrox and walked away with a 2-1 win. That put Celtic three points atop the Premiership. Rangers struck first in the third minute with a goal from Aaron Ramsey but Celtic equalized in the 7th minute from Tom Rogic.
Celtic’s winning goal came from American Cameron Carter-Vickers in the 43rd minute when he pounced on a scramble after a free kick delivery into the box. His left-footed shot from close range proved to be enough for a huge win.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and his huge goal for Celtic in the Old Firm pic.twitter.com/WuqCrN3ZUA— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 3, 2022
This was a definitive performance from Carter-Vickers so far in his loan to Celtic and it was a game that will help shape his future. Being consistent against the St. Mirren and St. Johnstone-level teams is one thing but it is entirely different to be a MOTM in a big Old Firm game that will likely determine the Scottish title.
But it wasn’t just the goal, Carter-Vickers was solid throughout.
- 90 minutes
- 54 touches
- 2/6 long balls
- 1 shot
- 1 goal
- 8 clearances
- 3 interceptions
- 7/9 aerial duels
- 1/1 ground duels
Carter-Vickers is trending up right now at a very good time. For one, he is going to either force Celtic to spend a lot of money to buy him from Tottenham or another club will spend the money. The good news is that whatever team will buy him will bring him in as a starter. He’s too expensive for a backup option at all but the elite clubs. If Celtic spends the money for him, it will give him an opportunity with the Champions League.
As for the national team, it is still a bit tough. He is playing well but central defense has been a strength with the U.S. team, and it seems like Berhalter is happy with the current pool who contributed over the past year: Zimmerman, Robinson, Richards, Palmer-Brown, Long, McKenzie, Brooks, Ream, Sands, and Miazga.
Carter-Vickers has to think long-term, however. Next cycle, players like Zimmerman, Brooks, Long, and Ream will likely age out. Without any elite central defenders emerging from the youth ranks, he sits in great position to be with Richards, Palmer-Brown, Robinson, and McKenzie as a central defender entering his prime years heading into 2026. He also has played the most professional minutes out of anyone of that group, by far.
For now, he is trending up. After a series of loads to average to below average Championship teams. His loan to Luton Town where he helped the club surprisingly avoid relegation was a turning point. From there he finally got a loan to a Championship promotion contender in Bournemouth. Now he’s at Celtic. It’s been a slow rise, but Carter-Vickers is now in a great spot.
Pepi & Augsburg down Brooks & Wolfsburg
In one of the more high-profile matchups for Americans abroad, Augsburg hosted Wolfsburg on Sunday with Ricardo Pepi getting a surprising start for Augsburg on the heels of international duty. John Brooks got the start for Wolfsburg.
Augsburg walked away with a 3-0 win that will be huge for the team’s battle against relegation. Ricardo Pepi did not have a goal or an assist, but this was his best game at Augsburg by far. He was important to the build-up of the final goal and he generally passed well, was effective in holing the ball-up, and he generally helped his team.
Pepi still has a long way to go in terms of getting to where he and Augsburg wants him to be. But this was a positive performance, and it came in a big win that pulled them out of the relegation zone.
Brooks meanwhile wasn’t at fault for any of the goals but it wasn’t necessarily a performance to remember either.
De la Torre strong in Heracles win
Luca de la Torre had a strong game for Heracles on Sunday when he helped his team to a 2-0 win on the road over relegation-battling Fortuna Sittard. De la Torre went the distance in this one and was one of the few players coming back from the international break to do so.
Playing in central midfield, de la Torre was just solid, and his touch-map (attacking left) shows just how much ground he covered.
- 90 minutes
- 57 touches
- 37/42 passing
- 2/4 long balls
- 4/5 dribbles
- 7/11 ground duels won
De la Torre continues to play very well and now seems firmly on the inside of the national team. He’s probably surpassed Gianluca Busio on the No. 8 depth chart.
The big question for de la Torre, however, is what happens next season. The odds of him returning to Heracles is extremely slim. This is a club that relies heavily on selling players and de la Torre’s value has never been higher and given his age, it never will be higher.
At Heracles, de la Torre is limited to what he can do. It’s a small club with a limited upside. To his credit, he has absolutely maximized what he could have gotten out of the club and now he seems more than ready for another challenge. As for how high he could go, it remains to be seen. He will be 24 next month and it really isn’t about developing and selling at this point. He will need to head to a place where he can help right away.
Higher up the food chain in the Eredivisie is possible but so would be a move to a top league outside of the top teams. La Liga, the Bundesliga, and Serie A could have teams willing to take him. What has helped de la Torre has been his massive improvement in defense.
Ream and Fulham inch closer to promotion
With Antonee Robinson out, Tim Ream was the lone American in Fulham’s starting XI on Saturday away against Queens Park Rangers in a London Derby. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored both of Fulham’s goals in a 2-0 win. The Serbian forward historic season now has him at 37 goals for the season.
Fulham’s win now has them eight points clear of first and 14 points clear of relegation. The Cottagers have eight games remaining and could mathematically clinch promotion within two games.
Tim Ream put forth another steady outing and the St. Louis native has been a rock this season. In this game he made no defensive mistakes and his passing out of the back allowed Fulham to keep the pressure on QPR further up the field.
Wright scores again in Turkey
Haji Wright continues to have a nice season in Turkey’s Super Liga and the California native notched a goal and an assist for Antalyaspor in a 2-1 win over Altay. It was the club’s fourth win in a row and now puts it inside the top 10 at 9th place. Wright now has seven goals on the Super Lig season.
Hajiwright pic.twitter.com/nYhXGJ9gJV— #bir_sevdadir_Antalyaspor (@AntalyasporBir) April 2, 2022
On loan from Sonderjyske (where he left on unpleasant terms), Wright has done well to give himself options to find a solid landing spot – whether remaining with Antalyaspor, finding an option in Turkey, or heading elsewhere in Europe.
For the national team, Wright simply needs to keep it up. It might be partially true that Berhalter does not rate him, but no one has seized control of the No. 9 spot. Wright might fall victim to the lack of windows between now and November to get a look, but he should also be motivated that he only recently turned 24 and will be just 28 in four years. He has another cycle ahead of him.
McKenzie returns to Genk XI
Mark McKenzie returned to Genk’s starting lineup on Sunday and went the distance in a 5-0 win over Eupen. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Genk and moved it into eighth place. Eupen is a smaller team in Belgium’s First Division and Genk was expected to win, but it was positive for McKenzie to get back into the XI as it will be tough for head coach Bernd Storck to change a winning formula.
McKenzie played well in this game although Eupen did not put up much of fight (Genk outshot Eupen 14-5 and Eupen had just one shot inside the box, which was off target). McKenzie was 54/60 in his passing and was 4/4 in long balls. His four interceptions were a high number as he helped to break up Eupen’s possessions before they became dangerous.
For McKenzie, one performance is good but what he needs is consistency. He needs to play well for a run of games, help his team win, and he needs strong games against the better teams in the league. This was important in that it should give him more opportunities.
Internal competition will tough for McKenzie at Genk as a number of players, including defenders, get settled after returning from the international window.
Richards returns from injury
In positive news on the injury front, Chris Richards returned to the field for the first time for Hoffenheim since suffering an injury during the January window with the United States national team.
The Alabama native came off the bench for Hoffenheim to start the half against Bochum. Bochum was leading 1-0 when Richards came on and Hoffenheim ended up losing 2-1.
Richards appeared to be a little rusty in this one – which was to be expected given his time away. He was fortunate that a third Bochum goal which was near him was called back. Still, it is good news for Hoffenheim and the United States that he is back. His performances will improve. It is coming at a critical time when Bayern Munich will have to decide where Richards will play next season – could it be another loan to Hoffenheim? If not, will he remain with Bayern?
Palmer-Brown subs into Troyes win
Erik Palmer-Brown probably wasn’t expected to play for Troyes vs. Reims on Saturday after rejoining the team after playing with the United States over the recent window, but he was subbed into the game in just the 30th minute to replace an injured Adil Rami.
Palmer-Brown was subbed out in the 83rd minute but he kept Troyes scoreless during his 53 minutes on the field. He wasn’t on the field as Troyes found a 90th minute winner. That win meant that Troyes has accumulated 10/12 points from its previous four games.
Palmer-Brown connected on all 18 of his passes and his role within the team seems to be set right now. His performances earned him a spot on the national team, and it doesn’t seem like he is going to give it up. He’s peaked at just the right time in his career and it could see him land a spot on the World Cup team.
Other notes around Europe
Sebastian Soto earned his first start for Livingston after forward Bruce Anderson picked up a serious injury recently. He had a shot saved early but was otherwise quiet over 74 minutes as Livingston dropped a 1-0 decision to St. Johnstone. Fellow American Steve Pittman played 80 minutes for Livingston in the loss.
Also in Scotland, Joe Efford started and played 74 minutes for Motherwell in a 4-2 win over St. Mirren. Christian Ramirez started for Aberdeen and played 90 minutes in a 2-2 away draw with Dundee FC. Chris Mueller started and played 90 minutes for Hibernian in a 1-1 draw with Dundee United who saw Ian Harkes out injured.
In Belgium, Bryan Reynolds played 90 minutes for Kortrijk in a 3-2 loss to Mechelen. Kortrijk is in a terrible run right now having lost five in a row and having just one win from its last 12 games in Belgium’s top-flight.
In Portugal's top-flight, Alex Mendez played the final 23 minutes for Vizela in a 2-1 away win over Estoril. All the goals were scored after Mendez came on.
In Turkey's Super Lig, Tyler Boyd started and played 63 minutes for Rizespor in a 2-1 loss to Alanyaspor. Rizespor are currently 10 points deep in the relegation hole.
In the Bundesliga, Julian Green played the final 24 minutes for last-place Greuther Furth in a 0-0 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt. Meanwhile, Pellegrino Matarazzo's Stuttgart team played Arminia Bielefeld to a 1-1 draw and now sit one point clear of the relegation playoff position.
In France's Ligue 1, Nicholas Gioacchini played the final 7 minutes for Montpellier in a 2-1 loss at home to Brest.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Ryan Malone was sharp once again in central defense as he helped Hansa Rostock oversee a 1-0 win over St. Pauli for the team's fourth win in a row.
In Italy's Serie B, Andrija Novakovich played the final 30 minutes for Frosinone in a 1-0 loss to Lecce.
In Spain's Segunda, Shaq Moore returned from international duty with the United States and played the final 22 minutes for Tenerife in a 1-1 draw with Real Zaragoza.
In Greece's Super League, Caleb Stanko started and played 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Aris.