Midweek musings

Dest bags brace, Fortuna's woes, Brooks surges in midweek Americans abroad games

Most Euro leagues are approaching winter breaks, but some key 2020 storylines are emerging. Can Dest win his starting job back at Ajax? Can Yanks in Germany avoid relegation? Is John Brooks having the most underrated season? This weeks games were telling. ASN's Brian Sciaretta reports
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 18, 2019
2:35 PM
THE HOLIDAY SEASON is approaching and it becomes a slower time in American soccer for real news. MLS is deep in the offseason, January camp is a few weeks off, and there are fewer games to talk about abroad. The transfer window is nearly open, but that often leads to rumors that have varying degrees of truth to them.

So in the final week before Christmas, here are some musings from Americans abroad

Dest bags a brace

U.S. national team fullback Sergino Dest, 19, scored his first two goals for Ajax’s first team on Wednesday in a 4-3 win over Telstar in the Dutch Cup. Telstar currently is in 11th place in the second-tier Eerste Divisie.

His first goal gave Ajax a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute.

His second goal, meanwhile, was a beauty as it gave Ajax a 4-1 lead in the 58th minute.

That goal turned out to be the winner as Telstar came back with two more goals – and nearly found the equalizer towards the end.

It was a positive step for Dest but his skills with the ball at his feet have never been in question. Over the next year in 2020, Dest’s challenge will be limiting his defensive mistakes so that he can be the starter for Ajax for its most important games.

Ajax is now out of the Champions League and will have to focus on the Europa League. It’s biggest challenge in the coming months will be to take control of the Eredivisie. Right now, it is only in first place on goal differential as AZ Alkmaar has pulled even on points with Ajax.

There will be a lot of games to go around for Dest, and that is one of the great things of being at a club like Ajax. The goals he scored against Telstar were nice but seeing a reduction in his defensive mistakes will be even better.

Midweek Bundesliga games

The midweek Bundesliga games were pretty lackluster for Americans given that Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, and Weston McKennie are all still out.

It is going to be interesting to see what situation Josh Sargent finds himself in when he returns in the season’s second half. Mainz is not a good Bundesliga team at 14th place, but it was able to defeat Werder Bremen 5-0 in Bremen on Wednesday. Last weekend, Werder lost 6-1 to Bayern Munich. The weekend before that, it lost at home to the worst team in the league, Paderborn.

Right now, Werder finds itself deservedly in the relegation playoff positions. Werder has conceded 40 goals through 16 games – the worst in the Bundesliga. On Saturday it will face the team it trails on goal differential, Koln. A loss there and the real threat of relegation will linger through the winter break.

Fortunately for Werder, Fortuna Dusseldorf is somehow playing even worse. Fortuna’s struggles have allowed Werder to have a two-point cushion over the automatic relegation positions. But unfortunately for American fans, Fortuna features two U.S. internationals in Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales.

Fortuna Dusseldorf is playing terrible soccer right now. On Tuesday, it lost to Augsburg 3-0 and over its last five Bundesliga games, it has been outscored 16-1. Alfredo Morales is playing poorly in central midfield. Zack Steffen is making some nice saves but the third goal Augsburg scored this week was a mess from Steffen as a free kick slipped through his fingers.

Timothy Chandler earned a rare start for Eintracht Frankfurt but struggled in a 2-4 home loss to relegation battling Koln.

The best news for Americans abroad came from John Brooks, who is having one of the best 2019/20 seasons from an American abroad as Wolfsburg drew Schalke 1-1. Brooks was very good in the game and continues to anchor a Wolfsburg defensive that has conceded the fewest goals in the Bundesliga so far this season.

Also good news was that Fabian Johnson played the final two minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 2-0 win over last-place Paderborn. It was his first minutes since August as he has been out with an injury.

McKennie's injury

Schalke announced that Weston McKennie's separated shoulder will likely keep him out until Feburary. For McKennie, that is a terrible setback because he is a player who could have used the winter break friendlies to finally grow into a midfield role. So far this season, Mckennie has been a stopgap option for the club at many different positions including on the wing, central defense, and sometimes almost as a No. 10. This would have offered him a chance to play in some low-pressure games to finally find a role for himself. 

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