31617_isi_johnsonfabian_usmntjd10041607 John Dorton/isiphotos.com
Americans Abroad

Fabian Johnson Injured, Emerson Hyndman Thriving

As a monumental international break approaches, ASN's Brian Sciaretta looks ahead to the weekend action abroad with an eye on promotion candidates, relegation fodder, and U.S. national team players.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 16, 2017
7:15 PM

THE FINAL WEEKEND before the international break has arrived and many Americans are at pivotal moments as the U.S. men's national team prepares for its most important game in years.

Some Yanks—like Christian Pulisic—are on the ascendancy while others, including Bobby Wood and Emerson Hyndman, could be looking for different clubs soon.

Then, of course, you have the promotion-contenders, including Tim Ream, Julian Green, and DeAndre Yedlin as well as relegation-battlers like Wood, Alfredo Morales, and Aron Johannsson.

Here's what I'll be tracking in the next few days.

What is the status of Fabian Johnson?

The United States national team camp has not even opened but already it might have suffered its first casualty. On Thursday Fabian Johnson was forced out of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Europa League knockout game vs. Schalke in just the 16th minute.

Johnson left under his own power but upon first glance it did appear it was a right hamstring injury that forced him out. As of this writing it is not certain how much time, if any, Johnson will miss but hamstring injuries often require a player to miss several weeks. For Monchengladbach, that would force him out of Sunday’s game vs. Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

For the United States national team, it would be even worse. Already reeling at the fullback position with injuries to DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Lichaj, along with the suspension of Timothy Chandler, U.S. coach Bruch Arena would be further hampered if Johnson missed the two matches.

Without Johnson, one of the top two or three players in the U.S. player pool, the Yanks are going to have to dig even deeper to find a way to win.  

Christian Pulisic vs. Alfredo Morales

Christian Pulisic gave yet another strong outing for Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday's German Cup match, breaking a scoreless deadlock with a 57th-minute goal against Sportfreunde Lotte.

Pulisic now has five goals and eight assists for Dortmund across all competitions this season.

On Friday, Pulisic and Dortmund will have a golden opportunity to enhance its grip on third place in the Bundesliga, and perhaps inch closer to second place Leipzig, when it hosts relegation fodders Ingolstadt and its American midfielder Alfredo Morales.

Under Jurgen Klinsmann, Morales received occasional national team call-ups but never really fit into to the team. Under Arena, his name is rarely mentioned. If Morales wants an international career he has to produce standout performances now because next year he will likely play in Germany's second tier. In central midfield, other American players like Emerson Hyndman, Kellyn Acosta, and Sebastian Lletget are stepping up both domestically and abroad.

Ream, Fulham have huge opportunity

Tim Ream has enjoyed a strong 2016-17 season for Fulham and the St. Louis native is now squarely back in the U.S. national team picture. He's got a lot going on at the club level too. 

Fulham now sits in seventh place in the English Championship and is desperately trying to claw into the top six—the last spot for the promotional playoff tournament.

The Cottagers had their chance on Tuesday in a home game against Blackburn but blew it. It was a game that a promotion hopeful has to win and Ream should have registered an assist. In the opening minutes when he got on the end of a free kick and sent a header to Sone Aluko in front of the goal. Unfortunately, the Nigerian’s shot when just wide.

With Fulham up 2-1 in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Ream lost Lucas Joao in the box and the Blackburn man headed home the equalizer with just second left. For Fulham to squander two points at home to the 21st-place team is a huge disappointment.

On Saturday, Fulham host Wolverhampton and it is another big chance to climb into the top six. A win would likely do the trick as sixth place Sheffield Wednesday and fifth place Reading face off. With one of those two dropping points, the door is once again open for Fulham to get back into the playoff picture.

It will be an important test for Ream.

Cameron set for a big test

When the United States national team assembles next week in California ahead of its crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras, Geoff Cameron will be arriving on the heels of an important match as Stoke City hosts Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday.

Cameron should once again be in the starting lineup for the Potters. Since returning from injury he has been playing predominantly in defensive midfield although that is unlikely where he will play for the Yanks.

Under Klinsmann, Cameron was a first-choice central defender despite stints at right back and defensive midfield. But with DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Lichaj injured, the Graham Zusi at right back experiment likely over, and Timothy Chandler not called up due to suspension, don’t be surprised if Arena plays Cameron at right back due to his experience and maturity.

Wood and Chandler face off

Two players heading in opposite directions will be facing off on Saturday when Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt host Bobby Wood and Hamburg SV on Saturday.

Eintracht Frankfurt has been in a tailspin the past month, suffering through five consecutive losses. Chandler has not performed well during this difficult span and has dropped in form after beginning the season playing great soccer. 

Meanwhile, Wood is playing the best soccer of his career and Hamburg can finally move clear of the relegation zone for the first time this season. Last Sunday, of course, Wood scored a late match winner as HSV upset Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1.

On Wednesday, Wood also received a bit of good news when Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said that Hamburg are ready to begin talks about a new contract.

Wood, 24, currently earns €1.5 million per year and his contract runs through 2020. The fact that HSV wants to give him a new contract reflects just how highly the club’s front office rates him. It’s easy to see why: His numbers are very strong despite Hamburg’s 16th-place standing in the Bundesliga. Across all competitions, Wood has nine goals in 1,637 total minutes—one goal every 181 minutes.

Also this week it was reported that Wood hired super-agent Volker Struth to represent him. Struth’s clients include Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Benedikt Howedes, Omer Toprak, Josip Drmic, and Marco Reus. Wood’s move to Struth is a clear indication that Wood is going to be expensive and clubs bigger than Hamburg might be interested in the near future. 

Yedlin on the shelf for a while

DeAndre Yedlin has had a great season so far for Newcastle United, a club expected to rejoin the Premier League despite stumbling lately. Yedlin has been out for most of March and what was initially reported as a “knock” was later revealed to be a hamstring pull. 

Yedlin was left off the U.S. men's national team roster yesterday and it was revealed he would miss five more weeks with this injury—jeopardizing the rest of his 2016-17 campaign.

Can Hyndman stay with Rangers?

Emerson Hyndman is currently in a great run on loan with Rangers. He is starting every week and is heavily involved in goals, assists, and overall offensive production from his central midfield position.

Last week he earned accolades among Rangers faithful for his performance in the final 20 minutes against Celtic when he helped Rangers draw leaders Celtic 1-1 in the Old Firm derby. It was Hyndman’s shot that forced a rebound that led to the equalizer.

Rangers supporters are making it known that they desperately want to keep the Texan who is on loan from English Premier League club Bournemouth. 

The problem is that last year Hyndman agreed to a four-year deal with Bournemouth so any buyout to make a permanent deal to Rangers is going to be costly. After the financial wreck Rangers have been mired in the past six years, management is unlikely to spend big on any one player.

Either way, Hyndman is in a great spot. The quality in the Scottish Premier League has been on a decline the past decade but Hyndman will attract interest from other clubs should Bournemouth decide to sell or loan him out again. Most likely he will be playing at a higher level but taking a big role at Rangers is not the worst option at the moment either.

On Saturday, Hyndman will look to continue on with his nice run when Rangers host Hamilton Academical FC at Ibrox.

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