Midweek musings

Gooch & Siebatcheu score, Johnny in the Libertadores, but concern for Steffen

An analytical look at the midweek games. U.S. regulars like Sergino Dest and Tim Ream were in action but others like Duane Holmes, Lynden Gooch, and Jordan Siebatcheu made positive steps. In South American, youth national team players Matko Miljevic and Johnny Cardoso played in big gmes. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with a deep look. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
February 12, 2020
6:25 PM

WHILE THERE weren’t any high-profile Champions League games to bring us to the television, there were plenty of games involving Americans abroad that were of interest – including several games with players trying to earn spots on national teams or youth national teams.

Here is a quick look around the games

Gooch lifts Sunderland

Lynden Gooch, 24, is incredibly loyal. He’s been affiliated with Sunderland since he was 10. He stuck with them through two relegations. Now the Santa Cruz, CA native is doing everything he can to get the club back to the Championship.

After he was named Sunderland’s Player of the Month for January, he is continuing to shine in February. On Tuesday Gooch scored Sunderland’s first goal against Rochdale then was key in the build-up to the second. He then scored the team’s third to have his hand in all three goals of a 3-0 win.

With the win, Sunderland is rising fast and is now in the promotional playoff positions in fifth place. It is fourth place away from the automatic promotional playoff positions.

Can Gooch get back to the national team? It’s tough for a player in the third-tier but it’s not impossible.

Johnny makes Libertadores debut

Johnny Cardoso (aka “Johnny” in Brazil) is certainly a player to watch. The New Jersey-born defensive midfielder seems to have taken some big strides over the past year with Internacional – one of Brazil’s biggest clubs.

On Tuesday, Cardoso, 18, came off the bench in the 84th minute in a 2-0 win over Universidad de Chile. It was his Copa Libertadores debut.

After being contacted by Gregg Berhalter in September to gauge his interest in playing for the United States, Cardoso made his U.S. debut in October with the U-23 team. Look for Cardoso to play a big role with the U.S. U-20 team this cycle as he is impressing with Internacional and on his way to becoming a first team regular.

Matkovic starts for Argentinos Juniors

Florida-born Matko Miljevic earned the start for Argentinos Juniors on Tuesday in a Copa Sudamericana matchup against Peru’s Sport Huancayo. Fresh off making his U.S. U-20 debut in January, this was Miljevic’s first start of 2020 for his club.

Overall, it was a subpar outing for Miljevic who has played better. He was pulled at halftime with his club down 1-0. The game finished 1-1.

It was just one game and Miljevic should continue to see occasional minutes for a solid Argentinos Juniors team which is in the top five of the Primera at the moment.

For the United States, Miljevic hasn’t made his decision between the United States, Argentina, or Croatia but the U.S. should be in good shape if Miljevic remains part of the U.S. U-20 team. When ASN interviewed U.S. U-20 head coach Anthony Hudson earlier this month, it sounds like Miljevic is in the plans.

“With Matko, I loved everything in camp,” Hudson said. “He's a really good character. As soon as he walked in, straight away, you could see he's playing first team football. The way he carries himself. He's already a man - he's very mature. And basic. He really involved himself in the group. He's always happy. He was really good for the team. And he did well. He's one that's definitely in the in the frame.”

Siebatcheu scores first of season

In 2018, then U.S. national team interim manager Dave Sarachan attempted to call-up up Jordan Siebatcheu after he dominated the second tier Ligue 2 and helped teams in consecutive years to promotions. A triple national with the USA, France, and Cameroon Siebatcheu elected to turn down the call-up

In 2018/19, Siebatcheu was injured on two separate times but still managed score seven goals across all competitions for Rennes.

But in 2019/20, Siebatcheu has struggled. He has mostly come off the bench for Rennes and has yet to score a goal. To be fair Rennes is doing very well this season and is in third place of Ligue 1, so playing time is hard to come by. But Siebtcheu hasn’t taken his chance – until Tuesday.

Coming off the bench in the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France, Siebatcheu came off the bench in the 76th minute against ASM Belfort and scored the final goal of a 3-0 win.

His numbers aren’t great but he has shown in his past that he can be an effective goal scorer. Maybe this will provide the spark of confidence he needs.

Last month, Siebatcheu told ASN that “perhaps now is the right time” for him to accept a call-up. But has he done enough to merit a call-up? Maybe not. But if he gets back on track, then it might be enough to convince Gregg Berhalter.

Steffen to be evaluated by Man City

In concerning news for fans of the U.S. national team, Fortuna Dusseldorf, and Manchester City, Zack Steffen still can’t get his knee healthy enough to where he can play games. He hasn’t played an official game for Fortuna Dusseldort since December 22 and he missed time in the fall because of issues with his knee.

Now Steffen will return to his parent club, Manchester City, to have his knee evaluated. Hopefully that will provide some clarity.

Dest starts in cup win


Sergino Dest is flying at Ajax recently where he is turning in solid performances on a regular basis. So it was not surprising that Dest got the start on Wednesday in a Dutch Cup quarterfinal matchup on the road at Vitesse.

Dest ended up going a full 90 in a convincing 3-0 win. With AZ Alkmaar getting beaten earlier in the day, many of the other best teams in Holland have been eliminated.

Ream & Fulham inching up

Tim Ream and Fulham will probably be disappointed they couldn’t take all three points on Wednesday in a London derby away at Millwall. But The Den isn’t an easy place to play and the point was enough to lift Fulham even on points for second place. With Leeds United struggling, Fulham still have the momentum for automatic promotion.

Ream was, once again, a steady presence on the backline for the Cottagers. He completed 90% of his passes, won 4 aerials, made 4 clearances, had a blocked shot and a clearance. He was 2/4 on accurate long balls out of the back.

The team will now return home for this weekend’s matchup vs. last-place Barnsley.

Derby and Holmes have setback

Entering into Wednesday, Derby County was surging with three wins over its last four games. Promotion was still a long shot, but it had two things going for its rise: Wayne Rooney and a red hot Duane Holmes (who had three goals and two assists in his last six games).

Unfortunately for Derby Conty and its players, Wednesday was a setback as the club lost a 3-2 decision on the road to seventh place Bristol City. Derby actually fell behind in the game 3-0 and rallied to make it 3-2. It seemed as if an equalizer would come – but the final whistle sounded first.

But for Holmes, he was once again one of the better Derby players in the game.

  • 2 shots
  • 1 shot on target
  • 3 successful dribbles
  • 2 key passes
  • 89.1% pass completion
  • 69 touches
  • 3 tackles
  • 1 interception
  • 1 clearance
  • 1/5 accurate crosses
  • 2/3 accurate long balls

This result will make it tough for Derby to rise to the level of being a promotional contender. The margin for error is just too thin after a poor first half of the season.

But for Holmes, he has a great chance of rejoining the U.S. team. While he was a notable omission from the October and November windows, his numbers and  level of play are much higher now.

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