Americans abroad analysis
Green & Aaronson stand out, setbacks in England, Sargent relegated, Pulisic & McKennie luck out, & more
May 24, 2021
It was a big weekend for Americans abroad as all of the major European leagues wrapped up and for some it meant silverware, for some it meant European qualification, for some it meant promotion, for some it meant a failure to achieve promotion or European qualification, and finally for some it meant relegation.
For the most part, the news was mostly positive but there were setbacks as well.
In term of major silverware, Tim Weah and Lille dethroned Paris St. Germain to win Ligue 1 following a 2-1 away win over Angers on Sunday. Weah, 21, was an unused sub in the last two games for OSC Lille but the season was significant for him in that he made 28 appearances for Lille in league play and scored three goals. This return to the field marked a comeback for the New Yorker after 2019/20 was essentially a lost season for him due to a pair of serious hamstring injuries.
For Weah, 21, he played a role in a winning campaign in a “Big 5” European winning campaign. That is a massive accomplishment. This was an ideal “comeback” season and it sets the stage for 2021/22. He will need to find a way to play more next season as he managed just 867 Ligue 1 minutes this season (or 25% of Lille’s minutes). It’s possible and it will come down to how much Lille’s squad changes in the offseason.
Weston McKennie, 22, played the final 32 minutes for Juventus in a convincing 4-1 rout over Bologna with all four of Juve’s goals scored before his arrival into the game. It wasn’t a big task for McKennie but he handled himself well. The big news for Juventus wasn’t anything in its game, but it was Napoli conceding a second half equalizer against Hellas Verona in a 1-1 draw. That result allowed Juventus to leapfrog Napoli and finish the season in the top four.
It was a disappointing season for Juventus as its nine-year Scudetto run ended. That being said, it ended on great note as it won the Coppa Italia and qualified for the Champions League in the final week.
Christian Pulisic and Chelsea, meanwhile, are simply lucky. Pulisic played well but Chelsea, as a whole, did not in a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa in the season finale. Pulisic played the full 90 and assisted on Chilwell’s goal in the 70th minute.
Christian Pulisic’s assist for a poor but lucky Chelsea team today that loses to Villa but backs into a top 4 thanks to Tottenham downing Leicester City. The team isn’t in great form, at all, heading into the Champions League final pic.twitter.com/26jVcnAvhY— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 23, 2021
Chelsea managed to finish in the top four of the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League by virtue of Leicester City losing to Tottenham 4-2 on the final matchday. That loss avoided a disaster for Chelsea which is not playing well entering into the Champions League final. Chelsea could very well have been entering this week having not qualified for the Champions League and failing to win both the FA Cup and League Cup. Then all of a sudden a loss in the Champions League finale would have left them with nothing.
Matt Miazga ended his season on a bad note having played just the first 13 minutes of Anderlecht’s 1-0 loss to Antwerp on Sunday. Maizga was sent off, albeit harshly, for this questionable red card.
Bryan Reynolds played the second half for AS Roma in a 2-2 draw against Spezia. He played out of position at left back didn’t have much to do, although he was on the field as Roma rallied from a 2-0 deficit. The draw was enough to secure a spot in the new Europa Conference League qualifiers.
There were plenty of other Dead Rubber Games that involved American players this weekend and hand no real significance.
John Brooks started and played 58 minutes for Wolfsburg in a 3-2 loss to Mainz. Gio Reyna played the final 12 minutes for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Manager Pellegrino Matarazzo and his VfB Stuttgart lost to Arminia Bielefeld 2-0 but finished ninth – which is solid after earning promotion last season. Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 3-1 win over Freiburg to finish fifth.
In Spain, Sergino Dest started for Barcelona in a 1-0 win over Eibar while Konrad de la Fuente went as an unused substitute. De la Fuente did not make a single La Liga appearance this season and seems to be on his way out as Barcelona is in poor financial shape and any player could be sold. Meanwhile, Yunus Musah played the final 10 minutes for Valencia in a 0-0 draw with Huesca.
With all that said, here were the top stories of the weekend for Americans abroad:
Sargent & Werder relegated
They day could not have been any worse for Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen. The team played poorly on the final day to complete and absolutely miserable stretch run. It also failed to get the help it needed – but didn’t deserve – from other games.
Sargent, 21, played 66 minutes against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday. He had one nice move when he got past the defense, laid a ball off Davie Selke who botched what should have been an easy finish for a 1-0 lead. That being said, Werder Bremen were not going to win this game even if Sargent’s assist had been executed. Borussia Monchengladbach were simply better en route to a 4-2 win (with both Werder goals having been scored after Sargent left).
Combined with Koln’s late winner for a 1-0 victory over last-place Schalke (where American forward Matthew Hoppe stared and played 89 minutes), Werder Bremen’s loss confirmed their relegation.
This loss is not what relegated the club, however. Werder’s fate was sealed due to a brutal final 10 games where the club managed just a single point out of a possible 30. That stretch makes it impossible to argue that wasn’t completely deserved. Combined with last season where it avoided relegation only on away goals in the playoff, Werder Bremen has been in a downward spiral for years.
American fans are left to wondering what this means for Josh Sargent, who still is likely the starting center forward for the national team? The likely answer is that he will be sold. Werder Bremen need to sell off assets to prepare for the drop in revenue due to relegation. The problem, however, is that there aren’t many German clubs at the moment that can spend a lot of money. The past year has made everyone tighten their belts. While it is true that Sargent didn’t get the best service possible this past season, he didn’t play terribly well either. His five goals this season do not stand out. His youth will add to his value, but it also depends on other strikes that become available.
While Sargent will likely be moving on from Werder, it is still not a great situation. If he moves to a bigger club, will he go there as a starter? It also remains to be seen how much his confidence has taken a hit.
These upcoming national team games are enormous for Sargent. If he doesn’t perform well in the Nations League, potential buyers might look to other options. He needs these games to improve his confidence, and help boost his value in a murky transfer window.
Two things happened the past two weeks in the 2.Bundesliga that made Sunday a dramatic day. Julian Green and Greuther Furth refused to lose and put forth a tremendous effort. Meanwhile, Holstein Kiel choked the final two games and lost its grip on second place for automatic promotion.
The result is that Julian Green and Greuther Furth have earned promotion to the Bundesliga for 2021/22. Green is not the only American on the team. German-American Timothy Tillman made 24 appearances with one goal on the season for Furth.
In the season finale against Fortuna Dusseldorf, Greuther Furth needed to win and hope Holstein Kiel failed to win against Darmstadt in for it to secure automatic promotion. Otherwise, it would have to try its luck against Koln in the playoff. For awhile, it appeared as if Furth had no chance. It fell behind 1-0 and was reduced to 10 players by halftime wile Holstein Kiel had a 1-0 lead.
But the second half in both games was remarkable. 10-man Furth rallied for three goals in the second half for a 3-2 win and Julian Green scored the second goal. Meanwhile, Holstein Kiel choked away its lead in a 3-2 loss.
Those results ensured Furth finished second and was in-line for a promotion. Julian Green has been toiling away in the second tier but had his best season as a professional as he finished the season with 30 appearances for 2,235 minutes with nine goals and two assists. This was not the case of him being a squad player who was along for the ride – in fact, he was an important part of Fruth’s success.
Green deserves to have another chance with the national team. It will be tough for him to earn consistent call-ups but the opportunity to showcase himself is completely justified. He will now head to Switzerland for camp and while he’s not on the Nations League preliminary roster, a Gold Cup invitation seems very likely.
The career of Green and the United States national team is very wild. When he first came on board in 2014, everything was handed to him and not a lot of it was justified. Now it is completely different. He has had to work for everything he’s received and has paid his dues in the lower-tiers. U.S. fans should expect a far different Julian Green than the one seven years ago.
Dike, CCV & Gooch all fall short
The semifinal rounds of the promotional playoffs in England were simply brutal for American players as nothing went right for a trio of Yanks.
Daryl Dike, 20, and Barnsley fell to Swansea City 2-1 on aggregate (1-0 leg one, 1-1 leg two) to come up short. Dike played the second half of the second leg on Saturday and, like the first leg, was well contained by Swansea City – which seemed to really focus on stopping the U.S. international. Barnsley was not expected to get this far and Dike was a big reason why the team made the playoffs. Still, it was a disappointing end to the season as both games against Swansea were ugly and Dike was unable to really get going.
Very unfortunate end to the season. So proud of what everyone @BarnsleyFC accomplished this season and grateful I could be apart of it. Thank you teammates, staff, and fans who have made this experience one I could never forget???? #youreds pic.twitter.com/8TDknpyVo4— Daryl Dike (@DarylDike) May 23, 2021
It seems likely that Dike will be sold this summer although we have to see what offers come in and what Orlando will accept. That process will take some time and perhaps some of the newly promoted teams will enter the race. For a player who is just 20 years old and truly offers something different, Dike will generate interest.
For now, his loan is over and he will join the United States national team for the Switzerland game and likely the Nations League. After that? A brief return to Orlando is possible but expect news to surface early in June, or perhaps before.
Cameron-Carter Vickers and AFC Bournemouth fell to Brentford 3-1 in the second leg after winning the first leg 1-0. Carter-Vickers, 23, completed his sixth, and best, loan stint in the Championship. This time he had a legit chance of promotion. In this game, Bournemouth was unable to withstand the pressure after a first half red card to Chris Mepham.
This summer, Tottemham will extend Carter-Vickers’ loan and look to sell him. His last two loans were successful and there should be a market there. While he is not an artful passer out of the back, he is a very good rock in the backline. That might actually be ideal for a newly promoted Premier League team that is looking to come under fire for most of the season. It comes down to what Tottenham will ask for him – although with just one season remaining on his loan, they do not have a lot of leverage either as they run the risk of losing him for a free if they can’t sell this summer. Bournemouth would love to have him back, but it remains to be seen their budget.
A move to a lower Premier League team should not be much of a surprise but Carter-Vickers needs to go where he will play regularly.
Finally in the League One playoffs, Lynden Gooch started both legs for Sunderland in a 3-2 aggregate loss to Lincoln City. After losing the first leg 2-0, Sunderland equalized in the second leg but conceded a late goal to bow out of the playoffs. As for Gooch, will he finally leave the club he has been affiliated with since the age of 10?
McKenzie earns accolades
It was a dead rubber game for both teams as Club Brugge had secured the title (due to holding a better regular-season tiebreaker) and KRC Genk had secured second place. Mark McKenzie earned the start for Genk for the second straight week due to injuries at the club. Ethan Horvath, meanwhile, started for Club Brugge in what was likely his final game at the club.
In the end, Genk prevailed 2-1.
McKenzie, 20, ended the season in very strong fashion as he was named to the league’s Team of the Week for the second straight week.
And his numbers show his strong performance:
Mark McKenzie: Raw # for Genk in 2-1 win vs Brugge— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 23, 2021
0 key passes
37/41 passing (90%)
1/1 long balls
8/12 duels won
3/5 aerials won
McKenzie will now arrive at the U.S. national team camp in good form and with a spot to win due to questions in central defense – including the injuries to Aaron Long and Chris Richards.
As for Horvath, he simply needs to make a move where he will play. Anywhere would work.
Aaronson's 2 assists in finale
Brenden Aaronson, 20, started in the season finale for Red Bull Salzburg and was terrific in a 4-0 win over Swarovski Tirol – assisting twice and dominating the midfield.
The assists showcased his class in being able to control the ball in dangerous areas and tight spaces. These are skills which have been on display since his time in Philadelphia.
His numbers in this game were reflective of him making a major impact.
- 90 minutes
- 41 touches
- 0 shots
- 4 key passes
- 2 assists
- 23/27 passing
- 3/3 long balls
- 5/7 duels won
- 2/3 dribbles
- 3x fouled
- 1 interception
There has been increased speculation that Aaronson might be inline for a sale or a transfer to the Bundesliga – possibly to Leipzig to follow Jesse Marsch. That might be the plan for Aaronson, but there shouldn’t be any real hurry. Staying with Salzburg to start 2021/22 would give him the chance to continue winning with the club and starting in Champions League group stages. If he does well there, January seems like a great time to seriously consider a move.