Americans abroad analysis
Holmes, Chandler, Dest, & Kelman impress in eventful weekend for Americans abroad
February 02, 2020
LIKE MOST OTHER weekends for Americans abroad, there were ups and downs that made for a mixed few days. From a national team perspective, the next few months will be critical as the player pool looks to establish itself for the Nations League, Olympic qualifying, and World Cup qualifying in the fall.
With that said, here is a breakdown of the weekend.
Holmes shines in Derby rout
On Friday, Derby County played one of its most complete games of the season when it outclassed a Stoke City team bound for relegation by a 4-0 scoreline.
Duane Holmes earned Man of the Match honors for Derby and is playing some of his best soccer of the season. Up through November, Holmes only had one assist and no goals for Derby. But over the past month, he has been an impact player for the club.
Against Stoke City, Holmes had just one assist but it was a spectacular one.
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But overall, Holmes put in a complete performance on both sides of the ball. It was an appearance that should put him back in the mix for the U.S. national team. But Derby is having a very average season. It is unlikely to contend for a promotional playoff position or be in danger of relegation. But Holmes can continue to build his case that he can be the player the club needs to contend for promotion in the future.
Duane Holmes wins MOTM for Derby County in a 4-0 romp over Stoke City. He's easily playing his best soccer of the season.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 31, 2020
1 assist tonight
5 successful dribbles tonight (best in the game)
1G x 2A in last 4 Championship games
50th Championship Appearance for Derby https://t.co/akat5xKgle
McKennie starts for Schalke
Weston McKennie returned to Schalke starting lineup on Friday for the first time since he suffered his shoulder injury in December. He helped his team play to a lackluster 0-0 draw away against a Jurgen Klinsmann-coached Hertha BSC team.
It was a pretty good outing for McKennie that helped provide defensive stability a physical presence in the midfield that was lacking last weekend in a ugly 5-0 loss to Bayern Munich. But his numbers were decent even if he needs to see more of the ball as a central midfielder.
- 89 minutes
- 2 shots
- 77% pass completion
- 3 aerials won
- 45 touches
- 1 successful dribble
- 1 tackle
- 3 interceptions
But Schalke has won just once of its last five Bundesliga games to fall out of the Champions League positions and into sixth.
Chandler continues fine run
With Eintracht Frankfurt trailing Fortuna Dusseldorf in stoppage time, Timothy Chandler headed home a dramatic equalizer to seal a 1-1 draw against Fortuna. Chandler is playing very good soccer right now and was easy to see why. Playing right wing as opposed to his normal right back, Chandler put up impressive numbers.
Eintracht is having a mediocre season where qualifying for Europe is unlikely and it is safe from any relegation battle. But the team has improved since Chandler began playing again for the club.
- 4 shots
- 2 shots on goal
- 1 goal
- 1 key pass.
- 47 touches
- 3 aerials won
- 71.4% pass completion
- 1 tackle
- 1 clearance
- 1 blocked shot
In that game, Alfredo Morales had a pretty good game where he won seven aerials – the highest among any player. Still, Fortuna is in deep trouble of relegation at this moment.
Dest shines in win over PSV
Ajax remained atop the Eredivisie standings on Tuesday after a 1-0 win over rivals PSV. With those three points, Ajax remained three points ahead of second place AZ Alkmaar in the league.
Dest has one of his best games for Ajax in months. He was everywhere with the ball, he was confident, and he looked improved defensively as well. His numbers suggested he was a true man of the match candidate.
Sergino Dest vs PSV— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 2, 2020
1 shot or target
2 key passes
86 touches (a lot for a FB)
85.2% pass completion
1 successful dribble
Somehow denied a penalty via VAR
Solid game for the #USMNT fullback
This was an important step for Dest to have a performance such as this against PSV – which is in a disappointing fifth place this year but is still Ajax’s rival. On the other hand, PSV’s struggles might open the door for Richard Ledezma to earn a shot.
On a related note, how on earth was this not a penalty awarded to Dest? An unbelievably bad call.
Can someone honestly explain to me how this is not a penalty? Dest was hacked pic.twitter.com/AcwEvG6K1e— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 2, 2020
Cardoso makes Libatadores roster
Johnny Cardoso (who is called by just “Johnny” in Brazil) made his U.S. debut back in November with the U-23 team – while also being eligible for the U-20 team in 2021. That weeks after his Internacional first team debut in Brazil’s Serie A.
Starting 2020, Cardoso is progressing nicely with Internacional where he plays as a defensive midfielder. He’s made two starters for the club in the Campeonato Gaúcho – including Saturday’s 0-0 draw with third-tier Ypiranga Erechim which clinched advancement to the knockouts.
How much Cardoso plays in more high-profile games this year remains to be seen but he passed an important test when he was named to the club’s roster for the 2020 Copa Libertadores. On Tuesday, the club will travel to take on Universidad de Chile in its Libertadores opener.
Denville, NJ-born Johnny Cardoso (who made his U.S U-23 debut in November but is also U-20 eligible) has made Internacional’s Copa Libertadores roster. It’s looking more & more likely to be a nice get for U.S Soccer. Berhalter first reached out to the No. 6 d-mid last September pic.twitter.com/CqkU9Jv2fS— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 1, 2020
Kelman scores for Southend
U.S. U-20 midfielder Charlie Kelman has been doing very well for third-tier League One’s Southend United despite the club’s almost certain upcoming relegation. On Saturday, the English-born American scored the game’s opening goal in the 63rd minute for Southend United in a 2-1 win over Lincoln City when he collected a rebound off the crossbar and calmly sent it past the keeper.
Kelman was not released by Southend United for the most recent U-20 camp but Kelman will likely be part of the upcoming U-20 camp in March. With the goal, he now has four goals this season in League One and two more in the League Cup.
Kelman is going to be very interesting to watch as the odds are likely that he will be sold this summer. This report out of England reveals that Southend United turned down Premier League bids for Kelman in January.
Polster starts again for Rangers
Matt Polster made his second straight start and third straight appearance for Rangers on Saturday at Ibrox Stadium when it hosted Aberdeen in a Scottish Premier League matchup. Polster earned the start at right back but the game lacked a lot of life and finished 0-0. Polster played 83 minutes in the disappointing draw.
With the failure to win, Rangers remained in second place but lost ground to Celtic and it now trails their rivals by seven points (Rangers still holds a game-in-hand).
Matarazzo and Stuttgart draw
On Saturday, Pellegrino Matarazzo and Stuttgart played their second game under the American manager after defeating Heidenheim convincingly at home in his debut on Wednesday. This game away at St. Pauli was the team’s first away match under Matarazzo and it was not so easy.
Stuttgart took a first half lead and it wasn’t until Mario Gomez found the equalizer in the 81st minute when the club got back on track. With the 1-1 draw, Stuttgart remained in second in the 2.Bundesliga although third place Hamburg is just a point behind and has played one fewer game.
Matarazzo, a New Jersey native, has a huge task ahead of himself to get the club promoted and it will be close. Having earned four points out of six to start his tenure, it will be close. On Wednesday Stuttgart visits Bayern Leverkusen in the German Cup then returns home next weekend to host sixth place Erzgebirge Aue in league play.
What went wrong
As mentioned at the start, there was also a lot of disappointing storylines for Americans abroad this weekend – many of which involved U.S internationals.
Of course, the Tim Weah, Zack Steffen, and Christian Pulisic remain out with injuries. Those prominent players have also been joined by Julian Green who was also out this weekend.
In Germany, John Brooks has been benched at Wolfsburg and has been an unused substitute in the team’s last two games – including Sunday’s 4-2 away win over Paderborn. Is Brooks not getting along with his manager? Have other players simply outplayed him in training? The German press is surely going to ask this week.
England was mostly a nonfactor for Americans this weekend outside of Holmes and Kelman. Eric Lichaj went the distance for Hull City in a 5-1 loss at home to Brentford. Luca de la Torre was an unused sub for Fulham while Tim Ream did not play. Geoff Cameron was suspended for Queens Park Rangers, Cameron Carter-Vickers was an late sub for last-place Luton Town (which he joined on Friday). Finally, Antonee Robinson was understandably left off Wigan’s matchday 18 after his transfer to AC Milan fell apart at the last minute.
In League One, while Sunderland lost 2-0 to Portsmouth, Lynden Gooch was named the club’s player of the month. The Californian is doing all he can to get the club back to the Championship – although it will be a tough fight just to make the playoffs this season.
Lynden Gooch has been doing all he can to get Sunderland back to up to the Championship. Still a tough battle. https://t.co/LecRIWyNHW— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 3, 2020
After a few appearances with the first team, U.S. U-20 attacking midfielder Indiana Vassilev hasn’t been making the bench for Aston Villa the past two games. The good news, however, is that he was reportedly approached by Bulgaria for a U-21 call-up and turned it down.
Per this report in Bulgaria, U.S. U-20 and Aston Villa attacking mid Indiana Vassilev as apparently turned down a call-up from Bulgaria. https://t.co/UnXAUsfl3D— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 3, 2020
Finally in England, DeAndre Yedlin earned the start for Newcastle United on Sunday against Norwich but only lasted 54 minutes before he was subbed out in a 0-0 draw. One publication in England was less than thrilled with Yedlin’s crossing in general – although acknowledged one cross created the team’s best chance in the first half.
In Germany, Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen are in a tailspin and lost 2-1 to Augsburg on Saturday. After a tough outing last weekend in a start, Sargent came off the bench for a late cameo in the 87th minute and was unable to create much of a spark in his limited time. Due to Fortuna Dusseldorf’s draw and Paderborn’s loss, Werder Bremen remained in the relegation playoff position and have lost eight of its last 10 Bundesliga games.
Tyler Adams continued to start for RB Leipzig but the club has struggled and finally fell out of first place on Saturday following a 2-2 draw at home against Borussia Monchengladbach (Fabian Johnson came on in the final minute of stoppage time). After falling behind 0-2 in the first half, a draw was positive but the club has one point from its last two games. Adams played 68 minutes (the first half in central midfield and the second half was at right back). He wasn’t bad but wasn’t much of a help for RB Leipzig either.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Sebastian Soto played the final 12 minutes for Hannover in a 2-2 draw with Wehen Wiesbaden. Soto’s club situation is murky with the manager making critical public comments about Soto – whose contract with Hannover is ending.