Americans abroad analysis

Holmes, McKennie, & Sargent standout in solid weekend for Americans

It was a good weekend for the top American players abroad as there were plenty of good performances to go around. As he does every Monday, ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it all
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 30, 2019
6:00 AM
UNLIKE PREVIOUS weekends, the past few days for Americans abroad have been about the top performers and U.S. national team veterans. It wasn’t about digging deep to find the interesting storylines, but rather it was one which the best players largely delivered.

Of course, Christian Pulisic did not play again for Chelsea and that is a situation he is going to have work his way through by taking advantage of whatever limited opportunities come his way. That will happen, as Chelsea continues to look lackluster regardless of who is in the lineup – including Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion.

But regardless, it was a very good weekend for Americans abroad and here is a look of what happened.

McKennie solid Schalke’s big result

Schalke came into Saturday’s game against leaders RB Leipzig with a lot of questions. It had a three game winning streak but those were against three of the worst teams in the Bundesliga. How would it do against the best team on the road?

Well, Schalke rolled into Leipzig and came away with a convincing 3-1 win that was a statement as much as it was about collecting three points.

Playing on the right side of the midfield, McKennie was important in this game even as other Schalke players stood out more in the win. The Texan did his well to shut down Leipzig’s attack on his side of the field.

It wasn’t flashy but David Wagner is creating a system in place for Schalke to be able to compete towards the top of the Bundesliga. McKennie might be upon first glance appear to be anonymous but he’s an important part of the equation for Schalke and there will be times when the contributes heavily in the offense. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, but it’s also important that he’s not being asked to carry this team.

Sargent assist in big draw

After a disappointing home loss to RB Leipzig last weekend where it was thoroughly overmatched, Werder did a complete 180, strolled into Westfalenstadion, and came away with an impressive 2-2 road draw against Borussia Dortmund.

Josh Sargent played 87 minutes and was effective. He had four shots and also notched an assist when his flick-on header set up Marco Friedl for an easy tap-in.

This was a good outing for Sargent in that he was a handful for Dortmund’s defenders. His holdup play was solid, his passing helped create chances, and if he continues to play like this, he will score plenty of goals. It was a performance that helped give him momentum for some winnable games coming up – against Eintracht Frankfurt and Hertha BSC.

Holmes helps Derby

One of the best storylines this weekend Americans abroad took place in the Championship when Derby County hosted Birmingham City. The club came off an embarrassing week where several key players went out drinking after a club event. Afterward, they got into cars and were involved in a drunk driving accident. Team captain Richard Keogh is out for 15 months as a result of an injury in the accident and Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennet were arrested.

The club desperately needed someone to step up if it wants to right the ship and salvage its season. It was just one game, but Duane Holmes answered the call and helped his club get a big 302 win at a desperate time. The American assisted on the opening goal and was dangerous throughout.

On the opening goal, he forced a turnover and then moved into the attack before setting up a goal with a well-delivered cross.

Overall, Holmes was effective on both sides of the ball and helped Derby get a key win at a time when it needed it the most.

Steffen saves penalty

Zack Steffen is doing all he can to help Fortuna Dusseldorf. He’s off to a very strong start to his Bundesliga campaign and now there are reports that Fortuna wants to approach Manchester City to extend his loan for another season and perhaps incorporate a realistic option to buy.

Fortuna could be in store for a relegation battle this year but Steffen could give it an edge down the stretch. Fortuna dropped a 2-1 decision on Sunday and it now has just one point in its last five games. But Steffen again made it difficult for Freiburg with his big penalty save to keep the score at 1-1.

Shelton’s Bundesliga debut

While it did not amount to much, American forward Khiry Shelton made his Bundesliga debut on Saturday for Paderborn in a 3-2 loss to Bayern Munich.

Shelton, 26, only played the last five minutes and made two touches but perhaps it is a sign of better things to come for the former Sporting Kansas City/New York City player.

Dest boosts Ajax

Ahead of the Champions League, Ajax rested some of its starters on Saturday for its game against Groningen. American right back Sergino Dest was on the bench but with Ajax playing poorly in a 0-0 game, Dest came on in the 66th minute to bring life into a scoreless lethargic game.

Dest did not figure into any of the goals, but he was once again active and energetic as Ajax came away with a 2-0 victory.

It’s a big week for Dest on many fronts. It visits Valencia in the Champions League and then there is the U.S. national team roster which will be released Wednesday. The upcoming U.S. games would be cap-tying for Dest and as an 18 year old player who grew up in the Amsterdam area and now starts for Ajax, it’s hard to see him accepting a call-up at this time where he would forever eliminate the possibility of playing for the Netherlands. The likely bet is that he wants to keep his options open.

Yedlin returns

The good news for DeAndre Yedlin is that he made his first appearance for Newcastle since undergoing surgery in May. The bad news is that Newcastle is a total mess. Yedlin replaced Miguel Almiron in the 74th minute of a 5-0 loss to Leicester City. Newcastle now has just five points from seven games and sits second from the bottom.

It’s not a happy time at Newcastle right now but Yedlin needs to get back onto the field to perhaps keep his options open for beyond this season. Also, with Dest’s commitment to the U.S program not firm at the moment, Yedlin’s return is welcome.


The rest of the weekend was up and down for American players. Tyler Boyd continues to struggle with Besiktas in a 2-0 loss and he was yanked at the half in a 4-1 loss to Trabzonspor. Boyd hasn’t played well for club or country since his head injury in Besiktas’ opening game. You hope there is nothing more to that story regarding concussions. But regardless, no one is playing well for Besiktas right now.

Also struggling at the moment is Haji Wright who still cannot find away to be productive with VVV Venlo in the Eredivisie. The Californian drew a penalty but failed to convert it in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Heerenveen.

On the positive side, Joel Sonora played again for Arsenal de Sarandi in an impressive 3-0 win over Estudiantes. Sonora only played the final nine minutes but Arsenal is fourth in the Argentine Primera. It has been an impressive run for the newly promoted club. 

Christian Cappis notched an assist for Hobro in a 2-1 loss to Lyngby in the Danish Superliga. Cappis remains one of the most under-the-radar American players in Europe right now. This is only his first full season as a professional and Hobro might be inclined to sell him sooner than later.

Necaxa captain Ventura Alvarado went the distance again in central defense for a 0-0 draw against FC Juarez. It’s a disappointing result for Necaxa which still sits in second place in Liga MX and Alvarado has had a great season anchoring the club’s backline – which has only allowed 14 goals in 12 games this season. 

At the youth levels, Gio Reyna has been training with Borussia Dortmund’s first team in another impressive step for the son of the former U.S. national team captain. U.S. U-20 forward Matthew Hoppe scored for Schalke’s U-19 team against SC Preussen Münster.

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