Americans abroad analysis
Holmes remains red hot, Chandler's notches brace, Adams on a big stage, & more
February 09, 2020
THIS WEEKEND was certainly not dull for Americans abroad. It saw the continuation over many stories that have been building over recent months both good (Holmes, Reyna) and bad (Brooks and Sargent) while - it also provides some real surprises (Chandler).
But without a doubt, it left for a lot to digest and breakdown.
Holmes continues to shine
Duane Holmes is one of the most in-form American players to start 2020. That continued on Saturday as the Georgia-born attacking midfielder scored again for Derby County in a 3-2 win over Swansea City.
With today’s goal, Holmes now has three goals and two assists over his last six games across all competitions. Over the past month, he’s been in one of the best runs in his career. While he was struggling at getting calls up for a return to the U.S. national team in October and November, Holmes is clearly putting up numbers are going to make him impossible to ignore.
But beyond the national team, if Holmes keeps up this level of output, he could get sold further up the chain soon.
Having Holmes back with the national team will please the fans and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he becomes a fan favorite because he’s fun to watch – and he can track back and play defense effectively too.
With Holmes leading the way, Derby is playing well as of late having won three of four. But the club is still seven points out of a promotional playoff spot and has six teams separating itself from that position as well. It would be quite a climb to make the playoffs but Derby is a different team since Wayne Rooney joined.
Adams & Leipzig draw Bayern Munich
In the most high-profile matchup for an Americans abroad in 2020, Tyler Adams earned the start of RB Leipzig as it visited Bayern Munich in a matchup between the top two teams in the Bundesliga. The game ended 0-0 but was quite lively for a 0-0 draw.
Adams positioning changes depending on whether or not Leipzig had the ball.
"Defensively, I played more of a wing-back, and offensively I was a midfielder,” Adams said. “Obviously, it is about finding the balance, and that can be tricky at times." https://www.transfermarkt.us/alphonso-davies-and-tyler-adams-take-center-stage-in-bundesliga-topspiel/view/news/354504
But in watching this game, it was clear Adams was phenomenal with his work rate and he likely covered more ground than any player. He didn’t do much with his passing but his pressing on defense was key at several moments. A 0-0 away draw against Bayern is a successful result and Adams was a key reason why Bayern was kept off the scoresheet.
Adams numbers reflect a player who did not see much of the ball and wasn’t responsible for breaking the game opening with his playmaking. He didn’t see the ball that much but he was effective defensively.
- 1 shot
- 53% pass accuracy
- 47 touches
- 1 key pass
- 3 total tackles
- 2 interceptions
- 2 clearances
- 2 aerials won
- 1 out of 2 accurate long balls
What was interesting about this game is that it started three players who played for MLS teams as teenagers. Joining Adams was Leipzig left back Angelino and Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies. To have three alumni of the league on a game of this magnitude reflects very well. Davies, in particular, is emerging into a star this season and his athleticism is truly elite.
With this result, Leipzig remains in second place and is winless in three. But it avoided a loss – which was the likely result. It only trails Bayern by one point and remains within striking distance.
Chandler’s brace lifts Eintracht
The Bundesliga’s weekend slate of games started on Friday with Eintrach Frankfurt hosting Augsburg in a battle between two midtable teams. The game turned out to be no contest with Eintracht winning 5-0 at home.
What was a surprises, however, is that Timothy Chandler scored the first two goals of the game and the former U.S. international is playing very well with four goals in his last four games. Chandler did not play much early in the season but has been remarkably effective since the winter break ended.
For American fans who have not been following his progress, Chandler has been playing right wing in a very advanced position (as opposed to right back) lately and you can see that with his first goal against Augsburg.
Timothy Chandler’s first goal pic.twitter.com/mzRpnEDRs6— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 7, 2020
His second goal also shows that his aerial game has been flourishing – with two of his last four goals coming from first-rate headers where he outworked defenders for an emphatic finish.
And Chandler’s second pic.twitter.com/HMyQRZMXLZ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 7, 2020
What is interesting about Chandler’s rise is that, apart from the goals, he is not necessarily playing well in all facets. His defensive numbers have been relatively solid and his aerial play is excellent. He is obviously finishing well.
But his passing has been terrible and he is not seeing the ball nearly enough – he only had 43 touches over 90 minutes.
Timothy Chandler vs. Augsburg— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) February 7, 2020
3 aerials won
36% Pass completion
1 blocked shot
- Chandler on the wing is very different than Chandler at RB. He's very advanced. Doesn't see the ball a lot but is dangerous when he does.
The passing numbers are terrible. He completed only 36% of his passes. He was 0 for 4 in accurate crosses and 0 for 4 in accurate long-ball attempts. His pass chart reflects his struggles passing.
But two goals are two goals and that is what will be remembered from this game. Chandler played a huge role, obviously, in the win. But there are fair questions about whether Chandler can play the wing position well on a consistent basis.
If his passing is poor, he is unlikely to help the team unless he isn’t scoring – and he won’t always be scoring like this since he doesn’t see the ball enough. If his passing isn’t better, he might be ruining too many possessions.
Stuttgart wins again under Matarazzo
New Jersey native Pellegrino Matarazzo’s rise to becoming the manager of Stuttgart has been remarkable. He is the managerial equivalent of Jay Demerit – who started at a very low level in England and worked his way up to the Premier League. Matarazzo moved to Germany to coach and was at very low positions before moving up through the ranks – where he is now leading one of Germany’s biggest clubs in a promotional race to return to the Bundesliga.
So far, so good for Matarazzo. Despite the ouster from the German Cup in a tough 2-1 loss to a strong Bayer Leverkusen side, Stuttgart has done well in league play under Matarazzo. On Saturday, Stuttgart rolled past FC Erzgebirge Aue 3-0 to remain in third place in the 2.Bundesliga.
In its three league games under Matarazzo, Stuttgart has accumulated seven out of a possible nine points. Next up will be a road match against Bochum on February 17.
Sargent and Werder in tailspin
In news that was not good for American fans, Josh Sargent’s season is firmly in a rut at the moment and his club, Werder Bremen, is in a tailspin.
On Saturday, Werder dropped a 0-2 decision at home to Union Berlin and fell into the automatic relegation position in 17th place. Sargent came into the game in the 69th minute and didn’t offer much.
But how bad is Werder in the Bundesliga? The club has won just twice in its last 17 games. It has been outscored 20-3 in its last eight games.
????? #Kohfeldt:— SV Werder Bremen EN (@werderbremen_en) February 8, 2020
"We didn't manage to implement our game plan at all. We let Union neutralise us and were too casual. We lost our heads in the second half, particularly when it came to dealing with counterattacks. I'm incredibly disappointed."#werder #SVWFCU pic.twitter.com/2Qvw5EMy3u
It is all-hands-on-deck right now and Sargent will need to help be part of the solution. But that is going to be hard with its next three games Bundesliga games against RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, and an improving Eintracht Frankfurt. Unless it gets some points soon, it might find itself in a hole too deep to climb out.
McKennie returns to Schalke XI
Weston McKennie was questionable heading into Saturday’s game against Paderborn due to an ankle injury he picked up midweek in the German Cup win over Hertha BSC.
But McKennie got the start but Schalke played to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against a relegation battling Paderborn side. McKennie played on the right side of a diamond midfield to start but drifted to right back towards the end.
Overall, McKennie’s numbers were solid in the game and were reflective of his high work rate to be active on both sides of the ball. He won aerials, was disruptive defensively, and hit some nice passes. But with 53 touches, he still needs to get on the ball more.
- 90 minutes
- 2 shots
- 1 shot on target
- 3 key passes
- 80% pass accuracy
- 5 aerials won
- 53 touches
- 2 tackles
- 3 interceptions
- 4 clearances
- 2 out of four accurate long balls
Reyna plays second half for Dortmund
After scoring a wondergoal midweek that earned him headlines everywhere, Gio Reyna saw more minutes on Saturday while playing the second half for Borussia Dortmund in a 4-3 away loss to Bayer Leverkusen.
Reyna, 17, entered the game to start the second half with the score even at 2-2. After Dortmund took a 3-2 win, Leverkusen won with a pair of late goals from Leon Bailey and Lars Bender. Americans have enjoyed Reyna this week with his goal midweek vs. Werder Bremen and his longest outing to date against Leverkusen. But both were bittersweet milestones as Dortmund lost both games.
But Reyna was solid again against Leverkusen and his numbers back it up.
- 45 minutes
- 2 shots
- 1 on target
- 78.3 pass percentage
- 1 aerial won
- 1 successful dribble
- 2x fouled
- 2 tackles
- 1 clearance
- 1 for 3 in accurate crossing
- 1 for 1 in accurate long balls
It’s not always going to be smooth and there will be tough lessons along the way. But Reyna is finding ways to be effective in each of his games so far where he’s played meaningful minutes.
Durkin scores for St. Truiden goal
After struggling for minutes at the start of his loan to St. Truiden, Durkin has improved his standing dramatically and made his ninth appearance for the club in Belgium’s top flight on Saturday in a 5-2 win over AS Eupen.
In that game, the Richmond, VA native also scored his first goal when he got on the end of a wonderful pass from Argentina U-23 midfielder Santiago Columbatto in the 95th minute to round off the scoring.
Brooks remains benched
One of the biggest concerns for Gregg Berhalter right now is likely John Brooks. While Brooks is often considered the U.S. team’s top central defender, Brooks has dealt with injuries and his club situations often hit rocky patches.
Saturday showed just how bad Brooks’ situation has turned for the worse at Wolfsburg over the past month. Books was once again on the bench for the game and Wolfsburg starting central defender Marin Pongracic picked up a red card in the 48th minute. Two minutes later, Wolfsburg equalized the game at 1-1.
Despite being down central defender, Brooks was not chosen to enter into the game – which finished 1-1 and it appears as if his standing with manager Oliver Glasner is not well. Brooks has not played since a 3-1 loss to Koln on January 18.
The situation is not good right now but if Brooks does not play next week away at Hoffenheim with Pongracic suspended, it is time to worry about the problem being very serious as opposed to a temporary stop in the dog house.
In Brazil’s Campeonato Gaucho, U.S U-20 defensive midfielder Johnny Cardoso (just known as “Johnny” in Brazil) got the start for Internacional against Serie D side EC Novo Hamburgo. The New Jersey native went a full 90 in a 2-0 win.
In Germany’s third tier, U.S. U-23 central defender Chris Richards scored an 89th minute to give Bayern Munich II a 3-2 lead over Viktoria Koeln. Bayer’s second team would add another in stoppage time for a 4-2 win. Bayern II sits exactly in midtable in the 3.Liga in 10th place out of 20. The American showed phenomenal leaping ability when heading home his goal.
In the Championship on Saturday, Tim Ream went the distance for Fulham in a 1-0 away win over Blackburn. With the win, Fulham is in third place but is out of the automatic promotion playoff positions on just goal differential. With Leeds tending down, it is very possible for Fulham to earn automatic promotion this year. Ream was excellent in the win over Blackburn with a 84% pass completion, 2 tackles, 1 interception, 5 clearances, and was 3 out of 7 on accurate long balls.
In Italy’s Serie B, Frosinone is a candidate for promotion after a 1-0 away win over Venezia for its third victory in a row. With the win, the club now sits in third place. American forward Andrija Novakovich went a full 90 against Venezia. While the Wisconsin native only has one goal in over 1022 minutes this season, he continues to play with his hold-up play and his ability to combine in the attack – where he has four assists. Being a part of a Serie A team is within reach for Novakovich.
In the Championship, Wigan Athletic remained in the relegation zone with a 2-1 loss at home to Preston North End. After his transfer to AC Milan collapsed at a late moment, Antonee Robinson has not played for Wigan and he was not even in the 18 against Preston North End on Saturday.
Staying in England’s second tier, Hull City captain and Chicago native Eric Lichaj got the start in an unusual position for him in central defense in a 1-1 draw at Reading. Lichaj ended up playing 70 minutes in the result.
Also in the Championship, Luton Town remained glued to the bottom of the table following a 0-1 loss to Cardiff City. U.S. U-23 central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers made his first start of Luton after joining the club in January on loan from Tottenham.
In England’s third-tier League One, Lynden Gooch played 90 minutes (subbed out in injury time) for Sunderland in a 1-0 win over Ipswich Town to remain in sixth place. United States U-20 forward Charlie Kelman started and played 82 minutes for relegation-bound Southend United in a 2-1 loss to Blackpool.
In France’s Ligue 2, Kansas City-born forward Nico Gioacchini, 19, started for Caen and went the distance in a 1-1 draw on the road against Le Havre. SM Caen sits in 13th place in the 20-team league.
In Mexico, U.S. U-23 attacking mid Sebastian Saucedo went 68 minutes for Liga MX leaders Pumas UNAM in a 4-0 win over San Luis.
In Argentina's Primera, U.S. U-20 playmaker Matko Miljevic came on in the 82nd minute for Argentinos Juniors in a 0-0 draw with third place Lanus. Argentinos Juniors was on top of the table during the winter break but is now winless in five (four draws and a loss) and has fallen to fourth place.