Hoppe vs. Bayern Aaronson's looming Salzburg debut, Musah vs. Atletico top weekend
January 22, 2021
THE WEEKEND IS HERE and so is a full slate of games for American players across the globe. This should be a fun weekend as we could potentially see numerous club debuts after a series of winter transfers while we also get to see an enormous opportunity for Matthew Hoppe in his incredible run.
Club debuts are always fun as it is a fresh start and sometimes a step up with new challenges.
The big debut could come on Sunday when U.S. national team attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson is likely to play for Austrian Bundesliga leaders Red Bull Salzburg when it visits Altach. Aaronson is coming off a 2020 season where he led the Philadelphia Union to the Supporters Shield. He recently scored in a preseason game last weekend.
Aaronson is far from the only club debut which could come. U.S. national team defender Mark McKenzie, also most recently with the Philadelphia Union, could make his debut for Genk against Belgian leaders Club Brugge on Saturday. Mix Diskerud announced his move to Denizilspor in Turkish Super Lig and they host Fatih Karagumruk on Sunday. Andrew Wooten and FC Admira visit St. Poelten on Saturday. Henry Wingo also completed a move from Molde to Ferencvaros in Hungary and they visit Puscas FC Academy on Saturday.
Outside of Aaronson’s looming debut, this weekend will also be topped by Matthew Hoppe, who has scored five goals in his last three games, and his last-place Schalke team visiting Bayern Munich on Sunday. If the California teen scores in this one, it will be an enormous story as this is simply a different level of competition.
But there is also situations of concern that are important to monitor – primarily in the Bundesliga. Josh Sargent’s scoring slump continues to leave the young American frustrated and on Saturday his Werder Bremen team visits Hertha Berlin – a team Sargent has had success playing against in the past. Tyler Adams also needs to start playing more minutes again and Leipzig visits relegation-fodder Mainz on Saturday. Pellegrino Matarazzo’s VfB Stuttgart team is coming off its worst loss of the season midweek to Arminia Bielefeld. The American manager will have to turn things around quickly to remain in midtable in the Bundesliga.
Then in England, Christian Pulisic and slumping Chelsea have a chance to snap out of its slump against Luton Town. It has been ages since Tyler Boyd has played but perhaps he ready to return to the field for Besiktas on Sunday against Goztepe.
In terms of top players who won’t play or are questionable. Sergino Dest missed Barcelona’s Copa del Rey win this week with a thigh injury and is questionable. Reggie Cannon and Boavista are off this weekend.
With all that said, here is what I will be watching for on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Schalke 04 – Bayern Munich
Sunday, January 24: 12:00pm EST
Matthew Hoppe, 19, is the top story right now in American soccer. Heck, he’s probably been the biggest soccer story in Germany since the start of 2021. Over the past two weeks, Hoppe has scored five goals in three games. He began that stretch by becoming the first American to register a hat trick in the Bundesliga.
But those goals came against Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Koln. Now he will get to face the reigning Bundesliga and Champions League title holders. He is on the radar now of many European clubs who are taking interest but a goal here would move him into the fast lane – perhaps even a move before the end of the month. It also seems like just a matter of time before he makes his U.S. national team debut.
Schalke 04 is very deep in the relegation hole and its chances of staying up are slim-to-none, even with a shocking win against Bayern. The odds of Hoppe staying with the club next season are also getting smaller with every passing game. He’s too valuable and Schalke’s finances are not great.
Hoppe’s January has been a great story given how unexpected it has been. Part of how great it has been is what it will do for Hoppe’s future in the months ahead for both club and country.
Altach – Red Bull Salzburg
The Austrian Bundesliga
Sunday, January 24: 8:30am EST
Brenden Aaronson’s development in 2020 was one of the best stories in MLS last year. The teenage American attacking midfielder led the Philadelphia Union to its first silverware in the Supporters Shield. With a spot on the national team, Aaronson has also made the move to Austria to join defending champions and current leaders Red Bull Salzburg where he has hit the ground running during the winter break – scoring last weekend in a friendly.
Of course, Aaronson is playing under American manager Jesse Marsch who was instrumental in bringing Aaronson to Austria and rates him highly. In the coming months, Aaronson will attempt to win another piece of silverware in the Austrian Cup and the Austrian Bundesliga. His first few steps in Austria will be well worth following.
Hertha BSC – Werder Bremen
Saturday, January 23: 12:30pm EST
Josh Sargent has just one goal this year but on Saturday he will get to face an opponent in which he has had success in the past. In 2019/20, Sargent scored two of his four goals against Hertha. This game could be just what the doctor ordered for Sargent. Hertha, like Werder Bremen, is not having a good season and Werder currently sits one point ahead of Hertha – which is just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Both teams want to avoid falling into a stressful relegation battle, and the loser in this one could find itself in some pressure.
Sargent isn’t playing poorly. There are some parts of the game where he is really helping Werder. It might solely be an issue of confidence where one goal could ignite a spark that leads to a wave of goals. That remains to be seen but Hertha is a good team for him to face to possibly start that spark.
Mainz - RB Leipzig
Saturday, January 23: 9:30am EST
Second place RB Leipzig will visit a Mainz team sinking deeper and deeper into the relegation hole on Saturday. For Tyler Adams, the question will be playing – and perhaps playing in central midfield.
Adams has not started either of Leipzig’s past two games but this one against a weak opponent might open the door for him as he is well rested. If he does get the opportunity, he must seize it with the Champions League knockout games approaching next month. He needs to reclaim his status as a near-regular starter and Saturday could be a nice step for him. To date he has started nine of the club’s 17 Bundesliga games.
Bayer Leverkusen – VfL Wolfsburg
Saturday, January 23: 9:30am EST
John Brooks is coming off a huge outing midweek in a 2-0 road win over Mainz but that was against a relegation fodder club. Now he will get to visit third place Bayer Leverkusen.
Wolfsburg currently sits fifth in the Bundesliga and trails Borussia Dortmund for forth place and the Champions League positions only on goal differential. A result in this one could see it move safely into the top four. But winning will require a huge effort from Wolfsburg – and its backline which is anchored by Brooks.
Brooks has the chance to lead a team into the Champions League next season and is having a very strong season. This game will be telling.
Juventus - Bologna
Sunday, January 24: 6:30am EST
Juventus won the Italian Super Cup this past week and Weston McKennie became the first U.S international to win silverware in Italy. The 2-0 win over Napoli was a nice accomplishment but Juventus is not having a great season, but its own lofty standards. Last weekend’s loss to Inter Milan sunk it into fifth place in Serie A and it is 10 points off AC Milan at the top of the table.
McKennie, 22, is having an exceptional season and is showing himself to be part of the club’s long-term future. He might not win the Scuttedo this year but his future is remarkably bright. He is playing at such a high level right now and almost all of his performances are noteworthy.
On Sunday, Juventus will host 12th place Bologna in a game Juve should win. The race is on for Juve to at least secure a Champions League spot next season and it is one point out of the top four. Part of getting back into that tournament will be winning games like these. For McKennie, he is a big part of Juventus in whatever they do.
Chelsea - Luton Town
The FA Cup
Sunday, January 24: 7:00am
Right now, Chelsea needs a spart and the London club is struggling under embattled manager Frank Lampard. On Tuesday, Chelsea was particularly lethargic in a 2-0 loss to Leicester City where it showed there is still a gap between Chelsea and the best teams in the league.
Christian Pulisic, 22, hasn’t been one of Chelsea’s problems but he hasn’t been a solution either. The skidding isn’t on him but he can still help reverse the trend. The team needs confidence an on Sunday, Luton Town could be a great opportunity for the club to get its offense back. Luton Town is a midtable Championship team that won’t be easy for Chelsea but it is an opponent which Chelsea should comfortably advance.
A loss to Luton Town will certainly set off even more alarm bells among Chelsea supporters.
Atletico Madrid - Valencia
Sunday, January 24: 3:00pm EST
Valencia is struggling these days and is just three points clear of relegation. The club is clearly far removed from its days as one of Spain’s best clubs. On Sunday, Valencia will visit an Atletico Madrid team running away with La Liga – seven points clear atop the table with a game in hand to boot. It has just one loss on the season.
For Valencia, it is a great challenge but also a great opportunity. Unfortunately, a loss would see the relegation line creep closer.
For American midfielder Yunus Musah, it will be a big opportunity for him against one of the best teams in the world at the moment. If Valencia wants to have any chance in this game, it will need everyone to step up. In a midweek 1-1 draw with Osasuna, Musah’s cross led to an equalizing own goal.
This challenge will be on another level for one of the most promising American teenagers in the game.
SM Caen - Rodez
Saturday, January 23: 1pm EST
On Wednesday, U.S. national team forward Nicholas Gioacchini, 20, scored a nice goal for SM Caen against Guingamp in the French Cup. Unfortunately, for Caen its promotional hopes have gone up in smoke.
But a recent formational change at the club is said to be benefitting Gioacchini and Caen should be favored to win Saturday’s game against a Rodez team that is in the relegation playoff position (albeit it has one win and four losses in its last five).
Gioacchini is a good U.S. national team prospect but the emergence of players like Hoppe and Dike will make it important that he continue to perform well to earn call-ups.
Borussia Monchengladbach – Borussia Dortmund
Friday, January 22: 2:30pm EST
Gio Reyna, 18, and Borussia Dortmund are in a hunt to remain in the Champions League positions this season and will face a tough test on Friday against seventh-place Borussia Monchengladbach. Dortmund has been poor in its last two – drawing relegation fodder Mainz and losing to Bayer Leverkusen.
A loss in this one would spell trouble for Dortmund’s chances of returning to the tournament next season as Wolfsburg, Union Berlin, and Borussia Monchengladbach are all within just one point – the latter would over take it with a win.
Reyna is an extremely promising player but the pressure will be on him the rest of the season as the games are getting more and more important.
Anderlecht – Waasland Beveren
The Belgian Pro League
Friday, January 22: 2:45pm EST
Matt Miazga and Anderlecht will host Joe Efford and Waasland Beveren in a matchup of two Belgian teams who each feature an American.
Obviously Maizga is the most prominent player as he is a contender to start for the U.S. national team. He has been a welcome addition to the club since joining on loan from Chelsea in October and there is chatter the club wants to keep him next season.
The goal for Anderlecht this season has always been to get into the top four to get back into Europe. Right now it sits in fifth but only trials on goal differential.
On Friday, Anderlecht will need to try to win big over a Waasland-Beveren club that is in the relegation zone. Georgia-born winger Joe Efford will likely be on the bench in this one.
Elsewhere around the globe
Alfredo Morales and Julian Green will square off in the 2.Bundesliga when Fortuna Dusseldorf hosts Greuther Furth on Friday. On Saturday, Bobby Wood and Hamburg visit Eintracht Braunschweig.
On Sunday in the 2.Bundesliga Kevin Lankford, Leon Flach and St. Pauli are continuing a push to climb out of the relegation zone. Sunday’s home game against Jahn Regensburg will be a big test. Last weekend, German-American Jan George had a huge outing for Jahn Regensburg when he had 2 goals and an assist in a 3-1 win over Sandhausen.
On Friday in the FA Cup, Owen Otasowie could feature for Wolverhampton when it visits Chorley. On Sunday, Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream and Fulham host Burnley.
In England’s Premier LEague, DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle visit Aston Villa on Saturday.
In the Championship, Geoff Cameron, Charlie Kelman and Queens Park Rangers host Derby County on Saturday.
In the FA Cup, Zack Steffen should start for Manchester City on Saturday against Cheltenham. Lynden Gooch is out for Sunderland as it hosts Shrewsbury Town.
In the Bundesliga, Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfrut visit Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday. Pellegrino Matarazzo and his VfB Stuttgart team visit Freiburg
In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre and Heracles host Uly Llanez and Heerenveen on Saturday. Desevio Payne is out for FC Emmen as it visits ADO den Haag.
In Belgium’s top flight, Brenden Hines-Ike and Kortrijk host Cercle Brugge on Saturday. Meanwhile, Chris Durkin and a surging St. Truiden will host Royal Excel Mouscron. St. Truiden has won five of its last six games in the league and is now safely in midtable.
On Sunday in Belgium, Club Brugge hosts Genk. Ethan Horvath should be the backup goalkeeper for league leading Brugge. Mark McKenzie is aiming for his club debut for Genk after his transfer from Philadelphia.
In Spain’s Segunda, Shaq Moore and Tenerife visit Lugo on Saturday.
In Ligue 2, Patrick Koffi will hope to return to Paris FC’s matchday sheet when it visits Amiens.
In Austria’s Bundesliga on Saturday, Andrew Wooten and last-place FC Admira visit SKN ST. Poelten. Erik Palmer-Brown and Austria Vienna visit Ried.
In Hungary, Henry Wingo might make his club debut league leaders Ferencvaros when they visit Puscas FC Academy on Saturday.
In Serie B on Saturday, Andrija Novakovich and Frosinone host Reggina. Guiseppe Barone will hope to make his pro debut for Salernitana when it hosts Pescara.
On Sunday in La Liga, Sergino Dest will hope to be healthy for Barcelona when it visits Elche. Konra de la Fuente will hope to make the bench for Barca.
In Ligue 1 on Sunday, Tim Weah and Lille visit Rennes. Will Weah make his second start of the season?
In Turkey’s top flight on Sunday, Mix Dikserud will aim for his club debut for last-place Denizilspor – against Fatih Karagumruk. Tyler Boyd will aim to return to the lineup for leaders Besiktas against Goztepe.
In Brazil, New Jersey native and U.S. national team defensive midfielder Johnny Cardoso, 19, will likely be on the bench for Serie A leading Internacional when it hosts Gremio on Sunday. The two teams from Porto Allegre are arch rivals.
In Greece’s Super League on Sunday, Gboly Aryibi and Panetolikos host Lamia
In Switzerland’s Super League, Jordan Siebatcheu and league leaders Young Boys BSC visit FC Vaduz.