Weekend preview

Marsch nears title, Sargent plays for survival in busy weekend for Yanks

The final week of the season in Germany will see either Alfredo Morales or Josh Sargent get relegated while the other go to the playoffs. Meanwhile, England keeps rolling while the Austrian Bundesliga title could be decided in favor of Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks down the upcoming weekend. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 26, 2020
8:45 AM

FOR MANY AMERICAN players and coaches, this weekend will be a pivotal one and one that could be career defining for some. June is not a typical time for European club soccer to be at such a critical stage but it has been a lot of fun and a welcome distraction for many American fans.

Before going into the best games of the weekend, it would be wrong to not mention Christian Pulisic and his performance on Thursday to help give Chelsea a 2-1 win on Manchester City – a win that clinched the title for Liverpool.

Pulisic scored the opening goal in the 36th minute and he put on a brilliant display of skill in the process. It began with a steal, then over the course of a 70 yard run, he beat two chasing defenders and hit a beautiful shot around the keeper to the far post.

Pulisic, 21, is playing at such a high level right now and it is insanity to suggest this hasn’t been a great season for him. Between the Champions League group stages and the Premier League, he has eight goals and four assists in 1467 minutes. It makes you wonder what he could do in a full season. He’s now scored in back-to-back games since the restart.

In this game, and against one of the best teams in Europe, the Hershey native was arguably the man of the match in the game and he was dangerous throughout the entire game before being subbed out in stoppage time.


  • 90 minutes
  • 41 touches
  • 3 shots (all on target)
  • 1 goal
  • 4 successful dribbles
  • 0 key passes
  • 72% passing (18/25)
  • 1 aerial won
  • 1 foul


The bottom line is that if Pulisic can stay healthy, he will live up to the hype of his transfer price – and then some.

The Upcoming Weekend

As for the upcoming weekend, the big news is that Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg will attempt to win the Austrian title. It is a forgone conclusion they will be the champs but a win over Hartberg on Sunday will clinch it. The same for Stuttgart’s Pellegrino Matarazzo. Barring something beyond extraordinary, he will guide his team to promotion.

In Germany, a lot of things are settled for Americans. Tyler Adams & RB Leipzig and Gio Reyna & Borussia Dortmund are squared away in the Champions League next year. John Brooks and Wolfsburg are in the Europa League. Weston McKenne & Schalke and Timothy Chandler & Eintracht Frankfurt are midtable and have nothing on the line this weekend.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Matarazzo and Stuttgart will get promoted this weekend. Julian Green & Greuther Furth and Jan George & Jahn Regensburg are midtable as well and have nothing on the line this weekend. Hamburg is trying to squeeze into the promotional playoff but Bobby Wood never plays for this team anymore.

That leads to two games that really matter. Alfred Morales & Fortuna Dusseldorf visiting Union Berlin and Josh Sargent & Werder Bremen hosting Koln. Fortuna leads Werder Bremen by two points for the relegation playoff position. Werder needs to win and hope that Fortuna falters.

Aside from that, it is business as usual in other leagues that are still ongoing.

  • Here are some other questions I am following this weekend.
  • Will either Indian Vassilev or Owenn Otasowie play when Villa hosts Wolves on Saturday?
  • Will Llanez feature for Wolfsburg in the season finale?
  • How will Sargent deliver with Werder’s back against the wall?
  • Will Morales play in a must win game for Fortuna?
  • How will Reyna follow-up his fantastic first start?
  • Will Marsch win the title?
  • Will Holmes rebound from a shaky outing for Derby?
  • Will Robinson build off a great outing for Wigan?
  • Can McKennie & Schalke snap its 15 game winless skid?


Salzburg - Hartberg

Austrian Bundesliga
Sunday, June 28: 11:00am


Salzburg is heavily favored in this game and is currently eight points atop the Austrian Bundesliga with three games to go. A draw would likely be enough to secure the title but a win would mathematically clinch it. Salzburg will win the league title and it is just about when that will happen.

How favored is Salzburg in this game? Salzburg boast an +89 goal differential this season on Hartberg with 18 points separating them in this championship round of the season.

Salzuburg won the Austrian Cup last month and is now looking to secure the Bundesliga crown to complete the double. This season has been groundbreaking for Marsch as an American manager. Prior to this season, an American manger (born and raised in the United States) had never won a European league or cup. Marsch is now set to do both while also becoming the first American born and raised manager to manger in the Champions League and the Europa League.

This weekend could be another huge step by Marsch.


VfB Stuttgart - SV Darmstadt

Sunday, June 28: 9:30am EST


Staying with American managers who were born and raised in the United States, Pellegrino Matarazzo and Stuttgart enter this weekend in second place of the 2.Bundesliga - with the top two teams earning automatic promotion to the Bundesliga and the third place team going into a playoff. The only way Stuttgart won’t finish in the top two places is if it loses to Darmstadt and third-place Heidenheim defeats leaders Arminia Bielefeld to the point where it can overcome a 11 goal difference in the goal differential tiebreaker.

That won’t happen.

Matarazzo’s accomplishments this season aren’t to be understated. He took over Stuttgart and moved it from third and into second place for promotion. Stuttgart is one of the biggest and most historical clubs in Germany despite currently being in the second division. There was a lot or pressure on Matarazzo in taking this job and he delivered and has earned his shot in the Bundesliga and as the opportunity to be the first American born and raised manager in that league.


Werder Bremen - Koln

The Bundesliga
Saturday, June 27: 9:30am EST


For Werder Bremen to have any kind of chance of avoiding relegation, it needs to win this game. Even then, it won’t be enough if Fortuna also wins against Union Berlin. But Fortuna hasn’t been great this season and its victory is not assured. So a good performance against Koln might be enough for Werder to stay alive and go into the relegation playoff.

What is impressive is that Werder has gone with Josh Sargent down the stretch to help keep its chances alive. That is a lot of responsibility and pressure on the St. Louis native. While Sargent hasn’t scored since the restart, there have been some games where he has played extremely well. The win over Paderborn two weeks ago was his best showing.

This game will be a test of character for each of the Werder players. Can they raise their game in a must-win game against an opponent with nothing to play for? If not, then relegation is completely deserved.


Leicester City - Chelsea

The FA Cup
Sunday, June 28: 11:00am EST


After a pair of first-rate performances in the Premier League, Christian Pulisic and Chelsea will now shift their focus to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup when it visits Leicester City on Sunday.

This will Pulisic’s debut in the FA Cup and it will be yet another opportunity to build on what has been an outstanding season.


Wolfsburg - Bayern Munich

The Bundesliga
Saturday, June 27: 9:30am EST


Last weekend was a milestone moment for American defender Chris Richards who made his Bundesliga debut as a late-game sub for the champions in a win over Freiburg. Nothing is on the line in this game for either team as Bayern are the champs and a Wolfsburg has its ticket to the Europa qualifiers punch.

While Chris Richards might be a future U.S. national team starter, John Brooks is a current starter and a regular for Wolfsburg. His play has been mostly solid since the restart although it remains to be seen if starts this one with its Europa League spot secure.  

In circumstances like this, teams give young players chances and Richard might play even more minutes. It also might be an opportunity for Uly Llanez to make his professional debut for Wolfsburg although he has only made the bench just once.   


Borussia Dortmund - Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga
Saturday, June 27: 9:30am EST

Last weekend, Gio Reyna, 17, earned his first start for Borussia Dortmund and picked up a winning assist in a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig. The young American was one of the best players on the field where he showcased a lot of strengths and lived up to the expectations.

But part of being a professional for Reyna will be doing on consistent basis and growing into the elite player Dortmund are confident he can become. Another positive outing against Hoffenheim will give the teenager momentum heading into the offseason and into 2020/21.

Both these teams will be in Europe next year as Dortmund has secured a spot in the Champions League while Hoffenheim will take part in Europa qualifying.


Derby County - Reading

The Championship
Saturday, June 27: 10:00am EST


Duane Holmes made his first appearance since mid-February for Derby County last week in a 3-2 win over Millwall. The Georgia native went 63 minutes in what was subpar outing by his standards. Part of the reasons for that can be attributed to rust having been injured first and then having to sit during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Holmes, 25, should only improve as he gets more games under his belt as he was in fine form earlier in the year. The game against Reading will give him a chance to get back into form. Meanwhile, Matt Miazga might return for Reading after he has been dealing with an injury during the shutdown.


Freiburg - Schalke

The Bundesliga
Saturday, June 27: 9:30am EST


Weston McKennie has been one of Schalke’s best players in 2020. Unfortunately, that has not meant much as the team currently finds itself in a brutal 15 game unbeaten run where goals have been difficult to come by and it has been outscored 33-7 during that run. Schalke manager, and former U.S. national team forward, David Wagner has not found a solution to the mess that stems from a wave of injuries hitting the club.

The big story around this game is that Schalke fans are planning to protest for this game – despite it being behind closed doors.


And Wagner has had to respond.


Nothing is on the line for either team as 11th place Schalke and 8th place Freiburg will both finish midtable. Schalke, however, will feel the pressure to avoid a 16-game winless run heading into the offseason.


Augsburg - RB Leipzig

The Bundesliga
Saturday, June 27: 9:30am EST


RB Leipzig currently sit in third place and the only way it could fall out of the top four and out of the Champions League would be a series of events that would include a 26 goal advantage over fifth-place Bayern Leverkusen somehow getting whipped out. That won’t happen.

Leipzig will be in the Champions League next year and this game offers nothing much on the line for either team (Augsburg has been poor this year and in 15th place but has a insurmountable six point lead over the relegation playoff line).

For Tyler Adams, if he plays it will be a chance to end the season on a high note. He missed a lot of time this season due to injuries. Between this season and last (which he joined Leipzig at the winter break) he has still only played 1589 Bundesliga minutes (or 51.9% of one Bundesliga season) so he should use this opportunity to build momentum for a fresh start in 2020/21.


Wigan Atheltic – Blackburn Rovers

The Championship
Saturday, June 27: 10:00am EST

Antonee Robinson made the Championship team of the week for Wigan in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield. This was all the more important given that it was his first game since he had a procedure to correct an irregular heart rhythm. The win came at a big time as Wigan, once in the relegation zone, has now moved somewhat comfortably into 17th place.

Robinson could very well move back into the U.S. national team picture at left back with continued strong performances.


Swansea City - Luton Town

The Championship
Saturday, June 27: 7:30am EST


Cameron Carter-Vickers as the MOTM last weekend for his effort in Luton Town’s 1-1 draw with Preston North End. The U.S. U-23 defender had a fine outing which included 13 clearances as Luton Town fought to preserve a draw.

But Luton Town still sits in last place of the Championship and ninth-place Swansea City will be heavily favored to win this game. If Luton has any hopes for survival, it will need to pull off unexpected wins to make up its six-point deficit.

Carter-Vickers, 22, is on his fifth loan in the Championship and is likely playing for a permanent transfer. More outings like last week will only help.


Leeds United – Fulham

The Championship
Saturday, June 27: 10:00am EST

It will be a matchup between second-place Leeds United and third-place Fulham on Saturday with seven points separating the two teams. Last week, U.S. national team defender Tim Ream and Fulham suffered a tough 0-2 loss to Brentford at home. Despite having plenty of scoring chances, Fulham were unable to find the back of the net and take control of the game.  Another loss could see Fulham drift closer to the bottom of the promotional playoff picture.

If Fulham win, it could begin to move closer to Leeds while also securing its position for at least a spot in the playoffs


Hobro - Esbjerg

Danish Superliga
Sunday, June 28: 10:00am EST


In the relegation half of the Danish Superliga, Sunday’s game between Hobro and Esbjerg is actually important. Hobro has a five-point lead over Esbjerg for third place with three games to go. Second-place is unattainable for both teams. If Hobro can win this game, it will secure third-place and a spot in the relegation playoff.

Hobro starts two U.S. U-23 players in central midfielder Christian Cappis and winger Emmanuel Sabbi. While Sabbi will head to OB next year, there is also a good chance Cappis could transfer next season regardless of how Hobro finishes.

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