Americans abroad analysis
Marsch wins title, Matarazzo promoted, Sargent nears escape, CCV rising, and more
June 29, 2020
FOR THE FIRST TIME since we’ve been doing these weekend recaps in American soccer, the top two stories haven’t been about players. Instead, for the first time it has been about American coaches in Europe – where there has been little success for Americans in that field. This weekend, however, was groundbreaking in that regard.
For players, there were certainly some high points over the past few days although not nearly as much as the weekend before. Few American players had much at stake this weekend as most of the places were already set. In England, it was a distinct mixed bag with some players like Antonee Robinson and Cameron Carter-Vickers impressing. Then there were regrettable moments from others.
The highlight of the weekend among American players went to Josh Sargent as his Werder Bremen team managed to escape automatic relegation and will instead head to a playoff where it will be heavily favored to remain in the Bundesliga.
Here is a breakdown of the top stories among Americans abroad.
Marsch’s wins Austrian Bundesliga title
It had been known for weeks that Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg were going to win the Austrian Bundesliga based on how it performed in the first several games following the resumption of play following the COVID-19 shutdown. On Sunday, the club sealed the title with a 3-0 win over Hartberg – with still two games remaining in the season.
By winning the Austrian Bundesliga title, Salzburg completed a double after winning the Austrian Cup in May.
For Marsch, this was a groundbreaking season as he became the first American born and raised manger to:
- Win a European League
- Win a European domestic cup
- Manage in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League
- Manage in the Europa League knockout rounds
It hasn’t necessarily been easy for Marsch as Salzburg sold three starters during the winter break. Takumi Minamino was sold to Liverpool, Marin Pongracic was sold to Wolfsburg, and global sensation Earling Haaland was sold to Borussia Dortmund.
After some adjustment, Marsch’s team adjusted. The best indication was on Wednesday when Salzburg defeated then-second place Rapid Vienna 7-2 with Salzburg having seven different goal scorers in a true team effort. The win on Sunday over Hartberg was a mere formality.
All you need to look at are two quick stats to understand just how dominant Marsch’s Salzburg team was this season. Through 30 games (with two more to go), Salzburg has scored 102 Austrian Bundesliga goals and has a goal differential of +70.
In just his first season as a head coach in Europe, Marsch is on a track for a very bright coaching future. This did not happen overnight either. He was a great coach for the New York Red Bulls and he’s a great coach now. It is only a matter of time before he gets a very big job somewhere in Europe’s biggest leagues.
Matarazzo’s VfB Stuttgart wins promotion
Coming into the 2.Bundesliga’s final weekend, it was assured that VfB Stuttgart, managed by American Pellegrino Matarazzo, would earn promotion due to its recent surge which included a 5-1 win over Sandhausen and a 6-0 win over Nurnberg. With those results, Stuttgart would clinch automatic promotion on Sunday with a win, a draw, or a loss that did not overturn an 11 goal advantage over Heidenheim in the goal differential tiebreaker (Heidenheim ended up losing on Sunday to make it moot).
Stuttgart ended up losing its final game 3-1 to Darmstadt but Stuttgart’s goal was scored by former German national team forward Mario Gomez who is expected to retire.
But the celebration for promotion was the big theme for Stuttgart and now it will get ready for the Bundesliga.
This was a huge accomplishment for Matarazzo who was hired over the winter break after the club underwent a managerial change. Matarazzo was a surprising hire since he had never had a first-team head coaching job before and was most known for being an assistant under Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim. For his first job he was asked to get the team into the top two (it was in third when he was hired) and secure promotion. On Sunday, the New Jersey native successfully brough one of Germany’s biggest and most historic clubs back to the Bundesliga.
Next season, Matarazzo will become the first American born and raised manager in the history of the Bundesliga. Over the past six months he has been very successful and these could be the first steps of what looks like it could be a promising managerial career.
Matarazzo’s soccer career began with a huge decision. As a mathematics major at Columbia University, he had lucrative offers out of school to become an investment banker. Instead, he chose to follow his heart and pursue a career in the sport of soccer. It wasn’t easy for a very long time. As a player, he bounced between the third and fourth leagues in Germany. Then at the start of his managerial career, he was coaching at the youth levels in Nurnberg for years. But now that bold decision is paying off with a ticket to the Bundesliga.
Coming into this weekend, American managers born and raised in the United States accomplished very little but on Sunday a Wisconsin native won the Austrian Bundesliga and a New Jersey native earned his team a promotion into the Bundesliga.
Sargent scores as Werder escape
Coming into Saturday, Josh Sargent hadn’t scored for Werder Bremen since the restart in May. He had played very well at times but in Saturday’s critical game against Koln, Sargent was on the bench. Werder Bremen came into Saturday two points deep in the relegation zone and it needed to win and hope Fortuna Dusseldorf dropped points in order to go to the promotion/relegation playoff.
Very early into Saturday’s game, things started to go very well for Werder as it jumped out to a multigoal lead on Koln while Fortuna fell behind Union Berlin.
Sargent ended up coming into the game at the start of the second half with Werder already up 3-0. Then in the 68th minute with the score 5-1 in favor of Werder, Sargent scored the final goal of the game with a nice finish and a brilliant assist from Milot Rashica.
Here is Josh Sargent’s goal which finished the scoring for Werder Bremen in a 6-1 thumping of Koln. Sargent & company are into the promotion/relegation playoff vs either Heidenheim or Hamburg SV #USMNT pic.twitter.com/81IdUIbNNl— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
The only thing that mattered at that point was hoping Fortuna did not rally to beat Union Berlin. In the end, everything broke Werder’s way. It’s own dominant performance was met with luck as Fortuna completely choked in a 3-0 loss and were relegated.
Now Werder Bremen will face FC Heidenheim in the relegation/promotion playoff – starting on July 2. Werder Bremen is the heavy favorite and the two teams met this year in the German Cup with Werder coasting to a lopsided 4-1 win.
It will be interesting to see of Sargent starts in this one. He played well off the bench against Koln but everyone on the team played well so the coaching staff might want to stick with the same lineup. Regardless, he finally found the back of the nest for the first time since the restart and should be confident heading into this one.
Kudos to McKennie
It has been a brutal 2020 for Schalke which has been in the midst of a terrible run of form. While the club was trying to end the season on a positive note, it failed to do so. Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Freiburg was ugly and sad.
Schalke’s fall in the second half of the season was in part due to injuries but the club should still have been able to compete. It did not and it ended the 2019/20 season with a 16-match winless skid while being outscored 37-7 during that span. Former United State national team forward and club manager David Wagner could very well lose his job in the days ahead.
But through it all, this was a positive for Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, 21, who was maybe Schalke’s best player during this whole woeful run. The young Texan remained mature and professional throughout the tough spell and never let frustration get to him. Most of his performances showed that he was active on both sides of the ball.
Over the last several games he had created chances off the dribble and with his ability to hit nice passes from the midfield. He also scored three of Schalke’s seven goals during that winless run. It would have been easy for McKennie to fade into general disappointment at Schalke but he did not. Saturday’s game was no exception.
Despite Schalke's mess, McKennie managed to stay professional and put in good performances in most games down the stretch. He's been one of the few good things about Schalke this season. #USMNT— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
Schalke’s season must sting for McKennie and he probably has questions about his future with the club – rumored to be in a difficult place financially. Will he be sold or does the club keep him out of necessity to avoid a relegation battle next year?
Regardless, this season we learned a lot about McKennie on an individual level and it was positive. He’s not a quitter, he’s focused to do well even if in a tough situation, and he’s got a lot of skill to do so.
Robinson strong again for Wigan
Antonee Robinson, 22, has been one of the best stories for Americans abroad since the resumption of play. During the shutdown he was forced to undergo a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. Now cleared to play, Robinson has been stellar in Wigan’s first two games. Last week it was a 2-0 win over Huddersfield where Robinson was named to the Championship team of the week. This weekend, he was even better.
Robinson ended up going the distance again in a 2-0 win over Blackburn. Blackburn tried frequently to attack down Robinson’s side of the field but Robinson was strong defensively throughout the entire game.
For the 2nd straight week, Wigan Athletic's U.S U-23 left back Antonee Robinson has been named to the Championship team of the week. This time in for a 2-0 win over Blackburn pic.twitter.com/TUog9bqLC3— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 29, 2020
While Robinson has had a reputation of being an attack-oriented fullback during his young career, the first two games since the restart have tested him defensively. He has been playing back deeper and has not pushed forward as much has he typically has. Robinson has responded very well to this new level of instruction and has been a big asset to his team. With these two wins, Wigan is now pushing towards midtable after being in a relegation battle as recently as February.
Antonee Robinson: Raw numbers for Wigan in 2-0 win over Blackburn— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
0 key passes
75% passing (21/28)
6 clearances (highest among all players)
1 blocked shot
0/3 accurate crosses
2/4 accurate long balls#USMNT
Moving forward, it will be very interesting to see if Robinson continues to sit back further to focus more on defense or if he will return to being more aggressive going forward.
Then, of course, it will be telling if he returns to the transfer market. The failed AC Milan move was a disappointment but one that shows people the Robinson is probably on the wish list of more clubs than previously thought. With his performances the past two games, he’ll probably have even more suitors.
Miazga picks up a red
Matt Miazga earned the start for Reading FC away at Derby County on Saturday and it was a game to forget on many, many levels. For one, Reading lost an ugly 2-1 decision. But then after the final whistle, Miazga got into an altercation with Derby’s Tom Lawrence and both players were shown red cards.
Better video of Matt Miazga’s red card pic.twitter.com/P2gxouoXWE— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
It's long been known that Miazga is a fiery player who sometimes gets too emotional. We’ve seen incidents with the New York Red Bulls, Vitesse, and even the U.S. national team during the Diego Lainez incident.
But this comes a tough moment for Miazga. He’s a member of the Chelsea loan army and he’s coming to the end of a weird season for every team. He has to find out his next destination soon and incidents like these, particularly a press-mad place like England, will get blown well out of proportion. It will make it harder for Miazga to find a new club.
It doesn’t matter if this is only the second red card of his career at the first team club level – and he has now played 11,432 minutes of league soccer and 13,319 total first team minutes across all competitions. Two red cards over that period is not a lot but this incident comes at such a bad time and it will generate the wrong headlines for Miazga – and those headlines stick.
Hopefully for Miazga, he won’t receive a suspension that is too long as a result of the altercation and slap. He needs to put this behind him quickly. Whenever he returns, there is the chance opponents will try to bait him into incidents that will result in cards. Miazga is going to have to work through it.
Pulisic makes FA Cup debut
Coming into this game, Christian Pulisic had scored in each of his past two Chelsea games in the Premier League. But on Sunday, the Hershey native got the start in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Leicester City. It was his first ever appearance in the tournament.
Pulisic ended up playing 73 minutes and was taken out with what Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said was “calf tightness.”
Pulisic didn’t score but played very well. It wasn’t the “world class” display he put on the past two games but if the goal is for him to be consistently good, this fit the mold.
Pulisic’s performance today was not world class, but it was the type of baseline performance that world class players churn out. If he makes this his baseline he has to be a regular starter.— Bob Morocco (@bob_morocco) June 28, 2020
Reyna struggles in 2nd start
Gio Reyna, 17, earned his second start for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday in the season finale against Hoffenheim. Reyna earned fine reviews for his performance the previous weekend against third-place RB Leipzig where he assisted in a 2-0 win.
Gio Reyna: Raw numbers for BvB in 0-4 loss to Hoffenheim— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
1 key pass
0 aerials won
87.8% passing (36/41)
0 tackles, interceptions, clearances, blocked shots
0/1 accurate crosses#USMNT
But this game was different as both clubs had their place in the standings set coming into the game. For some reason, Borussia Dortmund failed to show up and Hoffenheim was eager to take it to the second-place team. Reyna failed to make any impact on the game and often looked overly-tentative. But he was far from alone among Dortmund players who all looked mentally like they were starting their offseason. Hoffenheim ended up coasting to a 4-0 win.
For Reyna, it is not anything for American fans to get concerned about but hopefully it was a lesson that even being slightly off your game at the Bundesliga level will often get you punished.
Carter-Vickers strong again
It is easy to forget about U.S. U-23 defender Cameron Carter-Vickers who seemingly drifts around on loan from Tottenham to various lower-half Championship teams. His nomadic career to clubs with little hope of any promotion tends to not generate many headlines.
But Carter-Vickers is still young at 22 and he has played a ton of soccer for a player of his age. The bad news is that his latest team, Luton Town, came into this weekend in last-place. The good news is that the club is starting to turn things around and Carter-Vickers is playing terrific.
After a MOTM performance in the last weekend in the first game of the restart, Carter-Vickers helped Luton Town to a 0-1 win over Swansea City to move out of last place. The club now has five wins, three draws, and a loss in its last nine games. It might just make a push for survival – which was unthinkable back in January.
Either way, it won’t long before Carter-Vickers will leave the loan army and will find a club that plays him and owns his contract. Now it is all about putting in solid performances so that he can have a strong list of clubs interested in him. Lately, he’s been doing that.
Adams starts in Leipzig win
Tyler Adams, 21, ended the Bundesliga season on a high note where he played 87 minutes for RB Leipzig in a 2-1 win over Augsburg.
Overall, it was a decent game for Adams who didn’t make any serious mistakes and helped set the tone in the midfield for Leipzig to control game. It was a nice way for Adams to end the season on a winning note as the team was winless in the last seven games Adams started.
Tyler Adams: raw numbers for Leipzig in 2-1 win over Augsburg— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 27, 2020
1 key pass
89.5% passing (51/57)
1 aerial won
0 tackles, clearances, blocked shots
2/4 accurate long balls#USMNT
Fulham in trouble
The restart has not been kind to Tim Ream or Fulham as the London club was given a tough schedule in its first two games and were promptly trounced in both of them. Last weekend it was a 0-2 loss to fifth-place Brentford. On Saturday, Ream and company dropped a 3-0 decision to Leeds United. Former New York City winger Jack Harrison had a goal and an assist in this one.
Fulham have now fallen to fifth place but and the good news is that it still has a seven-point cushion for the promotional playoffs and the schedule gets easier for them starting with a matchup vs. 14th place QPR.
The bad news, however, is that confidence is probably low for the Cottagers. Even if it can sneak into the playoffs, does it have the belief it can prevail among the better teams in the Championship.
Relegated from the Bundesliga with Fortuna Dusseldorf, it will be interesting to see what Alfredo Morales does. This is not his first relegation and he has done well in the 2.Bundesliga before with Ingolstadt. Does he want to go through that process again or will he attempt to seek a path and perhaps leave Germany?
Shaq Moore has been playing quite a bit recently for Tenerife in Spain’s second tier and as the young American has been playing better, so has the club. On Saturday he went the distance in a 2-0 win over Cadiz to move into seventh place. The club is just two points out of the promotional playoff. Moore, a veteran of the 2015 U-20 World Cup who was capped by the full national team in 2018 under interim manager Dave Sarachan, has been playing both right back and right midfield for the club.
In Italy’s Serie B, Andrija Novakovich came off the bench in the 53rd minute for Frosinone in a 0-2 loss to fourth-place Cittadella. Once in line for promotion, Frosinone is now winless in its last five games and has fallen into fifth place. It still has a six point grip on a promotional playoff position.
In the relegation group of the Danish Superliga, things are looking much better for Hobro which defeated Esbjerg twice in the past week – most recently on Sunday. The 2-1 win over Esbjerg means that Hobro will indeed avoid automatic relegation and will instead head to a relegation playoff likely against Lyngby to stay alive. In Sunday’s win, the U.S. U-23 duo of Christian Cappis and Emmanuel Sabbi both started. Cappis went a full 90 in central midfield and Sabbi played 76 minutes at right wing.
In Norway’s top flight, former Seattle Sounder Henry Wingo earned his first start for league leaders and defending champions Molde FK. Wingo is converting from a midfielder to right back – where he started and went the distance on Sunday in a 4-1 win over Stabaek. He has played in each of the club’s first four games – all wins. Fellow American Romain Gall played the final 14 minutes in a loss for Stabaek.
U.S. national team winger Tyler Boyd played the final 20 minutes for Besiktas in a 3-0 win over Konyaspor on Friday. All of the scoring had taken place before Boyd came into the game.
In the final weekend of the season in the 2.Bundesliga, Julian Green played 59 minutes for Greuther Furth in a 2-1 loss to Karlsruher. Fellow German-American winger Kevin Lankford, 21, was a 56th minute sub for St. Pauli in a 5-3 loss to Wehan Wiesbaden.