McKennie bests Pulisic, Yedlin assists, Lankford impresses
Weston McKennie is looking likely to part of the Champions League next season along with Christian Pulisic while Yedlin remains in fine form in England. Elsewhere, other Americans like Jann George, Rubio Rubin, and Kevin Lankford all impressed.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedTHIS WAS CERTAINLY A fun weekend for Americans abroad. Of course all eyes were on Christian Pulisic vs. Weston McKennie with Champions League berths on the line but there was a lot more. What made it an entertaining weekend is the unexpected contributors to step up.
April 16, 2018
April 16, 2018
Seldom discussed German-American Jann George scored two big goals in the 2.Bundesliga for a Jahn Regensberg squad trying to keep its promotional hopes alive. Rubio Rubin scored his first goal in ages for Club Tijuana and looks closer to getting his career back on track. Mix Diskerud found the back of the net for IFK Goteborg. Meanwhile, Kevin Lankford had the play of the weekend for FC Heidenheim.
So it was certainly fun to have different names in the mix.
McKennie and Schalke down Pulisic and Dortmund
The Revierderby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund is one of the most intense in Germany and this weekend’s edition was even more heated as both teams are pushing for Champions League spots. Two American teenagers ended up participating as Christian Pulisic started for Dortmund and Weston McKennie came off the bench for Schalke in the 71st minute.
In the first half, neither team had many opportunities but the second half was more end to end.
Pulisic played well in the second half but Schalke earned a 2-0 victory and its second goal in the 82nd minute came on set-piece which was earned by McKennie and finished by Naldo.
With the win, Schalke enhanced its grip on second place of the Bundesliga with 55 points. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, has 51 points and sits in fourth place but is even on points with third place Bayer Leverkusen. Both teams have five games remaining and are in strong positions to be in the Champions League next year.
Having two Americans at this age playing in a game of this magnitude is remarkable it does a lot to raise the profile of American soccer.
Yedlin’s notches assist vs. Arsenal
DeAndre Yedlin had a big game on Sunday and helped Newcastle United defeat Arsenal 2-1 at St. James Park for its fourth win in a row. After flirting with relegation, Newcastle United is now in 10th place and is playing its best soccer in years.
Yedlin was assisted on Ayoze Perez’s equalizing goal in the 29th minute.
Saief & Anderlecht eye Champions League
While so much focus right now is on Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, there has not been much discussion over Kenny Saief – who might also find his way into the tournament next year.
On Saturday, Saief went the full 90 for Anderlecht in a 1-0 win over current Belgian leaders Club Brugge. The three points put Anderlecht in a great spot in the playoff system. Currently in second place, Anderlecht only trails Brugge by three points now for first place. It also moved three points clear of third place Gent. In the current format, the Belgian champion goes to the Champions League but the runner up goes to Champions League qualifying.
All teams have seven games remaining.
Ream & Fulham suffer setback
Tim Ream and Fulham have made an extraordinary climb in 2018 and still have not lost since mid-December. But Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home against Brentford was a huge setback in its quest for an automatic promotional spot as Cardiff City won to seize control of second place.
Ream, 30, was not as sharp as he has been and Friday’s game against promotional contending Millwall will be enormous. Should Fulham not secure automatic promotion, it will enter into the playoffs as the favorites.
George’s brace lifts Regensberg
Jann George is one of the lesser known German-Americans and so far has only a single U.S. U-23 call-up in 2011 as his lone involvement with U.S. Soccer.
But quietly he is having a nice year for Jahn Regensburg which is attempting for a rare consecutive promotions in Germany. On Saturday, George scored two goals in a 2-1 win over Julian Green and Greuther Furth.
George now has six goals on the year and has played over 1700 minutes. Jahn Regensburg is in fourth place but it must find a way to make up a five point gap and overtake Holstein Kiel for third place to sneak into the playoff. 4
Rubin scores for Tijuana
Rubio Rubin, 22, is starting to get his career back on track in Mexico. On Friday, Rubin scored the third goal for Tijuana in a 3-0 win over Chivas in Liga MX. For Rubin, it was his first goal since scoring for Utrecht against ONS Sneek in the Dutch Cup on September 15, 2015.
So this was an important goal for him that will hopefully ease the pressure.
Lankford’s stunning assist
One of the best plays of the weekend for Americans abroad came from Kevin Lankford – who saw a few call-ups last cycle for the U.S. U-19 team. Too old for the current U-20 team, Lankford is eligible for the next U-23 Olympic team.
Lankford, 19, has found playing time difficult to come by for FC Heidenheim – currently 13th place in the 2.Bundesliga. So far this year he has played in 10 games (nine of which were off the bench) for a total of 241 minutes.
But on Saturday, he made the play of the game as Heidenheim posted a 3-1 upset win over first place Fortuna Dusseldorf. With Heidenheim up 2-1, Lankford beat several defenders on the dribble and sent in an accurate cross which was finished by Kevin Kraus.