Americans abroad analysis

McKennie, Robinson, Miazga, & Matarazzo enjoy a banner weekend.

It wasn't all positive for Americans abroad this weekend but the best news continues to be remarkable - both in terms of its level and nature. ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it in great detail with his Monday morning notebook. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 14, 2020
7:45 AM

THE WEEKEND FOR AMERICANS abroad saw a lot of highs as well as some disappointments – which is normal. The best news continues to be remarkable, however, as it pushes the boundaries of what American players have typically achieved in Europe.

Among the rough bits of news, Christian Pulisic’s involvement with Chelsea is still a huge concern over his injuries. Frank Lamapard had come across in different tunes regarding the Hershey native’s hamstrings. After Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Everton, Lampard was a bit more somber.

“It wasn’t hard [the decision to leave him out],” Lampard said. “It was just a fact. He had to be left out. He was uncomfortable in training this week and yesterday {Friday}; he can’t play 90 minutes or start a game in the Premier League”

Also, on the negative side, Josh Sargent remains in an environment that doesn’t bring out the best in him and Uly Llanez is still not playing much for Heerenveen – this included going as an unused sub on Sunday.

But the good news is great. Weston McKennie is growing by leaps and bounds at Juventus. Sergino Dest is a starter at Barcelona and doing well. FAntonee Robinson was stellar against world-class Liverpool. Meanwhile, Jesse Marsch and Pellegrino Matarazzo have huge coaching futures with potentially big jobs sooner than later.

Here is what I saw this weekend.


Miazga’s big outing


The weekend began in style for Americans in Europe as Matt Miazga put forth a tremendous effort for Anderlecht during a 1-0 win over Genk. For Anderlecht, it came into this game as a heavy underdog sitting in eighth place.

Genk were sitting atop the table, winners of seven straight, and having scored 19 goals in their last five games. For Anderlecht to have any chance, it would require a big defensive effort. It got that effort and Matt Miazga was the best player of the backline.

The New Jersey-born and raised central defender cleared a dangerous ball off the line early in the 13th minute and ended up leading the game in most defensive metrics. His numbers were fantastic and accurately reflected his outing.

  • 90 minutes
  • 64 touches
  • 1 shot
  • 1 key pass
  • 85.2% passing (46/54)
  • 8 aerials won (game high by 5)
  • 0 tackles
  • 2 interceptions
  • 5 clearances (game high by 3)
  • 5/6 accurate long balls
  • One ball cleared off the line

This was the game that Anderlecht needed from Miazga and the result was huge (despite the loss of elite young player and Belgian international Yari Verschaeren to an apparent serious knee injury). This kept Anderlecht on pace to be within striking distance of the top of the table in the coming weeks.


Robinson stars in Fulham draw


A lot of times we post raw numbers for players in terms of a performance in a specific game. These numbers sometimes reflect how a player performed – and sometimes they don’t because they don’t tell the whole story. They’re meant to complement watching the game.  

The raw numbers for Antonee Robinson against Fulham were very good, but his performance was excellent. He covered more ground in this game than any other player and made some defensive players that were beyond impressive.

  • 90 minutes
  • 54 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 61% passing (11/18)
  • 1 key pass
  • 2 dribbles
  • 4 tackles
  • 2 interceptions
  • 5 clearances
  • 1 blocked shot
  • 1/3 accurate crosses
  • 1/3 accurate long balls
  • 2 aerials won

For all of this, he was named the MOTM.



Every since he took over the starting job at Fulham in the team’s fourth game, Robinson has been steadily improving as he adjusts to the Premier League. By now, he is one of the team’s best players.


Reyna hits goalzo but Matarazzo triumphs


In the 39th minute on Saturday, U.S. teen Gio Reyna, 18, hit a remarkable goal for Borussia Dortmund that was draw dropping in its skill. It was his third Bundesliga goal of the season to go along with five assists. He also has a goal in the German Cup and an assist in the Champions League.

But this was probably his best highlight of the season.


 The good news, is that Reyna played well over 90 minutes and has been an asset to Dortmund as it tries to navigate this period with Erling Haaland out injured.

  • 90 minutes
  • 84 touches
  • 1 goal
  • 54/62 passing (87%
  • 3 key passes
  • 2 crosses
  • 2/3 Lb's
  • 9 duels won (6 lost)
  • 4 dribbles (4 attempts)
  • 3x fouled
  • 1 aerial won (0 lost)
  • 2 fouls
  • 1 tackle
  • 1 interception

The bad news, however is that no one else on Dortmund showed up and Stuttgart won 5-1. On Sunday, the club fired manager Lucien Favre. Reyna will now have to navigate under a different manager.

For another American, this was massive news. Pellegrino Matarazzo, born and raised in Fair Lawn, NJ, is one of more promising young managers in Germany and he is guiding Stuttgart to success beyond what most anticipated.

Prior to the start of 2020, he had never managed at the first-team level. He was only an assistant under Julian Nagelsmann. But look at what he has accomplished this year.


  • Earned VFB Stuttgart automatic promotion to the Bundesliga
  • Has the team in seventh place after 11 games (4W, 5D, 2L)
  • Stuttgart’s 24 goals are the second highest in the Bundesliga
  • A comprehensive 5-1 win over Borussia Dortmund


Like Jesse Marsch, Matarazzo is a manager who could find himself with an even bigger job in the years ahead. His rise is one of the best stories in American soccer in 2020.


McKennie terrific in Juve win


It is hard to overstate just what a great eight days Weston McKennie has had. It has been the best time of his entire career and he has pushed boundaries that Americans have not reached before with big clubs.

Last week, he scored an equalizer for Juventus as it rallied to beat rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole. Then in the midweek, he scored a goal against Barcelona in the Champions League at the Nou Camp which earned worldwide highlights. Then on Sunday, he hit a very clever assist to Paulo Dybala for Juventus in a 2-1 win over Genoa.

But as is the norm now with McKennie, it wasn’t just that one assist but rather it was his performance over the whole game which should keep him in the starting XI.

  • 90 minutes
  • 61 touches
  • 33/39 passing (85%)
  • 3 shots
  • 1 assist
  • 3 key passes
  • 2/2 accurate long balls
  • 7 duels won (8 lost)
  • 4 aerials won (2 lost)
  • 3 fouls
  • 1 interception
  • 1 tackle (2 attempts)

What Juventus have seen and have helped continue to foster is that McKennie offers is such a unique combination of being able to do the physical “dirty work” that the sport demands while also being able to make game changing plays with goals, shots, assists, and through-balls. He plays both sides of the ball very well and he uses his athleticism to cover so much ground.

For U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter, he has a lot of very good players but what is also interesting is to see how many of them cover so much ground. Adams, McKennie, Robinson, Dest, and others will be tough for teams to contain.


Adams vs. Sargent


On Saturday, RB Leipzig hosted Werder Bremen and walked away with a 2-0 win that was largely expected. Leipzig is currently third in the Bundesliga, previously advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League in 2020, and is back into the knockouts stages again in 2021 after a dramatic 3-2 win over Manchester United on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Werder Bremen showed improvement early in the Bundesliga season but has started to crash back to reality and its loss to Leipzig was its third straight.

In this game, Josh Sargent started for Werder and once again, was in a difficult position to make things happen as he rarely was able to receive the ball in a dangerous position.

  • 90 minutes
  • 23 touches
  • 1 shot
  • 9/17 passing (53%)
  • 1 cross
  • 3 key passes
  • 3 duels won (3 lost)
  • 0 dribbles
  • 1x fouled
  • 2 aerials won (2 lost)
  • 0 clearances, tackles, & interceptions

Sargent is still a good player and all you have to do is go back and watch his performance this year against Bayern Munich to see how effective he can be. The problem is that the way Werder Bremen plays, it is simply not an environment that is going to bring out the most in his talent. He has to drift back into the midfield to get the ball, but who is he going to combine with? Where can he realistically make runs and have a teammate there to get him the ball?

Meanwhile, Tyler Adams is in spot where he’s playing but his starts have been declining but the team has continued to win. But Leipzig are playing like a top 10 team in the world in 2020, so this is what happens at that level.

Adams will eventually get back into the starting rotation on a consistent basis. He is too good of a player not to and the fact he started last weekend against Bayern Munich was a big sign of faith that he is integral to the team.

For now, he needs to simply do well in the minutes he has. On Saturday, he was quiet as he played the second half against Werder to see out the win. The fact he was quiet was a good thing as Werder never musted anything serious to gain momentum.

  • 45 minutes (2nd half)
  • 30 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 20/24 passing (83%)
  • 1 duel won (2 lost)
  • 1 clearance
  • 0 dribbles
  • 1x fouled
  • 2 fouls
  • 1 interception
  • 0 aerials won (0 attempts)

With Leipzig facing Hoffenheim midweek followed by Koln next weekend, Adams has a good chance to start one or perhaps both games.


Novakovich scores again


Andrija Novakovich, 24, is in a terrific run of form at the moment. Last weekend, he scored two goals (an equalizer and late winner) for Frosinone in a 3-2 win over Chievo. This over this weekend, he scored his team’s second goal in a 2-2 draw with Lecce – a late equalizer after Frosinone had coughed up a horrible goal due to a goalkeeping error.

  • 90 minutes
  • 31 touches
  • 4 shots
  • 1 goal
  • 13/15 passing
  • 4 duels won (9 lost)
  • 3 aerials won (4 lost)
  • 0 tackles, interceptions
  • 2 clearances

Novakovich is showing himself to be very dangerous when he’s on the field this year for Frosinone and he now has 5 goals 2 assists in 658 minutes

This is shaping up to be a big promotion fight for Frosinone one again after just missing out in the playoffs last season. The club now sits in fifth place with 20 points from 11 games but is three points off the top of the table. How well Novakovich plays will determine if the team can get back to Serie A – where it was just two seasons ago.


Green scores in Furth win


Julian Green and Greuther Furth played to a big 3-0 win over Sandhausen on Friday and the win allowed the club to keep pace in its hunt for promotion this season.

Green, 25, is arguably having the best season of is career as he is consistently putting on good performances for Furth and is integral to the team’s success. His biggest moment in this game came in the 30th minute when he took advantage of horrific marking in the box from Sandhausen to volley in a cross from Marco Meyerhofer.

Green’s numbers in this one were solid and his touch map shows his involvement across the field.


Green has shown a lot of improvement in this season in his effort to being a two-way player, compared with the heavily-offensive oriented approach earlier in his career. He is now pressing, winning balls, and serving as a disruptive force. Part of this improvement is that he is now surrounded by much better players.

With the win, Greuther Furth moved back into the automatic promotional spots in the 2.Bundesliga.


De la Torre strong in Heracles loss


In the Eredivisie on Friday, Heracles fell to Fortuna Dusseldorf on a 2-1 scoreline. Heracles is drifting into a potential relegation fight but, despite the struggles, American attacking midfielder Luca de la Torre is continuing to play well.

In this game, de la Torre had more touches to the left side but was more central than in weeks past (where he had been playing as a clear left winger). His passing was excellent at 52/53 and a significant majority were in the attacking half. After playing mostly a bench-role earlier in the season as he adjusted from his move from England to Holland., the San Diego native is emerging as one of Heracles better players.

Unfortunately, the team needs to play better as it is just one point clear of the relegation playoff position.


De la Torre, 22, is a long-time veteran of U.S. youth national teams having played in both the 2015 U.S. U-17 World Cup and the 2017 U.S. U-20 World Cup. He is now eligible for the 2021 U-23 team and is quietly putting together a nice resume as a player who can help the team in several attacking positions out wide, or in the middle. It just comes down to whether or not Heracles would release him for qualifying – which could be dependent on them improving their standing.


Brooks & Wolfsburg remain unbeaten


On Friday, Wolfsburg rallied from a second half deficit to defeat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1. With the win, Wolfsburg remained undefeated in the Bundesliga.

In this game, Brooks wasn’t as typically sharp as he normally is but it was still a satisfactory outing, nonetheless.

  • 90 minutes
  • 54 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 0 key passes
  • 73.5% passing (36/49)
  • 2 aerials won
  • 1x fouled
  • 1 foul
  • 0 tackles
  • 3 interceptions
  • 1 clearance
  • 6/10 accurate long balls
  • 3 duels won (3 lost)


With five wins, six draws, and no losses, Wolfsburg continues to hover near the top of the Bundesliga. With its offense and defense now both contributing to results, Wolfsburg is having a strong season and a push for Europe should be in the cards in 2021.


Marsch & Salzburg back to first


The Champions League was very taxing on Red Bull Salzburg and American manager Jesse Marsch was forced to utilize heavy squad rotation to get through that tournament while also playing in the Austrian Bundesliga. In the end, his team was eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage following a loss to Atletico Madrid – but it did qualify for the Europa League.

But even more noteworthy, it had fallen into second place due to using mostly reserves in the Austrian Bundesliga – while LASK had continued to win and move into first.

On Sunday, Salzburg hosted LASK and had a chance to move back atop the Austrian Bundesliga. Marsch’s team was tired after the Champions League game but it was a strong lineup. LASK took a 1-0 lead but Salzburg rallied with three second-half goals for a 3-1 win to move two points ahead.

Salzburg remains the favorite to win the Austrian Bundesliga but there are a lot of factors at play. How many players will it sell in January? Will American Brenden Aaronson be part of the solution?

Finally, we see the Borussia Dortmund job now open and there will be big opportunities open this year in the Bundesliga. Marsch’s name will surface – along with fellow American Pellegrino Matarazzo.


Dest and Barcelona win


Sergino Dest, 20, earned the start for Barcelona on Sunday in a game against Levante – which is a club likely to be in a relegation battle this year. Barcelona is still a very good team but is not among the very best in Europe at the moment. It is a transitional period as the club is gradually seeing the departures of some of the best players of the past generation.

In this one, Lionel Messi scored the only goal in a 1-0 win where Barcelona was better but not dominant.

As for Sergino Dest, he played well but was not as threatening as he is when he’s on his game. The good news, is that he made no noticeable mistakes either offensively or defensively. He was quietly competent but Barcelona is not playing well offensively on a regular basis. Dest will complement the team when the offense is clicking but as a right back, he’s not going elevate the offense by himself.


Musah starts for Valencia in draw

Yunus Musah, 18, would be a massive addition to the United States national team if he decides to commit to the program after two caps in November. He has a huge upside but Villarreal are not playing well at the moment and on Saturday played to a 2-2 draw with Atletico Bilbao. It now has three draws and a loss over its last four in Spain.

It’s a tough environment to standout, and Musah continues to play wide right, as opposed to his preferred central role. He only managed to play an hour and it was his third straight quiet, non-impactful game for Valencia. But the truth is that Valencia, as a club, is not playing particularly well.

  • 60 minutes
  • 29 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 11/18 passing (61%)
  • 1 cross
  • 0/1 long balls
  • 3 duels won (3 lost)
  • 0 dribbles
  • 0x fouled
  • 1 foul
  • 2 tackles
  • 1 interception
  • 1 aerial won (0 lost)

It might actually put the United States in a good position heading into 2021. Musah might not want to make a permanent commitment to any national team right now, but if he does, he might not see a huge opening with England but the path for the U.S. team is there. Right now, he’s a young starter on a midtable La Liga team and is having only a moderate impact on games. That puts him at a very high level, but maybe not at a level for the English team.


Gioacchini & Caen draw Troyes


On Saturday, SM Caen had an opportunity to make a statement in its bid to get promoted to France’s top tier when it hosted Ligue 2 leaders Troyes. U.S. national team forward Nicholas Gioacchini earned the start but was playing at right wing – where he has featured in recent weeks. Gioacchini has not scored since the international break but has drawn two very important penalties which have helped Caen earn results.

In this game, Gioacchini was forced back to playing a lot of defense as there were periods where Caen was pinned back. But when he got forward, there were times when he was dangerous and he created two dangerous plays in the second half – but it turned out not to be enough.


  • 90 minutes
  • 35 touches
  • 12/19 passing (63%)
  • 2 crosses
  • 2/4 accurate long balls
  • 2 key passes
  • 3 duels won (4 lost)
  • 4 clearances
  • 2 aerials won (1 lost)
  • 1 interception
  • 0 tackles

The draw against Troyes isn’t necessarily bad but combined with other results the past four weeks, Caen will soon need to return to its winning ways. It sits in a three-way tie on points for places 6-8 in the Ligue 2 and it is two points behind fifth-place Auxerre. On Friday it visits Dunkerque that sits just three points behind in 10th place.


Other Abroad Stories


Matthew Olosunde has been up and down playing for Rotherham United in the Championship but was huge on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Bristol City. That result moved Rotherham out of the relegation zone in England’s second flight. Olosunde remains eligible for the U.S. U-23 team although is probably behind several other players.


In the Danish Superliga, Haji Wright, 22, has had a nice season with seven goals for Sonderjyske but had a poor outing in a 2-1 loss to Brondby. After watching Wright in recent weeks, it is clear there are ways he can be very productive offensively, but he is also limited. He doesn’t beat defenders particularly well with the ball and his first touch lets him down. But on a counter and in open space, he’s good when his teammates can hit him with a lot of area to run.


In Ligue 1, Tim Weah played the final 12 minutes for Lille in a 2-1 win over Bordeaux. Weah scored midweek in the Europa and might see his minutes gradually increase. The problem is that Lille is now atop Ligue 1 and coaches will not want to change a winning formula.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Erik Palmer-Brown and Austria Vienna lost to Wolfsberger 3-2 and are winless in their last five games.

In the Swiss Super League, Jordan Siebatcheu earned a rare start for Young Boys and picked up a late assist in a 2-1 loss to Servette. The Washington, DC-born striker has not scored this season but is quietly playing some more minutes with the Swiss leaders. Here was his assist.

In the Bosnian Premier League, American winger Nermin Crnkic, 28, scored the second goal for Tuzla City in a 2-0 win Borac BL.

In the Premier League, DeAndre Yedlin made a rare appearance for Newcastle United when he played the final four minutes in a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

In the Championship, Geoff Cameron started and U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman did not play for Queens Park Rangers in a 1-0 loss to Reading.

Earning positive reviews for his performance, Alfredo Morales had a fine outing for Fortuna Dusseldorf in a 2-1 away win over Karlsruher.

Also in the 2.Bundesliga, Jan George played the final 15 minutes for Jahn Regensburg in a 3-2 loss to Holstein Kiel. Bobby Wood played the final five minutes for Hamburg SV in a 2-1 win over Darmstadt.

In Norway, Henry Wingo started and played 77 minutes for Molde in a 3-1 loss to Rosenborg BK

In Belgium’s top flight, Brenden Hines-Ike made a rare start for Kortrijk in a 3-0 loss to OH Leuven.

In Argentina's Copa Diego Maradonna, Alan Sonora played the final 33 minutes for Independiente in a 2-1 loss to Huracan. Independiente was up 2-1 but down to 10 players when Sonora came on.

Also in Argentina's Copa Diego Maradonna, Joel Sonora played the final 9 minutes for Talleres de Cordoba in a 2-0 win over San Lorenzo. 


Growing number of DNPs

In addition to Christian Pulisic, there were a lot of Americans who did not make the bench or who failed to play over the weekend.

Owen Otasowie is still awaiting his pro debut and did not play for Wolves in a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa on Friday.

Like Otasowie, former Long Island University midfielder Giuseppe Barone is awaiting his professional debut but has been an unused sub a lot recently for Salernitana, the leaders of Serie B.

U.S. national team winger Uly Llanez did not get off the bench for Heerenveen in a 1-1 away draw with Vitesse.

Duane Holmes was MIA for Derby County in a 0-0 draw with Stoke City on Saturday.

After playing in the last two games, U.S. U-20 forward Matthew Hoppe did not get off the bench for Schalke in a disappointing 2-2 draw with Augsburg. Schalke conceded a late-equalizer to 10-man Augsburg to remain winless and in last place.

In the 2.Bundesliga, neither U.S. U-23 eligible winger Kevin Lankford nor U.S. U-20 midfielder Leon Flach got off the bench for St. Pauli in a 2-2 draw with Erzgebirge Aue.

In League One, Lynden Gooch remains injured for Sunderland and Indiana Vassilev is out for Burton Albion.

In Brazil, Johnny Cardoso is still injured for Internacional.

In Turkey, Eric Lichaj was not in the matchday roster for Fatih Karagumruk.

In Belgium, Chris Durkin is still not playing for St. Truiden while Joe Efford is out injured for Waasland-Beveren.

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