Mckennie, Sargent, Brooks, Miazga star in epic weekend full of goals & club debuts
January 24, 2021
IT TURNED OUT to be an outstanding weekend for Americans abroad. After a solid stretch of games on Friday, the positive news kept rolling on Saturday and Sunday. In total, you had a lot of goals from forwards and midfielders, very good games from defenders, and four notable club debuts.
That is a lot of news to digest in one weekend. In total you had club debuts from:
- Brenden Aaronson
- Mix Diskerud
- Andrew Wooten
- Mark McKenzie
Then you had goals from:
- Tyler Adams
- Josh Sargent
- Terrence Boyd
- Mix Diskerud
- Weston McKennie
Among central defenders, John Brooks, Erik Palmer-Brown and Matt Miazga all had impressive outings as their teams posted clean sheets. Brooks, in particular, did it in a huge game against Bayer Leverkusen to move into the Champions League positions.
That is a huge wave of productivity, which didn’t include Matthew Hoppe for a chance, was fun to watch after two rather subpar weekend for Americans across the globe. In terms of improvement, no one was better than Josh Sargent who ended his 10 game Bundesliga scoring drought in impressive fashion.
It wasn’t all positive, however, as Christian Pulisic’s outing for Chelsea in an FA Cup win wasn’t great. Sergino Dest remained on the bench for Barcelona. Tyler Adams scored, but Leipzig’s result was terrible and costly.
There is a lot to breakdown and here are my notes from the weekend for Americans abroad.
McKennie shines in Juventus win
Coming into Sunday’s game against Bologna, Juventus was boosted by news that league leaders AC Milan had lost its game on Saturday to Atalanta. Juventus now knew that a win over Bologna would shrink its gap behind AC Milan to seven points.
Weston Mckennie started in this one and turned in a huge effort. He ended up being instrumental in a big 2-0 win and scored the team’s second goal in a 71st minute. He ended up being subbed out in stoppage time and was probably the best player on the field over 90 minutes.
Weston McKennie: raw # for Juve in 2-0 win vs Bologna— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 24, 2021
19/34 of passes in attacking half
3 chances created
8 duels won (9 lost)
4 aerials won (4 lost)
- Big outing
- touch map pic.twitter.com/DEIJ2ROr0m
His outstanding raw numbers only tell part of the story, however. His value to the team is obvious when watching it play. He fits a role Andrea Pirlo demands and this allows everyone else on the team to play better. When McKennie doesn’t play, Juventus, as a whole, struggles.
McKennie’s goal came from a nice header.
Juventus is into fourth place in Serie A and is one point behind Roma, four behind Inter Milan, and seven behind AC Milan. Juventus has played one fewer game than each of the teams it is chasing.
Brooks big in Wolfsburg win
On Saturday, John Brooks was part of one of the best results any American player had over the weekend. The U.S. national team central defender and his Wolfsburg team travelled to visit Bayer Leverkusen in a matchup between two teams vying for a Champions League position.
In the end, Wolfsburg came away with a huge 1-0 away win to move into fourth place. Leverkusen remained in third and the two teams are even on points with Leverkusen having the edge in goal differential.
It was known heading into this game that if Wolfsburg was going to win, it would require a huge effort from its defense. It got just that and Brooks did his part – leading the way in several different categories. His clearances and win percentage of duels and aerials was one of the significant edges Wolfsburg had en route to a huge win.
John Brooks: raw # for Wolfsburg in 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2021
6 duels won (4 lost)
3 aerials won (1 lost)
2 tackles (3 attempts)
3/7 accurate long balls
- solid game from Brooks. Big result#USMNT
In 2017, Wolfsburg spent a lot of money to buy Brooks after the club was finishing near the bottom of the table. The past two seasons, the club has finished towards the top and now is aiming for a Champions League spot. The club has enjoyed a huge improvement in recent years and while Brooks is not the only reason, he has played a big part of that.
Sargent’s wonder goal vs. Hertha
Josh Sargent came into this weekend with just one goal on the Bundesliga season but Saturday’s opponent, Hertha BSC, marked a good occasion to break out of the slump. The U.S. international scored twice on Hertha last season and has generally played well against them in his career.
In this game, Sargent actually began the game on the bench but came into the game in the 32 minute due to injury with Werder up 2-0. Sargent played very well over his 52 minutes and was rewarded in the 77th minute with a wonder goal from distance. It was one of the best strikes of Sargent’s young career.
As this page has been writing for some time, Sargent hasn’t been playing bad – despite the lack of goals. This game was reflective of that. Over 52 minutes, Sargent’s effort was strong in all facets.
Josh Sargent: raw # for Werder in 4-1 win vs. Hertha BSC— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2021
1 key pass
8 duels won (6 lost)
1 tackle (2 attempts)
5 aerials won (4 lost)
- Strong outing for Sargent#USMNT
The good news is that he’s been having his chances and his lack of finishing prior to this game was probably a lack of confidence. There have always been legitimate reasons to believe that goals would come in droves once he found a way to bag one. This goal, his third in his past four games against Hertha, might have done the trick.
This was a very important goal for Sargent and it will be interesting to see what it does for his confidence in the weeks ahead. There should be newfound optimism over him.
Miazga’s stellar outing
Attempting to push into the top three of the Belgian table, Anderlecht was supposed to have an easy time with Waasland Beveren on Friday. Unfortunately, the team’s finishing was off and Anderlecht stumbled to a 0-0 draw against the second-to-last place team in the Belgian Pro League. Anderlecht was let down with two shots that hit the fame and four top-notch saves from Waasland Beveren keeper Nordin Jackers.
Miazga, 25, was excellent in this game in central defense and was remarkably comfortable defensively. He won all of his duels and all of his aerials. The most notable numbers for Miazga were in his passing. Overall, he connected on 72/77 of his attempts but his long ball passing was on another level with the New Jersey native completing 13/14 of his passes over 35 yards.
- 90 minutes
- 87 touches
- 72/77 passing (94%)
- 13/14 accurate long balls
- 1 key pass
- 2 duels won (0 lost)
- 3 clearances
- 3 interceptions
- 2 aerials won (0 lost)
Miazga was probably Anderlecht’s best player on the day and it is easy to see why the club is exploring options to bring him back next season on a transfer or another loan from Chelsea. This current loan is working out for all parties involved but keeping him in Brussels won’t be cheap for Anderlecht.
Meanwhile, Miazga’s case to be a U.S. national team starter is getting stronger.
Green scores for furth in wild draw
On Friday, Greuther Furth played Fortuna Dusseldorf to a 3-3 draw in the 2.Bundesliga. Julian Green started for Furth and Alfredo Morales started for Fortuna in a matchup between two teams vying for promotion into the Bundesliga.
In the end, Greuther Furth was the most disappointed team by far in this game as it had a 2-0 lead and then a 3-2 lead which is squandered in the 83rd minute. Julian Green scored his fifth goal of the season in the 29th minute to give Furth a 2-0 lead.
Green, 25, continues to arguably have his best season of his career but promotion will be a close call as it now sits outside of the top three and is two points behind Fortuna. His goal showed a nice degree of skill in how he controlled a long looping ball into the box with his chest to help set up an easy finish from close-range.
Morales, 30, was decent but unspectacular in the win. Both teams struggled with their defense and in closing down space in the midfield. This game was wide open and the 3-3 result reflected the shoddy defending.
Adams scores but Leipzig upset
From a U.S. national team and American perspective, there was some good news from the Mainz – RB Leipzig game on Saturday. Unfortunately, from a Leipzig perspective, there was far more bad news to take from it.
The good news is that Tyler Adams returned to Leipzig’s starting lineup for the first time in three games. Over his 77 minutes on the field, Adams scored a goal from close range off a rebound and was one of Leipzig’s best players on the day. The bad news, is that second place Leipzig suffered a 3-2 loss to a club that is deep in the relegation hole.
The goal from Tyler Adams which gave Leipzig a 1-0 lead on Mainz. Currently 2-2 at HT pic.twitter.com/ed4Eid3GUR— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2021
Adams’ raw numbers were pretty good. He won a ton of his duels and all of his aerials to reflect how he can handle the grunt work of the game well. He will help win balls and serve as the disruptive force that Leipzig needs.
- 77 minutes
- 65 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 goal
- 27/42 passing
- 1 cross
- 1/4 accuarete long balls
- 6 duels won (3 lost)
- 0 dribbles
- 2x fouled
- 2 fouls
- 1 taclke
- 3 aerials won (0 lost)
But Adams was playing on the wide right side of the midfield in this game and his touch map shows that he very rarely got into the middle of the field – especially in the attacking half.
This was a very bad loss for Leipzig. It not only essentially took them out of being a serious contender for the title, but it also dragged them into a tight race for the Champions League positions. The team is still in second, but this was a tough blow against an opponent it should easily defeat.
As for Adams, perhaps his strong play will move him back into the middle in the weeks ahead.
Palmer-Brown solid in win
The Austrian Bundesliga resumed player from its winter break and U.S. U-23 central defender Erik Palmer-Brown got the start for Austria Vienna as it visited Ried on Saturday. The Kansas City native put on a very good outing in this one as Austria Vienna posted a tough 1-0 away win. Coming into this game, Austria Vienna was 10th in the 12-team league but moved past Ried by one point into ninth place.
The win was testing for Austria Vienna which scored its goal in the 4th minute but was reduced to 10 men in the 51st minute. Ried began to step up its attack while up a man but it could not find an equalizer.
Palmer-Brown was a big part of the team keeping its clean sheet win and his eight clearances helped several times in emergency defending.
Erik Palmer-Brown: raw # for Austria Vienna in 1-0 win vs. Ried— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2021
4/5 accurate long balls
2 duels won (2 lost)
8 clearances (!)
0 tackle attempts
2 aerials won (2 lost)
- Solid outing in clean sheet win#USMNT
Austria Vienna is unlikely to do much this season but Palmer-Brown has a big incentive to continue playing well as it could open the door to a better loan next season or perhaps a full transfer. Meanwhile, U.S. U-23 head coach Jason Kries might want to explore options to negotiate a release for Palmer-Brown ahead of Olympic qualifying in March.
McKenzie’s Genk debut
It was a big news that Mark McKenzie was named to Genk’s starting lineup on Sunday for its visit to league leaders Club Brugge (which had American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath on the bench).
Mckenzie ended up going the distance in a frustrating 3-2 loss for Genk. Genk fell behind 1-0 but had a 2-1 lead in the second half before allowing two quick goals in a 3-2 loss. While McKenzie was not directly at fault for any of the goals, no one on the defensive side stood out for Genk. On the offensive side, Genk wasn’t able to maintain possession which led to its defense being under constant pressure.
For McKenzie, this was a learning lesson even if he was not at fault for the goals. Brugge was often able to create chances quickly and the entire defense has to be better to stop these chances. It was a very difficult stage for him to make a debut.
In total, McKenzie was 29/36 in passing, had eight clearances, and had 50 touches.
Aaronson makes Salzburg debut
Coming into this game, Red Bull Salzburg was in second place due to Rapid Vienna’s win on Friday. To retake the Austrian Bundesliga lead, it had to defeat Altach on Sunday. Fresh off his transfer from the Philadelphia, New Jersey playmaker Brenden Aaronson was on the bench for Salzburg.
The score was 0-0 at the half but Salzburg rallied for two goals early in the second half. Shortly after the second goal in the 62nd minute, American manager Jesse Marsch subbed Aaronson into the game for his club debut.
Aaronson played the final 28 minutes and was lively. He won a corner early and was aggressive with his passing – which he was 3/6 with one shot. When Altach was reduced to 10 players in the 80th minute, Salzburg calmly saw out a 2-0 victory to move back on top of the Austrian Bundesliga.
Aaronson will continue to grow with this team in the weeks ahead but this was a good chance for him to get minutes in his first competitive game since November.
FA Cup win for Pulisic/Chelsea
On Sunday Christian Pulisic earned the start for Chelsea in its FA Cup 4th round game against Luton Town of the second-tier Championship. Pulisic ended up playing 70 minutes as Chelsea played to a comfortable 3-1. Like most of Chelsea’s attackers, Pulisic hasn’t been playing particularly well lately and in this one, that continued.
In this game, Pulisic struggled to make anything happen. Often times he tried to do too much by himself and chances came to nothing. Pulisic is in jeopardy of losing his starting position in the coming weeks and everything could be thrown up in the air if Frank Lampard is fired.
Musah & Valencia fall to Atletico
This game was a massive uphill climb for Valencia which is struggling this season towards the bottom of the table. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid sits safely atop La Liga with just one loss and has been among the best teams in Europe this season.
New York City-born Yunus Musah, 18, got the start on the right side of the midfield for Valencia and overall struggled to get going on both sides of the ball and wasn’t too involved. Valencia took an early 1-0 lead but Atletico asserted its dominance after falling behind and cruised to a 3-1 win.
When looking at his touch map, he was flush against the right side and rarely cut inward – where he prefers.
Musah was subbed out after 79 minutes. While he had a little impact there were moments where he showed his quality but his final ball generally let him down against a superior Atletico team.
- 79 minutes
- 34 touches
- 0 shots
- 20/23 - 87%
- 2 crosses
- 0 long ball attempts
- 2 dribbles (2 attempts)
- 0x fouled
- 1 foul
- 0 tackles, clearances, interceptions
While this loss was expected, Valencia will need wins soon as it now sits just two points clear of the relegation line in La Liga. While being extremely promising, the last two months have been revealing just how far he is from the English national team and that a decision to the United States becomes much more logical, unless his heart isn’t it. But that doesn’t appear to be the case at all.
De la Torre solid for Heracles
In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre, 22, has quietly been impressing at Heracles. On Saturday, the American midfielder from San Diego turned in a very nice performance in a 1-0 win over Heerenveen. Heracles was fortunate to find an 88th minute winner after it came from a brutal backpass from Heerenveen which sprung a counterattack.
But Heracles was the better team in this one throughout and outshot Heerenveen 9-6.
De la Torre was frequently on the ball and his passing was generally on the money. He also played solid defense and showcased his two-way ability. In 11th place, Heracles is in a logjam in the midtable but results like these could push it higher. Meanwhile, it has been a good season for de la Torre – his first season as a professional starter.
Luca de la Torre: raw # for Heracles in 1-0 win vs. Heerenveen— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 23, 2021
53/58 passing - 91%
2/2 accurate long balls
3 duels won (2 lost)
2 tackles (2 attempts)
- Solid shift. The U-23 CM is progressing
touch map pic.twitter.com/sOVxBT5RNd
As a veteran of the 2015 U-17 World Cup and the 2017 U-20 World Cup, de la Torre is a player worth monitoring for the U.S. team. Central midfield remains competitive and the full national team might be some time off, but if Jason Kreis can get a release for de la Torre to participate with the U-23 team in Olympic qualifying, he could be a nice addition.
Bayern hold Hoppe scoreless
It seems weird to report, but American teenager Matthew Hoppe did not score on Sunday for Schalke 04. A great deal of that is due to the complete mismatch in teams as last-place Schalke hosted leaders and reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
After scoring five goals in his last three games, Hoppe earned the start for Schalke in this one. He was feisty and aggressive but this was a different level of opponent from Hoffenhiem, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Koln.
The problem for Hoppe, is that with his superb scoring, Bayern was focused on stopping him. So Hoppe had to deal with the defense from the probably the best team in the world whose chief object was stopping him.
Bayern won this battle and Hoppe was generally ineffective – and that is primarily due to the fact the Schalke is so bad at the moment and it has very few offensive options. The numbers for Hoppe aren’t great but he was better than they reveal.
- 72 minutes
- 23 touches
- 0 shots
- 6/15 passing
- 6 duels won (13 lost)
- 2 clearances
- 1 dribble
- 1x fouled
- 3 aerials won (8 lost)
For one, Hoppe made a few really good runs in this game that, on a better team, would have been nice chances. His duels and aerial losses are, once again, because he was aggressive in finding his way into situations where he had a low chance of succeeding.
Hoppe remains one to follow the rest of the season as Schalke is sure to be relegated, but the general feeling is that he isn’t going down with them. He’ll find greener pastures elsewhere.
Diskerud scores in Denizlispor debut
Mix Diskerud, 30, joined Denizlispor midweek on a free transfer from Helsingborg. After Helsingborg were relegated out of Sweden this year, Diskerud signed on to join a Denizlispor team which was dead last in Turkey’s Super Lig. Diskerud’s wild career has taken in from Norway to Belgium, back to Norway, to New York, a weird transfer to Manchester City, a loan to Sweden, a loan to South Korea, another loan to Sweden, and now to Turkey.
His Turkish debut actually went very well, even if it was yet another loss for Denizlispor. Dikserud came on in the 83rd minute with Fatih Karagumruk leading 2-0. Five minutes later, the American cut the deficit in half with a goal where his attempted pass was blocked, but he recollected it for an open shot and a goal.
Denizlispor is in last place with five points and three other teams separating it from survival. It is an unlikely path. It makes you wonder what is next for Diskerud. Will he go down with the club or is this a way to get is foot in the door in Turkey, impress, and get sold after Denizlispor goes down? Diskerud’s career is always interesting.
Elsewhere across the globe
In Ligue 1, U.S. national team attacker Tim Weah played the final 15 minutes off the bench for Lille in a 1-0 win over Rennes. While he came on to preserve the lead for a win, he was active during his time on the field. He won all three of his duels and his lone aerial. Had one shot. He was successful in his only dribble while also drawing a foul. It was a brief time on the field but it was successful. With the win, Lille is even on points for top of the league but is in second due to an inferior goal differential to Paris Saint Germain.
In the FA Cup on Friday, Owen Otasowie went as an unused substitute for Wolverhampton in a 1-0 win over Chorley.
On Saturday in the FA Cup, Zack Steffen made one save for Manchester City in a 3-1 win over Cheltenham. Early in the game Steffen made one nice save on the near post. Cheltenham actually took a 1-0 lead in this one on a play where there was miscommunication in the back.
OMG ????— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 23, 2021
FOURTH-TIER CHELTENHAM LEAD AGAINST MAN CITY! pic.twitter.com/34TUx8sVCK
In the FA Cup on Sunday, Tim Ream went the distance for Fulham in a 3-0 loss to Burnley.
In the Championship on Saturday, team captain Geoff Cameron went the distance for Queens Park Rangers in a 1-0 loss at home to Derby County. U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman also featured for QPR and was an 82nd minute sub in the loss.
In the 3.Liga, there was a Munich Derby on Friday and Chris Richards started and played the full 90 for Bayern Munich II in a 0-0 draw against Tuerkguecue Muenchen.
In Serie B, Andrija Novakovich started and went the distance for Frosinone in a 1-1 draw with Reggina. Giuseppe Barone is still awaiting his debut and was an unused sub for Salernitana in 2-0 win over Pescara.
In Belgium’s Pro League, Colorado native and central defender Brenden Hines-Ike went the distance and picked up a yellow card for Kortrijk in a 2-1 home loss to Cercle Brugge. U.S. U-23 midfielder Chris Durkin also went the distance for St. Truiden in a 2-0 home loss to Royal Excel Mouscron.
In Austria, American forward Andrew Wooten made his club debut for FC Admira in a 2-2 draw with St. Poelten. The former Philadelphia Union forward was active in this one for an Admira team looking to fend off relegation in the months ahead.
In Ligue 2, U.S. national team forward Niko Gioacchini started and played 77 minutes for SM Caen started in a 2-1 home loss to Rodez. It was a bad loss for SM Caen as Rodez is near the bottom of the table. Caen is now in ninth place and is no longer a serious contender for promotion
In the Bundesliga, American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo and his VfB Stuttgart team lost to Freiburg 2-1 after scoring the opening goal. It was the second straight bad loss for Stuttgart which is now in 10th place of the Bundesliga.
In the 2.Bundesliga, St. Pauli once seemed destined for relegation but are now making a big push after securing their second straight win. On Sunday St. Pauli defeated Jahn Regensburg 2-0 to move one-oint clear of the relegation zone. U.S. U-20 defensive midfielder and left back Leon Flach played the final 16 minutes in the win. German-American attacking midfielder Jan George (who had two goals and an assist last weekend) played 90 miutes for Jahn Regensburg in the loss.
Also in the 2.Bundesliga, former U.S. international Bobby Wood was an unused sub for leaders Hamburg in a 4-2 win over Eintracht Braunschweig. Wood is rumored to be leaving the club after this season.
In Germany’s 3.Liga, American forward Terrence Boyd scored a stoppage time winner in a 1-0 victory over Magdeburg.
In the Swiss Super League, Jordan Siebatcheu played the final 18 minute for leaders BSC Young Boys in a 0-0 away draw to FC Vaduz in Liechtenstein. Vaduz play in one of the world’s most scenic stadiums.
In the Swiss Super League, American forward Jordan Siebatcheu in on the bench for BSC Young Boys as they visit FC Vaduz. Being on the bench in a visit to Vaduz has its benefits because you have time to take in the amazing scenery. On of the best views of any stadium pic.twitter.com/v5hxloi5TM— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 24, 2021
In the Greek Super League, American-born attacking midfielder and 2015 U.S. U-23 veteran Gboly Ariyibi played the final 13 minutes for Penetoilikos as it was held to a 0-0 draw at home by Lamia.
Both Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente were unused substitutes for Barcelona in a 2-0 away win over relegation battling Elche.
In Brazil’s Serie A, league leaders Internacional posted a 2-1 win over Gremio in a bitter Porto Alegre derby. United States national team midfielder Johnny Cardoso was an unused sub for Internacional.
Finally, in Vietnam, Lee Nguyen started and played 74 minutes for Ho Chi Minh City in a 2-0 win over Hong Linh Ha Tinh