Americans abroad analysis
New manager for Pulisic, while Paredes, Tillman, and Pepi shine
April 03, 2023
IN EUROPE, clubs resumed play following the United States international break and, for American players, the performances were mixed. A few younger players on the fringes of the U.S. national team had success but for the country’s most prominent players, there weren’t many positives to report.
To be fair, many were also dealing with illnesses that ran through the U.S. team during the international break.
Let’s just get right into it.
Potter axed in Chelsea
Christian Pulisic was not supposed to play this weekend because of an illness, but he ended up playing the final 10 minutes of Chelsea’s ugly 2-0 loss at home to Aston Villa. The big news was what happened afterward as Graham Potter was axed after a disastrous six months in charge. No permanent hire is close, and why should there be? Chelsea is now a midtable club with no real hope of Europe qualification and no threat of relegation. Yes, they are a live in the Champions League but the club will likely roll with interim manager Bruno Saltor through the rest of the season.
Hence the dreaded "club statement."
Club statement.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 2, 2023
It remains to be seen what this means for Pulisic because everyone’s future is up in the air until a head coach is hired – Julian Nagelsmann talk is gaining traction, but everything is speculative.
This is nothing new for Pulisic as he has had eight different managers in his career and many of his relationships have been mixed. He always tends to land on his feet but if he were to leave Chelsea, the number of landing spots is small. He has the top half of the Premier League who can afford him and some of the big clubs on the continent.
Pulisic knows what he must do now. He’s well versed in instability and perhaps that is his greatest advantage at the moment. This is nothing new.
Paredes stock soars
Keving Paredes, 19, has had a great season despite playing just 379 minutes. He is typically a late offensive sub for Wolfsburg but has been finding ways to make an impact in limited time. On Saturday, he had one of his best outings when he played the final 30 minutes against Augsburg. With his team trailing 2-0 when he came on, and he was feisty.
He then assisted on a stoppage time equalizer with what was essentially the final kick of the game of a 2-2 draw. Watch below.
He’s getting into just about every game and is in a good spot. It remains to be seen when he will transition from super sub to starter (he’s started just once) but the club is probably building towards that. Wolfsburg know that is the next step in his development but he’s showing he can make impacts in the Bundesliga.
As for his next steps internationally, if Wolfsburg releases him for the U-20 World Cup, that should be a priority for Paredes. There he can start and play in top notch competitive games. He can learn to be a leader. If not, then Anthony Hudson will probably look to bring him in with the full team for either the Nations League or the Gold Cup.
But the U-20 World Cup would probably serve him the best. He’s still limited in his minutes and could use another full preseason with Wolfsburg. The U-20 World Cup would allow him to have a full preseason and give him a great international competition where he would play the most.
Tillman’s brace lifts Rangers
Malik Tillman, 20, scored both Rangers goals in a 2-0 win over last-place Dundee United. He now has 10 goals in the Premiership and 12 in all competitions this season.
It’s always tough to rate Scotland because Rangers and Celtic are clearly much better than everyone else. But Rangers believe they have a player with a lot of potential. This will open a lot of doors and the big one is whether Rangers will be able to make his loan into a permanent deal? If so, how long will Rangers be able to keep him? He will need to show potential in European play and against Celtic to drive up his value.
Then with the national team, it remains to be seen. Hudson will give him a long look this summer but What will be his position? Will he gel and show the necessary chemistry? That is never a sure thing.
Pepi scores again
Ricardo Pepi, 20, scored his 10th Eredivisie goal of the season for Groningen in a 3-1 loss to Fortuna Sittard. Pepi continues to play well but the club is spiraling to relegation - now seven points deep.
Ricardo Pepi nets his 10th Eredivisie goal of the season and he gets there in just under 2000 minutes. That’s good production for a bad Groningen team that lost today to Fortuna Sittard 3-1. pic.twitter.com/Avh95NCClY— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 2, 2023
Pepi is learning a lot about professionalism this season. It’s not even much of a relegation battle anymore because Groningen is seemingly hopeless. Right now, it’s just about keeping your head down, fighting through the negativity, improving your trade, and doing your job. This will serve Pepi very well into the future.
Being able to score double digits on a club that is worse than almost every other opponent is hard to do. He’s doing more with less and he will land with a much better team next year.
New Jersey manager Pellegrino Matarazzo has taken huge steps lately to right the ship at Hoffenheim. After the club had lost eight in a row and earned only two points from 12 games, Matarazzo and company have won two games in a row after Saturday’s big 2-1 away win over Werder Bremen. The win now has Hoffenheim three points clear of survival – a six-point rise from last place earlier this month. American central defender John Brooks went a full 90 in each of the past two wins and is back on the upswing
Matarazzo is looking to orchestrate his second great escape in a relegation fight the past two Bundesliga seasons.
Pukstas & Fossey making strides
Two Americans making big strides this year scored goals over the weekend.
Rokas Pukstas, 18, picked up where he left off after returning to Croatia following the international break with U.S. U-20 team.
The Oklahoma native scored his third goal of the season for Hajduk Split in a 3-2 away win over Sibenik in Croatia's HNL. The win narrowed the gap atop the table with Hajduk now trailing Dinamo Zagreb by seven points.
We will likely learn a lot about whether or not Pukstas will be released for the U-20 World Cup this week when Hajduk Split plays in the semifinal of the Croatian Cup. A win would put them in the final and likely cause a conflict with the U-20 World Cup.
Pukstas is on a great path right now. While the full national team is still a little bit off, Pukstas is in line to possibly start at the U-20 World Cup and be in a spot with the U.S. U-23 Olympic team next year.
Meanwhile in Belgium's First Division, Standard Liege posted a 3-1 away win over relegation battling Oostende. 2017 U.S. U-20 right back Marlon Fossey, 24, scored the team's third goal off a corner.
After missing multiple seasons worth of time due to injuries, Fossey has done a great job hitting the reset to his career and is flying high at Standard. He is playing a wingback position and has a lot of freedom to get into the attack. He uses that well.
Fossey has a tricky route to making the U.S. national team but he needs to play well for over a season to climb past Dest, Scally, Reynolds, and Yedlin. But for now, it's just great to see that he's resurected his career.
Yanks in the Premier League
In a result that was expected, Leeds United dropped a 4-1 result on the road to Arsenal (Matt Turner was an unused sub for the Gunners).
For Leeds United, Brenden Aaronson started and played 65 minutes before he was replaced by Weston McKennie.
Aaronson played well and Leeds United might have even had the better of play the first 35 minutes until a soft penalty allowed Gabriel Jesus to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead.
McKennie came into the game in the second half and looked like a player who is trying to play through an illness. He is one of the several USMNT players who got sick during the last international break.
Leeds United is still outside of the relegation zone but is only safe because of goal differential thanks to an Everton draw.
But Leeds United really misses Tyler Adams. He was a big loss.
Fulham has fallen to 10th place following a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. Both Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream went the distance for Fulham which has been struggling lately and has now fallen to 10th place.
In the first half, Robinson nearly scored on a spectacular 30 yard shot that rattled the crossbar but otherwise, had a tough outing where he was at fault for Bounemouth’s winning goal. Ream was also a step behind his normal steady self, although he had a nice goal-line clearance in the first half.
Finally, Chris Richards was not in uniform for Crystal Palace in a 2-1 win over Leicester City.
Yanks in the Championship
Lynden Gooch played 90 minutes for Sunderland on Friday in an impressive 0-0 away draw with first place Burnley. Gooch impressed in this game and has had a nice season, whenever he’s been healthy, as the club as held its own midtable in the Championship after earning promotion last year.
On the heels of earning his first cap with the U.S. national team, Auston Trusty turned in another good outing for Birmingham City in a 1-0 win over promotion contending Blackburn. Trusty is helping himself immensely for next season on this loan to Birmingham City. The worst that can happen is another loan or sale to Birmingham City – where he is loved. That is a good floor. The more likely scenario is that he moves up the chain in the Championship.
But on Monday, he was named to the Championship Team of the Week.
It was a terrible series of events for a couple of Americans as Huddersfield rolled past Middlesbrough 4-2. The worst news was for Duane Holmes who was returning from a hamstring injury but had to leave after just 25 minutes with what appeared to be a calf injury. Meanwhile, Zack Steffen let four goals past him. The loss significantly hurt Boro’s chances of moving into the top two for automatic promotion. They will likely have to go through the playoffs. Huddersfield is now only in the relegation zone via goal differential and has a path for survival.
Ethan Horvath and Watford are likely going to be in the promotional playoff this year and the team posted a 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday. Horvath made just one save in the cleansheet win.
Manager David Wagner and his Norwich City’s promotional hopes have taken a hit in recent weeks and Saturday’s 1-0 loss at home to Sheffield United now has it four points from the playoffs. Josh Sargent started and played the full 90 in the loss.
Daryl Dike played the final 26 minutes for 9th place West Brom in a 0-0 draw at home to fifth place Millwall. Dike spent the international window with the U.S. team.
Yanks in the Bundesliga
Joe Scally went 90 minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 0-0 away draw with Cologne. It was a busy day at the office for Scally who was forced into a lot of defending. He picked up a yellow card once after losing possession and resorting to a foul. Otherwise, he did okay.
Timothy Chandler and U.S. U-20 attacker Paxten Aaronson were both unused subs for Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday in a 1-1 draw with Bochum.
Jordan Pefok, 26, played the final 13 minutes for Union Berlin in a comfortable 3-0 win over relegation battling VfB Stuttgart. Pefok had nine touches and was 3/7 in passing. Union Berlin remained in third place in the Bundesliga with a win.
Gio Reyna did not place for Borussia Dortmund in a 4-2 loss to Bayern Munich, which moved back into first with the win.
Yanks in the 2.Bundesliga
Fabian Hurzeler continued his remarkable start as St. Pauli’s head coach. After taking over in January at the age of 29, Hurzler has now won his first nine games for a total of 27 points since he was hired. The club won just three of its first 15 games. St. Pauli is now in fourth after being just one point out of the relegation zone when the former U.S. U-20 midfielder was hired.
Fabian Hurzeler’s incredible run to start his coaching career continues. Hired in December at the age of 29, Hurzeler took control of St Pauli when it was a point out of relegation - now 27 points from 9 games, it’s pushing for promotion https://t.co/Vae2FiwzY6— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 1, 2023
Kaiserslautern played Heidenheim to a 2-2 draw on Saturday. Lennard Maloney played 86 minutes for second place Heidenheim and left with his team up 2-0. Terrence Boyd played 79 minutes for Kaiserslautern and left with his team down 2-0. Neither German-American was on the field when Kaiserslautern scored two stoppage time goals to force a draw.
Paderborn defeated Greuther Furth 3-2. Julian Green played 78 minutes and left with Furth down 3-0. Max Dietz was an unused sub for 12th place Furth.
George Bello did not play for Arminia Bielefeld in a 3-2 win over Holstein Kiel.
Ryan Malone and Hansa Rostock are firmly in the relegation zone after a 3-0 loss to Magdeburg. Malone played 90 minutes in central defense.
Yanks in France
Erik Palmer-Brown played 90 minutes on the right side of a three-man backline for Troyes in a 1-0 loss away to Auxerre. Troyes is now five points deep in the relegation zone. Palmer-Brown, 25, was not one of the problems for Troyes but he is playing for a new job next year as Troyes are looking certain to go down.
Lille comfortably defeated Lorient 3-1 on Saturday with Tim Weah going 82 minutes at right back. He continues to do a very good job at the position on both sides of the ball. His versatility helps but soon he is going to have to ask himself if he wants to push to be an attacker or does he want to stay at fullback? If he wants to be an attacker, he might need to move. He’s being a model professional and saying all the right things right now. He’s also showing he can do it well. But he needs to soon make a decision for his future.
Potential USMNT forward Folarin Balogun picked up an assist for Reims in a 3-0 away win over Nantes. England’s U-21 head coach was set to meet with Balogun this week but the fact that it is only the U-21 head coach probably won’t result in a positive outcome for England.
Yanks in the Netherlands
In the Eredivisie, AZ earned played to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Heerenveen. Djordje Mihailovic played the final 16 minutes and AZ equalized a minute after he came on via an own goal. The American was a perfect 11/11 in his passing and was effective in his time on the field. AZ fell to fourth place with the result.
Seventh place FC Utrecht played to a 0-0 with 13th place Volendam on Saturday. Taylor Booth returned from national team duty where he earned his first cap and played 64 minutes in the draw. He attempted 11 crosses in this game, playing on the right side, and this resulted in two dangerous changes.
In the second tier Eerste Divisie, VVV Venlo smacked Den Bosch 4-0. Gedion Zelalem went 90 minutes in the loss and Den Bosch is in 18th place in the 20-team league.
First place PEC Zwolle defeated Utrecht II 2-0. Anthony Fontana played the second half and the game was 0-0 when he came on. PEC has a five-point cushion atop the table.
Yanks in Scotland
In the Scottish Premiership, Celtic posted a 2-0 away win over Ross County. U.S. national team central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers played all 90 minutes in the win. As usual, he was heavily involved with 99 touches, and he controlled is area defensively. He seems to be on autopilot right now and Celtic is cruising to the title, up nine on Rangers. Celtic has won 10 Premiership games in a row and had 23 wins and one draw in their last 24 league games.
Matthew Hoppe started and played 81 minutes for Hibs in a 3-1 loss at home to Motherwell. Hibs has now lost three games in a row. Hoppe, 22, has one goal in six games for Hibs, where he is on loan from Boro.
Yanks in Spain
Luca de la Torre played 57 minutes for Celta Vigo in a 2-2 draw with Almeria on Saturday. All the scoring came in the first half. The U.S. international was 26/29 in his passing and had six passes into the final third but he did not factor into any of the goals.
On Monday, Yunus Musah played the second half for Valencia in a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano. In what has been his problem for most of this year, he played well in a lot of areas, completed passes, won duels, but did not make much of an impact in the game. His teammates, however, found an equalizer while he was on the field.
Yanks in Belgium
Mark McKenzie and KAA Genk posted a huge 2-1 win over OH Leuven on Saturday. The club has not looked this same since they sold Paul Onuachu to Southampton and their double digit lead atop the table to Union SG has shrunk to just three points. This win preserved the three point lead and snapped a three game winless streak. Union SG meanwhile keep winning.
In this game, McKenzie was lucky as he conceded a penalty which was subsequently missed. Aside from that, he played well.
Meanwhile, Bryan Reynolds had a rare off-day for Westerlo in a 3-2 loss at home to Sporting Charleroi.
U.S. national team left back Sam Vines is still yet to make an first-team appearances following his return from a broken Tibia in early November. Again, he was an unused substitute for Royal Antwerp, which posted a 2-0 win over Zlute Waregem.
Venezia posted a 3-2 win over Como to move out of the relegation playoff positions. It now has won two in a row. Tanner Tessmann continues to be a bright spot for the team and went the distance in the win while Andrija Novakovich went the final 16 minutes up top and Gianluca Busio is out with an injury.
In the Championship round of the Austrian Bundesliga, Sebastian Soto played the second half for Austria Klagenfurt in a 3-0 home loss to first place Salzburg.
In the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi scored for OB in a 2-1 home loss to Midtjylland. His shot from distance took a fortunate deflection. This was the first round of the relegation half of the Superliga playoffs where OB sits in third.
Meanwhile, Christian Cappis was an unused substitute as Brondby lost 3-0 at home to Viborg. Brondby currently sit sixth in the six-team Championship half of the Superliga playoff.
In Portugal, it was a game to forget for Reggie Cannon as his Boavista team lost 4-2 to relegation battling Maritimo. Cannon went 90 minutes in central defense in the game.
Benji Michel, 25, continues to be an impact sub for Arouca and he came on in the 74th minute for Arouca in a 0-0 stalemate with Famalicao. In stoppage time VAR awarded him a penalty and it was subsequently converted by a teammate. Arouca moved into fifth place and Michel continues to be an impact sub off the bench since moving to Portugal from Orlando in January.
Benji Michel drawing the game-winning penalty for Arouca (5th in Portugal). Close call, VAR awarded it. pic.twitter.com/5YQRgF0YS7— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 3, 2023
Neither Alex Mendez nor Alejandro Alvarado were in uniform for Vizela and their 3-1 win over Casa Pia.
In Mexico, Club America played Leon to a wild 2-2 draw with U.S. national team attacker Alejandro Zendejas picking up an assist. Zendejas played the final 36 minutes.
Meanwhile, the game had just about everything.
A 2-2 draw between Club America and Leon ended up being one of the most entertaining games of the year.— herculez gomez (@herculezg) April 2, 2023
Goals, controversy, coaches trying to fight each other, and we even witness a referee knee a player in the ???? ????..
All that was missing was a dog on the field. #LigaMX
In the Swedish Allsvenskan, Joe Gyau was an unused sub for Degergors in a 3-1 loss to Hammarby in the season opener.
In Australia’s A-League, Jason Romero started and played 80 minutes for Macarthur in a 2-1 away loss to Perth Glory.