Plenty of Yanks Inactive Overseas, and Here's Why
December 14, 2016
IT'S A QUITE TIME FOR Americans Abroad. While Christian Pulisic has broken through, the rest of his younger generation like Josh Perez and Matt Miazga are still seeking meaningful playing time. Meanwhile, there is now a wealth of injuries, suspensions, and players just sitting on the bench.
So 2016 is ending on a rough note, but the good news is that 2017 should be much better as the younger generation does look promising. Here is a quick rundown of the week that was.
Johnsen named SPL Player of the Month
One American who is quietly surging is 25-year-old Bjorn Johnsen. On Tuesday the New York-born, North Carolina-raised Johnsen was named the Scottish Premier League Player of the Month award for a strong run of games with Hearts – most notably scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Motherwell.
Yet to be capped by either the United States or Norway (where his father is from) Johnsen’s stock is rising. In the United States player pool, Johnsen might be behind players like Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore but aside from two there are few target forwards in the player pool. At six-foot-four, Johnsen can be a handful to defend in the air.
Morales returns in impressive win
Alfredo Morales is often overlooked due in part because of his recent injury and his ineffective history with the U.S. national team. But the German-born Morales made a very nice return to the field for Ingolstadt over the weekend to help his relegation-battling Bavarian club defeat first-place RB Leipzig 1-0 at home.
Morales, 26, had been out for over a month with a knee injury but he was impressive defensively as Leipzig dominated possession, 70% to 30%, but was unable to find the back of the net. Even with the win, Ingolstadt remains in the relegation zone—just one point from safety.
What does it mean for Morales regarding the national team? It is anybody’s guess as to how Bruce Arena rates him but the more Morales can see the field with Ingolstadt the better his chances.
Johnson joins Cameron on the shelf
Fabian Johnson, 29, has not been starting regularly for Borussia Monchengladbach recently and part of the reason is that the club announced this week that Johnson will not return until January after the Bundesliga winter break due to an Achilles tendon issue.
Overall, it is not a bad time for Johnson to be injured with the approaching winter break and still three months to go until the U.S. national team resumes play. Johnson remains perhaps the best American player and the fact that Monchengladbach is being cautious is a positive.
Meanwhile Geoff Cameron remains out with a hyperextended knee, probably for a few more weeks.
Brooks given a break
One American not in action over the weekend was central defender John Brooks. The week before he was the Man of the Match for Hertha in a win over Wolfsburg. But that was a physical game and Brooks played hard, had over 120 touches, and contained Mario Gomez.
But Hertha head coach Pál Dárdai felt the need to give Brooks a break to rest his body. Later it was revealed that his Achilles tendon was sore.
"I'd rather give him a break than risk something and then he'll be six weeks off," Dárdai told the media. On Wednesday, Dardai added that Brooks will miss Saturday's key matchup against RB Leipzig, with all signs pointing that Brooks won't be back until after the Bundesliga's winter break.
Eintracht Frankfurt right back Timothy Chandler has played very well this season—perhaps the best of his career.
He was having another good game last Friday against Hoffenheim but he picked up two yellow cards in quick succession in the second half of a scoreless draw and was ejected. On Monday, it was announced that he was going to serve a match suspension.
Pulisic not for sale
Rumors have been swirling that Christian Pulisic could be the subject of a huge transfer bid from one of Europe’s biggest clubs. On Tuesday Borussia Dortmund pushed back, saying the 18-year-old is not for sale.
"We have communicated very clearly that we won't sell Christian, and that he's very much part of our plans," Dortmund Sporting Director Michael Zorc told Bild.
Pulisic, 18, is in such a good situation right now at Dortmund that it is great news that he is at Dortmund at this stage of his career. Even a move to Liverpool under former manager Jurgen Klopp has more potential risks than rewards. American fans should be warry of any move for the top prospect.
Russell Canouse rising
Pennsylvania native Russell Canouse, 21, is on loan in the 2.Bundesliga with Bochum (from Hoffenheim) and is beginning to find his way into the starting lineup. On Friday he notched the first goal of his professional career and it couldn’t have come at a better time. His strike in the 77th minute proved to the be match-winner in a 1-0 victory over 1860 Munich.
The win moved Bochum up to 11th place in the 2.Bundesliga.
As for Canouse, he also becomes the latest of an impressive list of American players who have improved their careers mightily under Dutch coach Gertjan Verbeek. It started with Michael Bradley at Heerenveen but it also includes Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson at AZ Alkmaar as well as Timothy Chandler at FC Nurnberg.