Pulisic, Miazga, Chandler Enjoy Eventful Weekends
April 04, 2016
Miazga goes 90 for Chelsea
Without a doubt, the most surprising news of the weekend came early Saturday morning when Matt Miazga was named to Chelsea’s starting lineup against Aston Villa. Yes, it was not a top lineup for Chelsea, which rested several top players after the international window and had other players injured. And yes, it came against Aston Villa, the worst team in the league, with nothing on the line—but those last two parts made the match a perfect opportunity for Miazga to get his feet wet.
In the end, Miazga went a full 90 in a 4-0 rout of Villa (poor Brad Guzan) and was not tested all that much. But it’s easy to see that he is doing well in London. He has made the bench several times for Chelsea, and this debut comes after quotes from the coaching staff suggested his debut wouldn’t come this year.
Guus Hiddink sees promise in Miazga but the New Jersey native will soon have to prove himself again in front of the next manager, Antonio Conte. The good news is that even if Conte brings in his own defenders, Miazga can probably secure a nice loan deal if he performs well the rest of this season.
"To be honest this wasn't the toughest game," Hiddink said after Saturday’s win. "You have to consider also when a real good war is going on how you cope with that, but it's a good first step up for him.
"He's coming from a league that is a bit naive compared to the Premier League, and he has to get used to a little more freedom given to the attackers by the referees, which I like. He has to cope with a little bit of a shuffle, of a push that in other leagues the referee would give free kicks for. That's the naivety he has to leave as soon as possible, but I didn't see much of that [against Aston Villa]."
Pulisic strong off bench for Dortmund
Four days after earning his first senior cap, Christian Pulisic continued to his strong debut season for Borussia Dortmund.
With Dortmund in a 2-2 stalemate against Werder Bremen, Pulisic entered in the 80th minute to try to spark the winner. The 17-year-old was extremely dangerous from the moment he came on, taking on his defenders and sending dangerous balls into the box. It was his move, in the end, that won the corner kick that led to the game-winner.
Dortmund has done a fantastic job with Pulisic so far. In addition to giving him confidence, the club is also making sure he gets minutes: On Sunday, he followed up his first-team cameo with a start for Dortmund’s U-19 team against Schalke.
Yedlin maintains run for Sunderland
It was a welcome sign that Jurgen Klinsmann started DeAndre Yedlin at right back instead of right wing in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Guatemala. The Seattle native has come a long way so far in 2016 and is learning what it takes to perform in the Premier League.
On Saturday, Yedlin earned another start and went a full 90 for Sunderland in a scoreless draw against West Bromwich. Sunderland needs the points, as it’s now four points from safety. The problems these days, however, are primarily offensive.
Relegation would mean little to Yedlin, who’s only with the club on loan, but the environment of a relegation fight is terrific for him and will serve him well for the future.
Johnson returns to Monchengladbach
Fabian Johnson was not able to play for the United States during the recent international break because of a pulled groin, but he started for Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday in the midfield and was very dangerous in a 5-0 rout of Hertha Berlin (which was without John Brooks due to injury).
Johnson, 28, assisted on Andre Hahn’s goal for a 2-0 lead and nearly scored one of his own minutes later. If he can play like this for the United States at the Copa America Centenario this summer, the Yanks might have a chance of doing well after all.
Coaching change benefits Chandler
It wasn’t long ago that Kicker Magazine wrote an article outlining the dire situation Timothy Chandler was in at Eintracht Frankfurt and how he had little chance of even making the bench for the club.
Well, last month, head coach Armin Veh was fired and replaced by Croatian Niko Kovac, and that change has brought new fortunes for Chandler. The German-American was back in the starting lineup for the second straight game over the weekend. In the game before the international break, Chandler played 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Hannover, and on Saturday he was named to the starting lineup against world power Bayern Munich.
Bayern went on to win the game 1-0, but Chandler did well defensively, and Bayern did not have many opportunities down his side.
It's going to be a true test the rest of the way for Frankfurt, which is in the relegation zone but just one point from safety. It suddenly looks as if Chandler will have plenty of opportunities to make a difference and provide much-needed help down the stretch.
Zelalem, Rangers inch toward promotion
Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for Glasgow Rangers, when a win would have secured promotion back to the Scottish Premier League. Gedion Zelalem came on in the 80th minute with Rangers holding a 3-2 lead on the road over Raith Rovers, but the club allowed an equalizer at the very end for a 3-3 draw.
Rangers will lock up promotion eventually, though, with the chance to clinch at home on Tuesday against Dumbarton. The problems that have plagued the club since its downfall in 2011 are well known throughout the soccer world, and the opportunity to be on the field when the club finally secures promotion back to the top flight would be historic and special.
Palmer-Brown impressing in Portugal
There’s one under-the-radar story right now that American fans should pay attention to, and that’s Erik Palmer-Brown's progress at Porto. On loan from Sporting Kansas City, Brown has broken into the starting lineup lately for Porto B, which is in first place of Portugal’s second tier (although barred from promotion).
Palmer-Brown, 18, is a likely starter on the U.S. U-20 team and has been performing well for Porto B. It will be interesting to see whether Porto decide to make a bid to sign him permanently away from Sporting Kanas City. A club like Porto, which has a high standard for development, would not typically want to develop players for another team. If its staff likes what it sees from Palmer-Brown, trying to acquire him would be a logical step