Americans abroad analysis

Pulisic's steller hat trick for Chelsea, Sargent assists, Ledezma with PSV & more

The high points on Saturday were just about as good as it gets for American fans. Pulisic notched a hat trick for Chelsea, Sargent assisted for Werder, and Richard Ledezma is close to his PSV first team debut. ASN's Brian Sciaretta puts perspectie on the big day. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 26, 2019
3:45 PM
IN ONE OF the most memorable performances from an American abroad, Christian Pulisic scored a hat trick for Chelsea when he scored the first three goals in a 4-2 away win over Burnley. Right now, all things are trending in the right direction for the Hershey native.

Pulisic’s hattrick was the second ever for an American in the Premier League after Clint Dempsey notched one in 2012 for Fulham in a 5-2 win over Newcastle United. But Pulisic’s hat-trick today was more noticeable. It was played on national television in the United States while he was playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world and just months after he set the record for the highest ever transfer fee paid for an American player.

Pulisic, 21, scored his first with his left foot, his second with his right foot, and his third off a header.

Putting it into perspective

Pulisic has scored goals in the Champions League and so have other American players. Pulisic has even scored goals in the knockout stages. But doing it at a club like Chelsea is different. There are different levels of expectations at Chelsea and expensive players are expected to deliver first-rate performances. He is being paid like a world-class player and he’s on a world-class stage.

A performance like this for Chelsea means you are doing this with pressure that most players don’t have. Dempsey did not have this pressure at Fulham when he scored his hat trick. DaMarcus Beasley did not have this level of pressure when he was integral in a run to the UEFA Champions League semifinal. Pulisic didn’t even have this level of pressure at Dortmund – even if it was just an early season game against Burnley. This is unchartered water for an American in Europe.

Trending upward

After a few weeks of either going as an unused sub, not even making the bench, or being limited to late-game cameos, Pulisic has completely turned the corner. On October 6, he assisted in the final goal of a 4-1 win over Southampton. After the international break, he had a lively outing against Newcastle despite not getting on the scoresheet. Then this past midweek, he assisted on a late winner in a 1-0 victory over Ajax. Now he gets the hat trick.

There is no reason to think this hat trick against Burnley was a fluke. It had been building to this. Now he will get to move forward with confidence.

Pulisic is the best American player in the game and he is playing like it.

Sargent nabs assist

Another American playing very well right now is Josh Sargent. The St. Louis native has growing into his role of being a regular starter for Werder Bremen and after an assist on Saturday in a 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen, he now has a goal and two assists in his last three Bundesliga games.

His assist on Saturday to Davy Klaassen gave Werder a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute. On the play, he made a nice maneuver in the box to draw defenders and find a wide open Klaassen who converted from 20 yards.

While not to the level of Pulisic, everything is trending upward for Josh Sargent as he grows into his starting role and learns how to make effective plays game-in, game-out.

Mixed other results

Most of the other results for Americans in Europe on Saturday weren’t that great.

In the Championship, Duane Holmes earned a start for Derby County but was unable to prevent a 2-0 loss to Hull City. But Holmes’ loss was the win for American Eric Lichaj who captained Hull to the win.

Tim Ream and Fulham played to a 0-0 draw on the road against Middlesbrough and that was a sold result given that Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak was sent off in the 17th minute.

Cameron Carter-Vickers’ start for Stoke City against Millwall was unexpected given that he left Stoke’s midweek game with a laceration below his knee which required stitches. He went the distance on Saturday as Stoke fell to Millwall 2-0 at The Den to remain dead last in the Championship.

In League One, the two Americans who played on Saturday both lost: Lynden Gooch and Sunderaland fell to Shrewsbury Town 1-0 and Matthew Olosunde and Rotherham United lost to Wycombe Wanders 1-0.

The worst loss on Saturday for an American came from Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales, and Fortuna Dusseldorf which lost 2-0 to Paderborn. It was Paderborn’s first win of the season (it had just one point through eight games entering into the game) and this will only increase the odds that Fortuna Dusseldorf will be in a serious relegation battle this season. Steffen earned the start and Morales came off the bench for his first appearance since playing for the United States in the September international window in a loss to Mexico.

In Germany’s 3.Liga, Terrence Boyd scored and assisted for Hallescher in a 3-3 draw vs. SV Meppen. Boyd, 28, now has seven goals and five assists in 10 games since joining the small club from Toronto FC.

In the Eredivisie, Haji Wright is still looking for his first goal or assist for VVV Venlo as he started and went 78 minutes in a 4-1 loss to Fortuna Sittard.

Ledezma in PSV’s first team

ASN has learned that Richie Ledezma should be on the first team bench for PSV on Sunday in an Eredivisie matchup against AZ Alkmaar. PSV currently sits in second place in the league and trails leaders, Ajax, by three points.

Ledezma, 19, is a highly promising American prospect who featured for the U.S. team at the U-20 World Cup at a time when he was just recovering from injury. He has been a standout for a Jong PSV team which has otherwise played poorly in Holland’s second tier. He recently played for the U.S. U-23 team in October and ASN has learned he was one of the best players at the camp.

Ledezma started for Jong PSV on Friday so it's unlikely he plays a lot, if at all. But still it's a huge gesture and a recognition of his progress. 

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