Americans abroad analysis
Reyna & Brooks book UCL tickets, Hoppe stands out, Sargent struggles in pivotal weekend
May 17, 2021
THE WEEKEND for Americans abroad was an important one. Some players were merely playing out the season with their fate already known. Others, however, were pushing for either silverware, a European spot, promotion or survival.
For many players with a lot on the line, it turned out to be a good weekend. For others, however, it was offered a dramatic setback in their goals.
In France, Lille played to a disappointing 0-0 draw with Saint-Etienne and Tim Weah did not get off the bench. Combined with Paris St. Germain’s 4-0 win over Reims, Lille now has a one-point lead on PSG for first place with one more week to go. For Lille, PSG is now motivated and hungry heading into Sunday’s final week of the season. Lille should head into the weekend with the assumption PSG will defeat Brest on the road. With that said, it’s simple for Lille: defeat Angers on the road on Sunday and Ligue 1 is theirs. Lose, and PSG retains the title.
Staying in France, the Ligue 2 relegation battle was dramatic as Caen visited Clermont Foot on Saturday. Caen came into the game in the relegation hole. To survive, it needed three things to go its way. It needed Niort to lose, it needed Chambly to lose, and it needed to win its game over Clermont Foot.
Caen got the results it needed from the others games as both Niort and Chambly lost. Its own game was wild. With the score 0-0 at halftime, U.S. international forward Nicholas Gioacchini came into the game after being left off the matchday roster the last three weeks. Caen ended up moving in front 1-0 in the 83rd minute, conceding an equalizer in the 90th minute, and then finding a winning penalty deep into stoppage time. With that, Caen improbably survived and avoided relegation.
For Gioacchini and his team, it was a great result but Gioacchini is a player who very well could be on the move this season. Money is tight in France, Gioacchini is a young player with value and new manager Fabrice Vandeputte doesn’t appear to rate Gioacchini too highly. Perhaps a sale might make sense for all parties. It remains to been seen who would spend for Gioacchini.
While it was known that Barcelona was unlikely to contend for La Liga following last week’s draw to Levante, Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo assured Barcelona would finish either third or fourth – with one week to go. Sergino Dest came into the game in the 64th minute with the score 1-1 and was on the field for Santi Mina’s 89th minute winner.
For Dest, it looks like things will be different next season. Ronald Koeman looks out at the club and it looks like Xavi Hernandez could be a replacement. Still, if Messi does not return, Barcelona could struggle again next season.
????#KOEMAN— El Barça juga a RAC1 (@FCBRAC1) May 16, 2021
????El Barça ja té decidida la NO continuïtat de Koeman en un 99%.
????No és una aposta de Laporta i el seus plantejaments pesen molt en la decisió.
????El president no ha volgut interferir durant la temporada.
????Només el fet de no trobar alternativa salvaria Koeman. pic.twitter.com/GaHQUfFwTm
In terms of relegation, St. Poelten sealed its fate with a 2-0 draw to Austria Vienna. American midfielders Tyler Booth and Brandon Servania both started for St. Poelten in the loss. The good news for each player is that they are only at the club this season on loan. Booth will return to Bayern Munich and presumably go out on another loan. Servania will return to FC Dallas. On the flip side, Andrew Wooten and FC Admira Modling confirmed that they will avoid relegation due to Admira’s loss.
In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre and Heracles ended their season on a poor note with a 5-0 loss to AZ Alkmaar. That loss saw the club finish in ninth place and miss out on the Eredivisie Europa League playoffs.
Several other American players who have already sealed their fates sat out this weekend. Antonee Robinson did not play for relegated Fulham in a 2-1 loss to Southampton. Yunus Musah did not play for Valencia, as it has already clinched a midtable finish. Bryan Reynolds was an unused sub for Roma in its 2-0 win over Lazio in the Roma derby. Tyler Boyd did not feature for Sivasspor. Brenden Aaronson came off the bench late for already confirmed champions Salzburg in a 5-2 rout over LASK.
With all that said, here is a breakdown of the top races involving American players from the weekend.
Bundesliga Champions League spots set
Four Americans factored into the Bundesliga races for the two remaining Champions League positions. It was known that Bayern Munich was set as the champions and RB Leipzig was all but set, but coming into this weekend there were three teams fighting for two places – third place VfL Wolfsburg, fourth place Borussia Dortmund, and fifth-place Eintracht Frankfurt.
Three games settled this race ahead of the season’s final week.
Eintracht Frankfurt visited an already relegated Schalke team on Saturday and Eintracht could not afford a loss in its quest for a Champions League spot next season. Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht but the real story of the game was young American Matthew Hoppe who came off the bench to start the second half for Schalke and essentially ruined the Champions League hopes of Chandler and Eintracht.
Hoppe, 18, reminded everyone of his talent – which he displayed in an unforgettable 5-goal/3-game run in January but has gone quiet since. He is playing on a bad team at Schalke but surrounded by good players, he might sine.
With the scored even 2-2, Hoppe hit a really smart assist to Florian Flick – with a short pass that played him through Eintracht’s backline. Then with the score 3-3, Hoppe found the winning goal after getting played in behind Eintracht’s high-line defense, making a long run from the left side, and calmly finishing.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Hoppe this offseason but a season in the 2.Bundesliga might not be the worst thing. He will have offers but he clearly needs to play.
His performance opened the door for Wolfsburg and Dortmund to qualify for the Champions League on Sunday with results in their respective games.
Borussia Dortmund has been playing the best soccer in the Bundesliga the past two months. On Sunday it defeated Mainz 3-1 on the road for its sixth Bundesliga win in a row. Combined with its midweek win over Leipzig in the German Cup final, Dortmund got hot at just the right time. The win clinched its spot in the Champions League.
Gio Reyna started in this one at right wing in a fairly solid outing and here were his numbers.
- 76 minutes
- 59 touches
- 2 shots
- 0 key passes
- 35/43 passing (81%)
- 0 long ball attempts
- 0 cross attempts
- 3/8 duels won
- 1/2 dribbles
- 1x fouled
- 1 foul
- 1/2 aerials won
- 2 interceptions
As for Reyna, it was a good season. He started off well, hit a poor run from December through February but came out of it strong to finish the season very well. As for Dortmund, this offseason is going to be interesting. The club could make a fortune selling Erling Haaland but replacing him, even with an increased budget, will be impossible.
On Sunday, John Brooks started for Wolfsburg away at RB Leipzig. In a matter that should be of a concern for U.S. national team fans, Tyler Adams missed this game with a bad back. This has now kept him out for two weeks and he missed the German Cup final midweek as well.
The game finished 2-2.As for Brooks, he was dependable and was not at fault for either Leipzig goal.
- 90 minutes
- 52 touches
- 1 shot
- 33/40 passing (83%)
- 3/8 long balls
- 7/9 duels won
- 3 clearances
- 1/2 tackles
- 1 foul
- 5/6 aerials
- 2 interceptions
The draw was enough to ensure that it finished in the Champions League. While it was a formality, Leipzig clinched as well.
As of now, the Bundesliga will send a slew of Americans into the Champions League next season: Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Gio Reyna, Chris Richards (currently out on loan), and head coach Jesse Marsch as the next manager of Leipzig.
Sargent and Werder in trouble
The relegation end of the Bundesliga title was not kind to Werder Bremen which dropped a very winnable game to Augsburg 2-0 to slide into the relegation playoff position. Heading into the final weekend of the season, Werder Bremen will be lucky to survive its current predicament.
Sargent went the distance against Augsburg and had four shots and two key passes over 41 touches. But there was no killer instinct from him or anyone on Werder Bremen which played up a man after an Augsburg red card in the 13th minute – but was also reduced to 10-players in the 53rd.
Now, Sargent and Werder Bremen must host a much more talented Borussia Monchengladbach team on the final weekend of the season. Gladbach is currently in eighth place and a win over Bremen could send it to the Europa Conference League.
For Werder, there are three ways this could play out. It is only a point away from safety and it trails Arminia Bielefeld by just a point (Arminia faces Stuttgart on the final matchday). A draw very well might see it overtake Arminia. The big problem, however, is Koln which trails Werder Bremen by just a point. Koln faces last-place Schalke on the final matchday.
If Werder Bremen loses against Gladbach and if Koln defeats Schalke, Werder Bremen will be relegated.
Funny enough, Matthew Hoppe delivered for Brooks and Reyna this weekend. If he puts in another big outing, he could bail out Sargent as well.
Yedlin & Galatasaray finish 2nd
Coming into Sunday’s Turkish Superlig finale, Galatasaray had won five league games in a row to climb even on points with leaders Besiktas – but were second due to two goals on goal differential. DeAndre Yedlin had returned from an ankle injury to return to his starting role.
On Sunday, Galatasaray needed to win over Yeni Malatyaspor while hoping Besiktas would lose or draw on the road to Goztepe. Yedlin started against Yeni Malatyaspor but was subbed out at the half with Galatasaray down 1-0 as the manager went with a more offensive approach. It ended up working as Galatasaray rallied for a 3-1 win.
For a moment, it looked as if Galatasaray would get the results it needed as Goztepe was even with Besiktas through the 69th minute. Unfortunately for Yedlin and Company, Besiktas found a winner in the 70th minute would be crowed Champions due to a single goal margin in goal differential.
Despite the second-place finish, it was a great season for Yedlin who was a starter for Galatasaray and will now head into the Champions League qualifiers later this summer. After leaving Newcastle where he had fallen out of favor, Yedlin’s transfer to Galatasaray has been a home run.
McKennie & Juve’s controversial win
Weston McKennie and Juventus are still alive in a quest to return to the Champions League next season thanks to a controversial 3-2 win over already crowned champions Inter Milan. In total, there were four controversial VAR decisions, including a winning penalty for Juventus in the 88th minute that was drawn and converted by Juan Cuadrado.
Weston McKennie came into the game in the 57th minute when Juventus was reduced to 10 players. In 32 minutes, he had just 11 touches and was 9/11 in passing.
For Juventus, a loss would have eliminated it from qualifying for the Champions League. A draw would likely have made the task near impossible. The win, however, gives Juventus a lot of hope.
It is simple, Juventus needs to realistically defeat Bologna away next Sunday while hoping that either Napoli (hosting Hallas Verona) or AC Milan (visiting Atalanta) fail to win. It’s certainly very possible. But a draw or loss from Juventus makes it all moot.
Meanwhile, Juventus has a tough matchup midweek against Atalanta in Coppa Italia final. Going all out in that competition might hurt its chances in returning to the Champions League.
Chelsea falls in FA Cup final
Chelsea will soon play in the biggest club game in the world, the Champions League final. The run up to that game, however, hasn’t been great. The club has been stumbling in the Premier League and now has a perilous road to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League. It failed to win the League Cup and on Saturday, dropped the FA Cup final in a 1-0 loss to Leicester City.
Christian Pulisic came into the game in the 68th minute, played well, but was unable to help Chelsea find the equalizer after the team fell behind in the 63rd minute.
Pulisic has 21 touches in 22 minutes, was a perfect 13/13 passing, won 3 of his 4 duels, was successful in 2/2 of his dribbles, and drew a foul. Unfortunately, Chelsea is at a point where it has to manage minutes even in the FA Cup final. Due to the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the Premier League (as well as the League Cup prior to last month), every game is massive for this club at the moment.
The news went from bad to worse for Chelsea when Liverpool miraculously defeated West Brom 2-1 when its goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, moved into the attack to score in stoppage time.
Chelsea is now in fourth-place in the Premier League, and is only a point better than Liverpool. On Tuesday it will have to face Leicester City again and a slip up will likely prove to be costly as Liverpool’s remaining schedule (Burnely and Crystal Palace) is much easier than Chelsea’s schedule (Leicester City and Aston Villa).
Green & Furth promotion hopes
On Sunday, Julian Green started and played 84 minutes for Greuther Furth in a big 4-2 away win over Paderborn. Green left when the scored was 3-2.
That win was extremely important because it means that Greuther Furth can finish no lower than third place in the 2.Bundesliga. Entering into Sunday’s final games of the season, Furth sit in third place – which is the promotional playoff position against the 16th-place Bundesliga finisher. Furth was also helped tremendously by Kalsruher which defeated second place Holstein Kiel 3-2.
On Sunday, it is very possible that Greuther Furth could move into automatic promotion if it overtakes Holstein Kiel – which is now realistic. Furth trails Kiel by just a single point and has the edge on goal differential if they finish even.
On the final matchday, Holstein Kiel hosts a Darmstadt team that has won four in a row. Greuther Furth, meanwhile, hosts a Fortuna Dusseldorf team that sits in fourth place but has been eliminated from any promotion chance.
Cannon and Boavista’s big win
After struggling all season where it flirted with relegation, Reggie Cannon and Boavista can now smell survival heading into the season’s final round of games.
On Saturday, Cannon and Boavista defeated Portimonense 1-0 and climbed two points clear into automatic promotion. The team has been playing much better, overall, in recent weeks and, while he didn’t necessarily stand out, Cannon had a steady game at right back:
- 90 minutes
- 80 touches
- 0 shots
- 1 key pass
- 45/55 passing (82%)
- 2 crosses
- 1/3 accurate long balls
- 2/7 duels won
- 0 dribble attempts
- 1 clearance
- 0/2 aerials
- 1 interception
The good news is that Boavista has a two-point lead on both Rio Ave and Farense. Should the teams remain tied, head-to-head is the first tie-breaker – followed by goal difference. Boavista would lose a tiebreaker to Farense but win over Rio Ave.
Boavista visits 11th place Gil Vicente on the final day. Rio Ave visits last-place Nacional and Farense visit Santa Clara. It won’t be easy but Boavista is playing much better and should be expected to take care of business on its own. A loss and things could get tricky.
That being said, regardless of what happens, Cannon is not expected to return to the club next season.
McKenzie downs Miazga
In the Belgian Pro League playoff, Genk defeated Anderlecht 2-1 on Sunday. Mark McKenzie got a rare start for Genk and Matt Miazga started for Anderlecht.
It was a forgettable game for Miazga who committed a foul in a dangerous area at the end – which Genk scored on.
For McKenzie, he put forth a very nice effort in the win.
- 90 minutes
- 79 touches
- 66/72 passing
- 7/11 long balls
- 1/6 duels won
- 1/1 tackle attempts
- 0/2 aerilas won
- 2 interceptions
- 3 clearances
They now have a six point grip on second place and need just a draw from their remaining two games to secure second place and a spot in Champions League qualifying.