Reyna, Dest, Adam, Pulisic, as well as big MLS games highlight huge weekend
October 15, 2020
AFTER THE CLOSE OF the October international window, a full slate of games is on deck across the globe and many American players in Europe and North America will be taking part where they will be looking to build upon the impressive steps many have taken since the restart of play this summer following the COVID-19 shutdown.
A few players will unfortunately be missing and the most notable is Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie who tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to isolate into at least next week until he tests negative. As a result, he will miss the team’s visit to Crotone on Sunday. It is also unlikely that Chris Richards plays for Bayern Munich this weekend against Arminia Bielefeld due to his current calf injury.
Also, Heerenveen winger Ulysses Llanez (on loan from Wolfsburg) has missed training most of this international window but might still feature for Sunday’s visit to Ajax.
We also could see the Anderlecht debut of Matt Miazga who moved to the historical Belgian power on loan from Chelsea just before the transfer window closed. Due to his late arrival, it will be interesting of Vincent Kompany starts the New Jersey-born central defender right away against OH Leuven on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Tyler Boyd’s situation at Besiktas is extremely rough as the club elected not to register him through the January window. With the club out of international spots, Boyd was essentially dropped – despite the fact he started every game so far this season. Even more curious, this was decision made by the president, not the manager and it happened without notice after the window. Boyd was surprised at the news and was given no advance warning. He also had no opportunity to seek a loan since it happened at the end of the window. There is a good chance Boyd will be looking for a new club in January. In the meantime, he will just train.
Finally, Freddy Adu signed with Österlen FF in the Swedish third tier. Everyone has a take on his past, his career choices, and the misplaced hype. But that is now in the past. Hopefully with this move he can find some successes and happiness with the game and in life. He has been through a lot.
With all that said, here is what I will be watching for in the days ahead.
AMERICANS ABROAD FRONT
Getafe – Barcelona
Saturday, October 17: 3:00pm
Sergino Dest made his Barcelona debut just before the break but will now have the benefit of two weeks of training ahead of the club's visit to 7th place Getafe on Sunday.
Dest played quite well in his 15 minutes off the bench in the 1-1 draw Seville two weeks ago. There is every reason to think he will continue to get serious minutes for Barcelona but will this be the first start? Also, will Konrad de la Fuente return to Barca B, or will he stay with the club's first team? Exciting questions with perhaps even more exciting answers.
Hoffenheim - Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, October 17: 9:30am EST
Gio Reyna, 17, should feature for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday when it visits Hoffenheim. In his last game, Reyna had three assists for Dortmund in a 4-0 win over Freiburg and was unlucky not to have had an additional goal and an assist. At his age, his production has been remarkable to start the season and he is one of the most impressive young players in the Bundesliga at the moment. Through three games, he has a goal, three assists, and a drawn penalty. Unfortunately for him, the international break halted his momentum.
Hoffenheim, like Dortmund, has six points from two games. After two wins to start the season, including a surprise 4-1 win over Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim dropped its most recent game before the break – a 2-1 decision to Eintracht Frankfurt.
This game should be open and both teams should feel confident to attack. This probably won’t resemble the Augsburg game where Augsburg successfully bunkered and countered against Dortmund. This open game should favor Reyna.
Freiburg – Werder Bremen
Saturday, October 17: 9:30am EST
So far, Werder Bremen has won the games it has been expected to win. With six points from three games and two consecutive wins (against lowly Schalke and newly promoted Arminia Bielefeld), this game will provide Werder the opportunity to pick up more challenging points. If it wants to avoid another relegation battle, earning results against Freiburg will go a long way.
United States national team forward Josh Sargent is still searching for his first goal of the season but he has played well in the two recent wins. This might be a good time because Freiburg has conceded seven goals from its first three games.
Augsburg – RB Leipzig
Saturday, October 17: 9:30am EST
After missing Leipzig’s most recent game before the international break with a “minor back injury,” the club announced on Tuesday that U.S. national team midfielder Tyler Adams had returned to training.
This game will be well worth watching as both teams in a three-way tie on points for first place in the Bundesliga. Leipzig hold the edge with a +6 goal differential, Augsburg has +4, Eintracht Frankfurt has a +3 differential. So this game will pit the top two teams at this very early stage of the season.
But teams are very different, however, as Leipzig likes to play an attack-oriented approach that is heaving in pressing. Meanwhile, Augsburg has been outstanding on the defensive side having conceded just one goal through three games. The team is surprising this season primarily because of its defensive organization in the midfield. Former FC Dallas defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo has been one of the team’s best players in this regard.
If Adams is fit to go, a big thing to watch will how often he gets on the ball because he is key towards starting their attack. In the season opening 3-1 win against Mainz, Adams touched the ball 94 times over 90 minutes. Then in a lackluster 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen, Adams only touched the ball 42 times over 90 minutes – and the team’s performances suffered. Will Augsburg attempt to cut off service to Adams and keep the ball out wide? It will be interesting if teams try to emulate Leverkusen’s approach.
Hertha BSC - VfB Stuttgart
Saturday, October 17: 9:30am EST
American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo and VfB Stuttgart will attempt to put quick distance between itself and the bottom of the pack early in the season so as to avoid an immediate relegation battle. With four points from three games, it is off to a decent start as a newly promoted club.
This game will be a challenge for the New Jersey native as his club will face a Hertha team that is stronger than its one win, two losses start would indicate. Two of those losses were two strong clubs in Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.
For most newly promoted teams, a strong start to the season is key. A win here for Stuttgart would go a long way towards that.
Borussia Monchengladbach - Wolfsburg
Saturday, October 17: 9:30am EST
John Brooks and Wolfsburg will return to action on Saturday when they will look for their first win of the season when they visit Borussia Monchengladbach. Brooks and the team’s defense have been very good thus far having conceded just one goal through three games. The problem is that the club has scored just once.
Brooks is playing well although in the season-opening 0-0 draw against Bayer Leverkusen, he had a good chance to win the game but saw his close-range shot miss the target in stoppage time. Then in the last game, a 0-0 draw against Augsburg, he lost his marker late but was bailed out on a great save.
In this game, Wolfsburg will attempt to climb out of its shell against a Monchengladbach team that has four points through two games. After an opening loss to Borussia Dortmund, it drew Union Berlin, and defeated Koln just before the window.
Niort – SM Caen
Saturday, October 17: 1:00pm EST
One of the more impressive “under the radar” American players at the moment is SM Caen’s Nicholas Gioacchini. The versatile attacker from Kansas City (and Maryland) is a big part of SM Caen’s push for promotion this season and this season he has featured at both center forward and on the right wing.
In the last game before the break, Gioacchini, 20, scored his second goal of the season in a 1-0 win over Amines which gave his team 11 points through six games. That has them sitting in fourth place. Niort is currently in sitting in fifth and the two teams are even on points (Caen has the edge in goal differential: +4 to +1).
Gioacchini is in a good spot to earn his first U.S. call-up at any level for November if he can continue to play well – but he has been consistently doing well over the past 12 months.
Chelsea - Southampton
The Premier League
Saturday, October 17: 10:00am EST
After making a late cameo for Chelsea in a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace just before the break, Christian Pulisic, 22, is now back from his hamstring injury which he suffered towards the end of last season. The international window, with the U.S. team sitting out, likely came at the right time for Pulisic to take the next steps in his recovery.
It will be welcome news for American and Chelsea fans to see the Hershey native back on the field. Chelsea has been off to a mixed start to the season with seven points from four games – playing both very well and very poorly at times. Southampton, meanwhile, lost its first two games of the season but enters into today having won its last two Premier League games for six points on the season.
Sheffield United – Fulham
The Premier League
Sunday, October 18: 7:00am EST
Fulham is quickly approaching a point where it needs to win and stop the bleeding. After four losses to start the season, the newly promoted London-based club cannot continue to dig itself into a deep hole in the relegation battle early this season.
Fortunately for Fulham, Sheffield United has also lost all of its games to start the season. Either one or both of these teams will be earning its first point or points of the season on Sunday.
In the last game before the window, Fulham lost 1-0 to Wolves but played its best game of the season. American left back Antonee Robinson made his Premier League debut and was sharp. Tim Ream was also fairly decent in this one. A similar effort could get a result in this one but the pressure is on both of these teams in this early-season game.
Midtjylland - OB
Saturday, October 17: 10:00am EST
This is a game that should be interesting on multiple levels for American fans. For one, U.S. U-23 winger Emmanuel Sabbi should feature for OB. Sabbi, 22, was very solid in the first two games of the season for OB (an impressive 3-2 win over Copenhagen and a 1-1 draw vs. Nordsjaelland where he scored off a corner kick). But he has struggled in the subsequent two losses.
American fans will also want to watch Jens Cajuste, 21, who is a central midfielder for Midtjylland and is preparing to play with the club in the upcoming Champions League. While Cajuste has played for Sweden’s U-21 team, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter has been speaking Cajuste and U.S. Soccer has been looking into his eligibility. Cajuste told ASN in 2019 that he has had an American passport since he was born.
This game should be a good one in Denmark between OB and the defending champions – while also having an American edge on both sides.
Elsewhere in Europe
Friday has just one American-themed game on the docket at the first-team level and that will take place when Duane Holmes and Derby County hosts Watford in the Championship
DeAndre Yedlin will hope to make the bench on Saturday for Newcastle when it welcomes Manchester United. Meanwhile, Queens Park Rangers and its American captain Geoff Cameron will host AFC Bournemouth. U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman transferred to QPR this week from Southend United but he shouldn’t feature.
In third-tier League One, U.S. U-20 attacker Indiana Vassilev and Burton Albion visit Bristol Rovers on Saturday while Lynden Gooch and promotion hopefuls Sunderland visit Swindon Town.
American midfielders Ian Harkes, Dillion Powers and Dundee United host Aberdeen on Saturday in Scotland’s Premiership. Highly regarded U.S. U-20 winger Cam Harper will hope to make the bench for Celtic when it hosts Rangers in an Old Firm matchup on Saturday. That would be quite the stage for Harper’s professional debut.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Julian Green has split time starting and coming off the bench this season for Greuther Furth and he will hope to start on Saturday against Hamburg. Bobby Wood should be on the HSV bench but is unexpected to play. On Sunday, Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Dusseldorf hosts Jahn Regensburg with Jan George still injured. In the 3.Liga, MSV Duisburg host Terrence Boyd and Hallescher on Sunday.
In the Bundesliga, Koln hosts a surging Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday with Timothy Chandler expected to be on the bench for the guests.
In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre has gone as an unused sub the last two games for Heracles and he will hope to get back on the field on Saturday against RKC Waalwijk. On Sunday, Richard Ledezma will hope to make the bench for PSV against PEC Zwolle, although PSV made several upgrades during the recent transfer window. 2015 U.S. U-20 right back Desevio Payne has been a sub the last two games for Emmen and will aim to feature on Sunday against Fortuna Sittard.
In Belgium, Beerschot will host Chris Durkin and a skidding St. Truiden team on Saturday. Mechelen hosts Brenden Hines-Ike and Kortrijk and Hines-Ike will be looking for his first start of the season. Ethan Horvath is expected to be the backup for Club Brugge when it visits Standard Liege.
In Switzerland’s top flight, Jordan Siebatcheu and Young Boys visit Severette on Saturday.
In France, Lille hosts Lens on Sunday and Tim Weah will likely be hoping for more minutes off the bench. In Ligue 1, Patrick Koffi will hope to return to the bench for Paris FC on Saturday vs. Pau. Koffi, 18, has been frozen out of the lineups since a needless red card in the season opener.
In Turkey, Eric Lichaj and Fatih Karagumruk host Kasimpasa on Sunday.
In Italy’s Serie B, Andrija Novakovich and Frosone host Ascoli on Saturday. Novakovich has made only sub appearances so far but he scored the game winner just before the break against Empoli.
In Denmark, Haji Wright and SonderjyskE host Bondby on Sunday. Wright has scored three goals but is looking for his first start of the season. Michael Lansing is expected to be the backup keeper for Horsens on Sunday against AGF. In the second tier, Christian Cappis and Hobro host HB Koge on Saturday.
Heading up further north in Scandinavia, Henry Wingo and Molde host runaway leaders Bodo/Glimt on Saturday in Norway’s top flight. In Sweden’s top flight, the Allsvenskan, Aron Johannsson and Hammarby host Mjallby on Sunday.
Finally, in Spain’s second tier, Sporting Gijon hosts Shaq Moore and Tenerife on Sunday.
Monday’s busy slate
Monday has a bunch of games involving American players.
United States national team fullback Reggie Cannon and Boavista hosts Vitoria Guimares in Portugal’s top flight on Monday at 3:15pm EST
Leon Flach, Kevin Lankford, and St. Paul host Nurnberg in the 2.Bundesliga at 2:30pm EST on Monday.
In the Danish Superliga, Jonathan Amon might make his first Superliga appearance in 13 months when Nordsjaeeland hosts Randers at 1pm EST.
Georgia native Joe Efford and Waasland Beveren hosts KV Oostende at 2:45pm EST on Monday in Belgium’s top flight
In Sweden’s Allsvenkan, Mix Diskerud and Helsingborg host Hacken on Monday at 1:00pm EST.
ON THE DOMESTIC FRONT
The busy domestic slate of games from Wednesday set up the table for this weekend. In those games, many teams in the Eastern Conference with big games (Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta, the Red Bulls, New York City, and Orlando) all played to draws. That essentially increases the need for these teams to win this weekend.
Young players also continue to be a huge story. The Philadelphia Union formally announced the sale of Brenden Aaronson to Red Bull Salzburg after the season. This places the Union in a must-win situation right now as there will be an adjustment period. Fortunately for the Union, the team has other players looking to emerge – like Anthony Fontana, who has five goals this season, and Brenden Aaronson’s brother Paxten Aaronsons.
Here are the games I will be watching this weekend:
New York Red Bulls - Orlando SC
Sunday, October 18: 7:00pm EST
Red Bull fans and fans of American soccer will likely be tuning into this one to watch top American prospect Caden Clark, 17, who has two goals in his first two games with the club. His emergence is a big reason why the Red Bulls are improving their playoff standing and are close to catching New York City FC for the sixth spot in the East.
But the Red Bulls have a lot more going for it too. Aaron Long could be recovered and ready start this one. Kyle Duncan remains an impressive right back. Tim Parker had a very good game in central defense against Toronto.
But Orlando City will be a tough opponent for the Red Bulls and, under Oscar Pareja, Orlando has been the most relevant it has ever been in the league as it now sits even with Columbus for third place.
Nani has been a fantastic designated player, Chris Mueller could be nearing a USMNT callup in 2021 as he is playing like a league Best XI, and Daryl Dike should be a U.S. U-23 option in 2021 if he elects to play for the U.S. over Nigeria.
There are plenty of good players to watch in this one.
Toronto FC – Atlanta United
Sunday, October 18: 7:30pm EST
Toronto FC has the best record in the league and it is doing so mostly without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. Former U.S. international Greg Vanney has done a good job with Toronto this season and helping it to continuously produce.
Alejandro Pozuelo could be the MVP of the league this season and he is worth the price of admission. Pablo Piatti, meanwhile, has been an outstanding contributor. Ayo Akinola, 20, is a fan American fans should get to know. He needs to work on his consistency and he can drift out of games but when he is on, he is really on. Since the MLS is Back group stages, he has eight goals for Toronto and this has led to speculation about whether he will represent the United States, Canada, or Nigeria internationally. Previously a U.S. U-20 and U-17 player, he is eligible for the U-23 team for each country.
Atlanta United, meanwhile, are a shell of their former selves. That being said, at 10th place, they could sneak into the “play-in” rounds for the playoffs. Among American players, there are several such as Emerson Hyndman, Brooks Lennon, and USMNT backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan who are all starting for Atlanta. In this game, it will be interesting to see how Miles Robinson can defend against one of the better offenses in the league.
Portland Timbers – Los Angeles FC
Sunday, October 18: 10:00pm EST
This is a matchup of teams who at times look like they could either win it all, or bomb out in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams are coming off of bad midweek losses as Portland fell to Real Salt Lake and LAFC lost to Vancouver.
Despite the loss of Sebastian Blanco to injury last month, Portland is tied for points atop the West with Seattle (albeit Portland has played one more game). The team has dealt with the condensed schedule well and Giovanni Savarese has rotated his squad effectively. Two of the American players who have had very strong seasons are the U-23 eligible duo from Maryland in Eryk Williamson and Jeremy Ebobisse. Ebobisse, in particular, has looked like a potential U.S. international forward that could backup Josh Sargent. Williamson, meanwhile makes you wonder why he hasn’t played much in pervious seasons.
LAFC is not the club that dominated the 2019 regular season. There are times when it is explosive but here are times when it is completely ordinary. Without Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Bryan Rodriguez have been inconsistent. The team’s defense, however, is the biggest culprit as it gives up key goals at bad times.
San Jose Earthquakes – Seattle Sounders
Sunday, October 18: 10:30pm EST
The San Jose Earthquakes are channeling previous versions of the Alan Gordon, Steve Lenhart-era when they would score late goals and play beyond the sum of their parts. Matias Almeyda has this team doing just that and now has gone from a team destined to finished last and into a playoff-caliber team.
The 4-0 win over the Galaxy midweek was a highlight for the Quakes. American fullback Nick Lima scored two goals and Cade Cowell, 16, assisted on the final goal. Jackson Yueill’s form has improved throughout the season and the team’s results have picked up.
Meanwhile, Seattle continues to be one of the most consistently impressive teams in the league and should be the favorite at the moment to win MLS Cup. United States international Jordan Morris is an MVP-caliber winger and Nicholas Lodeiro is one of the most effective designated players in the history of the league.
If San Jose can get a result out of this, it will be a big note that they should be taken seriously.
New England Revolution – Philadelphia Union
Monday, October 19: 7:30pm EST
In two of the most improved teams over recent seasons, fifth-place New England hosts second-place Philadelphia on Monday night. Both teams have been able to compete well this season and both should have ambitions to go deep in the post season.
There are some really good American-themed storylines in this one. For the visitors, Philadelphia is succeeded with huge contributions from homegrown players and a USMNT World Cup veteran in Alejandro Bedoya. Unfortunately for head coach Jim Curtin, Bedoya won’t be available in this one due to a suspension. Instead, it will fall to the heels of the homegrowns to try to lead the way.
Brenden Aaronson, 19, is going to attempt to lead the Union to MLS Cup in his final season with the club. Next season he will head to Salzburg where he will likely compete for an Austrian Bundesliga title. But he is not the only one, Anthony Fontana has five goals this season for the Union and Mark McKenzie is one of the league’s best defenders.
For New England, Matt Turner has emerged as one of the best American goalkeepers and has been pivotal in the Revolution’s return to a playoff-caliber team. Henry Kessler, a rookie, is a very good central defender who could play a part on the U.S. U-23 team in 2021.
Columbus Crew - New York City FC
Sunday, October 18: 6:00pm EST
Once atop the East, the Columbus Crew are fading with just a point from its last four games. It now sits in third place and is on the verge of being overtaken by Orlando City – and possibly other clubs in future weeks. Caleb Porter needs to figure out how to right the ship. U.S. national team forward Gyasi Zardes has gone cold. U.S. U-23 central defender Aboubacar Keita struggled midweek in a loss to Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, New York City sits in sixth place and has improved significantly after a terrible start to the season. With the Red Bulls improving, New York City does not have much of a margin for error if it wants to qualify for the first round – and skip the “play-in” round. On the other hand, it could overtake New England should the Revs falter and NYCFC win this one.
Elsewhere in MLS
On Sunday, Chicago will hope to move into the play-in round positions with a result over Sporting Kansas City – which is third in the West. That game is on Saturday.
Montreal “hosts” Inter Miami on Saturday in a game for the die-hards and those that just want to watch the Higuain brothers.
Two of the worst teams in the league will meet up on Sunday when Cincinnati hosts DC United.
Minnesota United has been mediocre in recent weeks and on Sunday it hosts a Houston Dynamo team that is sinking after the sale of Arberth Elis.
The Colorado Rapids – Real Salt Lake game is postponed and it will be a huge problem trying to have Colorado make up its games.
The LA Galaxy are trainwreck that is almost impossible not to watch at the moment. It will somehow get worse if they can’t muster a result on Sunday against Vancouver.