Weekend preview

Reyna vs. Richards, McKennie & Juve visit Napoli to top busy weekend

Once again, ASN's Brian Sciaretta opens up his notebook to preview the weekend for Americans abroad. In this edition, there are some interesting things and important tests for several young players after a lackluster weekend last week. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
February 12, 2021
12:00 PM

THE WEEKEND AHEAD will be a busy one for Americans abroad and many will be looking to boost momentum heading into Champions League and Europa League games next week. Unfortunately, we have several postponements and some injuries but overall, there are still several games of high priority.

The best of the bunch is probably Borussia Dortmund hosting Hoffhenheim as it gives Chris Richards a chance to defend Gio Reyna and Erling Haaland – who are both struggling at the moment. It will also be interesting if Yunus Musah can return to the starting lineup at Valencia in a visit to Real Madrid.

Also, on a positive note, we could see a Championship debut from Daryl Dike a club debuts for Taylor Booth and Brandon Servania who both joined St. Poelten on loan. For Booth, this would his professional debut at any level.

With all that said, here is what I will be watching for.


Leipzig vs. Augsburg

The Bundesliga
Friday, February 12: 2:30pm EST


Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig probably don’t have enough in the tank to catch Bayern Munich as they are seven points back, but sitting in second, Leipzig has a comfortable five-point cushion on the Champions League spots for next season.

This game on Friday is a bit of a trap, however, as a Champions League knockout game vs. Liverpool awaits on Tuesday. For Tyler Adams, he has been starting most games for Leipzig lately but typically on the outside of the midfield instead of his preferred No. 6 position. It will be interesting of that changes.

Augsburg has been in poor form lately, losing five of its last six. Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann has a tough choice in terms of resting players ahead of Tuesday and having whatever lineup his rolls out focused on Augsburg and not thinking ahead to Liverpool.


Borussia Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga
Saturday, February 13: 9:30am EST


Two young U.S. internationals will meet-up in perhaps the most eagerly anticipated matchup of the weekend for Americans abroad fans when Gio Reyna and Broussia Dortmund hosts Chris Richards and Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Last weekend, Richards made his debut for Hoffenheim on loan and went the distance in a 3-1 loss to a very strong Eintracht Frankfurt team. While somewhat at fault for the second goal, Richards played well in the game and looked ready to be a regular contributor for Hoffenheim the remainder of the season.

For Reyna, things have been quite rocky since Lucien Favre was fired in December. The American midfielder has not played as well as he typically showed in 2020 the past two months but he is far from the only one at Borussia Dortmund. The club now has an uphill climb to qualify for the Europa League as it trails fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen by three points and fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt by four points.

Last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Freiburg was tough for Dortmund and the club is forced into needing to make a quick rebound. Sitting midtable, 12th-place Hoffenheim is not quite in a relegation battle but still needs results to coast in midtable.

Werder Bremen vs. Freiburg

The Bundesliga
Saturday, February 13: 9:30am EST


After last weekend’s snow postponement, Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen will return to the field for the first time since February 2 when they defeated Greuther Furth in the German Cup. Sargent has scored just two goals on the season for Werder Bremen but has still played well in other areas of the game. The club meanwhile doesn’t necessarily play attractive soccer but is pushing towards midtable in the Bundesliga.

While the striker pool for the U.S. national team is expanding, Sargent is still probably the team’s starting No. 9 forward as he plays the most but that grip might not be that tight until he scores at a reliable rate. Still, the fact that he has the trust of manager Florian Kohfeldt is telling and Kohfeldt has been public with his belief that Sargent will eventually emerge as a top striker in the league.

Freiburg is a beatable but has been doing well as of late and is coming off a 2-1 win over Dortmund.


Union Berlin vs. Schalke 04

The Bundesliga
Saturday, February 13: 9:30am EST


Matthew Hoppe and Schalke will hope to begin a “Mission Impossible” climb out of last place in the Bundesliga and it is currently nine points from survival. With just win on the season, it will need many more to survive.

American forward Matthew Hoppe took the Bundesliga by storm when he scored five goals in a three-game span – including a hat trick against Hoffenheim. Since then, he has continued to be dangerous on occasion but opposing defenses have adjusted to Hoppe and focused more on stopping him. Without many other attacking options on Schalke, it has become tougher for Hoppe.

Union Berlin is an opponent that started off the season well but has just one point from its last four games. If Schalke and Hoppe want to have any chance of survival, taking advantage of a struggling opponent is critical.


SSC Napoli - Juventus

Serie A
Saturday, February 13: 12:00pm EST


Weston McKennie and Juventus travel south on Saturday to visit Napoli in a matchup between two of the better teams in the league. McKennie and Juventus had a midweek draw against Inter Milan midweek after a 2-0 win last weekend over Roma in Serie A.

McKennie, 22, has had an excellent season but was quiet last weekend against Roma on both sides of the ball. Sixth-place Napoli will present a tougher challenge on the road but third-place Juventus has an opportunity to gain ground on both Milan teams as it has played one fewer game. Juventus trails Inter Milan by five points and AC Milan by seven points.

Napoli has lost two of three games but is still a serious threat to Juventus who can’t be caught looking ahead to next week’s Champions league clash against Porto.


Heracles – Ajax

The Eredivisie
Saturday, February 13


Luca de la Torre has had a really nice first season at Heracles where he has emerged as a starter and helped the club push comfortably into midtable. Entering into this weekend, Heracles has three wins and a draw in its last four and is playing well.

But Saturday will be a massive challenge as Ajax is running away with the Eredivisie and is generally a class among itself in Holland. Does Heracles have a chance at the big upset? Not much but stranger things have happened. To pull it off would require de la Torre and others on Heracles to put forth huge outings.


WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg

Austrian Bundesliga
Saturday, February 13: 11:00am EST


Red Bull Salzburg reclaimed first place in the Austrian Bundesliga on Wednesday after an impressive 3-1 win over Austria Vienna. American midfielder Brenden Aaronson, 20, made his second start for the club and scored his first goal on an outstanding individual effort.


While Salzburg’s goal differential is better than second-place Rapid Vienna by a margin of 19, Salzburg only has a one-point advantage on Rapid, so Salzburg is under pressure to win every game. For Aaronson, he is comfortable and confident and should be starting many of the games moving forward. The New Jersey native will be chasing his second title in months after the Supporters Shield.


SM Caen – Niort

Ligue 2
Saturday, February 13: 1:00pm EST


Two midtable teams will be facing off in Ligue 2 when SM Caen hosts Niort on Saturday. Neither team has managed to win in either of their past five Ligue 2 games. For Caen, it once had promotional hopes but those have long since dissipated.

The good news for Cane is that U.S. international forward Nicholas Gioacchini has returned to the field after a two-game suspension. While he appeared midweek in 1-0 loss to Paris St. Germain in the Coupe de France, this game against Niort should give him a better chance to showcase himself as Caen will have more of the ball.

For Gioacchini, 20, the he is playing for a potential move this summer as his versatility and strength along with his youth makes him an intriguing option. But first he must continue to play well the remainder of the season. A move to Ligue 1 or another European top division could be within his reach if he plays well.


Hamburg SV - Greuther Furth

Saturday, February 13: 7:00am EST


After serving a yellow-card suspension last weekend, Julian Green will return to Greuther Furth’s lineup in a huge 2.Bundesliga matchup against a Hamburg team that sits atop the 2.Bundesliga table. Bobby Wood will likely be on the bench for HSV.

Greuther Furth, meanwhile, sits in fourth but trails the second and third teams in the league by just a single point. If Furth wants to get promoted, pulling off a big win such as this will go a very long well. Julian Green, 25, is having his best season as a professional. He has seven goals in 19 league appearances and another goal in the German Cup.

Furth is has made a strong case for promotion and Green has emerged as one of the team’s best players. There is still a lot of work to be done and HSV is the best team in the league. This should be a good one.


Real Madrid – Valencia

La Liga
Sunday, February 14: 10:15am EST


Yunus Musah, 18, has struggled a bit for Valencia since the last international window in November and has lost his starting spot in recent weeks. A part of his struggles could be due to the fact he is playing out of position at right wing instead of centrally.

What better way to right the ship than a visit to Estadio Bernabeu to face Real Mardrid. We don’t yet know if Musah will start this game but history shows he will probably get into the game at some point. Either way, a solid performance in this one could do wonders for his confidence and his push to reclaim the starting spot at the club.


Wolfsburg – Borussia Monchengladbach

The Bundesliga
Sunday, February 14: 12:00pm EST


John Brooks is having the best season of his career and Wolfsburg is pushing for a Champions League spot next year. The U.S. international has helped the club’s fortunes change in recent seasons and Wolfsburg is in third place this year in large part of a defense that has conceded just 19 goals in 20 games.

While Brooks is playing well, he will have a big test on Sunday against seventh place Borussia Monchengladbach which is pushing hard to crack the top six and get back into Europe. Only three teams in the Bundesliga have scored more than Gladbach, so Brooks will once against be under fire in this one.


Cercle Brugge – Anderlecht

Belgian Pro League
Sunday, February 14: 2:45pm EST


Matt Miazga and fourth place-Anderlecht are coming off a bit 2-1 away win over Genk last weekend but the club’s problem this year is that it seems to do well in the tough games but struggle against poor opponents.

This will be a good test for Anderlecht to see if they can finally get it done against a bad opponent as Cercle Brugge sits just one point clear of last-place Waasland-Beveren.  

Miazga, 25, is having a good season on loan at Anderlecht from Chelsea and it is coming at a good time as success at Anderlecht could pave the way to a move to the Bundesliga or another top-five league next season. The worst that could happen is that Anderlecht extends his loan – which isn’t bad.


Everton - Fulham

The Premier League
Sunday: February 14: 2:00pm EST


As a young player, U.S. national team left back Antonee Robinson developed at Everton before going on loan to Wigan before actually getting sold. Now Robinson will have the chance to return to his original stomping ground in Liverpool as Fulham makes its way north.

Robinson, 23, has a tough test ahead of him as Fulham is eight points deep in the relegation hole. Every single season Robinson has played as a first-team player has been in a relegation battle and this is no exception. Fulham needs to begin climbing soon but Everton has had a very nice season so far and is in seventh place.

There is also the motivation that should Fulham go right back down, Robinson’s solid performances, his athleticism, and that it still remains hard to find a left back makes him valuable. If he continues to play well, it is hard to see him going down with Fulham’s sinking ship. After all, he was on the verge of moving to AC Milan just last year for eight figures before a medical ruined the deal.


Lille – Brest

Ligue 1
Sunday, February 14: 11:00am EST


Tim Weah, 20, might not be starting regularly but he is playing regularly for a Lille team that is two points clear atop Ligue 1 and is impressing mightily. For Weah, even in limited minutes he is making impacts and last week he set up his team’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Nantes.

He earned a start midweek in a 1-0 Coupe de France win over Dijon and was dangerous, even if his finishing was off.

But Weah is chasing impressive silverware and a start in this one would not be much of a surprise give the need for squad rotation with the Europa League resuming this week. In his minutes on the field, he has been productive and dangerous, which is good to see. Now it is about seeing an even steeper increase in his minutes.


Elsewhere around the globe


In the Premier League, backup keeper Zack Steffen and Manchester City host Tottenham on Saturday while Owen Otasowie and Wolves visit Southampton on Sunday. Christian Pulisic and Chelsea host Newcastle United on Monday.

In the Championship on Saturday, Cameron Carter-Vickers and AFC Bournemouth visit Nottinham Forest. Duane Holmes and Huddersfield host Wycombe Wanders. Matthew Olosunde and Rotherham had their game against Geoff Cameron, Charlie Kelman and Queens Park Rangers postponed. Similarly, Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola and Swansea City had their game against Sheffield United postponed. On Sunday, Brentford host Daryl Dike and Barnsley.

In League One, Lynden Gooch and Sunderland host Doncaster.

In Spain’s La Liga, Sergino Dest has thigh problems and is questionable for Barcelona as they host Deportivo Alaves. Konrad de la Fuente will hope to make Barca’s bench. In the Segunda, Shaq Moore and Tenerife host Ponferradina on Saturday.

In Belgium’s top flight, Brenden Hines-Ike and Kortrijk visit Oud Heverlee on Friday. On Saturday, Joe Efford and Waasland-Beveren host Eupen and Chris Durkin and St. Truiden host Zlute Waregem. Mark McKenzie will hope to return to Genk’s starting lineup when they visit Oostende. On Sunday, Sporting Charleroi host Club Brugge and Ethan Horvath.

In the German Bundesliga, American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo and VfB Stuttgart host Hertha BSC on Saturday. Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt host FC Koln on Sunday.

In the 2.Bundeslga on Saturday, McKinzie Gaines and Hannover 96 host Paderborn on Friday. Jann George and Jahn Regensburg host Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Dusseldorf. On Sunday, Nurnberg visit Leon Flach and St. Pauli.

In Portugal’s top flight, Reggie Cannon and Boavista visit Porto on Saturday.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Andrew Wooten is coming off a midweek and on Saturday will hope to follow that up with another strong performance when they visit Wolfsberger. On Sunday, Ried hosts SKN St. Poelten and loanees Taylor Booth and Brandon Servania will both hope to make their club debuts. Also on Sunday, Erik Palmer-Brown and Austria Vienna host Hartberg.

In Scotland’s Premiership, three Americans could take part when Ian Harkes, Dillon Powers and Dundee United host Scott Pittman and Livingston on Saturday.

In Poland’s top flight on Saturday, Ben Lederman and Rakow Czestochowa host Kenny Saief and Lechia Gdansk

In Italy’s Serie B, Andrija Novakovich and Frosinone visit Virtus Entella on Sunday.

In the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi and OB host AGF on Sunday. Sabbi returns from suspension for this game.

In Greece’s Super League, Gboly Ariyibi and Panetolikos visit Aris on Sunday.

In Hungary’s top flight on Sunday, Henry Wingo and Ferencvaros visit Mezokovesd

In Turkey’s Super Lig on Sunday, Mix Diskerud and Denizlispor visit Konyaspor. DeAndre Yedlin and Galatasaray host Kasimpasa.

In Chile’s top flight, former NC State defender Matias Fracchia and O’Higgins FC host Colo Colo on unday.

In Brazil’s top flight, league leaders U.S. national team defensive midfielder Johnny Cardoso and Internacional visit Vasco de Gama on Sunday.

Post a comment