Americans Abroad

Scally, Dest, & Pukstas impress among an otherwise tough weekend for Yanks abroad

It was a tough weekend for Americans abroad as there were plenty of tough outings and players getting bench. Among those who bucked the trend and played well were Joe Scally, Sergino Dest, and Rokas Pukstas. But with all the good and the bad, ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down here with his thoughts and analysis. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 12, 2023
10:30 PM

THE WEEKEND FOR Americans abroad was generally subdued and lacking any standout performances. There were a few good outings, such as Joe Scally, Malik Tillman, Rokas Pukstas, and others but most of it ranged from lackluster to concerning.

Yes, several U.S. national team members like Johnny Cardoso, Yunus Musah, Tim Ream, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna, and Lennard Maloney all had tough performances and won’t be joining the U.S. team with positive momentum.

But even deeper than that, there are players like Luca de la Torre, Kristoffer Lund, Folarin Balogun, and John Brooks who are all typical starters but who didn’t start this weekend after each of them few shaky performances in previous weeks. That begs the question of where they stand, and it will be an ongoing topic after the international window.


Dest & Tillman impress again for PSV


PSV Eindhoven defeated PEC Zwolle 4-0 to remain perfect on the Eredivisie season with 36 points from 12 games. Each of the Yank Trio at PSV played but only Sergino Dest started.

Dest was excellent over his 79 minutes where he won dues, defended well, and attacked effectively.

Malik Tillman entered the game in the 70th minute and the highlight for the American contingent came in the 78th minute when Dest showed a ton of quality and assisted Tillman for a 4-0 lead.

Shortly after that goal, Dest was subbed out and Ricardo Pepi came into play forward for Luuk de Jong and it was an uneventful shift.

The big takeaways from this game are that Dest is playing well and that Tillman is still inconsistent, but he now heads into the international window with two good shifts for PSV off the bench. Is he now finally getting the consistency he’s been needing?

A footnote in this game is that Anthony Fontana was once again an unused sub for PEC Zwolle.


Musah struggles at right back


AC Milan was already without Christian Pulisic heading into Saturday’s game away at Lecce, but manager Stefano Pioli elected to begin the game with USMNT midfielder Yunus Musah on the bench. Then with Milan up 2-0 at halftime, Pioli subbed Musah into the game at the unusual position of right back. It was a very curious decision given that Musah has been primarily used in the middle of the field to success and just two games ago, Musah played at right win in place of Pulisic and struggled defensively.

Now with Musah playing an even more defensive position at right back, he struggled defensively and Lecco was able to fight back for a 2-2 draw.  On Lecco’s first goal, he completely missed his assignment at the back post of a corner kick. The second goal came from his side when he was caught up field.

With the loss, Milan remained in third place, but is now six points behind Juventus.

The big question is whether this affects Musah’s standing within the team under Pioli? He played poorly, but clearly did not belong in the position he was playing.


Trusty continuing progress


Auston Trusty is beginning to show quality in the Premier League. After starting last weekend for Sheffield United first Premier League win of the season against Wolves, he again played well on Sunday in a 1-1 away draw with Brighton. Trusty shared the blame with about five of his teammates on Brighton’s goal when Simon Adingra dribbled through several defenders in the sixth minute to open the scoring.

But aside from that, Trusty has a solid outing and if he keeps it up, should get national team callups in November. Sheffield United are still likely to get relegated, but they have been playing much better recently. It’s a great opportunity for Trusty.


Scally's best performance of the season


On Friday, Borussia Monchengladbach played its best game of the season in a dominating 4-0 win over Wolfsburg. Joe Scally got the start for M’Gladbach and Kevin Paredes continued his starting run with Wolfsburg. Jordan Pefok remained out injured from the groin injury he picked up last weekend.

Paredes, 20, started this game on the right wing which gave him strength to cut centrally on his preferred left foot. He didn’t have the positive impact he had the last two weeks, but he was still one of the best Wolfsburg attacking players in what was overall a tough day for the club. Paredes was 43/45 in passing and won all five of his ground duels.

In the second half he switched to left wing and was going up against Scally before he was removed in the 67th minute. Meanwhile, Scally had his best game of the seasons on both sides of the ball (3/3 tackles, 3/3 aerials, 4/6 duels) but the highlight for him came in the 71st minute when he assisted on Alassane Plea’s goal when he laid the ball back to him to complete a counterattack.

With the win, Monchengladbach moved inside the top 10 and into 9th place while Wolfsburg fell to 11th.


Pukstas scores to boost Hajduk


In Croatia, Rokas Pukstas played all 90 minutes and scored the opening goal in the 35th minute to help HNL leaders Hajduk Split to a 3-1 win over sixth-place NK Varazdin. Playing in the attacking midfield, Pukstas had a strong start to the game, but after the goal was mostly quiet, and only had 38 touches.

But as he has been doing all season, he has been making the most of limited involvement, and typically finding a way to be part of a few dangerous chances every game. This game was tough to play well due to it being played in tough conditions in the rain.

On the goal, Hajduk appeared to get the benefit of a call as it appeared that before the cross to Pukstas, the ball went out of bounds.

The next test for Pukstas, 19, internationally is with the US Olympic team. He will likely have his chance soon to prove himself with that team, and if he succeeds, he could be within striking distance of a call up to the senior national team. If he makes the Olympic team, he will join his father as another Olympian in his family. His father represented Lithuania at the Athens Olympics in 2004 in the marathon.


Venezia continues promotional push


Venezia remained in second place of Serie B after a 2-1 win over Catamzaro at home in Venice. All goals were scored in the first half and both Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio went the full 90 in midfield for Venezia.

For Busio, the concern for him has always been his defense. But he’s been making huge strides in this area while playing in the tough Italian second tier. In this game, he was 4/4 in tackling, 7/12 in his ground duels, had two interceptions, and two clearances. Combined with his steady passing, he is becoming a very well-rounded player.

For Tessmann, he also was strong defensively with six clearances, four interceptions, and eight ball recoveries. His passing percentage wasn’t great (27/41) but he had 11 passes into the final third.

Both players look set to join the Olympic team for November and both are taking big roles within that team.


Yanks in the Premier League


Fulham were defeated by Aston Villa 3-1 in Birmingham. Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both played 90 minutes in the loss with Robinson’s unlucky own goal in the 27th minute giving Villa a 1-0 lead. It was a day to forget for both USMNT defenders except that Robinson also picked up an assist when he teed up Raul Jimenez in the 70th minute. Aside from that, there wasn’t much good to report from the Cottager Yanks who fell to 16th place with the loss.

Matt Turner
remained on the bench for the second straight week as Nottingham Forest fell to West Ham 3-2 in London. Turner is going to be tested mentally in getting through being benched. The question is how he reacts when he finally gets another chance. That is what Gregg Berhalter stressed during his recent media call.

Chris Richards did not get off the bench for Crystal Palace in a 3-2 loss at home to Everton. This has been the norm for the US national team center back since he arrived last season. There are signs that he could be on the move in January, or he could remain with the club and start if other players move. Palace fell to 13th place with the loss.


Yanks in the Bundesliga


John Brooks remained on the bench for Hoffenheim for the second straight week under Pellegrino Matarazzo’s team and he watched for the duration as Hoffenheim played Augsburg to a 1-1 away draw to fall to seventh place. After the international break will offer clearer evidence if he has truly lost his starting job.

Brendan Aaronson entered Union Berlin’s 4-0 loss against leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the 64th minute when the score was 4-0. He completed all six of his passes but didn’t contribute much as Union astonishingly fell into the Bundesliga basement after qualifying for the Champions League last season. As for Aaronson, he is not one of Union’s problems as the team struggles without him on the field. But he is also not a solution to their woes and a relegation battle looms later this season.

Bayern Munich defeated Heidenheim 4-2 on Saturday in a game that was closer than expected for a while. Lennard Maloney played 62 minutes for Heidenheim and did nothing particularly noteworthy. He left with his team trailing 2-0 and shortly after he left, Heidenheim scored twice to equalize. Maloney continues to be a defensive player for his team and does not offer much in the attack. It will be interesting to see how Berhalter uses him for the national team in the upcoming break and whether his offensive limitations continue to earn him call ups in the future.

Stuttgart posted a deserved 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund where Stuttgart has huge 10-1 edge in shots on goal. Gio Reyna played the final 27 minutes for Dortmund and while he was competent on the ball (18/20 passing) he did not create anything close to dangerous and seemed to be off - like his teammates. It is going to be an interesting winter for Gio. Things are clearly not going, as well as he wants for Dortmund. So it begs the question whether he will be in the shopping window this January. But the topic of his valuation, and what other clubs would be willing to spend for him, is tough to read. His injury history, in recent years makes it very complicated.

Neither Paxten Aaronson nor Timothy Chandler got off the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 2-2 away draw with Werder Bremen. Aaronson is still not quite a regular with Frankfurt but USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter said Frankfurt believed strongly in Aaronson’s long term future and Aaronson will now join the USMNT for the November window.

Teenage forward Damion Downs was out with a knock and was not part of FC Koln’s squad for a 1-1 away draw with Bochum. With the draw, Koln moved out of last place in the Bundesliga, and past Union Berlin on goal differential.


Yanks in the 2.Bundesliga


In the 2.Bundesliga, St. Pauli remained atop the table despite a 0-0 draw with Hannover. Houston born manager Fabian Hurzeler has his team looking like a promotional contender at the November window.

U.S. U-23 forward Johan Gomez scored a very important goal for Eintracht Braunschweig in a 3-2 win over Osnabruck. With the win, Braunschweig leapfrogged Osnabruck to move out of last place. They are still five points deep in the relegation zone, but this at least gives them some momentum. Gomez’s goal came when he lunged to get on the end of a cross with his foot to send it into the corner of the net.

Greuther Furth kept up its strong run with a 1-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf. Furth has now won four of its last five games to move into 6th place and within striking distance of second place. Former USMNT attacker Julian Green and current U.S U-23 centerback Maximilian Dietz each went the full 90 for Furth and both are playing well.

Kaiserslautern jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Wehen Wiesbaden via a Marlon Ritter 39th minute goal assisted by American forward Terrence Boyd, but the lead did not last long in the second-half as Wehen scored two quick goals in the 61st and 65th minutes for a 2-1 win. Kaiserslautern fell to 11th with the loss.


Yanks in the Netherlands


U.S U-23 winger Taylor Booth, 22, started for FC Utrecht on Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Excelsior, played 66 minutes, and left with an injury. Even before the injury, it wasn’t a great outing for Booth as he completed all his passes (11/11) but only had 23 touches and was not active in winning duels. He left the game with his team trailing 2-0 and wasn’t in the game when his team rallied for the draw. The draw was enough for Utrecht to climb out of the automatic relegation zone.

But nine points from 12 games is not good. Booth hasn’t been able to standout positively this season but it’s too early to tell if that’s due to him cooling off from the early part of last season or if he’s just stuck on an underperforming team. Now we must also wait for injury news.

Also in the Eredivisie, Sparta Rotterdam defeated Volendam 4-1 in Volendam. Florida winger Agustin Anello was an unused substitute for 6th-place Sparta. Zach Booth came into the game in the 64th for Volendam minute when the score was 2-1 but per local media, he did not have much of an impact.

AZ Alkmaar dropped a 1-0 decision on the road to Feyenoord and fell to fourth in the Eredivisie as a result. Djordje Mihailovic did not get off the bench in the loss.

In the second tier Eerste Divisie, John Hilton went 90 minutes at left back for seventh-place Dordrecht in a 4-1 loss at home to Jong PSV. Gedion Zelalem went 77 minutes for 18th place in a 1-0 loss at home to FC Emmen.

Justin Che was still injured and was not part of ADO Den Haag in a 2-1 loss at home to Cambuur.


Yanks in Spain


Celta Vigo continued is very difficult season with another heartbreaking late loss. This time a 4-3 loss on the road to Athletic Bilbao after conceding a penalty off a handball in the eighth minute of stoppage time. Luca de la Torre was dropped from the starting lineup but came into the game in the 69th minute. In the 72nd minute, Celta failed to convert a penalty.

It was a tough outing off the bench for de la Torre who only had seven touches and was 2/6 of passing. He also has no duel attempts. Celta remained two points deep in the relegation.

Konrad de la Fuente did not make the bench for Eibar in a 1-1 draw at home with Albacete. Promotion-contending Eibar fell to 4th in Spain’s Segunda with the draw.

Meanwhile in the Segunda, Jonathan Gomez played 89 minutes for Mirandes in a 2-1 loss at home to Racing de Ferrol. CD Mirandes fell to 15th with the loss. For the time being, it is just good for Gomez to finally be a regular starter as he competes for a spot on the Olympic team.


Yanks in Belgium


In Belgium’s First Division, Westerlo and St. Truiden played to a wild 3-3 draw on Friday night in Westerlo. Three American players started in this game. Former Yale Bulldog Kahveh Zahiroleslam started for St. Truiden and played 79 minutes. Bryan Reynolds played the entire game at right wingback for  Westerlo while Griffin Yow played 70 minutes for Westerlo.

St. Truiden opened the scoring in the 5th minute on a scramble where Zahiroleslam ended up poking the ball to EJ Bocat who scored from distance. It was the first league assist for Zahiroleslam, a forward.

In the 15th minute, Westerlo equalized on another scramble that eventually resulted in Reynolds assisting Emin Bayram.

The game ended 3-3 after Westerlo equalized in second half stoppage time. They still sit 15th in the 16-team league.

All three of the Americans in this game are eligible for the U.S U-23 team but only Reynolds appears to be in the plans of U-23 coach Marko Mitrovic.

Gaga Slonina had a good performance in what was otherwise a terrible 3-1 loss for Eupen at home to RWD Molenbeek. Slonina made seven saves but was not at fault for the three that got past him. He has continued to be in good form since the last international window and he will now join the full national team next week. The two teams were even on points heading into this game but now Eupen falls to 12th place with the loss at home.

Mark McKenzie had a good outing in central defense for 4th place Genk in a 3-1 win over 14th place OH Leuven. The game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Genk had a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute but OH Leuven equalized in the 85th minute. Genk put the game away with two goals in stoppage time. McKenzie was steady in the back for Genk, winning 3/4 of his ground duels and 2/4 of his aerials. He also had 5 clearances and was 4/6 in his long balls. He wasn’t tested that much, but he contributed to the win.

Alex Mighten played 63 minutes for a bad Kortrijk team that lost on the road to Belgian First Division leaders Union SG. Mighten, 21, is starting to play more for Kortrijk but is not having the impact he would like. Making the U.S Olympic team is probably his current international goal but that seems like a long shot now.

Also in Belgium, Royal Antwerp thrashed Standard Liege 6-0. Sam Vines continues to miss time for Antwerp with his hamstring injury while Marlon Fossey is lucky that he was unable to play for Standard in this game after last week’s collision forced him out of the game in the first half.


Yanks in Italy


Juventus strengthened its grip on 2nd place of Serie A after a 2-1 win over Cagliari on Saturday. As known ahead of time, Tim Weah was out for Juve while Weston McKennie started and played the whole game in midfield. McKennie was overall solid but unspectacular.

He continues to fit in well for the club but he wasn’t one of his team’s better players in the win. He missed a shot wide to the right in the 43rd minute but aside from that, he was mostly just a workhorse in central midfield helping to keep possession, win balls, and advance possession into the attack. It was just another step forward and what has been a good season for McKennie as he has returned to Juventus, played a lot, and earned the trust of Max Allegri.

In Serie B, Lecco posted a surprising 3-2 upset win over leaders Parma. After Parma took a 1-0 lead, it was Wisconsin’s own Andrija Novakovich who equalized the game for Lecco in the 23rd minute. Novakovich had his best game of the season with four shots and three chances created.

Also in Serie B, it was a bit unusual to see USMNT left back Kristoffer Lund, 21, on the bench for Palermo as they hosted Cittadella, but Palermo hasn’t been strong the past month and perhaps changes needed to be made. In this game, Lund entered in the 83rd with the score 0-0 but it was Cittadella who scored the winner in the 7th minute of stoppage time. Palermo has won just once in their last five games and has sunk to third place. Whether Lund has lost his starting job for the time being is a question for after the international window when he returns from playing with the USMNT.


Yanks in the Championship


In the Championship, Duane Holmes started for Preston North End in an important 2-1 away win over Blackburn on Friday. Holmes played 69 minutes and left with the game 1-1. After PNE’s dramatic late winner, they moved into fifth place in the table. Holmes had three shots and forced a tough save in the fourth minute from close range.


David Wagner’s Norwich City posted a big 3-2 away win over Cardiff City in Wales to climb to 16th place in the Championship. Josh Sargent continues to miss time for Norwich with his ankle injury.

Queens Park Rangers played to a 0-0 draw with 11th place Bristol at home on Saturday. QPR remains five points deep in the Championship relegation zone and didn’t even manage a shot on goal this game. Reggie Cannon missed the game with a minor knee injury while Charlie Kelman came into the game as a second half stoppage time sub.

Coventry hosted Stoke City on Saturday and the two teams finished 0-0. Haji Wright played the entire game for 20th-place Coventry. Despite not scoring, Wright worked hard to win 4/6 tackles as Coventry pressed and 9/15 of his ground duels. He had two shots. Meanwhile, Lynden Gooch played the last 11 minutes for Stoke in what was an uneventful shift for the Santa Cruz, California native.


Yanks in France


The two Yanks in France’s Ligue 1 faced each other, but it was a subdued contest.

In Ligue 1, Le Havre and Monaco finished to a 0-0 draw. Winger/forward Emmanuel Sabbi was a 72nd minute substitute for Le Havre and worked hard to help his team preserve the draw. He was 5/6 in passing but helped most in his pressing.

Folarin Balogun was on the bench for Monaco despite being a regular starter. We will see if this continues after the international break, but this might have been due to the fact his last two outings for Monaco were not up to his normal standard. He came off the bench in the 73rd minute, and only completed three passes and had a dangerous chance to win the game in stoppage time but his shot from just inside the box was saved.


Yanks Elsewhere


Cameron Carter-Vickers played the entire game for Celtic in a six nothing romp over Aberdeen. Carter-Vickers was untested defensively but completed 115 passes as Celtic dominated with 78% possession and a 21-3 edge in shots. Celtic now has an eight-point lead atop the table. Dante Polvara got the start for Aberdeen and played 78 minutes before leaving with his team down by three goals. The former Hoya was 12/19 in passing but had little impact in the game.

Scott Pittman went the distance for Livingston in a 2-0 loss at home to Rangers. With the loss, Livingston fell into last place in Scotland.

In the Danish Superliga, Jonathan Amon continued to start for Lyngby - his third start in a row. Unfortunately, Lyngby dropped a 1-0 decision Vejle, who sit second from the bottom. Lyngby now has just one point from its last five Superliga games. Amon played 74 minutes, was 14/19 in passing, 2/2 in dribbles, won 5/7 of his ground duels, and had one shot. Lyngby now sit seventh in the Superliga.

In the Greek Superliga, Joe Efford was injured and missed PAS Giannina’s 1-1 away draw with OFI Crete while Caleb Stanko was an unused substitute for 6th place Lamia in a 3-0 loss away to AEK Athens.

In Portugal’s top tier, Alex Mendez played the final 10 minutes for 14th place Vizela in a 0-0 draw with Famalicao. Benji Michel made his return from an ACL injury on Sunday when he played the final five minutes for last-place Arouca in a 1-0 loss at home to Braga.

In Norway, Bob Bradley’s Stabaek played Vaalerenga to a 0-0 away draw. In the midst of a relegation battle, any point is good for Stabaek but in playing the team immediately below them in the standings, a win could have gone a long way for survival. Instead, they have fallen into the relegation playoff position, two points behind Sandefjord and one point ahead of Vaalerenga.

With two games remaining, Stabaek next hosts Sandefjord in what is a massive opportunity to climb into the safe positions for good.

Also in Norway, 5th-place Molde defeated 6th-place Lillestrom 4-0. Christian Cappis did not suit up for Molde while Seattle defender Sam Rogers played the final 12 minutes for Lillestrom.

Finally in Norway, Kobe Hernandez-Foster was an unused substitute for HamKam in a 1-0 away win over Stromsgodset.

In Sweden, an already relegated Degerfors concluded its miserable season with a 2-1 loss at home to Mjaellby. Joe Gyau played the last 19 minutes for Degerfors.

In Hungary’s NBI, leaders Ferencvaros suffered a surprising 1-0 loss at home to Fehervar FC. Henry Wingo started and played 90 minutes at right back in the loss.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, LASK were defeated on the road by BW Linz 2-0. George Bello returned to the bench for LASK but came into the game for the final 11 minutes and entered with the score 1-0.  LASK sit in third following the loss. It’s been hard to figure out Bello’s standing with the club. He’s drifted in and out of the starting XI, being part of some good wins but never any standout performances.

In Argentina, Huracan defeated Arsenal de Serandi 1-0 to move even on points with River Plate and Independiente in Group A Copa de la Liga Professional. Alan Sonora enters the game in just the 31st minute due to an injury. He was quiet but he helped his team oversee a nice win.

In Brazil, Johnny Cardoso had one of his worst games of the season for Internacional in a 3-0 loss to Palmeiras. The USMNT defensive midfielder played 79 minutes and made a costly error on the opening goal. He also won just 2/10 of his ground duels.

In Mexico, Alejandro Zendejas went 90 minutes for leaders Club America in a 0-0 draw with Tigres on the road.

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