Americans abroad analysis

The Ledezma show, Holmes sharp for Derby, Sonora scores, & much more

While it wasn't a big weekend for key players like Sargent, McKennie, Pulisic, Adams, or Miazga, it was a big weekend for other American players to step up. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with a comprehensive and analytical look at the past few days. 

BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 16, 2019
7:00 AM
THE WEEKEND abroad for Americans was quite a bit unusual. The players which typically get the most attention were either quiet or out of action the past three days. Digging deeper, however, revealed that there were some really nice performances.

Either way, it was nice for the international break to finally be over and the focus now on dozens of games across the globe, both domestically and abroad.

Quiet week for the key players

The most established Americans abroad were generally not busy. Christian Pulsic and Sergino Dest were both unusual substitutes as Chelsea and Ajax won their respective league games. For Dest, he will likely be rested and ready for Tuesday’s Champions League game vs. Lille. For Pulisic, however, staying in Chelsea’s rotation will be more difficult and whenever he gets the chance, he will have to make the most of it after an uneven start. That opportunity could come on Tuesday in the Champions League vs. Valencia.

Many regular Americans still remained injured. Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, and DeAndre Yedlin are still on the shelf. Joining them this week were John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales, and Timothy Chandler.

In the Bundesliga, Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie both saw minutes off the bench as Werder Bremen and Schalke won their respective games.

Josh Sargent came off the bench in the 68th minute with Werder up 2-1. Union Berlin was pressing and Sargent didn’t have much to do but he was decent when called into action. In other news from this game, former U.S. youth international turned Serbian international Neven Subotic was sent off in the 89th minute with his second yellow card.

Weston McKennie came off the bench in the 62nd minute for Schalke which was up 2-1 against Paderborn at the time. McKennie was on the field for the final three Schalke goals as it won 5-1 away. When he came on, he actually wore Schalke’s captain armband and was involved in the early part of the build up to Amine Harit’s goal.

Zack Steffen started for Fortuna Dusseldorf in a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg on Friday night. Overall, he played well. Wolfsburg’s goal beat Steffen between the legs although it was from close range and driven hard, so there was little he could do.

In Turkey, Tyler Boyd came off the bench for Besiktas in the 64th minute in a 3-2 loss to Gazisehir Gaziantep. Besiktas is off to a terrible start this season and has just four points from four games. Boyd is yet to register either a goal or an assist. But this Thursday, Besiktas will have a big against Slovan Bratislava in the Europa League. Regardless, the pressure in Turkey’s big clubs can be intense and Boyd and his teammates will need to get going sooner than later.

It wasn’t a great weekend in the Championship for many Americans. Cameron Carter-Vickers continues to start for a dreadful Stoke City. Through seven games, Stoke City has just one point and it was an ugly scene on Saturday as it lost at home to Bristol City 2-1. Meanwhile Hull City and Wigan Athletic are hovering just above the relegation line and both played to a 2-2 draw. Hull City’s Eric Lichaj got the start at right back and Antonee Robinson started for Wigan at left back.

Elsewhere, in the Austrian Bundesliga, Erik Palmer-Brown returned from his red card suspension and got the start for Austria Vienna against Wolfsberger. Unfortunately for Palmer-Brown, he was on the wrong end of a 3-0 decision.

In Greece’s top flight, 2015 U.S. U-23 winger Gboli Ariyibi made his club debut for Panaitolikos after completing a transfer from Nottingham Forest just before summer window closed. Ariyibi played the entire second half of a 3-0 loss to OFI Crete. Panaitolikos has lost each of its first three games of the Super League season.

Finally, a particularly disappointing event took place in Sweden as Aron Johannsson started for Hammarby but had to be removed in the 11th minute due to injury in a 6-2 win over IFK Gothenburg. It is such a shame for the talented Johannsson as he attempts to come back from multiple injuries which forced him away from Werder Bremen.

The Richie Ledezma Show in Holland

After coming off the 2019 U-20 World Cup with the United States where he saw only limited minutes due to a lack of fitness from recovering from injuries, Richie Ledezma has a huge season ahead of him. With the Netherland’s having a difficult salary structure for non EU-citizens, Ledezma is an expensive investment for PSV. Once he turns 20, he will become even more expensive. For that reason, Ledezma has to show his upside because PSV can opt out of this contract following the season.

On Friday, Ledezma put on a show for PSV’s reserve team, Jong PSV, which plays in Holland’s second tier. With Jong PSV trailing Jong AZ 2-0 in the second half, Ledezma scored two brilliant goals and added a wonderful assist in between to carry Jong PSV to a 3-2 win.

Putting reserve or youth team performances into perspective is both difficult and risky. The gap between reserves and first team soccer can be enormous at some clubs. Jong PSV and Jong AZ are both in the bottom half of the Eerste Divisie.

There is still every reason to think Ledezma will get a shot with PSV’s first team this year. The club is not going to want to invest all that money in a player without giving him every opportunity. He looks on another level from his teammates at Jong PSV. The only way to tell if he is ready, is to play him. And with PSV playing in the Europa league, there is a need for squad rotation.

It’s hard to predict when Ledezma will get a shot. He will probably have to continue with Jong PSV for a little bit longer but his performance on Friday certainly was noticed. A few more solid performances will likely force the coaching staffs’ hand for a shot. Once he gets there, his leash might be short, but a golden opportunity like this will have a big impact on the course of his career at this stage.

Homes sharp in return

In a positive note for the U.S. national team, Duane Holmes returned to Derby County’s starting XI for this first time this season in Championship play. The Georgia-born midfielder had a strong game and played 81 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Cardiff City.

On Derby County’s goal, Holmes was the most important contributor as he blew past three defenders to get into the box. Then when the play devolved into a scramble, Holmes helped maintain possession to keep the chances coming.

Holmes, 24, is looking like a good bet to return to the U.S. national team sooner than later. And his defensive abilities and speed will certainly be useful in CONCACAF games. With his performance on Friday, he should only continue to start for Derby.

Solid weekend in Denmark for Yanks

The Danish Superliga is far from the highest level in Europe but it is a good place for young players to develop. This past weekend was outstanding for Americans in the Superliga.

The biggest result came for Hobro – a small club that has three Americans on its roster: Emmanuel Sabbi, Christian Cappis, and Yosef Samuel. All three are eligible for the U.S. U-23 team.

On Sunday, Hobro pulled off a huge 2-1 upset over perennial Superliga contenders FC Copenhagen. Cappis went 80 strong minutes and Sabbi, while playing with a broken nose, went the distance while scoring Hobro’s second goal.

Sabbi will surely get sold in the winter while Cappis is showing steady development.

Elsewhere in Denmark’s top flight, New Jersey native Michael Lansing posted a cleansheet for AC Horsens in a 0-0 away draw with Sonderjyske. Lansing, 25, made six saves in the game.

Finally, U.S. national team/U.S. U-23 winger Jonathan Amon played the second half of Nordsjaelland’s 4-2 loss to Brondby. It was significant in that it marked a return from injury for Amon and his first minutes of the Danish Superliga season.

Sonora and Arsenal de Sarandi keep rolling

Arsenal de Sarandi may have only just been promoted to Argentina’s Primera, but the small club is playing like it belongs. On Saturday, it posted a 4-1 win over Union and the three points has Arsenal sitting in fourth place in Argentina after six games of the season.

Texas-born Joel Sonora came off the bench in the 74th minute and scored the team’s final goal deep into stoppage time. It was the third goal of the season for the 2015 U.S. U-20 midfielder and it might help put him back in the team’s starting lineup. Arsenal next plays on Sunday when it visits Racing Club.

Big Week for Marsch

Red Bull Salzburg and its American head coach, Jesse Marsch, are rolling through the Austrian Bundesliga with the greatest of ease. On Saturday, it posted a 7-2 win over Hartberg to keep its perfect season going with 21 points through seven games. Even more impressive is the club’s now ridiculous +28 goal differential on the season. Salzburg is now averaging a four goal victory margin through its seven games.

It would be shocking if Marsch doesn’t win the Austrian Bundesliga this season with Red Bull. But more fans are going to be curious to see how he does in the Champions League. That campaign will open Tuesday with a must-win game for Salzburg when it hosts Belgium’s Genk. Genk is off to a poor start to the Belgian season where it sits in ninth place. If Salzburg wants to advance, it needs three points from this game.

But Marsch will make history in this game as he will become the first ever American-born and raised coach to coach in the group stages of the Champions League. It is a remarkable achievement and one of the best stories in American soccer at the moment.

Alvarado and Necaxa notch big win

For a variety of reasons including an improved MLS and more foreign restrictions in Mexico, there are fewer Americans in Liga MX than ever before. In that sense, Ventura Alvarado can be overlooked. But the Phoenix native is having a very good season and went the distance on Saturday in Necaxa’s most important win of the season – a 2-0 away win over Monterrey. That win put Necaxa atop the Liga MX table after nine games.

Will this season get Alvarado back into the U.S. national team picture? Anything is possible at this stage and Alfredo Morales’ recent return shows that the door is open. With John Brooks not able to stay healthy and Omar Gonzalez also shaky, Alvarado might not be that far-fetched.

Meanwhile for Monterrey, former U.S. youth international turned Mexican international Jonathan Gonzalez went as an unused substitute, again. He’s played just once this season for Monterrey in a start that lasted 61 minutes during a 4-2 loss to Club America.

GOALS! Green, Boyd, Gooch, & Hoyos score

We covered the goals from Ledezma, Sonora, and Sabbi but those three were not the only Americans abroad to get on the scoreboard this weekend.

Julian Green scored a penalty for Greuther Furth in a 2-1 win over Wehen Wiesbaden. Green didn’t draw the 90th minute penalty but he converted it to give his team a win which sent it into third place.

In Germany’s third tier, Terrence Boyd scored two goals for Hallescher in a 3-2 win over Ingolstadt which moved Hallescher to the top of the table. Boyd has hit his stride with Hallescher with five goals and two assists in five games since joining the club from Toronto FC.

In Ecuardor’s Serie A, California-born winger Michael Hoyos scored a very easy tap in goal which gave Guayaquil City a 2-1 win over Universidad de Catolica, For Hoyos, he now has eight goals in 23 games this season as Guayaquil City has 30 points from 25 games.

Finally in England’s third tier, League One, Lynden Gooch scored a nice goal for Sunderland in a 3-1 win over Accrington Stanley. Sunderland are in fifth place in the league and are desperately trying to push for promotion to the Championship this season.

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