Weekend preview

The Weekend Bundesliga preview: a look ahead to the games involving Americans

Soccer is back! That is exciting news for fans across the globe. For fans in the United States, ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with a preview of this weekend's games in Germany from an American perspective. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 15, 2020
11:50 AM

THE BUNDESLIGA WILL make a big return to the field this weekend and the world will be watching. Germany will now be the first country to attempt a sporting restart following a COVID-19 shutdown. It will be a big deal for fans in the United States because it will feature several key American players while also potentially offering a blueprint for other leagues across the globe and inside the U.S. to safely resume play.

After months talking about things like the spread of disease, the need for testing, and isolating from friends/family/teammates, we can finally talk about games. Of course, the big concerns remain and are a top priority but for a few hours this weekend we will have games. It’s a nice start and hopefully Germany can show how to do it.

Here is a preview for the top games involving American players and coaches.

Borussia Dortmund - Schalke 04

The Bundesliga
Saturday, May 16: 9:30am EST


This game between two top-six teams will feature two key American players in Borussia Dortmund’s teenage winger Gio Reyna and Schalke midfielder and U.S. international Weston McKennie. Meanwhile, Schalke is coached by former U.S. international forward David Wagner.

But this is a test of teams heading in opposite directions before the shutdown. Schalke still holds the final Europa League spot in the league but has been a mess offensively. It has scored only two goals in its currently seven-game winless skid.

Dortmund meanwhile won its last four games before the shutdown and has managed to remain within four points of leaders Bayern Munich.

American fans will want to see if Reyna can continue to earn minutes. He has played just 120 minutes in the Bundesliga so far but has impressed in his time on the field. But with five subs now allowed and a congested schedule, he is sure to see more minutes.

As for McKennie, this season has seen him play numerous positions to fill various needs Schalke has but can he settle into a role and help Schalke play better? Schalke’s goal will be to hold onto sixth place and remain in Europe. It has the talent but it will need to find a way to create and score goals.


RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg

The Bundesliga
Saturday, May 16: 9:30am EST


RB Leipzig has one of the easiest schedules among those in the Champions League positions. The only time it meets a top six opponent is against Dortmund in the second-to-last game. Sitting in third place and trailing Bayern Munich by five points, it could make a move if it plays well and Bayern Munich stumble. Predicting how play will fare during the restart is tough but RB Leipzig is not out of it.

Adams has only played five games the past 12 months and is still new to Julian Nagelsmann. He has fluctuated between right back and his preferred defensive midfield but has a good opportunity the rest of the way. Adams is known for his ability to cover a ton of ground and press effectively.

Most players will be rusty heading into this restart but Adams’ problem after returning to the field was due to him missing a lot of action and trying to join a team in midseason form. Now the field will be more level and Adams has the ability to meet the demands of a congested schedule.

Freiburg, sitting in eighth place, is one of the more challenging opponents Leipzig will face the rest of the way and will be a nice early test for Nagelsmann, Adams, and company.


Fortuna Dusseldorf - Paderborn

The Bundesliga
Saturday, May 16: 9:30am EST


This is an enormous game in the Bundesliga relegation battle. Sixteenth-place Fortuna Dusseldorf is in the relegation playoff position and trails Mainz by four points. If it wants to make a dent in that deficit, a win over Paderborn is absolutely critical. Meanwhile, Paderborn is in last-place and is six points behind Dusseldorf. Paderborn is likely to go down but a loss in this game will likely make that a certainty.

Fortuna Dusseldorf feature two Americans but starting goalkeeper Zack Steffen is unlikely to play due to a knee injury. Box-to-box midfielder Alfredo Morales, however, should play for Fortuna and the American is no stranger to tough relegation battles having played for Ingolstadt and Hertha Berlin before.


Augsburg - Wolfsburg

The Bundesliga
Saturday, May 16: 9:30am EST


Wolfsburg has an excellent chance this weekend to move into the Europa League place this weekend. The club sits in seventh place and trials sixth place Schalke by just a point. While Schalke has to face a very difficult Dortmund team, Wolfsburg assignment against 14th-place Augsburg is far more manageable.

Wolfsburg’s U.S. national team central defender John Brooks had a rough start to the second half of the season where he was benched by Oliver Glasner. He reacquired his starting spot when newly acquired teammate Marin Pongracic picked up a red card and served a suspension. Prior to the shutdown, Brooks was back in fine form and he should be an important player for the squad in the coming weeks.

Those hoping Wolfsburg would play teenage American winger Uly Llanez this weekend will have to continue to wait as Glasner said Llanez would not be on the matchday roster.


Eintracht Frankfurt - Borussia Monchengladbach

The Bundesliga
Saturday, May 16: 12:30pm EST


While Eintracht Frankfurt was playing poorly prior to the shutdown with three straight losses, American Timothy Chandler had shown impressive glimpses. There was even a period in late January and into February when he scored four goals in four games after dealing with injuries in the first half of the season.

Chandler, who turned 30 during the shutdown, will hope to continue his rise and maybe show Gregg Berhalter he can still be useful to the U.S. national team. Eintracht Frankfurt sits in 12th place at this stage and has little on the line for the rest of the season. It has almost no chance of being relegated or earning a spot in Europe.

Borussia Monchengladbach is in a fight to qualify for the Champions League next year and currently holds the league’s last spot for the competition in fourth place – but only a two point cushion on fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen. It remains to be seen if American fullback and winger Fabian Johnson will get any minutes the rest of the way as he looks set to move on from the club this summer after the completion of his contract.


Werder Bremen - Bayer Leverkusen

The Bundesliga
Monday, May 18: 2:30pm EST


As Bundesliga regular, Werder Bremen has a huge challenge ahead of itself to avoid a relegation this year. It currently sits in 17th place in the 18-team league and is four points from Fortuna Dusseldorf for the relegation playoff position (it has played one fewer game, however). But the road ahead is difficult and the first four games after the restart are against top 10 opponents. A heavily motivated fifth place Bayer Leverkusen is a tough test on the restart.

Werder Bremen will need Josh Sargent, 20, to step up. The St. Louis native has three goals this season – including in the last game before the shutdown in a 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC. Sargent has shown glimpses of playing at a high level but has also been inconsistent. He is far from the team’s biggest concern. Werder Bremen has just two wins from its last 20 Bundesliga games. It has lost 11 of its last 14 games while being outscored 34-10 over that span.

But perhaps the shutdown will prove to have been beneficial to Werder Bremen in giving it a much needed break and allowing the players to regroup.


Wehan Wiesbaden - Stuttgart

The 2.Bundesliga
Sunday, May 17: 7:30am EST


In the 2.Bundesliga, Stuttgart is looking for a quick promotion after falling out of the top flight last year. New Jersey native and Stuttgart manager Pellegrino Matarazzo is hoping to be the one to lead them back.

The American has done well since taking over in January and the club has move from third to second place. But plenty of work remains to be done and Stuttgart has a very favorable schedule down the stretch. Of the nine remaining opponents, Stuttgart has to play just three teams in the top 10. It will also have matchups against teams currently sitting in 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, and 18th in the 18-team league. It’s first opponent will be 16th place SV Wehen Wiesbaden on Sunday.

If Matarazzo succeeds in getting Stuttgart promoted, he will become the first American born and raised manager in the Bundesliga

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