Americans abroad

Weah, Palmer-Brown make debuts while other Yanks remain hot

Everyone likes it when young American players make first-team debuts in Europe and that's what happened with Tim Weah and Erik Palmer-Brown this weekend. Just as impressive is the number of Americans playing well: Johannsson, Ream, Chandler, Novakovich, and Villafana in particular have stood out. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 05, 2018
9:05 AM
IT WAS A VERY ACTIVE weekend for Americans abroad and it was far from the players you’d typically expect, which should be very welcome news for American fans.

Some of the most commonly talked about American players abroad are Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and John Brooks.

But this past weekend Pulisic played just two minutes for Dortmund, Bobby Wood didn’t even suit up for Hamburg, DeAndre Yedlin played for Newcastle in a lackluster loss to Liverpool, and Ipswich with Carter-Vickers didn’t have a game over the weekend.

Normally if those players didn’t have significant news updates, then this column would be slow – but this was not the case. There were many debuts for young players as well as other players impressing while in pursuit of promotion, league titles, and Champions League.

Here are the best stories from the weekend

Weah debuts for PSG

Playing for Paris St. Germain is a significant accomplishment and it was very welcome news for American fans to see New York native Tim Weah, 18, play for PSG on Saturday when he played the final 10 minutes in a 2-0 win over Troyes.

Weah, 18, was a member of the United States 2017 U-17 World Cup team and should feature in with the 2020 Olympic team and the 2019 U-20 team.

The accomplishment is significant although a little context is in order. On top of several injuries, Paris St. Germain was resting several players for this game to focus on its upcoming Champions League game against Real Madrid.

But Weah played well and forced a save in stoppage time. It was limited action but with PSG likely to win the league with games to spare, he should be able to see more minutes.

Palmer-Brown starts for Kortrijk

Manchester City’s Erik Palmer-Brown, 20, made his first appearance for Kortrijk on Saturday since joining the Belgian club on loan. It was a tough assignment since it came against league-leaders Club Brugge.

Kortrik lost 2-1 but it was an important step for Palmer-Brown to shake off the rust. The Kansas City native hasn’t played a game since October but has shown with the U-20 national team that he is capable of playing at a very high level.

Miazga and Vitesse down Ajax

It is hard to see Matt Miazga, 22, returning to Vitesse for a third season next year. Surely Chelsea is going to be interested in sending him to a bigger league next year. But the American has been a key asset for Vitesse the past two seasons.

On Sunday, the New Jersey native was strong again as went the distance for Vitesse in a 3-2 win over second-place Ajax. That win sent Vitesse into sixth place in the Eredivisie.

McKennie returns

Schalke’s Weston McKennie has been out since January with a knee injury but the Dallas teenager made his comeback on Saturday when he went the final 11 minutes in a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin. Perhaps he was a little rusty but he was strong defensively to help his club preserve the win.

For McKennie, it was his 15th appearance of the year for Schalke.

Ream & Fulham continue promotional push


Tim Ream is having a magnificent season for Fulham and since the beginning of December has been among the best defenders in the Championship. He is a big reason why the Cottagers have not lost in 13 games dating back to December 16. Since that time, Fulham has earned 33 out of a possible 39 points.

Saturday was one of the best performances of the season for Ream and Fulham as the London club defeated then fourth-place Derby away. With the result, Fulham leap-frogged Derby to move into fourth and within five points of automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Chandler & Frankfurt in Champions League push

Timothy Chandler has had a solid Bundesliga career but nothing like this season. If the club maintains form through the end of the season, there is a good chance Eintracht will be in the Champions League next year.

On Saturday, Chandler earned a start at left back as Eintracht defeated Hannover 1-0 to stay in fourth place in the Bundesliga. The standings are remarkably tight as it sits just two points out of second place. Prior to this year, Chandler had never playing left back for an extended time with his club but playing the position allows him to cut into the field and generate attack through the middle.

Johannsson continues to impress with a goal

Aron Johannsson, 27, is back. The Icelandic-American had a brutal few years with injuries but has made great steps the past month getting back to form with Werder Bremen as it is trying to avoid relegation.

On Friday, Johannsson completely changed the course of the game when he came on at halftime with Werder trailing Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0. He was consistently dangerous. But in the 78th minute he found the equalizer in what turned out be a 2-2 draw.

It would seem as if Johnnsson has a compelling case to be part of the national team again.

Villafana and Santos take Liga MX first place

In any other year, American fans would be excited about having the starting left back in Liga MX. But this is not your typical year as the U.S. team will sit out this summer’s World Cup and there is still uncertainty hanging over the program.

The national team’s struggles, however, does not diminish the significance of what Jorge Villafana is doing right now. The California native is having an outstanding season in Mexico and on Saturday it defeated Nexcaxa 2-1 on the road to move two points clear of first place.

Villafana, 28, is a regular starter for Santos Laguna and playing some of the best soccer of his career in recent months and is in a position to become the second American player to have won both a Liga MX and MLS title.

Novakovic dominating Holland’s second tier

Wisconsin native Andrija Novakovic, 21, is having a very strong season with Telstar of Holland’s second tier Eerste Divisie while on loan from Reading.

On Friday Novakovich added two more goals for Telstar in a 3-2 win over Dordrecht to move Telstar into third place. He now has 15 goals in 26 games as Telstar look for promotion.

It will be very interesting to see where Novakovich lands after this year. Will he return to Reading or will he get bought by a new club? The good news is that he's proven himself ready for a much higher level than Holland's second tier.

Post a comment