Williams, Wagner, Diskerud, Ream & Lichaj Make Noise
May 09, 2017
Ream vs. Williams in the Playoffs
Question: Who is the most in-form American player in Europe right now? Answer: Tim Ream.
The former New York Red Bull has not only been part of Fulham’s surge over the past two months to book a promotion playoff spot but he has been one of the team’s best players. On Saturday Fulham defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 to formally clinch its playoff spot. After a man-of-the-match performance against Brenford the week before, Ream registered a whopping 107 touches against Saturday and completed 98 of 99 passes. That win gave Fulham a 6-1-1 record in its last eight games of the regular season.
Fulham’s opponent in the semifinal round will be Reading—which features U.S. international Danny Williams. Reading has played well since its disastrous 7-1 loss to Norwich on April 8 (four wins and a loss since then) but the news has not been so great for its American midfielder. Williams has lost his starting spot but is still getting chances as he’s been one of the first few off the bench (playing the final 15 on Saturday in a 4-2 away win over Burton Albion).
Two good teams with long histories of featuring American players will face off Saturday at Craven Cottage, with the winner moving closer to the Premier League.
Wagner, Huddersfield set for the playoffs
Knowledgeable English soccer pundits are amazed that Huddersfield Town is in the Championship playoffs. This was a team many predicted to be relegated before the season. A lot of the credit is being directed toward former United States national team forward David Wagner who is the frontrunner to win Championship Manager of the Year.
Wagner: "A football club like Huddersfield Town is 3 games away from the Premier League, even when you say it it sounds ridiculous" #htafc— Derek Clark (@derekclarksport) May 7, 2017
Wagner ran into a bit of trouble this past week after starting subpar squads the past two weeks ever since the club clinched a spot in the playoffs. But he is now a manager held in high regard. It is probably a safe bet that even if Huddersfield don’t go up, he will be managing a club in a top league very, very soon.
Eric Lichaj avoids relegation
It was not a good season for Nottingham Forest but on Saturday the club came up big when it mattered. Needing a win by a large margin over Ipswich Town on the final day of the season to avoid relegation, Eric Lichaj and Co. rose to the occasion with a 3-0 win. Blackburn also won 3-1 away at Brentford on Saturday but Nottingham Forest finished higher than Blackburn in the goal-differential tiebreaker to remain in the Championship.
Lichaj is extremely popular at Nottinham Forest and was perhaps the team’s best player this season. That said, he deserves better than a lower-level relegation fight.
Horvath’s wild Brugge debut
After joining Club Brugge in January, young American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath finally made his debut for the Belgian club on Friday against Sporting Charleroi. It turned out to be one of the wildest debuts you could imagine.
With the start Horvath, 21, became the first-ever American to play for Club Brugge in its 125-year history.
After Brugge took a 1-0 lead, Charleroi equalized thanks to a spectacular mistake from Horvath where he thought the whistle was blown, but it hadn’t been. The result was a laugher
Later, with Brugge up 2-1 in the 77th minute, a Horvath punt turned into a beautiful assist for Jose Izquierdo who completed his hat trick.
Despite the up and down nature of the game, Horvath went out a winner in his Brugge debut.
Timothy Chandler, captain
It has been a rough second half of the season for Timothy Chandler as Eintracht Frankfurt has won just once in its last 13 Bundesliga games to tumble from third to 11th place. Still, there are a few things going his way. For one thing, Eintracht is in the German Cup final later this month against Borussia Dortmund. And on Sunday, Chandler wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his Bundesliga career in a 2-0 loss to Wolfsburg. Not bad for a guy who has wrestled with character issues on the international front.
Brooks struggles against RB Leipzig
John Brooks is normally one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga but he sometimes produces remarkably bad games—for both club and country. In 2016, you may recall, Brooks took over against Paraguay in the Copa America, enjoying one of the best games you will ever see from a U.S. central defender. A few months later, in November, he was absolutely dreadful in a 4-0 loss to Costa Rica that cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job.
On Saturday Brooks was in stinker mode, delivering a very bad performance in a 4-1 loss to RB Leipzig. Brooks was sleepwalking when Timo Werner scored the first goal of the match and Davie Selke, in particular, had a field day against the American.
It will be interesting to see if he can be a steadying force for the U.S. team in June.
Diskerud gets two assists for IFK
Mix Diskerud might have struggled for New York City FC but the Norwegian-born midfielder is a force in Scandinavia. Now on loan with IFK Goteborg, Diskerud picked up two assists over the weekend in IFK Goteborg’s 3-0 win over Kelmar in Sweden’s Allsvenskan.
Diskerud has been a regular starter for IFK, which currently sits in ninth place (but only two points away from second place).