Americans abroad

Wood and Gooch standout out in otherwise lackluster weekend

Bobby Wood and Lynden Gooch continue to play well but the struggles continue for many other Americans abroad. Brian Sciaretta breaks it down for you here. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 26, 2018
2:00 AM
THE FIRST WEEKEND after the November international break was mixed for American player throughout the world. While there are still too key players struggling for playing time, there was decided improvement for others as well.

For many of the high-profile Americans abroad, minutes were either limited, or performances were subpar.

As is typical, I like to get the bad news out of the way first.

Weston McKennie was not part of Schalke’s matchday roster due to the injury he picked up at the U.S. national team camp. Christian Pulisic only played the final 12 minutes for Bundesliga-leading Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 road win over Mainz. The Hershey native came on only after all the goals were scored.

Meanwhile, Matt Miazga continues to not be part of the plans at Nantes under new manager Vahid Halilhodži? and the New Jersey native did not play in a 1-1 draw with Angers. Cameron Carter-Vickers was an unused substitute for Swansea in a 4-1 home loss to Championship leaders Norwich. Antonee Robinson remains out injured for Wigan while Eric Lichaj and Hull City lost again to drop deeper into the relegation zone. Tim Ream did not get off the bench for Fulham’s 3-2 comeback win over Southampton.

In Spain’s second tier, Shaq Moore did not play for Reus in a 3-0 loss to Real Oveido. That loss sent Reus into the relegation zone. In Denmark, Emmanuel Sabbi and Hobro lost again. This time to Randers. Hobro remained in last place in the Superliga and Sabbi hasn’t scored since September 1.

Tim Weah was not able to make the bench for an injury-plagued Paris St. Germain team that did not have Neymar. Joel Sonora occasionally plays for Talleres in Argentina but went as an unused substitute. In Belgium, Kenny Saief didn’t play for Anderlecht due to ongoing injuries. Ethan Horvath did play for Club Brugge in a bad 3-1 loss at home to 13th place Zlute Waregem.

All of that makes for plenty of concern for Americans abroad.

Wood scores for Hannover

Hannover was always expected to be in a relegation battle this year but Bobby Wood continues to play well. In the last game before the international break, Wood was very strong in his hold-up play and passing. He was a key reason why the club defeated Wolfsburg 2-1.

On Sunday, Wood scored the opening goal for Hannover against Borussia Monchengladbach in just the first minute. It was a great individual play. Hannover ended up losing 4-1 but Wood continues to play well.

It is the second straight relegation battle for Wood but perhaps this will yield a better result. No matter what, Wood should play a key role.

Gooch rescues Sunderland

Lynden Gooch’s season is one of the feel-good stories of the year for American’s abroad. Gooch has been affiliated with the club since he was around 10 years old. He signed for them when he was 16. He’s seen good times and bad times – including two consecutive relegations.

Now in League One, Gooch is playing lights-out in attempt to see the club promoted back to the Championship and begin winning back respectability.

What’s likable about Gooch is that he plays extremely hard and plays with a lot of heart. You can tell when it elevates his teammates.

Such was the case on Saturday when Sunderland went down to 10 players in the 23rd minute and fell behind 0-2 to Walsall. Gooch was instrumental in a comeback when he assisted on Sunderland’s first goal and then scored the equalizer in the 89th minute for a 2-2 draw.

Holmes continues to start for Derby

Despite the return of the previously injured Mason Mount, American midfielder Duane Holmes earned the start on Saturday for Derby County in an away matchup vs. Sheffield Wednesday. Holmes had started the last two games before the international break in place of Mount.

In the end, Holmes and Derby defeated Wednesday 2-1 to move into sixth place in the Championship. It wasn’t the best performance from Holmes but should be enough for him to remain in the starting lineup under Frank Lampard. Derby should remain in the promotional hunt this year and that puts Holmes in the spotlight with an opportunity to impress.

Brooks helps in Wolfsburg’s cleansheet

Wolfsburg has been in abysmal form in the Bundesliga over the last two months so Saturday’s 1-0 win over RB Leipzig was very much needed.

Brooks did all he had to do defensively to keep the cleansheet. He also was solid in passing out of the back and helping Wolfsburg maintain possession.

It was a very important game for both Wolfsburg as a team and Brooks individually to get going after a tough stretch.

Wright makes debut

It was quite the surprise for Schalke as 2015 United States U-17 World Cup forward Haji Wright made the matchday roster for the Bundesliga club. Then in the 88th minute, he came on for his top-flight debut.

As a young player at the U-17 level, Wright put up some great numbers. But since his move to Europe, things have not gone smoothly. He was cut from the 2017 U-20 World Cup team. His loan last year to Sandhausen was a mess. He went on trial at Union Berlin over the summer and did not earn a deal. Lately he’s been playing for Schalke’s reserve team in the 5th tier Oberliga.

But he earned the opportunity and got on the field in Saturday’s Bundesliga game. Schalke has been dealing with a wave of injuries and it is entirely likely that more first-team appearances are unlikely. But hopefully Wright can use this to boost his confidence and perhaps find success on another loan.

Palmer-Brown starts vs. Ajax

This was always going to be a very difficult game for NAC Breda which hosted Ajax on Sunday. NAC Breda is mired in last place and Ajax is usually near the top of the Eredivisie.

Unsurprisingly, NAC lost 3-0. Palmer-Brown wasn’t perfect but generally played well individually. He wasn’t responsible for Ajax’s first two goals. His man scored the final goal but that was at the very end of the game. In general, Palmer-Brown helped NAC stay in the game and had more good moments than bad. It should be enough to keep him in the lineup but NAC needs points to remain in the league.

Amon sets up Nordsjaelland goal

U.S. U-20 winger Jonathan Amon, 19, made a very nice pass that resulted in Nordsjaelland's opening goal against OB on Saturday. Unfortunately for the South Carolina native, OB would make a comeback and win 4-1 on the road. 

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