Wood, Horvath, Pulisic, Green & other Americans involved in pivotal games
It was a very newsworthy weekend for Americans in Europe as players across the continent were involved in important games. Horvath was in goal to clinch the Belgian title, Amon's stock continues to soar, Green's goal saved Furth, Wood's nightmare is finally over, and much more.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedIT WAS AN extremely eventful weekend as most of the European leagues drew to a close. Many American players were involved in highly consequential games. Some were successful and some weren’t but here is all you need to know from the past few days.
May 13, 2018
May 13, 2018
Wood sent off as HSV relegated
It was a fitting end to a bad year for U.S. national team forward Bobby Wood who was sent off in the 71st minute of Hamburg’s season finale against Borussia Monchengladbach. Hamburg ended up winning 2-1 but with Wolfsburg defeating Cologne, Hamburg was relegated out of the Bundesliga for the first time in club history.
Fortunately for Wood, he was not on the field in the final minutes as Hamburg fans began act out and set off flares. Riot police were called in and the match was suspended for 17 minutes. But it was a terrible year for Wood who scored just two goals (with one as a penalty) in over 1700 minutes. He was part of a team that underperformed and he also continued to miss time due to knee injuries.
Bottom line: don’t be surprised if Wood doesn’t return to Hamburg.
Pulisic & McKennie to the Champions League
Weston McKennie was already assured a Champions League spot entering into the past weekend but he was joined by fellow teenager Christian Pulisic whose Borussia Dortmund lost to Hoffenheim 3-1 but still finished in fourth place – the final Bundesliga spot for a Champions League spot.
Both McKennie and Pulisic started on the season’s final day. McKennie was very good in a 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt (with Timothy Chandler still out injured) where he won balls, forced turnovers, and displayed a nice rage of passing. Over 90 minutes, he completed 85% of his passes, had three tackles and two clearances.
Meanwhile, Pulisic will return to the Champions League but Dortmund had an inconsistent season and the American teenager was not his normal explosive self in the loss to Hoffenheim. After a managerial change in November, Pulisic will be with another manager next year as Peter Stoger confirmed that he will not return next year.
"I'm happy that we achieved our most important goal,” Stoger said. “I'm glad that I was -- surprisingly -- handed the opportunity. I hope my successor will manage to bring more stability and serenity to this team. It's my wish so they can make the most of the Champions League qualification which we had to work very hard for."
The lackluster end to Dortmund’s season will only fuel speculation that Pulisic could leave this summer. Dortmund will essentially be a new club next season and if Pulisic wants to leave, now seems as good of a time as any since he is going to be going through a lot of change regardless of whether he stays or leaves.
Brooks to the playoffs
Outside of the teenagers of Pulisic and McKennie, it has been a very tough season for Americans in the Bundesliga. John Brooks has essentially a lost season at Wolfsburg after joining the club for nearly $20 million in a record transfer price paid for an American player. Injuries has limited him to 729 minutes and inconsistent performances.
But Brooks can help salvage Wolfsburg’s season in the promotion/relegation playoffs against third place 2.Bundesliga finisher Holstein Kiel.
Brooks was solid in his Bundesliga finale as Wolfsburg defeated last place Cologne 4-1. It was the sharpest he has looked since the midway through the first half of the season. If Brooks is this good against Holstein Kiel, the difficult season will be easily forgotten.
Gall scouted by Eredivisie clubs
Former Columbus Crew and U.S. U-20 winger Romain Gall, 23, is off to a very strong season in Sweden where he has six goals and two assists across all competitions in 2018. Now the French-born attacker could be on the move sooner than later.
A Dutch report on Saturday revealed that Eredivisie club Heerenveen was scouting Gall but ASN is hearing multiple Eredivisie clubs are also monitoring Gall’s progress.
It is quite a climb for Gall who failed to make it at the Crew and played most of the time with the Austin Aztex. When he moved abroad, he began in the Swedish third tier.
Green’s goal saves Furth
Julian Green’s loan from Stuttgart to Greuther Furth of the 2.Bundesliga was not great by the numbers. Three goals and one assist in 2049 minutes during the 2017/18 season would not raise eyebrows.
But the goal Green, 22, scored on Sunday will be remembered by Furth fans because it pulled the club out of the relegation zone and to safety.
With the game against Heidenheim scoreless in the 50th minute, Green it a beautiful curling shot from distance for a 1-0 lead. Heidenheim eventually found a late equalizer but the point gave Furth enough for survival. A loss would have had the club relegated to the 3.Liga.
Next up for Green will probably be preseason with Stuttgart this summer but another loan might follow.
Amon’s continues to raise eyebrows
While Weston McKennie’s rise this season was surprising, the Dallas native was always considered a top prospect so it wasn’t completely unexpected.
But the most surprising story for Americans abroad in the 2017/18 season is the breakout of Jonathan Amon at FC Nordsjaelland who has been explosive for the Danish club since making his debut in November. If American fans were unfamiliar with Amon, it was for good reason as his club went out of its way to hide him before his 18th birthday to prevent big clubs signing him for free.
Nearly every week Amon is either scoring, assisting, or making key plays that break the game open.
On Friday, it was a backheel assist in a 2-1 win over Horsens that turned heads.
What made his performance even more special for him is that his parents had made the trip from South Carolina to be in attendance and Amon was on the cover of the match program to go along with a in-depth feature.
With Amon’s rise, the next step for him is likely the U.S. U-20 team as he is still a new professional. Tab Ramos’ team in 2019 could be producing some very good talent that could boost the Olympic team and the full national team in the years to come.
Ream and Fulham need to rally
If Fulham is going to find a way back to the Premier League next year, it is going to have to rally at Craven Cottage on Monday after dropping the first leg on Friday against Derby County 1-0.
The St. Louis native was not at fault for the only goal but as his team’s offense came up empty, Ream will have to be especially sharp on Monday as an away goal will likely end Fulham’s chances.
Fulham put on an amazing 23 game unbeaten run which ended on the final game of the season against lowly Birmingham City – an a win would have assured automatic promotion. But with two consecutive losses, Fulham look fatigued after the stress of chasing the automatic promotional spot.
Miazga and Vitesse advance
Vitesse is nearing a spot in the Europa League next year via the Dutch playoff after defeating ADO Den Haag in the first round by a lopsided 7-3 aggregate score over two legs. Miazga had a rocky first leg where he conceded a penalty but rebounded nicely in the 2-1 second leg win.
Next up will be a two game series against Utrecht for the Europa League spot. Even if successful, it is hard to imagine Maizga returning to Vitesse next season for a third consecutive loan – no matter how much Vitesse want him back.
Horvath in goal for Brugge’s clincher
This past season was rough for Club Brugge’s American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. He was the team’s starting goalkeeper at the start of the year but then began to struggle. He also had a poor showing for the U.S. team in a friendly in November. Shortly after that, he not only lost his starting job at Club Brugge but he also stopped making the gameday roster altogether.
In recent weeks, however, Horvath took advantage of injuries at league-leading Brugge while also training well. He made his first appearance since November last weekend in a 3-1 win over Sporting Charleroi.
On Sunday, Club Brugge needed just a draw against second place Standard Liege to clinch the title and Horvath was again in net. He made a pair of nice saves in the first half but that was enough for Brugge to earn a 1-1 draw and win Belgium.
It is easy to see a scenario where Horvath does not return to Brugge next year but a earning playing time at the end of the year should help him land another job quickly should he part ways with Club Brugge.
Hyndman makes Premier League debut
This has been a long time coming but Texas native Emerson Hyndman, 22, finally made his Premier League debut on Sunday for AFC Bournemouth. It was obviously a comfortable situation for the club in the final weekend of the season as Bournemouth was safely midtable and had little to play for against Burnely – which also had nothing on the line.
Hyndman started in central midfield and played 59 minutes when he was subbed out as part of a double substitution. Offensively, he made a few nice passes but was not involved in anything dangerous and saw the ball less than his teammates in the midfield. Defensively he was more effective for Bournemouth and made a few key interceptions to break up Burnley’s attack. When he left the game Bournemouth was down 1-0 but ended up winning 2-1.
It was a tough situation for Hyndman who did not go on loan this season and was predictably rusty. It is obvious he has outgrown Bournemouth’s reserve team. His loan last year to Rangers was successful and it would have been far better for him to have done something similar.
Hyndman has now completed two years of his four year deal with Bournemouth. He is a good player but next year things will have to be different – and maybe he needs a move outside of England. With a European passport, Hyndman should have options and he should try to push for another loan or a transfer over the summer so that he can have a full preseason – which he has not had since joining Bournemouth due to injuries.
Novakovich and Telstar eliminated
It was a bittersweet ending to the season for Andrija Novakovich who started for Telstar in the second leg of the first round of the promotional playoffs in Holland on Sunday against De Graafschap. Telstar won the first leg 3-2 at home on Thursday.
In the 75th minute, it appeared as if Novakovich had equalized the score on aggregate with a goal from the penalty spot but five minutes later De Graafschap found a winner to end the season for Novakovich and Telstar.
Despite the tough ending, Novakovich’s loan to Telstar from Reading was successful as he 22 goals in 38 appearances. This summer he will return to England and try to make his way into a Reading team that struggled in the Championship – finishing in 20th place. Also, the manager who sent him to Telstar, Jaap Stam, was fired last month and replaced by Paul Clement.
Novakovich will likely feature for the U.S. national team last this month for three friendlies but he is about to enter a pivotal preseason.
Morales parts ways with Ingolstadt
One American who is looking for a new club is Alfredo Morales, 27, as Ingolstadt announced that the former U.S. international would not return to the 2.Bundesliga Club – who he joined in 2013 from Hertha Berlin. Morales played 2035 minutes this season and scored four goals.
The general belief is that Morales will stay in Germany as his extensive experience in the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga with newly promoted Bundesliga clubs currently showing interest.
It was a rough day for U.S. national team midfield Kenny Saief who was forced out of Anderlecht’s game against Gent on Sunday in the 15th minute with an injury. The severity of his injury is not known yet but Anderlecht ended up losing 1-0 and fell out of the Champions Leauge qualifying place with one game remaining.
Saief, 24, is technically at Anderlecht on loan from Gent although it is expected that Anderlecht will exercise an option to buy after the season.
The Israeli-American has two caps for the U.S. national team and it is unclear if the injury which forced him out of today’s game will prevent him from playing in the upcoming friendlies starting later this month.