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Americans Abroad

Wood Thrives, Mix Back in the Mix, Williams Pranked

Here are the latest developments from abroad, with updates on Hamburg striker Bobby Wood, former NYCFC midfielder Mix Diskerud, Reading enforcer Danny Williams, and other key Yanks. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 05, 2017
10:00 AM

Wood shines as Hamburg strives for safety

Bobby Wood impressed for Hamburg in a massive 2-1 win over Cologne this past weekend. The three points lifted Hamburg out of the relegation zone and into 14th place. The logjam in the Bundesliga now has Hamburg within three points of 10th place.

Hamburg has played very well of late, securing 10 out of a possible 12 points from its last four games. Wood has been a big part of that. On Saturday against Cologne, Wood picked up an assist Nicolai Muller’s 13th-minute opener on a very nice move to around his defender. There is a good chance he would have been awarded a penalty had there been no goal.

It's too bad for U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena that he did not have Wood available for the recent qualifiers and it will be interesting to see how he fits into Arena’s team. Wood is now healthy, playing well, and is looking for a new contract after hiring top German agent Volker Struth who represents some of the biggest names in the Bundesliga.

With Saturday’s performance, the momentum only continues to build for Bobby and it would not be surprising to see a long line of suitors heading into next season.

Danny Williams gets pranked

Reading are very much alive in the promotional hunt in the English Championship and could return to the Premier League next year. Danny Williams has been among the team’s best players this season but last week the club decided to prank the American midfielder.

Table tennis is quite popular among the Reading players and the club sent a teenage table tenns prodigy to meet the club and informed Williams she won a contest to hang out with the players. Williams invited her to play table tennis and she used her weaker hand to play the part of a neophyte. When they started playing for real, she switched to her stronger hand and destroyed Williams—who was stunned. You can tell he’s proud of his table tennis skills and was taken back by being schooled. It was a great prank.

On Saturday, Williams put on his own show helping Reading to a valuable 1-0 win over Leeds United and move to fourth place in the Championship. In the full 90 effort, Williams was a force completing over 90 percent of his passes and playing well defensively.

Miazga to remain at Vitesse?

As the Gold Cup approaches, Matt Miazga is continuing to make a nice case to be part of that team. On Saturday he was Vitesse’s best defender in an important 2-1 win over NEC Nijmegen. The win kept Vitesse’s hunt for a Europa League spot alive as it is now in fifth place.

The timing of Miazga’s strong outing was optimal as Vitesse are looking to extend the New Jersey native’s loan from Chelsea for another season.

But Miazga will face a stiff challenge soon when Maikel van der Werff returns to match fitness. Miazga began starting when van der Werff went out injured but now with him close to a return, what happens to Miazga? If Vitesse want Miazga to remain with the club after this season, its case to Chelsea is weak if Miazga only plays when van der Werff is injured. Miazga has made a strong case to remain in the lineup. 

Hyndman to Celtic?

Several Americans seem likely to move this summer and Emerson Hyndman is high on that list. Thriving on loan with Rangers, he is set to return to AFC Bournemouth after the season ends. But will the Texan stay with the Premier League club, go out on loan to another club, have his loan extended to Rangers, or be sold to Rangers or anyone else? Those are the only options.

On Sunday reports in Scotland surfaced that linked Hyndman with Celtic. According to the report, Celtic have begun making inquiries with Bournemouth and such a move would shock Rangers and its supporters—who have a fierce rivalry with Celtic. Very few players have played for both Old Firm teams and it is easy to see why.

Will Hyndman become the next? Not many Americans have played for Celtic as Rangers has usually been in the market for Americans. But with Hyndman playing so well, this is a tug-of-war worth watching.

Diskerud goes a full 90 in opener

It has been a very long time since Mix Diskerud, 26, was on the field in a competitive game. On Saturday, the Norwegian-American went 87 minutes in the Allsvenskan opener for IFK Goteborg—a 1-1 draw with Malmo.

Overall, Diskerud was rusty in central midfield and was unable to generate much offense for IFK. His loan runs through August and what happens afterward is very much an open question. But if he impresses, he should open some doors either in the United States or elsewhere in Europe. It would be hard, however, to see him returning to New York City FC.

Past and future US left backs duel

In Mexico, it was the ghost of left back past vs. the ghost of left back future as Santos Laguna and Jorge Villafana narrowly defeated Jonathan Bornstein and Queretaro by a 1-0 sore. Both Americans went the full 90 and played well.

For Villafana, 27, the win keeps up the important momentum he established in March. After not having played in Liga MX since September, Villafana broke back into the team just before the international break and then started twice for the U.S. team. Now he is still back in the Starting XI and the win moved Santos back within the playoff positions.

If he can maintain his starting spot, the U.S. team is in excellent position moving forward as the left back spot has traditionally been the team’s Achilles' heel.

Caulfield and Cork

Finally, in Ireland’s top flight it is worth pointing out that Cork City have won the first seven games of its season and are comfortably in first place with 21 points—six points better than the second place team.

Cork City is coached by Bronx-born John Caulfield who was a club icon as a player and now is looking to lead the club to its first title since 2005. No American-born head coach has even won a top division title in Europe and Caulfield is still the only American-born manager to win a series in a European competition (he did so in 2015 Europa League qualifying). If Cork City continue to dominate, Caulfield could be in line not just for an Irish title but also a spot in the Champions League qualifiers.

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