Americans abroad analysis

Wooten & Pulisic dazzle, Holmes into the playoffs, & much more

Andrew Wooten can't stop scoring, so what's next? Pulisic is heading back to the Champions League and has some momentum with a wonder goal on Saturday. The same can be said for Richard Ledezma and the U-20 World Cup. It was a very busy weekend for Americans as the European seasons near their end. ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 05, 2019
7:00 PM
The end of the European season means that there is plenty of important games to be played. Over the past weekend, several American players had key performances in games that were part of campaigns for championships, places in Europe, promotion and relegation.

Yes there were a lot of games that held little meaning as the relegation battles in the Bundesliga and the top two flights in England were already established. That meant that Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Eric Lichaj, Geoff Cameron, and Alfredo Morales all played in games with nothing at stake.

Of note, Timothy Chandler made his season debut for Eintracht Frankfurt after dealing with injuries and setbacks. He came off the bench and played the final 16 minutes as Eintracht suffered an embarrassing 6-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. Despite that loss, Eintracht still sits in fourth place in the Bundesliga. If it can hold on, it will qualify for the Champions League.

Also in the Champions League hunt, Colorado native Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge posted a 1-0 away win over Gent with the U.S. national team goalkeeper keeping the cleansheet. Brugge is in line to finish second in Belgium which would see it play in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

There was a lot of stories over the weekend but here were the biggest.

Pulisic’s wonder goal

Christian Pulisic has had a mixed year. He hasn’t played as many minutes as the previous season and he has been injured. Still, he has forced a huge transfer to Chelsea and has scored some big goals. Saturday’s goal in a 2-2 draw against Werder Bremen was his nicest in a long time.

From a team perspective, the game was a massive disappointment. Dortmund had a 2-0 lead on the road heading into the 70th minute. Werder, however, found two quick goals in the 70th and 75th minute for a draw. Dortmund needed to win the game to keep in the title race against Bayern Munich. By failing to win, Dortmund now trails Bayern Munich by four points with two games remaining.

Dortmund is already assured of heading to the Champions League next year. Christian Pulisic is also assured of heading to the Champions League as Chelsea is in third place in the Premier League and clinched a top four finish over the weekend with a 3-0 win over Watford.

Wooten scores two more

Andrew Wooten, 29, is the most in-form American forward on the planet. He was before this weekend but after Saturday’s game, it isn’t even close.

Wooten scored two goals for Sandhausen in a 3-2 win over fifth place Heidenheim. The first was off a penalty, which he drew. The second was off a header following a far-post run. With the two goals, Wooten now has 17 goals on the 2.Bundesliga season. He has scored 10 goals in his last 10 games and six goals in his last four.

Prior to Wooten’s torrid streak, Sandhausen was in the relegation zone. The American has single-handily pulled them to safety – with two games remaining.

The one question that is on the minds of American fans is whether Wooten will return to the U.S. national team. He has just one cap which he earned in 2015 during a 1-0 friendly loss to Costa Rica.

His goals are eye-opening and if Gregg Berhalter is looking for an immediate impact, Wooten might be the right guy. If Berhalter is looking for the future, he might pass on Wooten. Wooten will turn 30 in September and he does have a rough history with injuries (he missed the entire 2017/18 season due to a leg injury.

It is also interesting to see if any MLS teams will make a run at Wooten this summer. He would not take up an international spot and would be in-form. Per Transfermarkt his contract is up in June.

Holmes and Derby into the playoffs

After recovering from an injury, Duane Holmes, 24, made his first appearance in nearly a month for Derby County. It was the final game of the season and Derby needed a win over fourth place West Brom to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Holmes earned the start and went 65 minutes as Derby came up with the huge 3-1 win. With the three points, it qualified for the promotional playoffs where it will face Leeds United. The winner of that matchup will face the winner of Aston Villa and West Brom for a spot in the Premier League next season.

Holmes was sharp in the first half and at the start of the second half but it was not all smooth as it appeared that he had to be replaced for another injury.

It's been a great season for Holmes who has been a consistently strong piece of Derby’s offense in the second half of the season. If he is healthy and if he can finish strong in the playoffs, it will be hard for new manager Gregg Berhalter to not call up Holmes – if not for the Gold Cup, then the friendlies or Nations League games in the fall.

Tim Weah earns silverware

Tim Weah hasn’t played that much since February but earned a surprise start for Celtic on the road against Aberdeen. While an eight-straight title for Celtic has been a foregone conclusion, Celtic needed just a point against Aberdeen to clinch it.

Weah did not score in the 3-0 win and came out in the 73rd, he was on the field to celebrate afterward. With 13 appearances on the season, the New York City native is eligible for a Scottish Premier League medal for his efforts.

Celtic will also play in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 25. Weah has appeared three times in that tournament.

After this season, will Weah play in the U-20 World Cup, the Gold Cup, or neither? It will be interesting to see when U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos names his World Cup roster this Friday.

Ledezma scores for PSV U-19s

Speaking of the U-20 World Cup, American attacking midfielder Richard Ledezma continued to prove to everyone that he is fit and ready to be part of Tab Ramos’ team. On Saturday, he scored for PSV’s U-19 team in a 1-1 draw with NAC Breda.

Ledezma was not fit to take part in U-20 World Cup qualifying last November due to a broken metatarsal. After moving from the Real Salt Lake academy last June, Ledezma wasn’t able to resume playing in official games until the end of March.

Ledezma might have missed a lot of time but he is showing that he is ready – which should be a nice boost for Ramos and his team.

Duka with two assists for FK Partzani

New Jersey native Dilly Duka, 29, turned in a great outing on Saturday for Albanian leaders FK Partizani. In a 3-0 win over Flamurtari, Duka had the key pass on the first goal and assists on the last two to seal the victory.

With the win, Partizani moved 10 poitns clear of second place and should clinch the title next weekend.

Barring an huge collapse, Duka will be heading to the Champions League qualifiers next season for Partizani.

Gyau scores for Duisburg

MSV Duisburg are in deep trouble at the moment. Sitting last place in the 2.Bundesliga with just two games remaining, the club is likely to get relegated.

But its fate is not completely sealed and there is still hope largely because of a great goal from American winger Joe Gyau who scored a brilliant 55th minute goal to open the scoring for Duisburg in a big 2-0 win over Holstein Kiel.

With the win, Duisburg now has 28 points and it’s only hope of survival is to overtake 17th place Magdeburg and 16th place Ingolstadt to move into 16th place for a spot in the relegation playoffs (it is eliminated from automatic survival).

But for Gyau, it is a feel-good story to see him contributing down the stretch. He now has two goals and an assist in 18 games this season but Gyau was not expected to have much of a career after suffering a serious injury in 2014 while playing for the United States national team. Still just 26, Gyau is showing that it is possible to play at a higher level than expected.

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