Americans abroad analysis

Your guide for the ups & downs in busy weekend for Americans in Europe

There is plenty of ground to cover this weekend for American in Europe that was both good and bad. The usual suspects in Germany continued to roll. For the first time ever, an American played in El Classico while others were scoring in Sweden and Denmark. Meanwhile there is heartbreak for Jonathan Amon and concern as Tim Weah is being challenged at Lille. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here to cover it all in depth
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 25, 2020
8:50 PM

THE WEEKEND ABROAD was full of ups and downs for American players as injuries, losses, and poor performances plagued some while other triumphed with goals, wins, and strong performances. Regardless of positive, negative, or mediocre outings, it was yet another remarkably active slate of games. 

The weekend revealed a bit of unfortunate news for several players players in the United States national team pool.

The big story came with an unfortunate announcement from RB Leipzig that #USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams suffered an injury and would be miss Saturday’s game against Hertha (Leipzig would go on to win 2-1). The club did not provide a clear timeline for his return or the nature of his injury.

The official statement:  "Tyler Adams picked up a lateral ligament injury during training and is not named in today's squad. A decision on his return to training will be made in the coming week."

There was also very sad news announced by Nordsjaelland in Denmark that winger Jonathan Amon had suffered yet another serious injury, this time to his knee, and would need surgery. A timeline for his return is not yet known but earlier in the week, Amon played his first Superliga game in 13 months and scored a wonderful goal. Amon has missed a lot of time with injuries while also showing tremendous promise – to the point he earned two caps with the full U.S. team.

Later in the morning, promising young U.S. national team hopeful Nicholas Gioacchini, 20, was not in SM Caen’s lineup for Saturday’s game hosting Guingamp and he was one of five players on the squad who tested positive for COVID-19 during the week.

The Kansas City-born forward was on the game’s matchday program, despite missing the game which Caen would win, 1-0.


Tim Weah was not in the matchday 18 for Lille in a 1-1 away draw vs. Nice on Sunday. Reports from the French media suggested this was the coach’s decision. It is hard to argue with any decision given the success that Lille has had but any kind of suggestion that Lille is merely easing Weah back into form also doesn’t appear to be reality. The reality is that Weah is not where he needs to be and manager Christophe Galtier is challenging the young American.

“It's difficult for him because the competition is there, and it's strong. In addition, when there is someone who is not used to starting a match and scores 3 goals in a match, it increases the competition," said Galtier. "I ask Tim as I ask Isaac [Lihadj] to be mentally strong, to be patient and determined. It is competition that forms. Before setting high goals, he must first set himself sub-goals: do training sessions, be available for the group, be very interesting when he enters. With all that, at a certain point, he will start the matches. There is this patience he must have and it is difficult for young players.”

The good news is that Lille spent a lot of money on Weah and are heavily invested. They’re going to do what they can to make it work. If things continue like this, a loan in January could be very likely.

With all that said, here are how I saw the most important games.


Barcelona poor, but Dest shines


For the first time in the long history of El Classico, an American player featured in the historical rivalry. Sergino Dest got the start for Barcelona at right back as it hosted Real Madrid.

While Barcelona had the better of play for a few decent stretches, Real Madrid was better on the day and deserved its 3-1 win. The good news is that while this is an awkward period for Barcelona as legendary older players are on their way out, players like Dest looked ready for the moment.

In particular for Dest, if he can handle this stage, he can handle any stage.


The numbers for Dest show that he was very good on both sides of the ball. He won a healthy share of his duels, he managed to see the ball 77 times (a lot for a fullback) and his five dribbles out of six attempts show his ability to be explosive.

  • 90 minutes
  • 77 touches
  • 1 chance created
  • 1 key pass
  • 95% passing (42/44)
  • 7 duels won (5 lost)
  • 5 dribbles (6 attempts)
  • 2 tackle
  • 1 clearance
  • 1/2 accurate crosses

There was so much talk about what club Dest should have gone to – Barcelona or Bayern Munich. This was a tough loss, but Dest is in the right spot and will be part of a group that will attempt to build something new at Barcelona as Pique and Messi eventually move on sooner than later.


Reyna & BVB win Revierderby


While it is normally an intense game with a lot on the line, the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke is in jeopardy of losing its importance given Schalke’s poor situation that has it as the favorite to be relegated this season.

Reyna played 70 minutes in this game and left with Dortmund up 2-0. It would eventually finish 3-0 for Dortmund which was always in control. Schalke managed to keep this one scoreless for the first 55 minutes but eventually the floodgates opened. Dortmund enjoyed 75% possession in this one and outshot Schalke 18-3.

While he did not score or assist, Reyna was very active in this one where he was aggressive taking on defenders and aggressive with his passing – almost all of his pass attempts were in Schalke’s half of the field. The relationship that Reyna has with Haaland on the field is one of the best young combinations in Europe at the moment.

  • 70 minutes
  • 72 touches
  • 3 shots
  • 0 key passes
  • 72.5% passing (29/40)
  • 1 aerial won
  • 4 dribbles
  • 11 duals won (7 lost)
  • 5x fouled
  • 1 tackle
  • 1/2 accurate crosses

While this game was a mismatch, Reyna is playing with so much consistency for a player at just 17. There are a lot of great teenagers in the game right now but to play at Reyna’s level where he’s producing just about every game puts him into a rare level of players his age.


Pulisic starts at Old Trafford


Christian Pulisic and Chelsea traveled north to face Manchester United at Old Trafford in wet and soggy weather. The game began poorly with both teams struggling to get anything going. Gradually it became a more exciting and lively game but, in the end, it finished 0-0.

Christian Pulisic was probably the best attacking player for Chelsea on the day before he came of in the 81st minute. He nearly connected with a cross from Reece James early in the second half and that was the best chance for the Blues on the day.

After playing Sevilla to a 0-0 draw midweek, Chelsea now has consecutive 0-0 draws and Pulisic is the least of the team’s offensive problems. Kai Haverts and Timo Warner have shown impressive moments but lack chemistry at Chelsea. Frank Lampard has been constantly altering the team’s formations and positions and that hasn’t helped.

The good news for Pulisic is that the Hershey native was able to make his third start within a week. After missing the preseason and the early part of the season, this is indeed welcome news for Chelsea and American fans.

Chelsea should eventually improve – just based on its talent. It will come down to Lampard finding the best formations and positions that fit that talent.

Here are Pulisic’s numbers:

  • 81 minutes
  • 40 touches
  • 3 shots
  • 0 key passes
  • 59.1% passing (13/22)
  • 5/10 passing in final third
  • 1 dribble
  • 0 tackles, clearances
  • 2 interceptions
  • 1 blocked shot
  • 0/2 accurate crosses
  • 0/2 accurate long balls


Soto’s remains hot with goalazo

Sebastian Soto was put in a touch situation on his loan from Norwich to Telstar. He had never played outside of the youth levels before and he was set to a level where he needed to produce.

So far, he is a huge success for Telstar. On Friday, he was on the bench against Helmond Sport but came on to start the second half with the score 0-0.

Soto, 20, promptly scored an absolute wonder goal in the 48th minute.


Soto scored again the 63rd minute which was his fifth on the season (and his fifth goal in 304 minutes).

If Soto keeps this up, it will be interesting to see if Norwich will push for a different and more challenging loan in January or if it will push for a U.K work permit so he can join the club in the Championship.

Internationally, it is interesting. Chile is making an aggressive push for Soto and Soto said last week that it is “50-50.” Berhalter has also said this week that he would hate to loose Soto from the U.S. setup after Soto played well for the U.S. at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.

The United States is slated to take on Wales in November. With these goals, it seems likely that Soto will get called up. The striker position remains thin and in the upcoming camps, Berhalter needs to explore younger and newer options like Jeremy Ebobisse, Nicholas Gioacchini, Ayo Akinola, and Sebastian Soto as well.


Novakovich’s big day in Italy


Andrija Novakovich, 24, earned his second start of the season for Frosinone on Sunday in an away matchup against likely relegation battlers Pescara.

The Wisconsin native had a very interesting day. He factored into both goals of a 2-0 win with a goal and an assist.

His goal was an easy finish from close range but his assist was very impressive in how he beat defenders in a spin move and played the ball to Camillo Ciano for the opening goal.

Novakovich clearly made the most of his chances but only managed to make 25 touches over the course of playing a full 90 minutes. He was inactive for long stretches, but he still did enough to make a huge impact.

The United States national team is set to return to action on November 12 and if Novakovich can remain hot, it might have a chance to earn his first call-up since 2018.


Miazga strong in Anderlecht win

Matt Miazga is settling into Anderlecht nicely. Last week, he was effective in his club debut during a 2-2 draw with OH Leuven. On Friday, he was even better in a 3-1 away win over Kortrijk (American defender Brenden Hines-Ike was an unused sub in the loss).

In this game, Miazga was strong on both sides of the ball and his passing was very important in helping Anderlecht maintain possession and transition the play into the attack. Defensively, Miazga helped limit Kortrijk’s opportunities in the box.

His numbers were reflective of a solid outing.

  • 90 minutes
  • 88 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 73/80 passing (91%)
  • 2/5 accurate long balls
  • 3 duals won (3 lost)
  • 1 dribble
  • 3 clearances
  • 2 tackles (2 attempts)
  • 1 interception

Miazga’s quick adjustment into Anderlecht’s starting lineup is yet another bit of good news for Gregg Berhalter ahead of the November camp. The competition among central defenders is actually really tight right now. Miazga, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Chris Richards have all made impressive strides.


Sabbi’s throw-in assist


U.S. U-23 winger Emmanuel Sabbi has had some nice highlights early in the Danish Superliga season – his first with OB. On Friday, he earned the start and played 68 minutes in a 3-0 win over Lyngby. In this game, he even played a different position – center forward.

Sabbi, 22, assisted in the final OB goal in a way that is somewhat unusual, via a throw-in. His long toss from the right sideline went directly into the box and was finished by team captain Jeppe Tverskov.

Through six games, OB has seven points. Lyngby, meanwhile, is still winless with just two draws in its six games.

Sabbi remains a tough player to defend in this league and the key for him will be to see more of the ball. Once he gets the ball with space or on the counter attack, he is lethal. In this game, he made 23 touches over 68 minutes and was just five of eight in passing. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with the center forward position a bit but clearly the OB staff believes Sabbi needs to be on the field, but it is just a matter of finding where on the field he will best impact the game.

Green strong vs. Holstein Kiel

In the 2.Bundesliga on Saturday, Julian Green had a very solid and complete game for Greuther Furth where he contributed in both sides of the ball in a 3-1 win over Holstein Kiel. With the three points, Furth moved into seventh place.

  • 90 minutes
  • 50 touches
  • 5 shots
  • 1 off post
  • 2 key passes
  • 1 assist
  • 77.8% passing (21/27)
  • 0 aerials won
  • 1 dribble
  • 3 tackle
  • 4 duels won (2 lost)
  • 2 interceptions
  • 1 clearance
  • 2/4 accurate crosses

What was really impressive is that Green, 25, managed to be active in both shooting and passing while tracking back to win duels and tackles. It was a complete effort that most coaches, including Gregg Berhalter, want to see.

A return to the U.S. team in November should not be discounted. While the U.S. team has promising youth, there is still a lot of inexperience once you get beyond Adams, Pulisic, McKennie, Dest, and Reyna. Green is a World Cup veteran and while he’s not at a very high level, knows the value of being able to play effectively on both sides of the ball to win games.

If he earns a return, it’s impossible to say yet whether he will have staying power but he’s doing enough where it would be understandable why Berhalter would want to take a look.  


Marsch meets EPB in Austria

Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg remained perfect in the Austrian Bundesliga with a 2-0 win over Austria Vienna on Saturday. Salzburg now has 15 points through five games and a +15 goal differential. The team is just on another level when compared with the Austrian Bundesliga and Jesse Marsch will certainly find a big job sooner than later.

It was a tough task in this game for U.S. U-23 central defender Erik Palmer-Brown to help Austria Vienna keep Salzburg off the board. But Austria Vienna performed relatively well. The game was 0-0 all the way up to the 62nd minute when Salzburg took the lead. It remained just a slim one goal advantage into stoppage time before Salzburg put the nail in the coffin of a 2-0 win.

Palmer-Brown was relatively quiet in this one and only had 19 touches and was 6/8 in passing. He managed to make an impressive seven clearances in this one. With the draw, Austria Vienna remained in sixth place with seven points from five games.

Internationally, it will be interesting to see what happens with Palmer-Brown. He could be in the mix for a call-up in November with John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Chris Richards, and Tim Ream all in the mix in central defense. After this camp, will Palmer-Brown stay in the mix for the U-23 team? That is likely if his club is willing to release him – although the odds he remains with Austria Vienna after January are decreasing.


Brooks strong in Wolfsburg win


As usual, John Brooks started for Wolfsburg on Sunday when it hosted newly promoted Arminia Bielefeld.

Brooks was very impressive in the win and was one of Wolfsburg’s best players.

  • 90 minutes
  • 75 touches
  • 8 aerials won*
  • 0 tackles
  • 88.1% passing (52/59)
  • 9 duels won (4 lost)
  • 3 interceptions
  • 7 clearances*
  • 5/6 accurate long balls
  • * led all players

Brooks did his part to give Wolfsburg a chance to win this game and, in the end, it prevailed for its first Bundesliga win of the season – following four draws in the first four games. Wolfsburg has conceded just three goals from five games and Brooks has been on the top of his game throughout – and is coasting into the November international window in a prime position to be a leader on a very young and promising U.S. team.


Fulham sink further


After just one point from its first six games and a -9 goal differential, Fulham sits at the bottom of the Premier League table.

The good news for Fulham is that there are many teams playing poorly and a single win could get the team not just out of the basement, but out the bottom three altogether. The bad news is that Fulham’s schedule is going to be getting harder and it has come up short against teams where it has decent chances to win.

Such was the case on Saturday when it lost at home to Crystal Palace by a 2-1 score. If it is not going to beat Sheffield United or Crystal Palace at home, who will it beat?

American fans will be somewhat happy to note that Antonee Robinson played well in this one at left back. The English-born Robinson completed 85.3% of his passes, led all players with four key passes (passes that directly result in a teammate’s shot), and led all players in both cross attempts (11) and accurate crosses (4). This was the most offensively involved he has been since joining Fulham

  • Antonee Robinson raw numbers vs. Crystal Palace
  • 90 minutes
  • 95 touches
  • 0 shots
  • 4 key passes
  • 85.3% passing
  • 1 dribble
  • 1x fouled
  • 1 tackle
  • 2 interceptions
  • 1 clearance
  • 4/11 accurate crosses

Ream was pretty good in the loss and was mostly let down by his teammates on the backline. His passing out of the back was decent and his overall defense was adequate.

It would be tough if either player is relegated. Robinson is certainly playing like a Premier League-caliber fullback. If he continues to progress like he has been the past month, he’ll get offers from top-flight teams but it is also possible Fulham keeps him in an attempt to stay back up.

Ream is a different story. The Championship is grueling and eventually it seems like he might return home to complete his career. St. Louis FC’s inaugural season in two years probably sounds appealing to him.

But those are decisions for another day. Fulham is still within a win of leapfrogging at least three teams and by no means is their fate sealed before November. Its upcoming games against West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United are winnable games.


Johannsson scores 10th for Hammarby


Aron Johannsson has returned to being a double-digit scorer as the Icelandic American scored his 10th of the season for Hammarby on Sunday in a 3-1 away win over Oestersunds FK. For Johannsson, things have been clicking since August and his 10 goals have all come in his last 12 games.


Johannsson, 29, has been a big reason why the club is up to 39 points and is just one point out of second place.

At this point, Johannsson is on such a roll that it will become very difficult to leave him off the U.S. roster in November for the European friendlies. He will turn 30 during the upcoming camp but still has the ability to help the team. The Swedish Allsvenskan is not the highest level but Johannsson is playing in this league not because he’s not good enough for something better, but because he was never able to stay healthy. His quality is pretty obvious.

It wouldn’t be surprising if he receives lucrative offers from a few MLS teams come January.


Wright keeps scoring


Haji Wright, 22, is certainly loving life in the Danish Superliga. On Saturday in a 2-1 win for Sonderjyske over Randers, the California native scored his fifth goal of the season in just his sixth game across 237 minutes.

It proved to be the match winner and enough to send Sonderjyske to the top of the Superliga table.

On the play, you can see how Wright’s raw athleticism is a difference maker in the Superliga. On a counter attack, he easily got around the defender with physicality to move into a 1v1 with the keeper – which he finished.

Wright still needs a lot to work to complete his game. Almost all of his goals have come when his teammates get him into a counteract where he has space to run or is in a position to muscle defenders out of the way. The Superliga is a tactically strong league but it is athletically weak. The way he is playing right now probably won’t have the same results in many other top-flight leagues but hopefully for Wright, he is in a good place to add more elements to his game.


Sargent starts in Werder Bremen draw


Josh Sargent, 20, earned the start for Werder Bremen on Sunday and played the entire game in a 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim. The St. Louis native has now started each of Werder Bremen’s games to start the season.

In this game, Sargent was rarely dangerous but he worked hard with his hold up play and pressing. He is still looking for his first goal of the season.

But after a year where it narrowly avoided relegation via a playoff, Werder Bremen is doing well this season with eight points from five games. It is winning the games it should and it is grinding out draws it would have lost last year – like Sunday’s result vs. Hoffenheim.


Sargent is not playing poorly. Werder Bremen’s is playing in a way where it is just looking to scrap by in most games. Sargent is playing in a manner that fits this. The one concern will be that if he’s not getting shots or involved regularly in attack, how will he grow in those areas?

Perhaps Bremen will improve as the season goes along and the team can play a more attacking style. For now, it is ugly but effective.  


Cannon and Boavista concede late


United States national team right back Reggie Cannon and Boavista are still searching for their first win of the season after conceding a late stoppage-time equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Famalicao.

It has been the story of the season for Boavista as it has dropped points late in games and has repeatedly blown leads. In the season opener, it conceded a stoppage time equalizer to Nacional. It conceded a second half equalizer against Moreirense and then another stoppage time equalizer again today – after it built up a 2-0 lead.

For Cannon, this was his second-best game of the young season behind his very good outing against Moreirense. His numbers on Sunday.

  • 90 minutes
  • 59 touches
  • 1 shot
  • 1 key pass
  • 83.3% passing (35/42)
  • 1 aerial won
  • 0 dribbles
  • 5 interceptions (led all players)
  • 0 tackles
  • 2 clearances
  • 1 blocked shot
  • 0 crosses
  • 1/1 accurate LBs

There is still room for improvement as Cannon must get more involved in the attack. He didn’t manage a cross in this one and he didn’t have any dribbles. He will need to become a better crosser and get himself into 1v1 situations where he can beat defenders on the dribble.

Still, he has a good defensive base to work with and build his game upon. He reads the game well and you can see that in the high number of interceptions he had. His 59 touches show that he is heavily involved and his pass completion percentage is respectable. He is learning a lot these days but the team needs to win to avoid becoming a frustrating environment.


Notes and other games


Weston Mckennie went as an unused substitute for Juventus in a 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona. While disappointing for American fans, it was good to see he progressed in his recovery from COVID-19.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich routed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0. Former U.S. national team fullback Timothy Chandler was subbed into the game to start the second half when the score was 2-0.

Chris Richards did not make the matchday roster for Bayern Munich but he did start for Bayern Munich II on Sunday in a 3-0 win in the 3.Liga over Waldhof Mannheim.

In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre started and played 90 minutes for Heracles in a 1-1 draw away at Sparta Rotterdam. It was a decent day for the San Diego native who had 63 touches, two shots, a key pass, was 1-4 in accurate crossing, and completed 81.4% of his passes. He had a pretty free ranging role across the midfield and should have done enough to earn another start.

Staying in the Eredivisie, Uly Llanez played the final two minutes plus stoppage time for Heerenveen on Saturday in a 4-0 win over FC Emmen. 2015 U.S. U-20 World Cup right back Desevio Payne was an unused sub for FC Emmen.

VfB Stuttgart and the club’s American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo will surely be disappointed to settle for a 1-1 draw with FC Koln at home on Friday. Stuttgart took a 1-0 lead before the first minute of the game was complete but gave away a penalty in the 23rd minute. Stuttgart had 57% possession in this one but could not find a second goal for the winner.

On Saturday in the Championship, team captain Geoff Cameron played a full 90 for Queens Park Rangers in a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City. Staying in the Championship, Georgia’s own Duane Holmes played the final 13 minutes for Derby County in Friday’s 1-1 away draw with Nottingham Forest.

In England’s third-tier League One, Lynden Gooch played a full 90 for Sunderland in a 1-0 loss to Portsmouth. U.S. U-20 attacking midfielder Indiana Vassilev (on loan from Aston Villa) played 78 minutes for Burton Albion in a 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon. Burton Albion remain in last place.

After earning the start in a midweek Champions League win, Ethan Horvath remained in Club Brugge’s starting lineup in a matchup vs. OH Heverlee. Unfortunately for Horvath and Club Brugge, Heverlee pulled a 2-1 upset. Neither goal was Horvath’s fault and his Champions League win was a great story but he will likely return to the bench once Simon Mignolet returns to action following COVID-19.

Chris Durkin was not in the matchday roster for St. Truiden in a 2-0 win over Standard Liege.

In Turkey's Super Lig, Eric Lichaj played 68 minutes for Fatih Karagumruk in a 2-0 loss to Alanyaspor. Despite the loss, Lichaj played well at right back. The Chicago native had 62 touches, won four aerials, had a pass accuracy of 81.5%, led all players with five tackles, had two interceptions, four clearances, and two blocked shots.

In Sweden’s top flight, Orebro defeated Helsingborg 3-2. Romain Gall started for Orebro and played 62nd minutes while Mix Diskerud went a full 90 for Helsingborg in the loss.

In the Scottish Premiership, Dundee United started an all-American central midfield duo in Ian Harkes and Dillon Powers for its 0-0 draw against St. Johnstone on Saturday. Newly promoted Dundee United sits in sixth place of the 12-team league after 12 games.

In Poland’s top flight on Friday, Kenny Saief started and played 79 minutes for Lechia Gdansk in a 1-1 away draw with Zaglebie Lubin.

Finally, in the Dutch second tier, Jong PSV fell to De Graafschap 2-1 on a late stoppage time winner. U.S. U-23 midfielder Richard Ledezma started and went the distance in the loss while fellow American Chris Gloster entered the game in the 58th minute to play left back in the loss.

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