10 things to watch this weekend: Miazga debut looms, Seattle surging
Hopefully this weekend is as much for American fans as last weekend but the signs are positive with some interesting games. Big crowds for competitve games are expected in Seattle and Atlanta while Tim Weah, Matt Miazga, and Jonathan Amon should feature.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedThere is a lot to look forward to this weekend for American soccer fans as the MLS playoff picture begins to take shape and the new European season still in its infancy.
August 17, 2018
August 17, 2018
With all that is going on, here are 10 things I am watching for the next three days.
Weah earn more looks
Last weekend Tim Weah came off the bench and took advantage of a dreadful goalkeeping error to score the final goal for Paris St. Germain in a 3-0 win over Caen. Ugly goal but it is easy to see Weah’s teammates and coaches being impressed with his effort. What was even more impressive is that he also hit the post in his 10 minutes of action.
It also won’t hurt his chances at playing time this weekend when PSG visits Guingamp – a club which finished in 12th place last season.
Weah is in the 19 player travelling squad (which will cut one player for the matchday 18) for the game. Kylian Mbappe is back but Edinson Cavani is still injured for PSG. Playing time will be hard for Weah whenever PSG is at full strength but injuries, squad rotation for European play, and cup games will give him opportunities.
He seized the moment last weekend. Can he continue to do so?
Novakovich vs. PSV
Last weekend, United States international forward Andrija Novakovich started in the Eredivisie season opener for Fortuna Sittard in a 1-1 draw with Excelsior.
But Saturday will provide a whole new level for Fortuna as it hosts defending champion PSV Eindhoven in its home opener.
Fortuna is likely going to be on its heels but it is an opportunity for Novakovich.
Miazga looks for Nantes debut
Based on events over the past week, it would seem like Matt Miazga has a good chance to feature for Nantes when it visits Dijon on Saturday (2pm EST).
It started last weekend when Nantes dropped its opener to Monaco 3-1 which indicated the team needed defensive changes. Then one of Nantes starting central defenders, Koffi Djidji, was loaned out to Torino.
That bodes well for Miazga who will have a big opportunity to make a case for himself.
Wood looks for a fresh start
More than other American player, Bobby Wood is looking forward to this season to erase a terrible one last year with Hamburg – which was relegated from the Bundesliga with Wood scoring just two goals.
Now on loan (with an option to buy) at Hannover, Wood will get another shot at the Bundesliga. Hannover has a lot of confidence that Wood will regain his old form and Hannover will open its season this weekend with a German Cup game away at Karlsruher SC.
For Wood, 25, it is all about confidence and what better way to regain it than against a 3.Liga team it should beat.
Amon back to form
Jonathan Amon, 19, is finally back on the field and scored a goal for Nordsjaelland yesterday in a Europa League loss to Partizan Beograd.
Nordsjaelland has a very young team with its starting lineup last weekend having an average age of 20. Unsurprisingly, the team has struggled and has lost two in a row in the Danish Superliga (in addition to two losses to Partizan Beograd in the Europa League).
Sunday (6am EST) provides Nordsjaelland with a winnable game at home against Vejle and Amon is expected to feature – although it is not clear if he will start.
Tab Ramos badly wants Amon for the U-20 team. Even if he does not play in qualifying, the U-20 World Cup next May could be a breakout opportunity for Amon.
Sabbi's form on Sunday
2017 U.S U-20 World Cup forward Emmanuel Sabbi is off to a terrific start in the Danish Superliga where he has scored four goals and notched an assist through Hobro’s first five games of the season.
Last week he scored two goals as Hobro defeated OB 3-2. Despite the win, however, Hobro sits in 13th place in the 14 team league.
Sabbi, 20, will aim to continue his hot start against eighth place Randers. As a youth player, Sabbi was one of the most athletic American forwards of his generation and is strength and speed is uncommon in the Danish Superliga and the defenders in that league are having a tough time adjusting to him.
The goal for Sabbi will be to develop his technical skill so that what when he moves to a bigger league that has athletic forwards, he will still be able to beat defenders. As for now, he is exceeding expectations.
McKennie in the German Cup
Weston McKennie will soon turn 20 but he is concluding his teenage years with a bang after helping to lift Schalke into a second place finish in the Bundesliga and securing a starting spot with the United States national team.
Last week, McKennie scored a very nice goal for Schalke in a preseason friendly against Fiorentina and on Friday he will play his first competitive game of the season as Schalke hosts FC Schweinfurt 05 of the Regionalliga in the German Cup. McKennie is set to start the game.
Sounders vs. Galaxy
One of the best games of the weekend in MLS will be on Saturday (4pm EST) when the Seattle Sounders host the LA Galaxy.
The Galaxy are coming off a two consecutive disappointing draws against Colorado and Minnesota but Seattle is the hottest team in the league. It once seemed as if the season was a lost cause but the Sounders have reeled off five straight wins using tough defense and opportunistic goal scoring to get back into the playoff mix.
But six of the next seven games for the Sounders are against teams currently in the playoff positions and games like Saturday will be telling.
On the United States national team front, Cristian Roldan has been a big part of the team’s rise in the standings and could work his way onto the roster for next month’s friendlies. Still the race is tight among central midfielders as Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Wil Trapp, and Marky Delgado are all in the mix.
Atlanta vs. Columbus
The best game of the weekend in the Eastern Conference will take place on Sunday (4pm EST) when first place Atlanta United hosts the fourth place Columbus Crew.
The Crew look pretty set in the fourth position but Atlanta could lose its grip on first place with the Red Bulls hot on its tail.
This game is going provide a lot of interest for U.S. national team and youth national team fans. Zack Steffen will start for Columbus as will midfielder Wil Trapp. In Atlanta, it will be intriguing if U.S. U-20 attacker Andre Carleton gets on the field and if U-17 left back George Bello makes his debut.
Numerous club debuts
Right now there are so many American players that are on the verge of making their debuts for their respective clubs. Matt Miazga is the most prominent but there are others.
Will George Bello get on the field for Atlanta? Will Erik Palmer-brown get on the field for NAC Breda?
One that is potentially the most exciting is Duane Holmes at Derby County who transferred last week from Scunthorpe United to Derby County. He was the player of the season last year for Scunthorpe United but will have more competition at Derby County – which was in the promotional playoffs last season in the Championship.
Holmes, 23, is a pure attacker that is always looking to create a scoring chance. He has earned a chance in the Championship.