Top Americans in Europe
Aron Johannsson Continues to Dominate at AZ Alkmaar
Our weekly list of the top American performances in Europe features some unusual names. In fact, none of the five players selected are starters on the United Staes national team. Check them out.
September 30, 2013
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No. 5—Timothy Chandler
In Nurnberg’s 3-3 draw on the road against Werder Bremen, Timothy Chandler once again looked active. The German-born right back struggled in the opening 45 minutes but finished the game strong to help FCN salvage a draw after falling behind 2-0. Nurnberg are still without a win but five draws in seven games have the club aboive the drop zone.
No. 4—Duane Holmes
Holmes has long been seen as one of the best products of the Huddersfield academy program, and the 18-year-old finally made his Championship debut on Friday against Blackpool. Coming on as a second half substitute, the Georgia-born attacking midfielder did not disappoint. Two minutes after coming into the game as a substitute, he promptly set up Huddersfield’s equalizer with a perfect pass on a counterattack. He then helped set up a penalty—which was not converted.
Huddersfield fans are extremely excited about Holmes and consider him an elite prospect. It’s only a matter of time before he catches on back in his native country.
No. 3—Jide Ogunbiyi
We feel like we're repeating ourselves by including Ogunbiyi on this list yet again—but he clearly deserves it. Viborg was only promoted to the Danish Superliga last season but right now the club is in third place. What is the reason for the improvement? It is Ogunbiyi, who is turning in great performances in central defense week after week.
His latest was a strong performance in Viborg’s 2-0 win over Vestsjælland on Friday. As a dual national with Nigeria, Ogunbiyi is open to either country. There is a real possibility that Nigeria will call first.
No. 2—Brad Guzan
Last year Guzan helped Aston Villa successfully avoid relegation. This year he has played a big role in the team’s big early-season wins over Arsenal and Manchester City. Villa stunned the latter, 3-2, on Saturday. As expected when facing a team with expensive offensive firepower, Guzan was forced to make several big saves and now Villa sits inside the Premier League's top 10.
No. 1—Aron Johannsson
When Jozy Altidore left AZ Alkmaar last season, Johannsson had big shoes to fill as the team’s primary striker. So far he has done his job better than anyone could have ever expected. It is not even October and the Alabama-born Johannsson has 10 goals for AZ in all competitions. On Saturday, his stunning strike gave AZ a 2-1 win over PSV and moved the club into 7th place in the Eredivisie.
In a strange side note, AZ announced after the match that it had fired head coach Gertjan Verbeek, who has the club playing well both in the Eredivisie and in the Europa League. Last year he won the Dutch Cup. The next coach will surely be eager to work with Johannsson, but this was shocking.
Brian Sciaretta is a frequent American Soccer Now contributor and a member of the ASN 100 editorial panel. Follow him on Twitter.