Bedoya Maintains Great Form, Wood Scores Another
February 16, 2016
DESPITE A ROUGH WEEKEND for several Yanks playing in the German Bundesliga, it was, for the most part, another strong weekend for Americans abroad. Alejandro Bedoya is on the best run of his career and is carrying Nantes to unexpected success while a trio of American coaches scored impressive victories.
Here are some highlights from the weekend
Bedoya’s assist lifts Nantes
So far in 2016, no American player has been better than Alejandro Bedoya who is producing for a Nantes club that is pushing toward the top of the Ligue 1 table.
On Saturday Bedoya assisted on Adryan’s 10th-minute opening goal in a 2-1 win over Lorient. Bedoya now has four goals and two assists in the past seven games for Nantes. The win lifted Nantes into sixth place in France’s top flight—just a single point from third place.
Worth keeping an eye on: For the U.S. national team Bedoya usually plays wide right in the midfield but for Nantes he plays more centrally in an advanced role (although he has free reign and sometimes drifts to the right).
Bedoya’s ridiculously strong form right now could tempt Klinsmann to play Bedoya in a more central role, which would shake things up in the U.S. midfield.
Wood continues strong form
It's official: Bobby Wood is having the best season of his career. On Saturday he scored what was likely a very satisfying goal against his former club, 1860 Munich, helping Union Berline to a 3-0 win that lifted it into 12th place.
Wood, 23, came up through the 1860 Munich youth system and eventually made the first team. Last season he parted ways with the club in an acrimonious split.
The goal was Wood’s ninth of the season and it moved him into a tie for third in the league. In addition to becoming a bigger part of the U.S. national team, Wood could find himself in position to be a transfer target this summer.
Three American coaches Get Wins
American coaches have historically been scarce in Europe but this past season, three have made progress in the traditionally strong soccer countries of Germany, England, and France. On Saturday all three secured very important road wins on what was likely the best day ever for American coaches in Europe.
Bob Bradley's Le Havre posted a crucial 1-0 victory over third place Metz. The win moved Le Havre into fifth place of Ligue 2, within two points of the promotional zone.
Joe Enochs and Osnabruck defeated Holstein Kiel 1-0 to move into fourth place in Germany’s 3.Liga where it is just one point out of a promotional spot. The Sacramento native was a club favorite as a player and he took over the head coaching duties in August when it was near the relegation zone. He has done an outstanding job so far and he might just see the club through to the 2.Bundesliga.
Former U.S. national team forward David Wagner and Huddersfield ended a three game skid on Saturday with a 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest to remain in 17th place and comfortably away from the Championship relegation zone. Wagner remains very popular these days with Huddersfield supporters as he attempts to bring stability to a club which has struggled in recent years.
Yedlin, Sunderland top Man United
Due to the struggles of Sunderland’s other fullbacks, it was not surprising that DeAndre Yedlin got the start on Saturday against Manchester United. The Seattle native made the most of his opportunity, helping the club pull off an upset over the Premier League giant on Saturday.
Yedlin, 22, was pretty good in his full 90 minutes. He struggled at times to help contain Manchester United’s superior attackers but in the end he would bend but not break. Most importantly, his team came up with the unexpected three points and is now just two points from safety. Typically coaches are reluctant to change a winning equation and Yedlin was likely strong enough to remain in the starting lineup.
The lessons learned during a challenging Premier League relegation fight will be very valuable for Yedlin at this stage of his career.
Fabian Johnson scores
It was a strong weekend for Americans abroad but the Bundesliga was not kind for Yanks the past few days. Christian Pulisic was the one American to be part of a winning effort as he played the final 25 minutes for Dortmund in a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hannoverand. While he struggled at times, he was also strong for stretches and looked like the player on his team most likely to make things happen late in the game. When you consider that the Hershey native is just 17-years-old, it's amazing to see what he has accomplished so far.
Fabian Johnson scores his fifth goal of the Bundesliga season to give Gladbach a 1-0 lead in Hamburg. https://t.co/qThtm9eGd9— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 14, 2016
The news was not as kind for other players. Fabian Johnson scored for Borussia Monchengladbach but the club disappointingly fell to Hamburg 3-2 and dropped to seventh place after once looking like a Champions League shoo-in.
John Brooks went a full 90 for Hertha Berlin but the team lost 2-0 at Stuttgart to fall to fifth place and out of an automatic Champions League spot. Similarly, Alfredo Morales played the final nine minutes for Ingolstadt which lost to Wolfsburg 2-0 to drop to 12th place.
Gonzalez, Yarbrough, Castillo roll
Americans started for each of the top three teams in Liga Mx over the weekend.
Edgar Castillo started at left back for first-place Monterrey in Friday’s 2-1 on the road over Santos Laguna. Castillo is often forgotten by American fans but he has found success throughout his career. He came out in the 66th minute of the win as Monterrey remains a point ahead of second place Pachuca.
Omar Gonzalez had perhaps his weakest effort so far for Pachuca of what was otherwise a strong start to the Clasura season. He was substituted out of Sunday’s game in the 68th minute with Pachuca trailing Puebla 2-1 at home. After he was taken out, Pachuca rallied for 5-2 win. While Gonzalez was not directly responsible for any of the goals and his substitution was tactical, it was far from his best outing.
Finally, on Sunday Leon defeated Chivas 1-0 to remain in third place—and goalkeeper William Yarbrough earned the shutout. It does not seem likely at this point that Yarbrough will be in the mix for U.S. national team consideration but if Leon remains in contention at the top of the table, that could change quickly.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.