Americans abroad analysis

Boyd, Novakovich, Ream, & Morales stand out in Thanksgiving weekend aboad

Most American fans were probably too busy spending time with family to watch as much soccer as they usually do, but that is why ASN goes deep every Monday morning to bring you up to speed with in-depth analysis of Americans abroad. And this weekend saw maybe the American goal of the year scored by Terrence Boyd. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 01, 2019
8:00 AM
IN THE UNITED STATES, things have been slow the past five days with people spending time with family and friends while also preparing for the holiday season. But in Europe, the soccer world continue in full force with Americans abroad in action across the continent.

The past three days were certainly a mixed bag. There were some poor results and poor performances but also some big wins and impressive highlights.

To get you caught up, here is a deep dive.

Boyd’s stunner

Terrence Boyd is a player not often tracked by American fans but seven year ago, he was considered to be one of the top young American forward prospects. Then U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had him fast tracked on the U.S. team early into his tenure.

But Boyd progress was mixed. He never scored for the U.S. national team over 14 games. He was part of a U.S. U-23 team that failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

After great tenure with Rapid Vienna in Austria, things began to head south for Boyd. He moved to RB Leipzig but from there, knee injuries sidelined him for most of two years. He moved to Darmstadt in the 2.Bundesliga, and played for the club after its promotion for its short-lived Bundesliga campaign.

Earlier this year, he moved to Toronto FC after having stated an eagerness to play in MLS. The move, however, did not work out and Boyd struggled with zero goals in 11 games. It didn’t fit and Boyd returned to Germany to play with tiny Hallescher of the 3.Bundlesliga.

But in 2019 in the 3.Liga, things have taken off for Boyd, now 28. With Hallescher exceeding expectations and in second place, the club took on league leaders (and Boyd’s former club) Duisburg on Saturday. With the game scoreless in the 89th minute, Boyd hit an absolute wonder goal that will likely be one of the best 3.Liga goals scored this season.

Boyd now has nine goals on the season and Hallescher has emerged as a true candidate for promotion. Boyd’s story of redemption in 2019 has been one of the best in American soccer in 2019.

Novakovich’s breaks out for Frosinone

Andrija Novakovich, 23, has struggled to get going so far in Serie B after moving to Italy this past summer from Reading in the English Championship. Entering into this weekend’s showdown with Empoli, Novakovich had one assist and no goals in his first 11 games with the ninth-place club in Italy’s second tier.

The Wisconsin native earned his fifth start of the season and turned in what was easily his best performance for the club so far. In the second minute, he assisted on Andrea Beghetto’s opening goal. Then in the 33rd minute he assisted on Federico Dionisi’s goal for a 2-0 lead.

In the 48th minute, Novakovich scored his first Serie B goal to give Frosinone a 3-0 lead. He ended up playing the full 90 minutes of what was a 4-0 win. It was a huge game that should keep Novakovich in the starting lineup for at least the weeks leading up to the winter break.

Wood struggles continue

It was not all good news for American forwards despite the success of Boyd and Novakovich.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Bobby Wood was given his second straight start on Friday for Hamburg SV – which came into the game leading the league. Wood’s start last week was poor (it was also his first start of the season) and he rarely touched the ball or did anything dangerous over 60 minutes. Friday’s game away at Osnobruck was even worse as Wood was pulled at halftime with HSV down 2-0.

HSV ended up losing the game 2-1 and it fell out of first place. At this rate, it is hard to see him getting more chances. What is particularly disappointing is that the 2.Bundesliga is a league where Wood had his greatest success with 17 goals for Union Berlin in 2015/16.

Miazga & Reading down Robinson & Wigan

While both Reading and Wigan Athletic have struggled this season, the two teams are heading in opposite directions and Reading’s 3-1 away win over Wigan on Saturday further illustrated that. With the win, Reading now has three wins in its last five games and is five points clear of the relegation zone in 18th place.

For Wigan, however, the team is in a tailspin with just two points over its last seven games. The loss put Wigan into the relegation zone and the club is trending in the wrong direction in nearly every category.

U.S. national team central defender Matt Miazga went the distance for Reading in the win and was mostly solid albeit somewhat quiet in his 90 minutes of work. He won two aerials, had two clearances, two tackles, and one interception while completing 77% of his passes.

U.S. U-23 left back Antonee Robinson went the distance for Wigan in the loss. He wasn’t as effective getting forward as he had been earlier in the season but was forced into a lot of defensive work as Wigan were outmanned. In the end he had three tackles, two interceptions, and three clearances in the effort.

This Saturday’s game against Luton Town is massive for Wigan as Luton sits just one point ahead of it for the final survival place. The difference between success and failure in relegation battles is how the club performs against those also near it in the table.

Brooks & Wolfsburg fall to Sargent & Werder

In an entertaining Bundesliga game on Sunday, Wolfsburg fell at home to Werder Bremen 2-3. It was a back and forth game and two Americans featured – John Brooks going the distance for Wolfsburg and Josh Sargent playing the final 15 minutes for Werder Bremen.

Despite the loss, Brooks played well for Wolfsburg and he assisted on Wout Weghorst’s 36th minute goal which equalized the game at 1-1. On the play, Brooks got his head on a corner kick – which he played down on the feet of Weghorst who converted from close range. But Brooks was an effective passer and defended very well at times.

Sargent, 19, was sharp in his 15 minutes and game into the game with the score even 2-2. His movement initially gave Wolfsburg problems. While he was not part of Milot Rashica’s 83rd minute winner, he was part of a general attack which had Wolfsburg on its back foot at the end of the game.

Sargent is not starting as much as he was in October but he is playing regularly as a key offensive sub for Bremen – which isn’t a bad spot to be for a player his age.

The win was big for Bremen as it moved away from the relegation zone – which it had been drifting towards with after failing to notch a win in its last eight Bundesliga games. It now sits in 12th place. Meanwhile, Wolfsburg fell further away from the European spots and into ninth place.

Ream & Fulham sink Swansea

It is easy to see why U.S. national team manger Gregg Berhalter rates Tim Ream early in his tenure. The St. Louis native continues to be master of the tough and unforgiving English Championship. That league is very tough to find success and earn promotion but Ream, 32, has proven to be remarkably valuable in the league.

To date, Ream has won his club’s Player of the Season three times for Championship teams. The last time he did so was for a Fulham team which was promoted to the Premier League via the playoff. He has played in two playoffs.

In 2019/20, Ream is having yet another impressive season and was steady again on Friday for Fulham in a 2-1 away win over Swansea City. The win move Fulham into third place and it was Fulham’s fourth win in a row.

Pulisic & Chelsea lose to West Ham

It’s tough to say whether Chelsea were caught looking ahead to next week's must-win Champions League showdown at home vs. Lille, but Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to West Ham in a London Derby stung.

Christian Pulisic went the distance and was active, albeit ultimately ineffective. He had five shots, two key passes, and five successful dribbles – but Chelsea was shutout at home.

The game was huge for West Ham which lost its last three games and Chelsea still had a large cushion on fourth place in the league.

Morales/Steffen help Fortuna draw

If Fortuna Dusseldorf wants to avoid a relegation battle this season, every point is critical. On Saturday the club picked up an important point in a 1-1 away draw to Hoffenheim. The result was even better given that Fortuna came up with an 89th minute equalizer on a goal from Rouwen Hennings that was assisted by U.S. national team midfielder Alfredo Morales.

Both Americans did their part to earn the result. Zack Steffen made two saves in the draw, although perhaps he could have come off his line better on Hofffenheim’s early goal. Obviously, Morales had the assist.

It was a nice point for Fortuna but it still sits just one point clear of automatic safety and next week is a difficult away match against Borussia Dortmund.

Dest and Ajax smash Twente

Sergino Dest isn’t the automatic starter for Ajax right now with the club at full strength, but he still continues to see enormous amounts of playing time as an 19-year old for a club of that caliber.

Like Chelsea, Ajax has a critical Champions League game next week against Valencia and was probably caught looking ahead. Twente actually scored the first two goals of the game on Sunday but Ajax rallied for five straight goals - including a hat trick from Noa Lang and two goals from Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

Dest came off the bench in the 66th minute with Ajax ahead 3-2. The U.S. international wasn’t exceptional but was steady as Ajax cruised to an ultimately comfortable win. It now has 13 wins and two draws in the Eredivisie season and is six points clear of second place AZ.

A quick look at the rest

2017 U.S. U-20 World Cup captain Erik Palmer-Brown went the distance for Austria Vienna in a 5-0 blowout win over Hartberg in the Austrian Bundesliga. The club still needs to make up a five point gap to climb into the top half of the standings which is the Championship round.

In Belgium, U.S. youth national team veteran Chris Durkin made his Belgian league debut for St. Truiden when he came on in the 87th minute of a 2-1 away win over Genk. This is a nice step for Durkin who has had tough competition for playing time with Santiago Colombatto who was a starter for Argentina’s 2019 U-20 World Cup team and now plays for Argentina’s U-23 team. If Colombatto is sold, perhaps it will open the door for Durkin.

In the Eredivisie, Haji Wright went the distance for VVV-Venlo which lost 1-0 to second place AZ Alkmaar. No shame in that loss for VVV as AZ is playing very well with five straight wins in the Eredivisie but at some point, Wright is going to need to add a goal or an assist since he is unlikely to stay long at VVV due to salary restrictions and will need to impress suitors.

Jesse Marsch and RB Salzburg were in jeopardy of falling out of the lead in the Austrian Bundesliga after playing to a 1-1 draw away at Admira. It was the second straight draw for RB Salazburg but it preserved its first-place spot thanks to LASK getting blown out at home to Rapid Vienna. Salzburg is likely all-in for next week’s home game against Liverpool in the Champions League – where it needs to win in order to advance to the knockouts. At somepoint, however, it will need to reprioritize league play.

Youth Report

At the youth levels, one significant event has been the promotion of young American Owen Otasowie to the first team at Wolverhamption in the Premier League. Otasowie made the bench for Wolves last week in the Europa League during a 3-3 draw with Braga and on Saturday in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United – but he is yet to make his first team debut. Otasowie has played for the U.S. U-18 team but is also eligible for Nigeria and England. He should be part of the upcoming U.S. U-20 team. ASN has asked various U.S. U-18 teammates of Otasowie who have spoken very highly of him.

Meanwhile, Gio Reyna scored his third goal of the U-19 Bundesliga campaign for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-1 win over Bochum.

Taylor Booth played 64 minutes for Bayern Munich's U-19s in a 4-1 win over Karlsruher.

Richard Ledezma went 84 minutes for Jong PSV in a 3-2 away win over Helmond Sport.

Alex Mendez played the first half for Jong Ajax in a 3-2 away win over Telstar.

In training/trial updates, FC Dallas midfielder Thomas Roberts is now training at Augsburg after previously training at Bayern Munich.

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