Weekend preview

Bradley vs. Arena, possible Dest debut, de Boer watch, & more

It could potentially be another big weekend for Americans in Europe as a potential Eredivisie debut looms for Sergino Dest. Bruce and Bob have strong teams and will face off in New England. Matt Miazga will also boost an improved Reading team. ASN's Brian Sciaretta previews the weekend in American soccer. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 02, 2019
5:00 PM
ATLANTA, GA – The weekend’s games are nearly here and there is certainly a lot to talk about. In MLS, the post-All Star game generally is the start of the playoff races. In Europe, the northern leagues on the continent continue and the Championship and the Eredivisie kickoff their seasons.

So all in all there is a lot to talk about for Saturday and Sunday. But before we do, here’s a look at some of the noteworthy games on Friday involving Americans.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Greuther Further defeated St. Pauli 3-1 on the road. This helps get the club back on track after an opening round loss last weekend. American Julian Green scored the final goal of the game when his long range blast in the 70th minute gave Furth a 3-1 lead. It was a great strike but St. Pauli’s defenders were extremely slow to close down on Green before the shot. Green has a very good shot from distance and defenders should know that you can’t give him that much space or else he will make you pay.

In Belgium, Ethan Horvath posted a clean sheet for Club Brugge in a lopsided 6-0 win at home over a poor St. Truiden team. With the win Brugge has opened the season with six points from two games and a +8 goal differential.

In Denmark, Christian Cappis earned the start for Hobro and played 86 minutes in an important 3-2 win over Silkeborg on the road. The Texan was impressive in his outing as Hobro is a club that needs a strong start to avoid another relegation fight. Also, American midfielder Yousuf Samuel made his debut for Hobro when he came on the 62nd minute. Samuel, 22, is a U-23 eligible player and was previously with Atlanta United 2 and Bethlehem Steel. Overall he had a solid but unspectacular outing.

In the United States in USL, George Bello made his first appearance since March when he started for Atlanta United 2 against Loudoun United. It was a positive step for the U.S. U-17 team to see the promising left back return.

In other news, U.S. national team attacking midfielder Duane Holmes was ruled out of Derby County’s opening game against his former club Huddersfield Town – a club where Holmes developed as a player. The Georgia-born Holmes is still out due to the same injury which forced him off the U.S. national team’s Gold Cup roster. The good news is that Holmes should be back soon.

"Duane is not in the team sessions yet but I think is getting close," Derby manager Philip Cocu. "He's doing very well and is in the last part of his rehabilitation. I cannot say how many days but, hopefully, soon he will join the team in the sessions."

As for the top 10 games to watch this weekend from an American perspective, here they are.

Reading - Sheffield Wednesday

English Championship
Saturday, August 2. 10:00am EST

U.S. national team central defender Matt Miazga is back for Reading on another loan after joining last season in January. Miazga, 24, made an important contribution in the club’s relegation fight but expectations will be higher this season as Reading is seeking to climb much higher in the table. The New Jersey native is expected to be a significant part of that effort.

New England – Los Angeles FC

Saturday, August 3. 7:30pm EST

New England is surprisingly the hottest team in the Eastern Conference since Bruce Arena was hired and the club has not lost in 11 games dating back to May 8.

But this game will be a true test for Arena who will get a chance to host the best team in the league in Los Angeles FC – which is coached by Arena’s friend Bob Bradley. There are a lot of storylines in this game. It will pit two national team managers against each other. One team is a throwback to the early days of MLS – a 1996 original playing in an oversized NFL stadium, the other is a new and flashy team that spends a lot, has its own stadium, and is a hallmark for the league’s ambition.

This game will certainly prove how good New England really is. For LAFC, this will be another game that will have a lot of off-field storylines. Two weeks ago, LAFC did not live up to the billing of the hyped game against the Galaxy. Will it against New England?

Red Bull Salzburg – Mattersburg

Austrian Bundesliga
Sunday, August 4. 11:00am EST

Jesse Marsch is one of the most interesting stories this season for Americans in Europe as he will be the first American head coach to lead a Champions League team. But before that tournament gets underway, Marsch will attempt to lead Red Bull Salzburg to another Austrian Bundesliga title.

Last weekend, Marsch won his league debut with Salzburg with an impressive road win over Rapid Vienna. On Sunday Marsch will coach his first league game at home when Salzburg hosts a Mattersburg team which also won its first game – a 2-1 win over Hartberg. These early season games are critical for Marsch to earn respect and build momentum heading into the Champions League.

Atlanta United - LA Galaxy

Saturday, August 3. 5:00pm ET EST

This game is very interesting because it’s a tale of two teams that have been impossible to figure out and neither is playing well.

Atlanta United lost its last game before the All-Star Game to league-best Los Angeles FC by a 4-3 score. After having two impressive wins before that, it would generally seem to be a string of acceptable results. But the team is a mess. Star midfielder Pity Martinez is not happy and in a struggle with manager Frank de Boer. During the all-star festivities, Atlanta players essentially called-out de Boer for his style and approach.

It's a situation where no one looks good. de Boer looks horrible for his handling of Martinez and his rigid tactics. The players are wrong because essentially they are airing the club's dirty laundry in public and trying to dictate tactics. de Boer might not be getting a lot of things right but he is right when he says that top clubs don't air complaints. So Atlanta is a mess. 

Meanwhile, the Galaxy were the talk of the league two weeks ago when Zlatan Ibrahimovi? called out the league and LAFC and then promptly scored an amazing hat-trick in a 3-2 win over its rivals. But Zlatan and the Galaxy did not appear nearly as up for its next game and were trounced by the Portland Timbers by a 4-0 score. Now coming into this game, the team will be without a suspended Zlatan.

Something has to give in this game.

Vitesse – Ajax

Saturday, August 3. 12:30pm EST

Will highly touted American fullback Sergino Dest make his league debut for Ajax? The veteran of the U.S. 2017 U-17 and 2019 U-20 World Cup teams made his professional debut last weekend for Ajax in a 2-0 win over PSV in the Dutch Super Cup. But Argentine national team left back Nicolás Tagliafico has rejoined Ajax and will probably get the start on Saturday.

Normally a right back, Dest has made inroads for Ajax in the preseason at left back where he has played well. Tagliafico’s return will make it harder for Dest to get on the field but he is likely to be on the bench. A professional debut is also very possible – which would be an exciting development for Dest.

New York Red Bulls – Toronto FC

Saturday, August 3. 6:00pm EST

Another game that is tough to figure out as both teams have been up and down. In the end, both should make the playoffs but neither look like it could go on a run.

Toronto is on the verge of climbing into the playoff positions and has won three out of its last four games. Jozy Altidore is red hot and, like Michael Bradley, should be motivated to face his first ever professional club.

The Red Bulls are struggling at the moment and are weak in the one area it should be strong – its backline. Last week, it suffered a demoralizing 3-2 loss to Columbus. The week before, it was only able to escape Orlando with a 1-0 win after being bailed out multiple times by the goalposts and Luis Robles. For the team to have any kind of success, its backline must improve. The most pleasant surprise of the team is forward Brian White who has eight goals, two assists, and a drawn penalty over 1105 minutes this season – including four goals in his last six games.

Real Salt Lake – New York City FC

Saturday, August 3. 10:00pm EST

New York City FC right now is the best team in the Eastern Conference and it is trending in the right direction on many different levels. Led by Brazilian forward Herber who has nine goals in 13 games since joining New York, NYCFC is in excellent shape heading into the playoff push and a chance at the first seed is within reach.

But heading into the altitude of Utah is never easy and Real Salt Lake is always tough at home. On top of that, RSL should be desperate for points as it sits just outside the playoff positions by goal differential.

But RSL will also be at a disadvantage as head coach Mike Petke has been suspended for his conduct to the referees in a recent Leagues Cup match. It will be interesting to see how the team responds without its boss.

Midtjylland – Aab

Danish Superliga
Sunday, August 4. 12:00pm EST

Midtjylland is off to a great start in the Danish Superliga with a perfect nine points through its opening three games. It trails leaders FC Copenhagen by just a goal in the goal differential tiebreaker. On Sunday it will host Aab Alborg which has four points through its first three games to sit in seventh place.

Why is this relevant for American fans? Well, Midtjylland actually have Jens-Lys Cajuste, 19, who is a dual national eligible for Sweden and the United States – but has played for neither. The defensive midfielder grew up mostly in Sweden, however, and is in his second season in Demark since transferring from lower-tier Swedish club Orgryte.

Last weekend Cajuste made his first start of the season for Midtjylland in a 1-0 road win over AGF. This will be a big season for him as he will look to get more minutes for a club which could contend in Denmark as well as in the Europa League. This kind of platform could attack interest from coaches for the youth national teams of Sweden and the United States as he is eligible for the U-23 Olympics next year.

DC United – Philadelphia

Sunday, August 4. 7:30pm EST

Philadelphia once looked like a real force in the Eastern Conference but lately it has been playing subpar soccer. It has lost two of its last three. Last week it lost to Montreal 4-0, before that it defeated the lowly Chicago Fire 2-0, but suffered a 4-0 loss to Real Salt Lake the week before that. There are a lot of troubling signs for Philadelphia and one more ugly loss could be a sign the wheels are coming off.

DC United has also been poor with just one win in its last five. But playing at home, it should still be at a significant advantage with firepower like Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, and U.S. international Paul Arriola.

There are a lot of interesting storylines in this game from an American perspective. This game could feature three starters who are likely to make the U.S. U-23 qualifying team. Midfielder Brendan Aaronson and defender Auston Trusty should get the start for Philadelphia while Chris Durkin is likely to start in place of the injured Russell Canouse.

Sunderland - Oxford United

England’s League One
Saturday, August 2. 10:00am EST

After suffering two consecutive relegations, Sunderland almost earned promotion back to the Championship but came up short in the playoffs. This season, the club has stabilized and should be in a stronger position to earn its promotion. The club remains the biggest team in League One and its supporters are eager to have it play in a league they feel it belongs.

American Lynden Gooch, 23, will once again be a key player for Sunderland – a club he has been affiliated with since he was 12. Last season Gooch played by far the most minutes ever in his career at 2837 while also playing a wide variety of positions. But with expectations even higher at the Stadium of Light this season, it will be interesting to see how strong Sunderland and Gooch can start the season.

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