Americans abroad

Brooks, Hyndman, Novakovich, CCV & Corona lead Americans in solid weekend

It was both a fun and productive weekend for Americans abroad as the usual elite peformers were not among the top performers. Instead it was a time for others to step up - and they did. Brian Sciaretta breaks it down.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 16, 2018
11:05 AM
MOST OF these recent recaps of Americans abroad have painted a negative light with how the season has gone for Americans abroad. But this weekend was much better, and the accomplishments mostly came from players you’d least expect.

Consider this: Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent met up on Saturday and both were quiet in late-game cameos. Weston McKennie did not get off the bench for Schalke. Jonathan Amon and Nordsjaelland were soundly beaten by Esbjerg 3-0, with Amon going the final 45 minutes. Miazga has been benched the past two months but didn’t even have an opportunity this weekend as protests postponed most games in France. Erik Palmer-Brown did not play for NAC Breda.

DeAndre Yedlin was suspended in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield (where Danny Williams did not play). Tim Ream did start for Fulham which lost again, this time 2-0 to West Ham, and remain in the Premier League basement.

Even with all of the above, it still managed to be a decent weekend for Americans abroad. Why? It's simple: the players that typically are not the biggest headline grabbers stepped up with big performances.

Brooks exceptional in Wolfsburg win

The weekend got off to a very strong start for Americans in Europe as John Brooks was a rock for Wolfsburg’ in a 2-0 win over a dreadful Nurnburg team that is in a complete nosedive at the moment (winless in its last nine and outscored 25-7 in that stretch).

It was a great outing for Brooks who led all players with 80 touches in the game and won eight aerial dual and six clearances – the both the highest in the game for either team. Wolfsburg now has three wins and a draw in its last four to move firmly into the top 10 of the Bundesliga.

To make things even better for Brooks, new U.S. national team head coach Gregg Berhalter was on hand to watch Brooks. With many of the European-based American central defenders struggling, the strong form of Brooks is welcome news to Berhalter.

Brooks has always been a tough player to figure out. Whether with the national team or in the Bundesliga, consistently has always been an issue and his level of play can vary dramatically. At times he can look like an elite central defender against top-level competition. Other times he can struggle against CONCACAF opponents. It will be interesting to see how Berhalter handles Brooks and how Brooks responds.

Hyndman & Hibs sink Celtic

Emerson Hyndman, 22, is a tough player to figure out. The Texan occasionally shows glimpses of promise but his contract with Bournemouth (along with occasional injuries) has limited his chances at sustained success.

Fortunately, Sunday was a good day for Hyndman who earned the start for Hibernian in a Scottish Premier League matchup against reigning champions Celtic in Edinburgh. Hyndman was sharp throughout the game as Hibs pulled off a 2-0 upset. Hyndman was involved in the build-up to the opening goal.

The big question is what’s next for Hyndman. Hibs has said it would like to extend his loan for the remainder of the season but will Bournemouth be willing to let him go? Or will Bournemouth send him off to a different team in a different team on loan?

With that Portuguese passport, there is no reason why Hyndman shouldn’t be confined to England and Scotland.

Novakovich hits assists vs. Feyenoord

One of the best moments for Americans in Europe over the weekend came from Fortuna Sittard forward Andrija Novakovich who earned the start and had an outstanding assists on the opening goal in a 2-0 upset over Feyenoord.

The Wisconsin native made a nice run on a counterattack and pulled the ball back to set up Lars Hutten for the finish. It was one of the best examples of Novakovich’s improvement with his composure with the ball in the box.

The win pushed Fortuna Sittard into 10th place and midtable of the Eredivisie. For a newly promoted team, it is setting itself up to avoid a relegation fight.

Gatt scores in big Altach win

Josh Gatt, 27, has had a rough career in terms of injuries. The Michigan native has struggled to catch on in various locations after his third ACL tear. Last year he was waived by the Colorado Rapids after being traded by Minnesota United.

Over the summer, Gatt returned to his first ever club, SCR Altach in Austria. Thus far the club has been pushing to avoid a relegation fight and Gatt has been an occasional starter while picking up three assists on the season.

On Sunday, Gatt scored his first goal of the season off a header in the 40th minute against Hartberg. The goal gave Altach a 2-0 lead in what turned into a 6-1 rout. Alatch sit in second to last place – three points clear of cellar-dwellers Admira.

Wright improved in Schalke draw

New United States national team boss Gregg Berhalter was in attendance to watch Schalke take on Augsburg. While he most likely wanted to see Weston McKennie play, he instead was able to see forward Haji Wright in action as Wright played the entire second half in a 1-1 draw. McKennie was an unused substitute.

Wright, 20, came on at halftime with Schalke trailing 1-0 and put in a much more improved performance than his poor first-ever Bundesliga start on December 1. In this game, Wright was not involved in Schalke’s goal but he was energetic and nearly scored a winner, which was correctly called back for being offside.

Overall, it was a very nice sign of mental strength from the young Californian to be able to shake off a poor debut and put forth a much better performance.

Carter-Vickers helps Swansea in win

Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vicker’s has not had a great loan this season at Swansea City. This far he has played only sparingly but he came on at the half on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday with the game scoreless. The American central defender ended up playing an important role in a 2-1 win as Swansea moved into ninth place.

Carter-Vickers won all of his aerial duals and was active defensively as Sheffield Wednesday pushed late in the game for an equalizer. Carter-Vickers is an established central defender in the Championship and needs more minutes than he has been give so far this season.

Wooten scores superb header

Andrew Wooten, 29, is an established goal scorer in the 2.Bundesliga and he scored his fifth goal of the season on Sunday to help Sandhausen to a 2-2 draw against Jahn Regensburg. On the play he rose high into the year and was able to head the ball down and past the keeper for a 2-1 lead.

Sandhausen needs all the help it can get as it sits just one point clear of the relegation zone.

Corona wins Liga MX again

Joe Corona, 28, is now a very accomplished player in Mexico. On Sunday night, the California native won his second Mexican title as Club America defeated Cruz Azul on the road 2-0 in the second leg to win the championship. Corona came off the bench in the 77th minute of the second leg after starting the first leg.

Corona first title came in the 2012 Apertura when he helped Club Tijuana to its first Mexican title. In 2011, he scored the decisive goal for Tijuana to win the promotional playoff to secure the club’s first ever berth in the Mexican top flight.

While Corona’s international career with the U.S. team has been mixed, his accomplishments in Mexico are impressive and significant.

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