Christian Pulisic Makes a Bold Statement in Germany
September 20, 2016
Christian Pulisic turns 18 in style
There were legitimate concerns as to whether Christian Pulisic would earn consistent minutes at Borussia Dortmund this year after the German giant acquired very talented midfielders over the summer.
Safe to say those concerns can be put to rest as this past week Pulisic started and registered an assist in a 5-0 Champions League win over Legia Warsaw. Then on Saturday, the day before his 18th birthday, Pulisic earned his first Bundesliga start of the season and dazzled in a 6-0 win over lowly Darmstadt.
In that game Pulisic scored his first of the season and picked up two assists. He also played a significant role in the buildup to another goal. The Pennsylvanian was consistently dangerous and made a case that he should be starting regularly for Borussia Dortmund.
Many American fans will be looking forward to seeing how Pulisic handles his first matchup against Mexico in November—games that tend to solidify American players in national team lore. Apparently Landon Donovan is on the bandwagon:
Hamburg loss highlights Wood's problems
U.S. national team forward Bobby Wood scored two goals in his first two Bundesliga games for Hamburg to start the season. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that goals are going to be tough to come by for Wood unless the club can bolster its midfield.
On Saturday, the Hawaiian earned the start in Hamburg’s brutal 4-0 loss at home to RB Leipzig. Hamburg look set for another relegation battle and the club was thoroughly dominated by the newly promoted visitors. Wood was starved for service and had no chance to make an impact.
Looking at Wood’s chances so far this season, most were typical long-ball/route 1 soccer. Few were a result of combination or sophisticated play. There is nothing wrong with that if that is what the situation calls for, but Wood is not going to have much of an opportunity unless Hamburg can find a way to take the attack consistently to its opponents.
Cameron at a sinking Stoke City
It is not all good for Americans in Europe as multiple players are poised for relegations battles after their clubs got off to awful starts to the season: Aron Johannsson, Alfredo Morales, Lyndon Gooch, and Wood are just a few.
But the team that has played the worst soccer so far has been Stoke City which has just one point through five Premier League games and is saddled with a league-worst goal differential of -11. Geoff Cameron has not been great but neither has he been one of the club’s biggest problems.
On Sunday Stoke City traveled to London and was embarrassed by Crystal Palace 4-1 in a game that was not even that close. On the third Crystal Palace goal, James McArthur’s shot bounced off Cameron's chest and into the net as the game turned into a rout.
It is hard to see Mark Hughes lasting that much longer for Stoke City and it looks like a brutal season ahead for the Massachusetts native.
Johannsson and Johnson pick up assists
In Saturday's late Bundesliga game, Borussia Monchengladbach hosted lowly Werder Bremen with Fabian Johnson getting the start for the hosts in the midfield and Aron Johannsson beginning the game on the bench for the guests.
As Werder were getting run off the field, the bright spot game from Johannsson and Serge Gnabry who linked up for a spectacular goal created when the U.S. international hit a chip for the assist.
Unfortunately for Johannsson, he was given a straight red card minutes later for arguing with the official and will be suspended for the next match.
In more national team-related news, due to is last place status with no points on the young season, Werder fired head coach Viktor Skripnik after the game. A Sky Sports journalist listed U.S. national team assistant Andi Herzog as a candidate to take the job.
Chandler lucks out
After making his Bundesliga debut in central defense last week, Timothy Chandler returned to his right back position Saturday against Bayer Leverkusen.
Over the course of the match Chandler played well, completing 72% of his passes out of the back and was heavily involved in the game, having the second highest number of touches of any Eintracht player on the day. But he made one critical error in the 87th minute whenhe conceded a penalty with Eintracht clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Fortunately the American was bailed out as Mexican star Chicharito hit the ensuing penalty off the post to preserve the Eintracht win.
Two Yanks in German youth system
Two American teenagers currently in their first year in Germany are off to very strong starts at the U-19 level.
McKinze Gaines was set to start his freshman season at UCLA this fall but was able to secure a youth deal with Wolfsburg in Germany. He has immediately walked into the starting lineup for Wolfsburg’s U-19 team and now has five goals. On Saturday, he had two goals and an assist in just the first half of Wolfsburg’s 8-0 win over JFV Nordwest.
Weston McKennie recently made the move to Schalke after spending the last nine years within the youth system of FC Dallas. The box-to-box midfielder has earned rave reviews for his performances with Schalke’s U-19 team (which also includes fellow American Haji Wright). Mckennie notched a goal and an assist in his first game, a friendly against Dusseldorf. Then he was one of his team’s best players in subsequent league wins over Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund.