Christian Pulisic Shows New Gear in Dortmund Win
October 24, 2016
Christian Pulisic transforms the game
It's safe to say that Christian Pulisic has played very well for Borussia Dortmund so far in in his young career. He doesn't look out of place on the Bundesliga powerhouse and at times he has been among the better players on the field. On Saturday, however, Pulisic completely transformed a game for the first time in the German top flight.
Pulisic was on the bench to start the match against last place Ingolstadt and Dortmund looked terrible in the first half, falling behind 2-0. But Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel called for Pulisic to provide a spark in the second half and it proved to be the right move. With Dortmund then trailing 3-1, Pulisic assisted on an Adrian Ramos goal to pull his club within one
Then, in stoppage time, Pulisic provided the equalizer by slamming home a rebound off a header from Felix Passlack.
Right now, Pulisic is in outstanding form and it is very possible he starts for the United States against Mexico when the Hexagonal begins November 11. There will be downturns in his form at some point in the future (as with any player) and he won’t always be this good. But his legend continues to grow. Is there a better 1998-born player in the world right now?
DeAndre Yedlin Plays 90
If there was an American player who needed a good performance, it was DeAndre Yedlin who has played well when given the chance under Rafa Benitez at Newcastle but has generally found himself on the bench at the start of games.
On Saturday, at home against Ipswich, Benitez gave Yedlin the start and the Seattle native rewarded his manager with his best performance of the season in a full-90 effort in a 3-0 win.
Yedlin made 97 touches—the highest number among all players on either team. Better yet, his passing was very effective and he was dangerous throughout the win as Newcastle surged into first place of the Championship with a three-point lead over Brighton & Hove Albion.
In the two big games to open the Hexagonal next month, there appears to be question marks as to who will be the starting right back for the United States national team. When Yedlin was struggling for minutes, Timothy Chandler raised his game at Eintracht Frankfurt to put himself into consideration. Now Yedlin has answered back.
American coaches in Europe show well
There are four American head coaches in Europe at the moment and it was an eventful weekend for all of them.
In Ireland, John Caulfield and Cork City defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 to virtually lock upsecond place in the Irish Premier Division. With three games remaining, Cork City has an eight-point advantage over third place Derry City. Barring an epic disaster, the Bronx-born Caulfield will now make a return to Europa League qualifying next summer where he remains the only American to coach a team in European competition.
In Germany’s 3.Liga , Joe Enochs and Osnabruck defeated Sonnenhof Grossaspach 1-0 to remain in second place. This year, the Sacramento native is expected to have his team contend for promotion to the 2.Bundesliga. With first-place Duisburg losing, Osnabruck is now just one point off the lead. But Enochs is not the only American presence on the team as the attacking duo of Robbie Kristo and Marc Heider both started in Saturday’s win.
In the English Championship, David Wagner and Huddersfield started strong but tapered off as of late, dropping two straight games. On Saturday, it appeared to be playing toward a dull and scoreless draw against Derby County but found a dramatic winner from Elias Kachunga in the third minute of stoppage time. The three points brought the team back into third place. Wagner, the German-born former U.S. international, remains extremely popular among the club’s supporters who believe he is the right man to lead the club back to relevance in England.
Finally, Bob Bradley made his home debut for Swansea City against Watford. A win would have pulled the Welsh club out of the relegation zone but it was not to be as the teams played to a scoreless draw. As a result, Swansea lost ground and fell to 19th place in the 20-team league. After the game, Bradley said he was disappointed with the result—and he should be. His team generally played well and had several very good chance to score but failed each time.
Swansea lack talent and Bradley’s best bet is to tread water until the January window where it will need to make several upgrades.
Brooks, Hertha remain in third
John Brooks is one of the better central defenders in the Bundesliga but he has yet to make a strong statement in European competition as Hertha was upset in Europa League qualifying by Danish side Brondby. This season, earning a spot in the Champions League group stage is the goal and on Saturday the club kept up its strong start to the season with a 2-1 win over FC Cologne.
The win kept Hertha in third place behind Bayern Munich and newly promoted big spenders RB Leipzig. Brooks went 90 minutes in the win and picked up a yellow card. He was his usually consistent self with strong passes out of the back and sound positioning. Next week will be a big test on the road against fourth-place Hoffenheim.
Hamburg in serious trouble
When Bobby Wood announced his move to Hamburg in the Bundesliga, it appeared as if this was going to be a great opportunity to step into the spotlight. Unfortunately, all concerns about the team’s abysmal midfield appear to have been true.
On Saturday Hamburg lost to Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 and now through eight games on the season, Wood’s goals in week one and two remain the club’s only two goals in the 2016-17 campaign. This team is struggling to muster any opportunities and there is a total lack of quality just to get Wood touches. His goals earlier in the season were basic “Route 1” strikes as the American made the most of a couple of long balls.
Needless to say, Hamburg have fallen to last place in the Bundesliga with two points and there is little hope that this team has what it takes to survive a relegation fight.
Cameron and Stoke come around
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City also endured a brutal start to the season but that has changed in recent weeks. On Saturday, Stoke City defeated Hull City 2-0 on the road. It was the Potters' second straight and the club is now undefeated in four games.
Cameron has been playing mostly in the defensive midfield for Stoke City and on Saturday played a full 90 in that position. He saw plenty of the ball, making 82 touches and completing 80% of his passes—both solid numbers.
With Brooks and Cameron both getting on track as well as DeAndre Yedlin making inroads at Newcastle, the U.S. national team’s backline appears to be rounding into shape ahead of next month's showdown against Mexico.
Span helps Mariehamn to Finnish title
After leaving the University of Virginia early in 2011, Brian “Cobi” Span began his career in Sweden and then earned an MLS contract in 2014 with FC Dallas (although he did not secure any playing time with the Texas club).
Span is now back abroad in Finland’s top flight, the Veikkausliiga, and is a regular starter with IFK Mariehamn. On Sunday the winger went a full 90 in Mariehamn's 2-1 win over Ilves 2-1—a victory that secured the league title. The Somers, N.Y., native finished the season with 27 starts in 31 appearances and two goals.
With the win, Span and Mariehamn will head to the qualifying stages of the UEFA Champions League in 2017.