DeAndre Yedlin Continues His Ascent in Championship
February 22, 2017
THIS PAST WEEKEND saw DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Huddersfield manager David Wagner improve their stock tremendously. While Alfredo Morales did his part to help Ingolstadt inch toward safety, Timothy Chandler’s fine season has taken a downward turn recently.
Here are my Americans abroad thoughts from the weekend.
Is Yedlin best right back in Championship?
It's too bad that English Championship games are are so hard to see in the United States because many American fans are not able to watch DeAndre Yedlin blossom as a soccer player. The Seattle native has come a very long way this year and the past two months in particular have been the pinnacle of his club career.
On Tuesday, one column in the English media came out that made a claim Yedlin is now the best right back in the Championship. That claim may have been a stretch at the beginning of the season but based on the games since New Year’s Day, not many would disagree—Yedlin has been that good. The only other right back in his class recently is Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith.
On Monday, Yedlin was once again outstanding for Newcastle United in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa. He completed a solid 77% of his passes (which is very good from a fullback position) but even more impressive was his steady defending, as he broke up multiple opportunities and made Villa’s attack ineffective on his side of the field.
Yedlin has had such a great soccer education up to this point of his career. He’s been in a successful Premier League relegation fight with Sunderland and will almost certainly be part of a successful promotional campaign with Newcastle this season. He fought through a rough time at Tottenham when he didn’t see the field and has played in a World Cup. Earlier in his career, he played in the CONCACAF Champions League and MLS playoffs. That’s a lot of practical experience for a 23-year-old.
Pep Praises David Wagner
Former United States national team forward David Wagner is wildly popular among Huddersfield fans, a club enjoying its best season in more than 40 years.
Before the season, oddsmakers figured the club would be in yet another relegation battle in 2016-17. Instead, Huddersfield is in third place in the English Championship and fighting for promotion. Local fans and media have dubbed it the Wagner Revolution.
On Sunday, Huddersfield played to a scoreless draw with Manchester City in the FA Cup and earned praise from City boss Pep Guardiola.
“I expected the game we played,” Guardiola said of Huddersfield. “A big compliment to the team….They are so aggressive, they are so dynamic, they have a really good team, which is why they are where they are in the Championship. We will play the replay for the first time in my life and we will try and qualify."
The problem for Huddersfield is that Wagner is not a secret anymore and could very well be in line to get a very big job sometime soon, either in the Premier League or the Bundesliga. He is viewed as a manager with potentially a very big upside. Some American fans are hoping he is in the mix for the national team in a few years although by that point, he could likely be holding a prestigious club job with little incentive to move.
For Huddersfield, if it wishes to hang on to Wagner it will likely need to be promoted this year. He will be more inclined to continue on with the club in the Premier League. But another year in the Championship? That might be too much to ask for.
Steve Clark makes impression in Denmark
American goalkeeper Steve Clark decided to head back to Europe over the winter after three seasons with the Columbus Crew led to one appearance in MLS Cup—a tough defeat to Portland in 2015.
Clark, 29, enjoyed considerable success in Europe and was perhaps the best goalkeeper in Norway when he almost singlehandedly saved Honefoss from relegation one year.
Now at Danish side AC Horsens on a short-term deal through the end of the season, Clark make a strong impression in his debut. Despite the 1-0 loss to Silkeborg, Clark had a very strong performance with the only goal coming off a penalty which Clark nearly saved.
For his effort, Clark was named to the Superliga Team of the Week by Danish outlet Tipsbladet.
Brooks shines vs. Bayern Munich
Hertha Berlin could not hold on for the upset win over leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday despite leading most of the game. In the end, a Robert Lewandowski stoppage time-equalizer ended the game at 1-1.
But that does not dismiss the outstanding play of John Brooks. The stats after the game revealed that Brooks led all players in interceptions, clearances, a pass-completion percentage of 87%.
For that, Brooks was named to Kicker Magazine's Bundesliga Team of the Week for the third time this season and Hertha moved into sixth place.
Timothy Chandler has played well at Eintracht Frankfurt this season, and it's no coincidence that the club has established itself near the top of the Bundesliga standings for most of the season.
The last few weeks, however, have not been kind to either Chandler or the club. This past weekend Frankfurt lost at home to relegation-battling Ingolstadt (which started American Alfredo Morales) and was a clear indication that the team is in trouble. Frankfurt has now lost two in a row and three of its last five.
Chandler was completely ineffective in the game, offering little going forward—which is typically very important to Eintracht Frankfurt’s attack. Last weekend Chandler fell asleep on Chicharito’s opening goal for Leverkusen, and time around he fell short again.
At this point, it is hard to see Chandler overtaking Yedlin in the U.S. national team pecking order at right back.
Miazga makes a statement
If ever there was an American who needed a good performance in a high-profile game it was Matt Miazga. On Saturday, the New Jersey native delivered for Vitesse despite the 1-0 loss to Ajax. Miazga, 21, was arguably Vitesse’s best player and he helped limit Ajax’s chances in a game where the overall talent gap between the teams was wide.
Miazga, on loan from Chelsea, has struggled for playing time at Vitesse but is now in the starting lineup due to injuries. The window for him to impress will not be open very long but this was a very good first step.
Wood’s injury not serious
Bobby Wood was named to Hamburg’s starting lineup on Saturday against Freiburg but was a late scratch after suffering a thigh injury. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Fortunately, Wood’s injury was not serious and the United States national team striker is listed as day-to-day.
Breathe easy, American soccer fans.