Americans Abroad update
First-rate Pulassist, Ream's defense, & Amon's return highlight abroad news
April 23, 2018
Two other American players, John Brooks and Jonathan Amon, both made returns from injury but had different levels of success. On the negative side, however, Americans in Belgium failed to take advantage of big opportunities.
Here are the top stories from the past three days.
A First-Rate Pulassist
On Saturday, third-place Borussia Dortmund crushed fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen in a matchup between two likely Champions League teams. American Christian Pulisic delivered a truly exceptional play when he assisted on Jadon Sancho’s opening goal in the 13th minute. The pass was very good but it was the Hershey native’s run that was eye-opening.
First-rate Pulassist pic.twitter.com/FB9mUxzx2k— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 21, 2018
Pulisic now has four goals and six assists in the Bundesliga season and looks set to play in the Champions League once again next season. One caveat, however, is that it is very easy see him the subject of huge transfer rumors this summer.
Ream’s defensive gem lifts Fulham
On Friday, Fulham came up with a huge 3-0 away win over Millwall in a matchup between two teams looking for promotion. Fulham is assured of making the playoffs but is neck and neck with Cardiff City for the second and final automatic promotional spot.
Tim Ream has been instrumental in Fulham’s surge which has seen the club go without a loss since December 16. With the score 0-0 in the first half, Ream made a huge defensive play which deflated Millwall and helped allow Fulham to take control of the game.
Fulham currently sits in third place and is a point behind Cardiff and Cardiff has a game in hand. The Cottagers desperately need help from seventh place Derby County on Tuesday as it hosts Cardiff – which will make up its game in hand.
Amon sharp in return
Jonathan Amon, 18, is expected to be one of the top players on the U.S. U-20 team this cycle but the Charleston, S.C. native has been missing for most of 2018 due to bone stress in his tibia. The explosive winger made his return to action on Sunday as his FC Nordsjaelland hosted Danish leaders FC Brondby.
With Brondby up 3-1 at halftime, Amon came into the game to help reverse the tide. While he was a bit rusty, he played very well and helped to improve Nordsjaelland’s attack. While Brondby won the game 4-2, it was a very positive outing for Amon which should boost third-place Nordsjaelland’s push for a Europa League spot against fourth-place Copenhagen – which it leads by just a single point.
Brooks struggles in return
The return was not nearly as positive for Wolfsburg’s U.S. international John Brooks which returned from a long series of injuries which kept him out of action since December.
Brooks, 25, earned the start for Wolfsburg away at Borussia Monchengladbach. Wolfsburg has had a difficult season and has tumbled into the relegation zone and is only out of the relegation playoff due to goal differential.
In his first game back, Brooks struggled mightily and, while not completely at fault for conceding the opening goal, seemed to give up on the play and instead protested to the referee for an offside call. Minutes later he would also receive a yellow card.
In the 29th minute, Wolfsburg manager Bruno Labbadia had seen enough and decided to sub Brooks out of the game. Things did not improve for Wolfsburg which went on to lose 3-0. After his substitution, Brooks looked visibly angry on the bench.
After setting a record last year for the highest transfer price ever played for an American player at nearly $20 million, it has been a lost season for Brooks. He has played just 639 Bundesliga minutes, struggled with injuries, fallen into a relegation battle, and now doesn’t appear to be happy – along with his coach. His injuries also prevented him from helping the U.S. team – which collapsed in World Cup qualifying in his absence.
Brooks might return to the U.S. team this summer but there is plenty of reasons for him to miss the May/June friendlies. After a lost season, he needs to bounce back strong in 2018/19 for Wolfsburg and allowing him a full offseason might be best for everyone.
Missed chances in Belgium
The playoff system in Belgium is designed to add importance to the late-season games and two Americans are playing regularly down the stretch – Erik Palmer-Brown at Kortrijk and Kenny Saief at Anderlecht.
Unfortunately for both U.S. internationals, it was a weekend to forget. On Friday, Palmer-Brown was subbed into Kortrijk’s game in the 17th minute but couldn’t help his team avoid a 3-0 loss to Zulte-Waregem. The loss was a significant setback in Kortrijk’s Europa League hopes.
For Kenny Saief, it was also another missed chance as he went the distance for Anderlecht in a 2-1 away loss to Genk. Anderlecht still sits in second place and could make the Champions League qualifying stages but Saturday’s loss was blown opportunity to move five points clear of third place Standard Liege. Instead, the difference is just two.
McKennie and Schalke remain in second
On Saturday, American Weston McKennie started and went the distance for Schalke in a disappointing 2-2 draw against last place FC Koln. Playing more of a defensive midfield role, McKennie did not press forward much but showed nice glimpses of helping his team in possession.
The Dallas native only had 57 touches but completed nearly 85% of his passes.
Still, the result was disappointing as a win would have gone a long way towards clinching a Champions League berth for 2018/19. With just three games remaining, Shalke is seven points clear of red-hot fifth place Hoffenheim. The good news for Schalke is that two of its final three games are at home and a win over Borussia Monchengladbach at home on Saturday should clinch a Champions League spot.
George helps Regensburg promotional hopes
One of the least reported stories from Americans abroad is on the unexpected promotional contention from Jahn Regensburg. This club is in fourth place of the 2.Bundesliga and is aiming for a second consecutive year of promotion after sneaking out of the 3.Liga last year via the playoff.
German-American attacker Jann George, 25, is at the heart of this push. Last weekend two goals in a 2-1 win over Julian Green and Greuther Furth. On Saturday, he had an assist in a 3-1 win over St. Pauli.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Jahn Regensburg are keeping up there promotional hopes - up 3-0 on St. Pauli. German-American attacker Jann George had 2 goals last week & added this assist today on the 2nd goal https://t.co/JDEON2QrCj— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 21, 2018
To earn promotion, Jahn Regensburg will need to move into at least third place for the playoff position. That spot is currently occupied by Holstein Kiel. Jahn Regensburg has three games remaining and trails Holstein Kiel by two points but Holstein Kiel has four games remaining.
It is a tough challenge but to even be in the mix for a consecutive promotion is a huge achievement.
There were also some other important stories from around the world of Americans abroad.
In Sweden, former U.S. U-20 and Columbus Crew winger Romain Gall found the back of the net for GIF Sundsvall. The French-born American hit a 70th minute equalizer in a 2-2 draw against Dalkurd.
In the Championship, it was a rough weekend for a pair of young U.S. internationals. Antonee Robinson went the distance for Bolton in a 4-0 loss at home to leaders Wolverhampton. That loss dropped Bolton just two points clear of the relegation zone. In similar fashion, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ipswich also dropped a 4-0 decision at home to Aston Villa and Ipswich was down to 10 players from the 42nd minute.
The news was also disappointing for Timothy Chandler as Eintracht Frankfurt dropped a 3-0 decision to Hertha Berlin at home. With just one point in its last four games, Eintracht has tumbled out of the Champions League positions and now sits in seventh place - outside of the Europa spots as well.