Despite strong showings from Mix Diskerud, Aron Johannsson, and Tim Ream, the Stoke City right back tops Brian Sciaretta's weekly ranking of the top performances in Europe.
November 25, 2013
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5) Fabian Johnson
Saturday was a bittersweet day for Fabian Johnson, who made his return to Hoffenheim’s starting lineup for the first time since September. Unfortunately for Johnson, Hoffenheim fell to Augsburg 2-0 on the road. The good news, however, is that Johnson played very well and his return should pay dividends for Hoffenheim and the U.S. national team in the future.
Johnson played in the left midfield and led Hoffenheim with an 80 percent pass-completion percentage. He was one of Hoffenheim’s few bright spots in the disappointing loss, and was a major part of the club’s attack.
4) Tim Ream
Tim Ream is becoming a frequent part of this weekly list, and deservedly so. Bolton obviously started off the season in terrible fashion and was mired in the bottom of the Championship. But lately the club has enjoyed a turnaround. Saturday’s 1-0 win was its third straight, and it extended the Wanderers' undefeated run to eight games.
Ream has been an important part of Bolton’s recent success and has even been among the best defenders in the Championship over the past two months. His passing out of the back has always been first rate, but he is finally adding more dimension to his game and is living up to the potential he showed in his 2010 rookie season in MLS.
3) Aron Johannsson
AZ Alkmaar has enjoyed a good season so far but the players didn’t make things easy for themselves against Roda on Saturday. By the 19th minute, Alkmaar was reduced to nine players back-to-back red cards. Despite being shorthanded, AZ fought to a 2-2 draw with Roda and once again Aron Johannsson was a key part of the team's success.
In the 25th minute, Johannsson helped create Alkmaar’s opening goal when he redirected a clearance out to Mattias Johannson who put AZ ahead. In the 39th minute, the U.S. international put AZ up 2-1 when he moved into the box following a Roda turnover. He faked his defender out of the play and calmly beat the keeper with a shot inside the far post.
Johannsson’s goal was his 15th in all competition for AZ Alkmaar and his 10th in the Eredivisie. He is on pace to surpass Jozy Altidore’s mark of 31 goals, which last year set a record for most goals by an American player in a European season.
2) Mix Diskerud
While it may come as a bit of a surprise to American fans who do not closely follow Norwegian soccer, the Norwegian Cup is actually a more prestigious tournament than the Tippeligaen. For Diskerud, it was the tournament he dreamed of playing most as a child. Every year he would either go the Cup final or, on years he couldn’t get a ticket, stand outside the stadium and listen to the crowd.
On Sunday he finally had the chance to play in the final of the Norwegian Cup and he freely admitted that it was his “biggest game.” Diskerud and Rosenborg came up short in the end, losing to Molde 4-2, but the American played very well. His first-half goal was fantastic and at the time it pulled Rosemborg even at 1-1.
The most pressing question will be whether or not this is Diskerud’s final season in Norway. He is clearly ready for a bigger league but my guess is that he remains at Rosenborg through the World Cup so he can attend January camp and has a starting spot with his club heading into the World Cup. Still, it will be a situation worth watching and maybe an offer comes in January that he cannot refuse.
1) Geoff Cameron
Was there a better right back than Geoff Cameron this past weekend in the Premier League? Cameron’s stellar performance for Stoke Saturday comes on the heels of a similarly impressive effort in the U.S.' recent loss to Austria. Cameron, a man without a true position at the international level, is playing with confidence right now.
On Saturday, Cameron was active and led Stoke in total touches with 76 to go along with an outstanding pass completion ratio of 87 percent. He was involved in the build-up on Stoke’s opening goal and contributed to three scoring opportunities. When talking about the best American players in the game right now, Cameron belongs at the top of any list.
What did you think of these five performances? Did we leave any out that warrant consideration? Share your thoughts below.