Americans abroad analysis
Holmes, Arriola, and Weah injured, forwards not scoring, bad losses mar weekend
February 18, 2020
IT WAS GENERALLY a horrible weekend for Americans abroad that was mired by injuries, suspensions, losses, poor performances, and squandered opportunities. There wasn't a lot to like for American fans.
Of course bad performances happen, but the biggest concern right now is injuries - which could impact important club and national team games ahead.
Injuries mount up
Paul Arriola will miss most or all of the upcoming season with an ACL tear. Tim Weah is now out with another hamstring tear.
Duane Holmes only went 29 minutes for Derby over the weekend while Tyler Adams is also gone through at least this week. Christian Pulisic also continues to miss time for Chelsea and Zack Steffen is still out for Fortuna Dusseldorf. It’s not a pretty sight.
Players still have time to return for the March friendlies but it could turn out to being a roster stretched thin.
Weah joins Arriola on shelf
This week was particularly awful with the news that Tim Weah reinjured himself during his first game back for Lille from a hamstring tear. The New York native came into Sunday’s game in the 80th minute vs Olympique Marseille with Lille down 2-1. It was his first time on the matchday roster since August 17.
Unfortunately for Weah, it did not end well and he reinjured his hamstring with another tear.
???? During his return to first-team action against Marseille on Sunday, Timothy Weah suffered a tear to his right hamstring. Our forward will now begin a process of rehabilitation. The entire team at LOSC wish Tim a speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/hEdJxRyfK0— LOSC Lille EN (@LOSC_EN) February 17, 2020
Weah, who turns 20 this week, is essentially set for a lost year. It’s hard to see how he can even figure into the U.S. team’s plans at the moment or even the U.S. U-23 team should they qualify for the Olympics. He is going to need to put himself into a position where he can show to Lille that he can be healthy for an extended period of time.
Weah has not played for the U.S. national team under Gregg Berhalter and by the time he is recovered, it will likely be over a year since he last played for the United States at any level (being the 2019 U-20 World Cup). The fall World Cup qualifiers will soon be approaching. That will be a tough stage for Weah to take his first steps with the U.S. team under this manager.
But for Weah, his focus needs to be on his club and being ready for preseason with Lille.
Lack of forward/wing production
Aside from injuries, the biggest concern right now is the lack of production from American wings and forwards at the moment.
Consider this list: Josh Sargent, Sebastian Soto, Andrija Novakovich, Jordan Sietbacheu, Haji Wright, Tyler Boyd.
Right now, those are a list of players who aren’t producing enough goals and who could be in the picture for the U.S. national team or the U-23 team.
Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen remain in a tailspin. The last four games have been abysmal and Werder has been outscored 10-1 in that span. On Saturday, it was a 3-0 loss to RB Leipzig. Sargent went the final 25 minutes and was decent although not part of the solution.
Jordan Siebatcheu got a start for Rennes against his childhood club Lille – with whom he was affiliated from 2003-2018. He went 56 minutes and was ineffective in 1-0 loss.
Sebastian Soto has been injured but also has not played much for Hannover when healthy. Tyler Boyd rarely plays for Besiktas, and Haji Wright still is without a goal or an assist for VVV-Venlo in Holland.
Andrija Novakovich hasn’t scored much but his hold-up play has been pretty effective for Frosinone. On Saturday, the Wisconsin native came into the game in the 33rd minute hand was part of a 1-0 win over Perugia. He also leads the team with four assists on the season despite having just one goal. The good news is that Frosinone is in third place and on the verge of sneaking into the promotional playoff positions for a shot of climbing into Serie A.
Managerial ups and downs
There are two prominent American born and raised managers in Europe: Pellegrino Matarazzo of Stuttgart and Jesse Marsch at Red Bull Salzburg. Both had very different weekends.
On Monday, Stuttgart defeated Bochum 1-0 on the road in the fourth league game under Matarazzo, a native of New Jersey. The club now has accumulated 10 out of a possible 12 points under Matarazzo to remain in third place in the 2.Bundlesliga – with just goal differential separating itself from second place.
On Saturday, Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg lost at home to LASK 2-3 and it was the first defeat Marsch has suffered in the Austrian Bundesliga. But it was also costly as LASK overtook Salzburg by single point to sit atop the table.
Marsch has had a considerably harder job with Salzburg than LASK given that he has seen two of his best players sold and has had been forced into more quad rotation due to Champions League play. But now Marsch will have to deal with more pressure now that it is clear Salzburg won’t run away with the title.
Brooks’ rare opportunity
John Brooks has been benched for most of the season since the Bundesliga winter break resumed. But due to a suspension to newly acquired Marin Pongracic, Brooks got the chance to start against Hoffenheim.
In the end Wolfsburg came away with a 3-2 away win but did Brooks do enough to keep his job? It will be tough given that Pongracic and Robin Knoche are rated highly. Brooks had some nice moments but was overall not any better than decent. It will likely remain a tough situation for him to play when Wolfsburg is at 100%.
Dest sharp again for Ajax
Sergino Dest, 19, was once again solid for Ajax on Saturday in a 3-0 win over last-place RKC Wallwijk. The Dutch-American got the start at right back and the game lived up to its expectations as being a mismatch. Dest didn’t register a goal or an assist but was highly effective getting up the right side.
He finished with three shots (none on target) and two successful dribbles. One out of his three crosses was accurate. Defensively he was solid with two clearances and a nice tackle in the 30th minute. But he was also fouled three different times by Waalwijk players who struggled to contain him.
Ream and Fulham suffer bad loss
Fulham is looking for a quick return back to the Premier League and is a contender for automatic promotion. But Saturday’s loss at home to last place Barnsley is inexcusable. Fulham came into the game even on points with second-placed Leeds but were simply outplayed by the worst team in the league.
Ream is one of Fulham’s most reliable players but wasn’t strong in this one. Now it will be up to him to respond Friday against Derby.
U.S. U-23 midfielder Richard Ledezma has been suspended for three games by the KNVB for the red card he picked up last weekend where he kicked an opponent. The suspension likely applies to all levels and will likely run through the end of February.
Amon closer to comeback
In better news, American winger Jonathan Amon, 20, is nearing a comeback and hasn’t played for Nordsjaelland since September 22. Overall in his young career he has struggled with injuries.
But the South Carolina native played 20 minutes for Nordsjaelland’s reserve team over the weekend vs. Brondby.
Sonora brothers meet
In Argentina’s Primera, history was almost made as two brothers nearly faced off for the first time in a foreign league when Independiente hosted Arsenal de Sarandi. Alan Sonora was on the bench for Independiente and his older brother, Joel Sonora, was on the bench for Arsenal.
Arsenal de Sarandi took a 15th minute lead and Joel Sonora came in for the second half. The game ended up finishing 1-1.