Hyndman, Wood, Williams Suffer Losses in Key Games
April 25, 2017
Several Prominent Yanks Struggle
Some of the most in-form American players participated in ugly or forgettable losses over the weekend.
Emerson Hyndman, 20, started for Rangers in an intense Old Firm Derby against Celtic. This game was part of the Scottish Cup and will be the first of two consecutive games between these bitter rivals as they will clash in a league game next week.
While the Texan has enjoyed a great second half of the season on loan at Rangers, he offered little against Celtic which seemed to have a defensive strategy oriented on containing the American. Hyndman has thrived on being one of the more technical players in the league but Celtic defended him with physicality. Hyndman was frequently muscled off the ball and struggled to win 50-50 challenges.
Hyndman has a very bright future but his game remains incomplete. Small in stature, Hyndman will need to improve on dealing with physical, aggressive defenders. If he wants to play with his parent club Bournemouth next year in the Premier League, this type of defending will be common. None of this means, however, that fans should be pessimistic on Hyndman’s chances. He is improving steadily and seems smart enough to address weaknesses in his game – which all players of his age have.
The weekend was also setback for another American who has had a great 2017. Bobby Wood returned to Hamburg’s starting lineup on Saturday after missing last weekend’s game after a knee-on-knee collision with a teammate in training.
Normally a home game against last-place Darmstadt should have been a relatively easy three points and a clear opportunity to move well clear of the relegation zone. Instead Hamburg suffered a shocking 2-1 loss—its worst defeat of the season. Wood offered little offensively and the team sits just one point clear of Augsburg for automatic safety. Hamburg will visit Augsburg next week and a loss there will put it into a relegation playoff spot.
Alfredo Morales and Ingolstadt needed a win against Werder Bremen to maintain any realistic chance of avoiding relegation but instead dropped a 4-2 decision at home (Aron Johannsson failed to get off the bench for Werder).
Danny Williams and Reading had a chance to secure the top seed in the promotional playoff race but dropped a 3-2 decision to fellow American Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest. Similarly Huddersfield Town had a chance to lock up its playoff spot but the team, managed by former U.S. national team forward David Wagner, were demolished at home by Fulham. In the Premier League, Geoff Cameron and Stoke were outplayed by relegation fodder Swansea in a 2-0 loss.
Finally, Newcastle United secured its promotion back to the Premier League next season with a win over Preston North End but DeAndre Yedlin, normally a starter, went as an unused substitute in the clinching performances.
Corona hits the winner for Tijuana
It is easy to see why many American fans have forgotten about Joe Corona. He had some nice moments in his 17 caps for the United States national team but he was never a standout. The California native rose quickly in Mexico and won a Liga MX title with Tijuana but fell off last year when he could not see the field for the club and was loaned to the second division.
Corona, still only 26, has rebounded nicely in 2017 and is once again a regular starter for Tijuana. On Friday night Corona’s 76th-minute strike provided the opening goal in Tijuana’s 2-0 win over Toluca. The victory lifted Xolos into first place with just two games remaining before the playoffs.
Villafana, Santos make a statement
Corona was not the only American to have success in Mexico. The 2016 Apertura was tough for Santos Laguna which finished in 16th place. For American left back Jorge Villafana, it was especially difficult as his playing time diminished as the season dragged on.
The 2017 Clausura has been much better for both Santos and Villafana. The Anaheim native is a regular starter once again and Santos is on pace to make the Liga MX playoffs. On Sunday night, Santos hosted traditional Mexican power Club America and came away with a 2-1 win. Villafana was not involved with any of the goals but was steady over his 90 minutes of action.
Ream, Fulham surging toward playoffs
Could Fulham be on the verge of returning to the Premier League? The London club certainly has given itself a very good chance and is one of the hottest team in the Championship. On Saturday it traveled to face fourth-place Huddersfield Town and came away with a 4-1 win. United States national team central defender Tim Ream once again was solid in a 90-minute effort.
The promotional playoffs in England are similar to the MLS playoffs in that what you did during the regular season is essentially meaningless because it is all about which teams have the momentum. Nobody will want to face Fulham right now. It has a three-point lead on Leeds United for the final playoff spot but its 13-goal edge in a key tie-breaker means that one win realistically clinches a spot in the playoffs.
Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday are playing the best soccer heading into the playoffs while Reading and Huddersfield are stumbling into the tournament. There’ss a very realistic chance that Tim Ream could be a Premier League defender next season and that would vastly improve his standing in the eyes of Bruce Arena.
Enochs receives Osnabruck extension
As a player, Joe Enochs was a club legend at Osnabruck. As a manager, the Sacramento native has done well helping the club finish near the top of the 3.Liga standings. Last season he took over after the club had a disastrous start and led it to a finish that fell just short of promotion. This year the club is in fifth place and still within striking distance of going up.
For that, Osnabruck announced that it has signed Enochs to a three-year contract extension.
Managers who were both born and raised in the United States have had very little success in Europe. Enochs is one of the more intriguing stories given his popularity and history with Osnabruck.