Americans abroad analysis

Key questions remain for top Yanks while Cappis, EPB, Kelman, Dest stand tall

It wasn't a great weekend for Americans abroad as questions surround key players like Pulisic, McKennie, and Sargent while a very long list of key players remain out injured. As he does every Monday morning, ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through the good, the bad, and the ugly of the recent weekend of Americans abroad. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 23, 2019
8:00 AM
AS FAR AS Americans abroad, this weekend wasn’t a good one. Yes there were a few nice stories, but overall the good news was few and far between. In addition, the most high-profile American players failed to stand out.

As we do every monday, here is an in-depth look at all the top stories. 

Pulisic’s stays on Chelsea bench

The biggest game this weekend for Americans abroad was Chelsea hosting Liverpool. Pulisic was not expected to start after going as an unused substitute last weekend in a win over Wolves and midweek in a home loss to Valencia in the Champions League.

Chelsea ended up playing to a 2-1 loss at home to the leaders and once again, Pulisic did not get off the bench. While many American fans are frustrated, these are the stakes at the biggest clubs in England. Pulisic had a bunch of chances early, didn’t make the most of them and is now riding the bench. The obvious counterpoint is that several Chelsea players are also playing poorly. But Pulisic is a young import, the standards are never uniform.

That being said, Pulisic will likely get more chances in the future because Chelsea hasn’t been great with Pulisic sitting on the bench either. Eventually the club will run out of other people to blame.

“He wasn’t a victim of the injuries. I’ve got a squad to pick from. Before that he had played a few games,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. “Willian has come back in and been sharp and looked good. I decided to go with Mason [Mount] today, because we needed to stay strong in midfield and play Mason high up the pitch. That is my choice to make. He will get ample opportunities. He is a young player as well as everyone is talking about Mason and Tammy and Fikayo. He is actually as young, if not younger, than some of them. His chances will come.”

This will be a tough battle for Pulisic and Chelsea has a lot invested in him. The ball is in Pulisic’s court to respond.

McKennie and Sargent fail to standout

It wasn’t a particularly strong weekend for Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent – for different reasons.

McKennie, 21, earned the start for Schalke which went on to defeat Mainz 2-1. McKennie went 76 minutes and left with the score even 1-1. The Texan was sharp in the first half but struggled in the second where he made some sloppy turnovers and overall didn’t contribute that much.

Once again, the problem with McKennie is that he doesn’t have a real defined role for Schalke. His versatility is useful but it often makes managers look to use him to fill in as a plug wherever there is a weakness. Instead, McKennie is not being allowed to blossom in a particular role. Perhaps that will still come in the future under new manager David Wagner.

As for Josh Sargent, he went 80 minutes for Werder Bremen in a 3-0 loss at home to RB Leipzig. Sargent did what he could although that wasn’t nearly enough. The gap between the two teams is extremely wide and that was evident on Saturday.

Sargent improved in the second half with some useful one-touch passing because Werder was up a man and it became clear that Sargent was no match physically with Leipzig’s central defenders. But overall, this was a learning lesson for Sargent.

Steffen outstanding in loss

Fortuna Dusseldorf dropped a 2-1 decision to Borussia Monchengladbach. Fortuna kept it close primarily because of Zack Steffen who was named by Kicker Magazine to its Bundesliga Team of the Week for his effort.

The season is just five weeks old but it is the second time Steffen has won the honor.

You wonder if Steffen really does have a future with Manchester City down the road.

Dest starts in huge Ajax-PSV derby

PSV and Ajax are realistically the only teams with a chance to win the Eredivisie these days. So whenever the two teams meet, a title is likely on the line – even if the matchups are in the beginning of the season.

So Sergino Dest starting for Ajax against PSV is yet another sign that the club view him as a good player right now and one with a potentially huge future. In many regards, earning the start vs. PSV away is even more impressive than the Champions League starts.

Dest had a hand in Ajax’s goal to open the scoring when he made a nice move to deliver the ball into the box which eventually resulted in a Quincey Promes goal. Eventually, PSV found the equalizer in a 1-1 draw.

For American fans this is all secondary as everyone awaits whether or not Dest will play for the United States or the Netherlands in the future. He has reportedly met with the Dutch Federation but he refused to indicate a decision after the game. Dest has played with the U.S. youth teams at the 2017 U-17 World Cup and the 2019 U-20 World Cup but was born and raised in the Netherlands.

Either way, I am sure that most American fans hope this saga ends by October. The worst outcome would be to have Dest decline October call-ups from both teams in order to keep his options. That will only serve as a distraction as the U.S. team tries to move forward. 

Kelman scores an emotional goal

U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman, 17, scored the game winning goal for Southend United in a 1-0 away win over MK Dons on Saturday. It was the first win of the season for Southend and it was Kelman’s first league goal of the season (he scored twice in the League Cup last month).

This was unreported at the time, but Kelman’s grandfather passed away on Thursday in Scotland which made this goal even more emotional for the teenager.

The goal came in the 3rd minute when Kelman took advantage of a loose ball and fired it home with his left foot.

Cappis wins MOTM

In the Danish Superliga, Christian Cappis won the Man of the Match for Hobro in a 1-1 draw with Sonderjyske. It was a disappointing result for the club as it attempted to build momentum off a big upset win over Copenhagen but Cappis, 20, remains a very important player for the team.

After not making the U-20 World Cup team this summer, Cappis is flying under the radar at the moment. The central midfielder is an option for the U.S. U-23 team although he has not appeared in a camp for Jason Kreis as of yet.

Robinson strong for Wigan

U.S. U-23 left back Antonee Robinson had a strong outing for Wigan Athletic on Saturday during a 2-0 win over Charlton. The English-born Robinson was very strong defensively and used his speed to get forward on multiple occasions. This was he second best outing of the season following a standout performance in the opening weekend during a 3-2 win over Cardiff. 

Once again, however, Wigan remain too close to the relegation zone with just eight points from eight games. 

Marsch & Salzburg drop points

Whether it be games in the Austrian Cup, the Austrian Bundesliga, or the UEFA Champions League, Red Bull Salzburg has blown out every team this season – until now.

On Sunday, Salzburg played to a 2-2 away draw against third place LASK in the Austrian Bundesliga. Jesse Marsch’s team actually had to rally from a 0-2 deficit to earn a point.

With Salzburg having so many games in quick succession (it had the Champions League last midweek, the Austrian Cup this midweek, a Champions League away date at Liverpool the following weekend – all sandwiched between Austrian Bundesliga games on the weekends), squad rotation is absolutely necessary.

Marsch continues to do an outstanding job with Salzburg and managing squad rotation is going to be critical over the upcoming two months.

Amon’s comeback continues

U.S. U-23 eligible winger Jonthan Amon has shown a lot of talent in his young career and he’s also shown an unfortunate tendency to getting injured too frequently

Last weekend Amon made his first appearance of the season for Nordsjaelland when he played the final 15 minuets of a 4-2 loss to Brondby. On Sunday, he went the final 23 minutes in a 2-1 win over AaB.

His 38 minutes so far have been mostly uneventful and Nordsjaelland hasn’t scored with him on the field. But overall, he’s working his way back quietly and hopefully he can avoid future injuries so that he can move himself into the shop window. Each injury, however, makes that a tougher reality.

Palmer-Brown enjoys strong shift

U.S U-23 eligible central defender Erik Palmer-Brown had his best performance in his loan to Austria Vienna when he went the distance in a 2-0 win over Altach on Sunday.

Ever since signing for Manchester City, Palmer-Brown has gone on loan to clubs where it is tough to get noticed: Kortrijk, NAC Breda, and now Austria Vienna. He remains a very talented player but one where he is eventually going to have to play to his high-level of potential to get noticed.

Next Saturday’s game against Jesse Marsch and league-leading Red Bull Salzburg will be a huge test.

A lot of MIA’s

For a variety of reasons, there were still way too many players not in action.

Injuries continue to sideline DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Tim Weah, Tyler Adams, Aron Johannsson, Sebastian Soto, and Matt Miazga.

Pulisic was not the only disappointing player to go as an unused substitute. In Argentina, Joel Sonora did not get off the bench for Arsenal de Sarandi in a 2-1 loss to Racing Club. Both teams had a player sent off in the first half. Despite having three goals on the season, Sonora could not see the field. Meanwhile, Tyler Boyd was scheduled to start Monday's game for Besiktas on the bench. 

There were also players who failed to take advantage of key opportunities.

Bobby Wood did little for Hamburg in a late cameo during a 4-0 win over Erzgebirge Aue. Haji Wright played the final 19 minutes for VVV Venlo in a 1-0 loss to Willem II.

In the Greek Superliga, Gbolyi Ariyibi earned his first start for Panetolikos in a 1-0 loss to AEK Athens. Panetolikos has lost each of their first four games of the season.

Romain Gall earned a rare start for Malmoe in a 3-0 win over Elfsborg. He did not score or assist but went 63 minutes (with the game scoreless) in a win that moved Malmoe to within three points from the top of the table.

Cameron Carter-Vickers earned the start for Stoke City which managed a 0-0 draw away at Brenford. Carter-Vickers will find it tough to standout on a Stoke City team that is very poor and winless on the season.

Youth report

On Friday, Alex Mendez started for Jong Ajax but was replaced at halftime with Jong Ajax trailing the Go Ahead Eagles 1-0. The game finished 1-1.

Chris Golster, Richie Ledezma and Jong PSV will Cambur on Monday.

In U-19 Bundesliga, Gio Reyna started and scored a nice goal for Borussia Dortmund in a 6-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Reyna’s goal made it 4-0 just before the half.

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