Americans Abroad

McKennie features in big Juve win, Turner returns to Forest XI, and much more

It was another weekend of a lot of good and a lot of bad regarding Americans in Europe and ASN's Brian Sciaretta offers up his many thoughts on all of it - as he does each and every single Monday. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 11, 2023
9:30 AM

WE ARE IN the last few weeks of 2023 and the European season hits is now firmly in midseason and there we have a good idea some of the key storylines. Who is pushing for Europe? Who is pushing for a title? Who is in relegation? Who needs a move in January?

This past weekend was typical. There was a lot of good. There was a lot of bad. And there was even more in between.

The good news was topped by Matt Turner who returned to the starting lineup for Nottingham Forest and got a result. Weston McKennie helped Juventus with a nice win. Auston Trusty started in a cleansheet win and survived a late VAR review for a handball in the box. Antonee Robinson keeps rolling. Folarin Balogun had a two assist effort in a big Monaco win. Kahveh Zahiroleslam and Marlon Fossey had good weekends in Belgium.

The mixed bag was Christian Pulisic who assisted but in a loss that really set back AC Milan and has their fanbase all upset. Chris Richards is playing, but he’s not a defensive midfielder despite good on the defensive side of the ball. His manager admitted so much. Djordje Mihailovic started in a AZ win in the Netherlands but wasn’t part of the key moments of the game.

The bad went to Lennard Maloney who had a tough outing for Heidenheim despite a win. Gaga Slonina had a bad error in Eupen’s loss.


Turner returns to Forest XI


On Saturday, Matt Turner returned to Nottingham Forest’s starting lineup after a disastrous midweek effort from Odysseas Vlachodimos in a 5-0 loss to Fulham. The U.S. national team No. 1 played the full game for Forest in a 1-1 away draw with Wolverhampton. He made three saves, wasn’t responsible for the one goal that got. It was a decent but not spectacular outing. It should keep him in the lineup for the team’s next game.

The result ended a four-game losing streak but Forest needs a win soon as it is tumbling towards the relegation zone (five points clear of Luton Town). Three of their next four games are at home starting with Tottneham next weekend and Bournemouth on December 23.

Overall, this was a very positive development for the national team who desperately needs goalkeepers who are playing and playing well enough.


McKennie strong in big Juve win


Weston McKennie played 89 minutes for Juventus on Friday in a big 1-0 win over reigning champions Napoli on Friday night in Turin. Overall, the USMNT midfielder was strong in the win and nearly had a goal in the 30th minute when his close shot was sent over the goal.

McKennie, 25, did what he always does. He worked hard physically, won duels, covered a ton of ground, and helped his team win. But in this game McKennie was also tidy in possession and wasn’t sloppy. He tired towards the end of his shift and made a few turnovers then. But overall, he was very good and was what Juventus needed tactically and with his skills.

This continues to be an excellent season for McKennie in his return to Juventus. He has been what the team has needed as it competes for a title. Few expected this season to have gone this well. On another note, Tim Weah has returned to training for Juve but it is going to be hard for him to crack the XI right now. 

Juventus temporarily moved atop the table with the win (Inter Milan was playing later in the day) but is in a clear title race. Napoli fell to fifth with the loss.


Pulisic assists in Milan loss


The good news is that Christian Pulisic picked up an assist for AC Milan on Saturday in a moment where Atalanta defenders were switched off and the ball rolled through the box to Jovic. That equalized the game at 2-2 in the 79th minute.  Shortly before, he forced a save on a shot from distance.

The bad news is that Milan coughed up a late goal to drop a 3-2 loss. The play began with a Pulisic turnover, but it was mostly the fault of catastrophic defending. Other than a few nice moments here and there, Milan wasn’t great in this game and Atalanta deserved the win.

As for Yunus Musah, he was a perfect 23/23 with his passing over a full 90 minutes but didn’t do much to put Milan on the front foot in this game. He only had one pass into the final third.

Milan sits third and is nine points off the lead, seven points behind 2nd place Juventus. Combined with the likely group stage exit from the Champions League, fans are mad at Stefan Pioli. That would be a huge blow for Pulisic if Pioli is sacked. Pioli believes in Pulisic and Pulisic has had such a volatile history with managers, it would be tough for him if there is a change.


Yanks in the Premier League


It wasn’t always easy, but Sheffield United defeated Brentford 1-0 for a rare result this season and perhaps a pulse in their relegation battle. The club still sits in last place, but is within striking distance of climbing out of the hole. Sheffield United took the lead just before halftime via James McAtee screamer and then held on.

Auston Trusty played the entire game at left back which he plays occasionally in a more defensive minded approach. Of his 43 touches, only three were in the attacking third. And in second half stoppage time with Sheffield United clinging on, VAR had to review a potential penalty due to a Trusty handball but in the end, it wasn’t given.

Trusty lost almost all his duels on the day, committed four fouls, but he had six clearances and was solid with his passing. He wasn’t great, but he was more than good enough to keep his starting job at Sheffield United, which should be motivated in an uphill promotional fight after this game.

As for the national team, he will need to show some consistency. Berhalter has said he is not far off because he is in the Premier League. March is still a long ways off, but more performances like this could see him get his chance.  


Chris Richards continued to start at central midfield and he went 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Liverpool after conceding two late goals. Richards played well defensively but was just 8/14 passing. My take is that he’s still a promising player but he’s a central defender. He doesn’t have any future hope of converting to a central midfielder beyond being a stop-gap measure.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson said it best:

“Chris Richards I think is doing a wonderful job but he's a center-back having moved into midfield,” Hodgeson said. “And I'm pleased with him, but he's not really a classic central midfielder, we don't have one of those."

The key is to get him back to playing centerback again. None of this means he shouldn’t be on the move in January unless the path is cleared for him to start at Palace. But there are a lot of moving parts.

Antonee Robinson was once again solid for Fulham in a 5-0 win over West Ham in a London Derby. He covered a ton of ground, won his duels, and got forward effectively. He left in the 75th with Fulham up 4-0. He’s been great the last two months for both club and country. Meanwhile, Tim Ream missed the game for a minor calf injury.


Yanks in the Championship


On Friday, Coventry defeated Birmingham City 2-0 and Haji Wright went the distance for Coventry. Despite neither scoring or assisting, Wright had a nice game. He was an absolute handful to defend. He had four shots including a sequence in the 57th minute when forced a save off a header and then a minute later, he had a shot deep inside the box that forced another big save. But Wright was also good with passing and in winning duels. With the win, Coventry moved into 14th place and have now won three of their last four games.

Don’t look now, but Queens Park Rangers is nearly out of the relegation zone in England’s second tier and their climb started when Reggie Cannon began starting for the club again after his injury. The latest step was a 2-0 win over eighth place Hull City. Cannon played well on both ends of the ball over 75 minutes and Charlie Kelman made another late cameo in the win.

Duane Holmes played the last 27 minutes for Preston North End in a 0-0 draw with Norwich.

Lynden Gooch played the full game for Stoke City in a 1-0 loss at home to Sheffield Wednesday. It was the fourth loss in a row for Stoke City.


Yanks in Belgium


Entering this week, the bottom two teams in the First Division were Westerlo and Kortrijk as the cellar-dwellers. Westerlo came into this game after firing manager Jonas De Roeck earlier this week. Kortrijk too also entered fresh off a new manager.

In the end, Westerlo ended up winning 2-1 in Kortrijk in a result that really puts Kortrijk in a bad place. Westerlo’s winning goal came in the 86th minute. Three Americans played in this game and the best effort came from Bryan Reynolds who played entire game for Westerlo at right back. He created three chances and had 58 touches. Griffin Yow has been playing very well lately and started this game for Westerlo as a right winger. Yow left in the 79th minute with the score 1-1 and was active, but wasn’t as dangerous as he has been in recent games. Alex Mighten was a late 90th minute sub for Kortrijk after they fell behind but didn’t do anything of note.

All three of the Americans in this game are eligible for the U.S. U-23 team but only Reynolds seems likely to make the Olympic roster. Yow’s emergence has come late and he needs to really continue to produce to get a look. Mighten, meanwhile, just hasn’t been able to do anything for a bad Kortrijk team.

Sam Vines continued to miss time and was not on the roster again for Antwerp in a 3-1 win over Cercle Brugge.

Kahveh Zahiroleslam scored his first goal in the Belgian First Division as his nice strike gave St. Truiden a 1-0 lead on Leuven. The game ended 1-1 and St. Truiden sits in eighth place. Zahiroleslam is eligible for the U.S. Olympic team but it might be too far along in the cycle for him to break into that team. Also, we don't yet know if his perference is to play for Iran. But it is interesting to see a college player from Yale making a move to Belgium and fitting in so quickly.

Mark McKenzie
was not in uniform for Genk in a 3-1 win over AS Eupen. Gaga Slonina started for Eupen and made six saves, but also made a terrible mistake in the first Genk goal just before halftime which changed the narrative of the game.

Finally, Marlon Fossey had a very good game for Standard Liege on Sunday in a 2-2 away draw with Anderlecht. Playing as a right wingback, he assisted on Standard's 45th minute goal which equalized the game at 1-1. This was a good step for Fossey who has been off the last few months after a very good rebound season in 2022/23 (following years of knee problems).


Yanks in the Bundesliga


On Friday, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Hoffenheim defeated Bochum 3-1 to remain in sixth place in Germany’s top tier. John Brooks returned to the starting lineup for Hoffenheim to play in a four-man backline. He did well to help with the win, but it was different for Brooks as he didn’t have to win a single aerial (he was 0/0 in attempts), won just one tackle, and made just a single interception. Still, his positioning was solid, and he was not at fault for the Bochum goal which came off a terrific volley in stoppage time.


It was good news and bad news for Lennard Maloney this weekend. Yes, he started for Heidenheim in what ended as a big 3-2 win over Darmstadt on Saturday. But overall, it was a very tough outing. Maloney did not play well and his worst moment came in the 60th minute when he shanked a clearance and it went into his goal for an own-goal. This gave Darmstadt a 2-1 lead. Maloney was subbed out minutes later and Heidenheim completed a comeback win.

Heidenheim is getting some nice results here and there to stay in the league. Maloney has a limited role in this team to sit in front of the backline and defend. Anything on top of that is a bonus. He’s not offensive at all. The problem for him is that if he struggles defensively, he could see his way to the bench. We will see if he has staying power with the USMNT far into 2024 but I wouldn’t’ surprise me if he is overtaken.  

Union Belin broke its 10 game Bundesliga winless skid to move out of the relegation zone with its 3-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Brenden Aaronson played just the last 16 minutes and had nine touches and was 2/2 in passing. We will see if he can get back into an expanding role but this is probably frustrating for him. Joe Scally started and went 70 minutes in the loss. He wasn’t bad, but this wasn’t a game he will remember. Meanwhile, Jordan Pefok continued to be out with an injury.

Kevin Paredes played the final 10 minutes for Wolfsburg in a 1-0 loss at home to Freiburg. Paredes did nothing of note in this game and it seems like hopes of him being a regular starter have faded. But he needs to continue to push.

 Meanwhile, Gio Reyna played the final eight minutes plus stoppage time for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-2 loss at home to Leipzig. There really isn’t anything that can be said at this point. It’s going to be an interesting time for Reyna.


Yanks in the 2.Bundesliga


It was a great result for relegation battling Eintracht Braunschweig which defeated Wehen Wiesbaden 3-1 on the road to move withing five points of the relegation playoff position. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was a bad day for U.S. U-23 forward Johan Gomez who started for Eintracht and was subbed out at halftime with his team down 1-0. Without him, his team scored three goals for the big win. This could see him lose his starting position as the team desperately needs to continue winning.

On Saturday, former U.S. national team forward Julian Green and current U.S. U-23 centerback Maximilian Dietz both went 90 minutes for Greuther Furth in a 1-1 draw with Magdeburg after surrendering a stoppage time equalizer. While still a result for Furth, this game ended a five game winning streak for the club which put it into a promotional hunt. Still, despite only earning a point, Furth remained in fourth place and is within striking distance of the top two spots.

On Saturday, Terrence Boyd started and played for Kaiserslautern in a 2-1 loss at home to Hertha BSC. Kaiserslautern has lost five games in a row and has just one point from seven games. The team is tumbling into a potential relegation battle and is just two points clear of the relegation playoff line.


Yanks in France


Folarin Balogun had two assists for Monaco in a 2-1 away win over Rennes to remain third in Ligue 1. He now has four goals and three assists in his last 12 games for Monaco.  Overall, Monaco must be pleased with their purchases as he has kept the team producing offensively after there were injuries to other players before he arrived.


For the United States national team, they have a good player in Balogun. But it is a matter of him developing chemistry with his teammates. There seems to be a disconnect there and it is tough to fix given how infrequently the national team is together.

Also, Emmanuel Sabbi did not play for Le Havre in a 2-1 loss to Strasbourg on Sunday.


Yanks in the Netherlands


On Friday, we talked about PSV’s win over Heerenveen and Ricardo Pepi’s latest goal as well as the performances from Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman.

But also on Friday, Volendam lost their fourth Eredivisie game in a row and have just one point from six games following a 3-1 loss to Feyenoord. Zach Booth entered the game in the 19th minute due to an injury but he couldn’t prevent the loss.

On Saturday, Djordje Mihailovic started for AZ Alkmaar in a 4-1 win over Almere City. He was decent, although he left the game in the 64th minute with the score 1-1. His substitute scored one of the team’s three goals after he left. In the end, this didn’t do much to help in his quest to be a regular starter for AZ, which sits in third place.

On Saturday, Agustin Anello was not in uniform for Sparta Rotterdam in a 2-1 loss at Ajax. His role there has been declining. Anthony Fontana was an unused sub for PEC Zwolle in a 2-1 loss at NEC Nijmegen. Taylor Booth played the final 27 minutes for Utrecht in a 2-0 away win over Go Ahead Eagles. The scoring was already completed by the time Booth came into the game.

In the second division Eerstie Divisie on Friday, Justin Che was still out injured for fourth-place ADO Den Haag in a 1-1 draw with leaders Willem II. John Hilton went 90 minutes at left back for ninth-place FC Dordrecht in a 1-1 draw with 11th-place VVV Venlo.


Yanks in Serie B


Leaders and promotion contending Venezia saw their five-game winning streak end on Saturday with a tough 1-0 away loss to Cremonese. It was a tough loss for Venezia given Cremonese went down to 10 men in the 51st minute and surrendered the winning goal in the 80th.

Tanner Tessmann went the full 90 in the loss while Gianluca Busio went 78 minutes. Tessmann was widely considered by local media to be Venezia’s best player on the day and he is having a good season a Venezia still sits second. Busio didn’t have the same level of impact he has been having recently but is still having a strong season.

While Venezia still is in a good position and are just a point back of leaders Parma, this was clearly a missed opportunity in their promotion effort.

Andrija Novakovich started and played 63 minutes for Lecco in a 2-0 loss to Sampdoria. Lecco sits in 16th place in the 20-team league.

On Sunday, Kristoffer Lund saw a fairly solid effort for Palermo go to waste against league leaders Parma. The USMNT left back was subbed out in the 75th minute with Palermo up 2-1 on the road. Palermo then went on to take a 3-1 lead in the 85th minute. But Parma scored twice in stoppage time to force a 3-3 draw. Lund was strong defensively and with his duels (needed on the road against a good team) but completed just nine passes in a game where he was in his half most of the time.

Palermo fell to eighth place with the draw.


Yanks in Spain


Luca de la Torre started and went a full 90 for Celta Vigo in a 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano. Celta was lucky to end the game with a point after a late goal from Rayo was called back for offside. De la Torre played well in possession and was scrappy in the midfield winning balls but he didn’t create much offensively.

Celta sits three points deep in the relegation hole and their next game is against fellow relegation battlers Granada. It's the old "six-pointer."

In the Segunda, Konrad de la Fuente went the final 16 minutes for Eibar in a 2-2 draw at home to FC Andorra. He was on the field for Andorra's late equalizer when his teammate conceded a penalty via a handball. Eibar fell to fifth with the result. Jonathan Gomez went the full 90 for 11th place Mirandes in a 0-0 draw on the road against Burgos.


Yanks Elsewhere


Rokas Pukstas, 19, played the entire game for Hajduk Split in a 1-1 away draw with NK Lokamotiva. It was a disappointing result for the HNL leaders who will likely see their lead reduced. Pukstas had five shots in this game but didn’t have much of an impact. Still, he continues to be heavily scouted for a potential sale to a bigger club in 2024.

In Scotland, Cameron Carter-Vickers was again held out for Celtic after he was removed at halftime of their last game due to a precautionary hamstring issue. Celtic missed him as they went on to suffer a rare Premiership defeat in a 2-1 liss to Kilmarnock.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Dante Polvara played the last 13 minutes for Aberdeen in a 2-1 win over Hearts. He was on the field for the late stoppage time winner at him. Scott Pittman went the full 90 for Livingston in a bad 1-0 loss at home to Hibs. Livingston has lost seven league games in a row and they're in last place.

In Portugal, Alex Mendez played the last nine minutes of Vizela’s 3-1 loss at home to Braga. The 2019 U.S. U-20 mainstay did not impact the game much. Arouca played Rio Ave to a 2-2 draw but Benji Michel was an unused sub.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Sebastian Soto made his first appearance on a matchday squad since his back surgery this summer when he went as an unused sub for Austria Klagenfurt in a 2-2 draw with Austria Vienna. George Bello started and played 90 minutes for third place LASK in a 3-1 away win over Austria Lustenau on Sunday. Bello earned positive reviews for his performances which included going 4/5 on dribbles and winning 8/13 of his ground duels.

In Mexico, Alejandro Zendejas played the last 26 minutes for Club America in a 2-0 loss to San Luis in the playoffs. Despite the loss, Club America advanced 5-2 on aggregate.

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