Americans abroad analysis
Otasowie's strong EPL debut, Weah's stunner cap midweek action for Yanks
December 16, 2020
THE MIDWEEK SLATE of games abroad brought some goalazzos, debuts, and memorable moments for a sizable number of American players. While 2020 has been a rough year for many across the globe, for American soccer it has actually been quite good – both domestically and abroad.
Here are a few of my notes on all of this.
Otasowie debuts vs. Pulisic
On Tuesday, Wolves posted an upset 2-1 win on Chelsea that saw Christian Pulisic return to the Chelsea starting XI and Owen Otasowie make his Premier League debut with Wolves.
After Pulisic missed Chelsea’s game over the weekend, there was concern about whether he had suffered a reinjury because Frank Lampard’s comments last week were far from reassuring. But Pulisic didn’t just return, he returned and played the full 90.
What was most promising for Pulisic is that he had four successful dribbles in this game, which was tied for the game-high and led Chelsea players. He also drew five fouls which was the most of any player in the game.
For Pulisic, 22, it was his first start since a Champions League start vs. Sevilla on December 2 and his first Premier League start since October 24. Aside from some normal rust, he played well.
The real story in this game was the debut of Otasowie, 19, who was fantastic in his debut as he played the entire second half as Wolves rallied for the win after being down 1-0 in the 49th minute.
Otasowie technically had an assist on Daniel Podence’s goal for the equalizer although his header to Podence in the box was far removed from the actual shot that scored.
The scouting report on Otasowie is that he is a physically gifted player that can easily handle the physical side of the game, move well, and is also smooth on the ball. In his 45 minutes against Chelsea, he lived up to his reputation.
“The confidence he showed is fantastic, stepping out with the ball, showing how powerful he is,” Wolves captain Conor Coady said on Wolves’ YouTube channel. “He’s a great lad, you see him improving every day in training, which he does all the time now. He gets on with his business, gets on with trying to get better. It’s fantastic to see him out there. Over the years we’ve played quite a lot of young lads and he’s the next one. He kept his shape, it’s not an easy game to come onto. …. I think he was getting annoyed with me because I kept going up to him to tell him to stay inside and he wants to go get the ball.”
In just 45 minutes of work, Otasowie had impressive stats that in some categories look as if he played the entire game. His four interceptions led all players in the game and his three aerials were very solid. His touch map shows that he was truly involved in a box-to-box game.
Owen Otasowie: Raw # for Wolves in 2-1 win vs Chelsea— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) December 15, 2020
45 mins (2nd half)
2 key passes
81.3% passing (13/16)
4 interceptions (led all players)
1 blocked shot
- Premier League debut
- Touch Map#USMNT pic.twitter.com/FSR16ZHGhG
Otasowie recently came off his U.S. national team debut last month against Wales and is eligible for the U.S. U-20 and U-23 teams in 2021 as well as the U-23 team in 2024. While he has not earned many minutes thus far and has limited experience with U.S. youth national teams, he quietly has been regarded as a top prospect. It is easy to see why.
Reyna & BVB best Sargent & Werder
On Tuesday, two Americans faced off against each other as Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen hosted Borussia Dortmund and the result was hardly a surprise as Dortmund walked away with a 2-1 win.
For Sargent and Werder, the result fit the trend as the club has been in a quick sink after a decently strong start. Last season, the club narrowly escaped relegation after a win in the playoff (and via away goals too). This loss was its fourth straight and it is now in 14th place.
For Sargent, he was once again quiet and staved for service. Part of it is on him, as strikers do need to play a role in creating their own chances, and Sargent has done well in games against good teams – like he did in last month’s draw against Bayern Munich.
But in this one, he had little impact and that has been the case over the four-straight losses and another relegation battle is looming
Josh Sargent: raw # for Werder Bremen in 2-1 loss to BVB— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) December 15, 2020
0 key passes
61.5% passing (8/13)
1 aerial won
1 blocked shot
1/2 long balls#USMNT
Reyna, 18, meanwhile continues to do well as Dortmund continues to try to push through this period without an injured Erling Haaland. In this game, he put up good numbers and that accurately reflected yet another solid performance.
- 90 minutes
- 69 touches
- 2 shots
- 2 key passes
- 76.5% passing (39/51)
- 4 dribbles (led all players)
- 0 crosses
- 1/2 long balls
While Reyna has scored some very impressive goals in 2020, what is most impressive about him is his consistency. The typical floor for a Reyna performance is very high and now he is showing it without Haaland – who can make any midfielder look good. Reyna is one of the go-to players now and is answering the call well.
McKennie continues run for Juventus
After recently completing the best week of his career which included a goal in a derby win over Torino, a goal against Barcelona in the Champions League, and an assist in a win over Genoa, McKennie kept his strong form going on Wednesday in a 1-1 draw with Atalanta.
McKennie, 22, went the full 90 in the draw and was effective
Weston McKennie: raw # for Juventus is 1-1 draw vs. Atalanta— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) December 16, 2020
2 chances created
2 key passes
17/24 passing (71%)
6 duels won (3 lost)
2 aerials won (1 lost)
1 tackle (3 attempts)
1 yellow card
- touch map pic.twitter.com/Op6D2eAQAV
He some bad touches, for sure, but was overall a net positive for Juventus in terms of his combination to defend and move forward into the attack effectively
Juventus has been climbing the Serie A table and is into third – three points in back of Inter Milan and four points behind leaders AC Milan.
Weah goalazzo for troubled Lille
It is the best of times and it is the worst of times for Lille at the moment. The club currently sits atop the Ligue 1 standings by one point over Paris St. Germain. On Wednesday, it won its third game in a row in a 2-0 win over last-place Dijon.
The bad news, however, is that the club is reportedly in a dire financial state with debts approaching €130 million. This will force it to sell players in January to stay afloat.
On Wednesday, the club was able to block that all out with a win over the last-place team.
Tim Weah, 20, scored his first Ligue 1 goal of the season when he hit a terrific shot after a horrible Dijon mistake. Combined with his Europa-league goal against Celtic last week, Weah is trending up at the moment. This goal, was a first-class shot all the way and that is something Weah likes to do.
Tim Weah takes your error and makes you pay pic.twitter.com/RJVVjklVxe— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) December 16, 2020
Weah is making a push for more minutes and the club might have been gradually easing him back into the rotation after a lost season in 2019/20. But with the finances the way they are, Weah might find himself into more minutes in 2021. What he has to hope for, however, is that Lille don’t’ suffer a complete collapse following the sale of too many core players.
Matarazzo’s Stuttgart comeback
Following a 5-1 romp over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, VfB Stuttgart played to a thrilling 2-2 draw with Union Berlin on Tuesday. American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo continues to have his club push forward and attack with entertaining soccer.
In this game, both teams were attacking relentlessly throughout the game but with Stuttgart trailing 2-0 in the 85th minute, it scored two late goals for an equalizer. Through 12 games, Stuttgart has now won four, drawn six, and lost just two. It’s 26 goals scored are the third highest in the Bundesliga so far this season.
Next up is Wolfsburg on Sunday.
Mussah scores in Copa del Ray
Yunus Musah, 18, helped salvage Valencia from an embarrassing loss on Wednesday when he came off the bench and scored a stoppage time equalizer against Terrassa to even the score at 2-2. Eventually, Valencia would go on to win 4-2 after extra time.
Found video of Yunus Musah's goal today ???????? pic.twitter.com/Fa3u3T8YXS— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) December 16, 2020
Valencia has not been playing well lately in La Liga and are winless in four. Musah’s goal saved the club from a loss against a semiprofessional side that has players with a wide variety of jobs outside of the sport – including as a dentist.
Terrassa are VERY MUCH part-timers, their squad include...An Amazon delivery driver, three teachers, a guy that works in a sports shop and a dentist! They've just taken Valencia to extra time and were seconds away from knocking out the (still) reigning champions! #CopaDelYay— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) December 16, 2020
Valencia narrowly escaped and it would have been something if Terrassa had won.
Robinson starts in Fulham draw
Antonee Robinson started and went the distance for Fulham on Wednesday in a 0-0 draw with a Brighton side that was just two points ahead of it in the standings. It wasn’t a great result for Fulham while playing at home but it was important for the likely relegation battle that awaits in the spring.
Robinson, 23, wasn’t as sharp as he was in his MOTM outing against Liverpool over the weekend as his passing was off. But defensively, he hustled, covered a ton of ground, and put in another impressive effort to keep Brighton off the board.
- 90 minutes
- 79 touches
- 0 shots
- 2 key passes
- 57.5% passing (27/47)
- 1 aerial won
- 4 dribbles
- 1x fouled
- 2 tackles
- 2 interceptions
- 3 clearances
- 0/3 accurate crosses
- 1/8 accurate long balls
Overall, Robinson continues to be one of Fulham’s best players and it has been a great season so far as he has made a smooth transition to the Premier League – where he will likely play for a long time, possibly beyond Fulham sooner than later.
Elsewhere in Europe
Tyler Adams was quietly effective for RB Leipzig on Wednesday as he played the final 16 minutes plus stoppage time to see out a 1-0 win over Hoffenheim. With the win, Leipzig remained even on points with Bayern Munich for second place but in third place on goal differential.
Also in the Bundesliga, U.S. U-20 forward Matthew Hoppe played the final four minutes for Schalke in a 2-0 loss to Freiburg. Schalke remains in last place and winless on the season.
It has been a very long time since Bobby Wood scored or assisted for Hamburg SV but the Hawaiian came off the bench late and hit a nice assist in stoppage time to cap a 4-0 win over Sandhausen.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Fortuna Dusseldorf win its third in row on Wednesday in a 3-0 win over Osnabruck. Alfredo Morales went 90 in the win and has been playing well lately. Julian Green played just the first half for Greuther Furth on Tuesday in an ugly 4-0 loss at home to Darmstadt. It was a surprising result as both Green and Furth had been playing well. The lost sent Furth into third place.
In the Danish Cup, Haji Wright scored his eighth goal in all competitions for Sonderjyske as it defeated Lyngby 2-1 in extratime to advance to the semifinals.
In Belgium’s top flight, Brenden Hines-Ike started on the right side of a three-man backline for Kortrijk and helped his side to a 2-1 win over Standard Liege.