Pulisic dazzles, Dest & Adams seal moves, while Aaronsson & Turner impress in busy weekend for Yanks in Europe
August 21, 2023
IT WAS the first full weekend of the European season with many American in action. On the heels of a tough 2022/23 season, several players are seeking improvement with new clubs in new leagues.
But with the transfer window still open, some player are still unsettled. Folarin Balogun, Sergino Dest, Jordan Pefok, Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, some high profile MLS players, and some younger European-based prospects are all possibilities to be on the move.
With all that said, here are my observations, thoughts and analysis of the weekend for Americans abroad in terms of games, news, transfers, and rumors.
Pulisic dazzles in AC Milan debut
This couldn’t have been scripted any better. Christian Pulisic finally breaks free from Chelsea where angry fans, countless managers, an unfairly critical media, and an uneven leadership were holding him back and blaming him for all the team’s disappointments. Sure, he won a Champions League with them – but that seems like ages ago. Heck, no one even remember him at Dortmund.
Now he gets to move on to yet another storied club, but this time Pulisic and American fans were hoping that he would finally get a fair chance to remind everyone how good he can be.
One game is just one game, but American fans wanted to see Pulisic make a statement. On Monday, he surpassed everyone’s hopeful expectations. Away at Bologna in the Serie A opener, Pulisic simply dominated.
In the 11th minute, he essentially created the first goal with a outstanding ball into the box for a “hockey assist.”
Christian Pulisic ?? Tijjani Reijnders ?? Olivier Giroud— CBS Sports Golazo ?? (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 21, 2023
Milan open their 2023-24 account in style. ???? pic.twitter.com/FptNoHiICb
Then in the 21st minute Pulisic got on the scoring sheet with a outstanding run and then finish from outside the box.
This is a great goal from Pulisic. Perfect strike pic.twitter.com/wfE6zNweXZ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 21, 2023
His numbers in the first half spoke for themselves.
That first half for Pulisic— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 21, 2023
- 28 touches
- 14/19 passing
- 2 chances created
- 1 “hockey” assist
- 1 goal
- 3/3 in duels won
- 1/1 tackles
- 1/1 dribbles
- 2/4 crosses
- 1 interception
- 4 recoveries
- 1 drawn foul
- 0 fouls
- 2 passes into the final third
But what was so great about this game was that Pulisic was simply enjoying himself. This wasn't a game about tactics or chemistry or leagues - this was about a player rediscovering himeself on the club side of the game. Pulisic played as if a giant weight was lifted from his shoulders. Mentally, Pulisic has been through a lot in recent years. Tonight felt that he reached the light at the end of the tunnel and finally got to be himself.
So where was Yunus Musah in this? Serving a suspension from his red card at the end of last season with Valencia.
Adams moves to Bournemouth
Less than 18 months ago, Leeds United made a huge push with Americans. Jesse Marsch was the manager and Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams were starting.
That is all over now as Tyler Adams becomes the last to leave Leeds (Aaronson is away on loan, but no one expects him back). The U.S captain sealed his move to AFC Bournemouth on a five year deal after the Premier League club triggered his buyout clause.
My take is that this move is risky but there is plenty of room for optimism. For one, he’ll play regularly, eventually. Adams hasn’t played since March due to a hamstring injury but he appears to be nearing a return. Still, it’s going to take him some time to regain fitness and then adjust to Bournemouth before he can start. But Bournemouth obviously rate him and the proof is the price tag.
The risk is that Bournemouth could be in another relegation battle this year and/or in the years ahead. Finishing higher than midtable is unlikely.
But it’s not a bad risk to take. Bournemouth is still in a better shape than Luton Town, Sheffield United, Burnley, Nottingham Forest, and a few others.
Summer signing number seven ?? pic.twitter.com/EKSheQGnXj— AFC Bournemouth ???? (@afcbournemouth) August 20, 2023
Adams is in a great shape to play in an environment that isn’t dysfunctional and for a team that wants him. He’ll fit well into their style.
The rest is on him staying healthy. Unfortunately, that’s a concern.
Turner wins first EPL game
After sitting last season entirely on the bench, Matt Turner is finally playing again after moving to Nottingham Forest. Last weekend he played well for Forest in a 2-1 loss to his former club, Arsenal.
On Friday, Turner won his first Premier League game and his first league game since the Revolution when he helped Nottingham Forest to a 2-1 win for Sheffield United.
It’s still August, but this was an important game between two teams expected to be candidates for the relegation battle. In the end, Forest walked away three points from a game that could be a deciding factor. And Turner played a part in that - making two saves, including a big one in the second half that sealed two points.
Turner with a great save to deny Traoré ????#NFOSHU— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) August 18, 2023
Overall, Turner is in a great spot. He’s playing as a No. 1 in the Premier League and he’s going to play a role in keeping his team up.
The situation is still tough for Ethan Horvath. He’s now Turner’s backup but it’s surprising he hasn’t caught the eye of a Championship team given his success with Luton Town’s rise last year.
Auston Trusty went as an unused sub for Sheffield United. It’s not the start he hoped, but given the 0 point start, it seems like only a matter of time before he gets a shot.
Tough day for Fulham Yanks
The left-sided American defensive duo at Fulham had a day to forget in a 3-0 loss at home to Brentford.
Tim Ream, wearing the armband, was sent off in the 64th minute for his second yellow - which also conceded a penalty for the second Brentford goal. It looked like a harsh decision but Ream’s arm could have been seen as high from the viewpoint of the referee.
Antonee Robinson didn’t offer much in his 90 minutes.
Both Yanks have been very steady and reliable over the past two seasons. Robinson can afford an off game.
Ream is always an interesting case. Fulham knows Father Time will catchup. While the St. Louis native has aged extremely well. At what point does Fulham move on before he becomes a liability? No idea. But it becomes a question after every subpar game given he’s only on a one-year deal.
Elsewhere in the EPL
Crystal Palace fell to Arsenal at home 1-0 on Monday an no American player participated. But there are stories to talke about regarding a player on either team.
Chris Richards is being linked with a loan to Stuttgart. Since moving to Palace last summer, he’s either been injured or been riding the bench. He played well on occasion, but didn’t hit 500 minutes on the season. He’s now linked with a loan to Stuttgart. On one sense, he’s done well in the Bundesliga. But Stuttgart did well in their season opener (5-0 win over Bochum). Do they need him to start, or do they need him for cover? Meanwhile, are Palace content with their backup options if Richards leaves?
Folarin Balogun is still with Arsenal. It’s a game of chicken in the transfer window. Arsenal wants a fortune for him. Teams are betting they’ll come down as as the end of window approaches. Arsenal will have to come down as Balogun’s value will decline if he isn’t moved and doesn’t play. They only leverage they have is multiple bidders.
Championship: Sargent Soars
Josh Sargent is off to a terrific start to the season as he is now Norwich’s main No. 9. The St. Louis forward now has two goals from the first three games as Norwich defeated Millwall 3-1 for seven points. Sargent scored the team's second goal.
Sargent is impressing and looks to be a dependable forward in a Premier League promotional race. For a players whose biggest issue was always confidence, he’s growing a lot in that key area.
Haji Wright is also playing well in his move to England as he picked up an assist through his hold-up play in Coventry’s 1-1 draw with Swansea. He now has a goal and an assist from the last two games.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Duane Holmes, 28, started and played 78 minutes for Preston North End in a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. He’s in a good spot getting out of his childhood club at Huddersfield and moving to the better half of the Championship where he belongs.
On Saturday, Sunderland defeated Rotherham 2-1. Lynden Gooch played the final five minutes to see out the win. His minutes have been limited to start the season.
Dest loaned to PSV
Sergino Dest, 22, has joined PSV on loan from Barcelona with PSV reportedly paying 40% of his salary.
PSV made a big deal in the announcement with Dest doing a photoshoot in a throne on the field in Eindhoven.
Quite an intro for Dest.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 21, 2023
- it’ll be interesting to see how Ajax’s supporters react, especially when they play.
- it’s been so long since he’s played regularly.
- this move isn’t progress. It’s a reset, but a needed one. It’s up to him to use it well and continue progress https://t.co/FRMc30aLxJ
First of all, this is a good move for Dest. He’s going to play - finally. He will also likely play in Champions League games for his fourth team before he turns 23. But given he hasn’t played regularly in nearly 18 months, this was a move that needed to happen.
Second, this move isn’t progress for Dest. It’s a reset. And going home to reset isn’t a bad thing. He knows the club’s history, opponents, the language, culture, and standards. He should hit the ground running.
Third, it’s going to be wild when Dest plays Ajax - the arch-rival of PSV and where Dest developed. Ajax fans won’t take to this kindly.
Fourth, Earnie Stewart has brought his third USMNT player into PSV since leaving US Soccer in February. Dest will join Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman (on loan from Bayern Munich).
The bottom line is that few expect Dest to be in the Eredivisie long. He needs to reset everything and get back into being a regular player again. If he’s with PSV for long, it’s disappointing for a player who has played regularly for Barca and who has already thrived in the league before. But this move gives him a good opportunity to get back to basics. It’s up to him to make the most of it.
The best take on this is that PSV is a very high bar for a reset.
Quiet in the Eredivisie
The rest of the weekend in the Eredivisie was quiet for American players.
PSV defeated Vitesse 3-1 on the road. But both Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman were unused subs. PSV plays the first leg of its Champions League playoff vs Rangers this week.
Agustin Anello, 21, made his club and league debut when he played the final 26 minutes for Sparta Rotterdam in a 2-2 away draw with Feyenoord. It was a tough stage for the winger from Miami as Sparta had a surprising 2-0 lead when he came on and be was forced to defend most of the time. Unfortunately for him, Sparta could not hold on for the win. Anello arrived with Sparta on a transfer from Lommel in Belgium after spending the second half of last season on loan with Hajduk Split. He has told ASN his goal is to play for the U.S Olympic team (he is yet to play for the U.S at any level).
South Florida native Agustin Anello makes his Eredivisie debut for Sparta Rotterdam - a 64th minute sub with Sparta up 2-0 on Feyenoord.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 20, 2023
- The young winger told me he very much wants to have an opportunity to make the U.S U-23 team. He’s never played for the USA at any level https://t.co/1EWmtqrj4S
Djordje Mihailovic played the final 16 minutes for AZ in a 3-1 away win over RKC Waalwijk.
Taylor Booth was injured and didn’t suit up for Utrecht in a 2-0 loss to Heerenveen.
Anthony Fontana did not suit up for PEC Zwolle in a 3-1 loss to Twente.
Serie A & B: Yanks feature in wins
We already spoke about Christian Pulisic & Yunus Musah, but Italy was the place to be for American players this weekend.
Tim Weah played the first half while Weston McKennie played the second half as the duo helped Juventus to a 3-0 win away over Udinese to open the Serie A season. Both Americans impressed.
Weah was subbed off at halftime for precautionary reasons (slight ankle sprain) but not before impressing with his skill on both sides of the ball.
It was the most exciting development of the weekend for Americans in Europe.
From La Reppublica:
“Juventus played a great first half in Udine, with two marvelous new players, Andrea Cambiaso and Timothy Weah. With simplicity but great effectiveness they allowed Chiesa to make the difference. Most of all I would highlight Weah, whose defending brought to mind that of Mandzukic, despite having different characteristics than the Croat. Such a player could be of fundamental importance for Allegri.”
Meanwhile, McKennie did not seem at all lost in his return to Juventus after his unfortunate loan to Leeds. Defensively, he was steady and in the attack, he had some dangerous moments as he helped oversee the win.
In Serie B, Venezia opened the season with a 3-0 win over Como. Both Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio started for Venezia. Tessmann went the full 90 while Busio went 81. Both earned high marks for their performances but it wouldn’t be a surprise if either or both are the subject of transfer rumors as the window nears its end.
One final note from Italy is that Venezia’s American forward Andrija Novakovich in apparently on the verge of transferring to Lecco, also in Serie B. He didn't score all of last season, so maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
Bundesliga: Aaronson shows promise
It was far from a good outing for Americans in the Bundesliga opening weekend.
The exception was Brenden Aaronson who mostly impresses in his Bundesliga debut for Union Berlin in a 4-1 win over Mainz.
Overall, it was promising for Aaronson. It’s clear he still needs time to gel with his team, but he could turn out to be a nice fit for Union.
But it wasn’t great for Jordan Pefok who was unused. It very much appears as if Union has moved on from Pefok (who has only scored once since September 2022). I would expect a move for him by the end of the window. Borussia Mönchengladbach has been mentioned as a possible landing spot - and it would reunite him with his former Young Boys coach.
Speaking of Borussia Monchengladbach, they played to a wild 4-4 draw with Augsburg on Saturday. Both teams were poor defensively. Joe Scally went 90 minute for M’Gladbach. He wasn’t the main culprit for his team’s defensive shortcomings, but he didn’t have a good game.
Wolfsburg defeated Heidenheim 2-0 in a game where two Americans saw the field.
Lennard Maloney played 84 minutes for Heidenheim in defensive midfield. He didn’t do much that stood out in either way, but Heidenheim looks as if it will be tough for them to stay up. Maloney told ASN in the preseason he hopes the Bundesliga opens the door for the national team.
Kevin Paredes made a late cameo for Wolfsburg and the only significant thing about his brief moments on the field is that he was healthy after suffering an injury in preseason.
Pellegrino Matarazzo and Hoffenheim got off to a rough start to the Bundesliga season with a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg. John Brooks went 90 minutes in the loss playing in the middle of a three-man backline. Brooks didn’t have a good game, but Freiburg outplayed Hoffenheim. Brooks was asked to do too much. Matarazzo has a lot of work to do.
As expected, Gio Reyna didn’t suit up for Borussia Dortmund in a 1-0 win over Koln. He is still dealing with an injury he suffered in the Nations League Final.
Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Darmstadt 1-0 but neither Paxten Aaronson nor Timothy Chandlersuited up in the win.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Greuther Furth drew Fabian Hurzeler’s St Pauli 0-0. 2014 U.S World Cup veteran Julian Green started for Furth and played 90 in central midfield. Also starting for Furth was German-American defender Maximilian Dietz who played on the right side of a three-man backline. At 21 years old, Dietz is interesting because he is one of the few U.S U-23 eligible central defenders playing regularly and he could break into that team in the coming months.
Dietz, for his efforts, made Kicker’s 2.Bundesliga Team of the Week
German-American Maximillian Dietz, 21, made Kicker’s 2.Bundesliga team of the week for Greuther Furth in a 0-0 draw vs St. Pauli— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 21, 2023
I would be surprised if he emerges as a U.S U-23 CB option for the Olympics. At least 1 CB will be an overage. Thin pool at that position pic.twitter.com/TJwSspuCns
Quiet weekend for Yanks in Spain
Luca de la Torre played 84 minutes for Celta Vigo in a 1-1 draw away at Real Sociedad. He left with Celta trailing 1-0 and wasn’t on the field for the equalizer.
De la Torre was his typical self. There is a lot to like about him in possession, making few mistakes, working hard in recoveries and duels, etc. But he still needs more in terms of creating and scoring chances. Some managers like him as he is. But he runs the risk that with a managerial change, he could see the bench in favor of more creativity.
In the LaLiga 2, Konrad De La Fuente picked up an injury and didn’t feature for Eibar in its 2-1 win over Elche. This comes at the worst possible time as he is desperately trying to revive his stalled career.
Also in the Segunda, Jonathan Gomez played the final 22 minutes for Mirandes in a 3-0 loss to Sporting Gijom. All the scoring happened after Gomez came on.
Ligue 1: Sabbi makes debut
Fresh off his transfer from OB Odense in the Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi, 25, made his debut for newly promoted Le Havre in France’s Ligue 1.
Sabbi played the final six minutes for Le Havre in a 2-1 Home loss to Brest. He didn’t see much of the ball in his brief outing but made a nice move on one occasion out wide and then sent in a dangerous cross.
Le Havre is expected to be in a relegation battle this year but Sabbi has a great opportunity to showcase himself in one of the world’s best leagues. When he was in Denmark, he got by with his athleticism. Now it will be interesting to watch him display his skill, where it is needed.
Success in France would be a big boost for him on the national team but it’s still a big “if” at the moment.
Belgium: Slonina gets first win
Gaga Slonina, 19, showed no ill effects of having five get past him last week as he got his first win for Eupen on Saturday. Visiting Kortrijk on Sunday, Slonina made three saves has Eupen came away with a 3-1 win.
Slonina didn’t have to make any big saves and two Kortrijk shots hit the post. He got a yellow in a skirmish late in the game after a Kortrijk player was sent off. Overall, it was good for him to settle down after a tough first game. For him, gaining confidence will be key.
Also on Sunday, Bryan Reynolds went 90 minutes for Westerlo in a 2-1 loss to Anderlecht (Griffin Yowwas still injured for Westerlo). It was a tough match for Reynolds and everyone else on Westerlo. Reynolds was partially at fault for Anderlecht’s opening goal in the first minute as he wasn’t able to contest the cross from his side of the field. Westerlo has just one point from four games.
Standard Liege is also off to a poor start with one point from four games following Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Cercle Brugge at home. Marlon Fossey went 90 for Liege at right wingback and while local media didn’t praise him, he also was reported to be among the least of the team’s problems.
Genk has had a tough run in European play getting bounced from Champions League and Europa League qualifying. The club will now attempt for Conference League qualifying against Adana Demirspor. For that, Mark McKenzie was rested and did not play for Genk in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Charleroi.
Sam Vines did not feature for Royal Antwerp in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Oud Heverlee Leuven.
Fresh after being transferred to Brondby from FC Dallas (after 18 months on loan at Hoffenheim), U.S U-20 defender Justin Che has been loaned to Ado Den Haag in the Dutch second tier. Che, 19, has elite athleticism but wherever is going to give him the best tactical coaching is where he should go.
Also in the Danish Superliga, Christian Cappis played the final three minutes for Brondby to see out a 1-0 away win over Midtjylland.
Jonathan Amon, 24, entered Lyngby’s game against Randers in the 84th minute on Sunday. The American winger was on the field for Lyngby’s 86th minute winner. After nearly three years without playing due to injury, Amon continues to reestablish his career after a great start (including two USMNT caps).
In Austria’s Bundesliga, George Bello earned his first start for LASK in a 1-1 draw with WSG Tirol. Bello was given the opportunity as a number of LASK starters were rested ahead of the team’s Europa qualifier this Thursday vs Zrinjski Mostar.
In the Greek Super League, Caleb Stanko went 90 minutes in defensive midfield for Lamia who squandered a 2-0 lead on the road against NFC Volos and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
In Norway, HamKam defeated Rosenborg 3-0. Both HamKam’s Kobe Hernandez-Foster and Rosenborg’s Sam Rogers went as unused substitutes.
In Sweden’s Allsvenskan, Joe Gyau went 90 minutes at right back for Degerfors in a 2-1 home loss to IFK Goteborg.
In Portugal, Vizela drew Arouca 2-2 but neither Alex Mendez nor Alejandro Alvarado played for Vizela and Benji Michel didn’t play for Arouca.
In Hungary’s NB I, Eduvie Ikoba started and played the first half for ZTE in a 3-1 loss at home to Diosgyori VTK.
In the Scottish League Cup, Celtic were eliminated in a 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock but Cameron Carter-Vickers didn’t play. Scott Pittman, 30, played the final 28 minutes for Livingston in a 2-0 win over Ayr United. Dante Polvara started and played 61 minutes for Aberdeen in a 2-1 win over Stirling Albion. Joe Efford played the final 14 minutes for Motherwell in a 1-0 loss to St. Mirren.