Americans abroad analysis
Pulisic is ASN's Player of the Week, Kelman starts, Robinson returns, & more
It was a busy weekend for Americans abroad and while not everything is great - including decreasing minutes for a few key young players - a bunch of the top American players well all in action.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedAFTER SEVERAL weeks of key players out of action, many of the top Americans were on this field this weekend to various degrees of success. For one, it will give U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter a big degree of feedback with how his key players are doing.
March 11, 2019
March 11, 2019
While a large number of Americans are playing in Europe, there is still some disappointing items. Jonathan Amon is only getting occasional late-game minutes for Nordsjaelland as he fights through a rough patch in his season. The same could be said for Timothy Weah at Celtic as his loan has taken a more disappointing turn. Josh Sargent’s minutes have also dwindled in recent weeks at Werder since making his first start two weeks ago.
But a large number of Americans saw the field – including some that have not played in quite some time.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Christian Pulisic
For the third instalment of the ASN American abroad player of the weekend, Christian Pulisic takes the prize. He follows Erik Palmer-Brown and John Brooks as the previous winners.
The Hershey native was instrumental off the bench on Saturday in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Stuttgart. After coming into the game in the 79th minute, Pulisic had a fortunate assist in the 84th when he did well to control a ball into the box. As he tried to make a move, the ball fell to Paco Alcacer who hammered it home from close range. That gave Dortumund a 2-1 lead.
Then in stoppage time, Pulisic found the winner on a well-placed, low shot to seal a 3-1 win.
Dortmund has been in a bit of a collapse lately and has seen its once nine-point lead evaporate. Due to goal differential, Dortmund actually fell to second place as Bayern Munich romped Wolfsburg 6-0. But this win still keeps Dortmund in the hunt and it was the first bit of positive news for Pulisic since his announced move to Chelsea this summer.
Mckennie assists, but Schalke lose again
After getting over a thigh injury, Weston McKenneie was back in the starting lineup for Schalke on Friday on the road against Werder Breman The good news is that Schalke scored twice (which is saying something since it scored just one goal over its last five Bundesliga games). It is also good that McKennie assisted on one of the goals with a header. His ability to win aerial duels against players frequently taller than him is very impressive.
The bad news is that the team lost again, 4-2. Schalke is having a miserable season on the heels of a second-place finish. The team now sits only four points above automatic safety and is in 14th place in the 18-team Bundesliga.
Schalke will probably be free from a relegation fight as four of its remaining eight games are against the only four teams below it in the table. But losses in any of those games will only move it closer to the drop zone. So the upcoming games will be critical. 4
Holmes helps spark Derby
After a three-game losing streak, Derby’s chances of making the promotional playoff tournament were fading. But the club has responded with a win and a draw in its last two. On Saturday it played to a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday to move back into sixth place (albeit having played one more game than seventh place Bristol City.
Holmes helped to set up Derby’s only goal when his corner delivery eventually resulted in Bradley Johnson’s goal.
Holmes remains one of the best American players to never have been called up to the United States at any level.
Robinson returns but Miazga gets big win
It was an absolute thriller on Saturday when Reading defeated Wigan Athletic 3-2 with the winner coming in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Matt Miazga continue to be a huge asset for Reading which now moves three points into safety following Rotherham United’s loss to Sheffield United. Does Reading have the money and clout to keep Miazga on a transfer or another loan? Probably not. But Miazga is doing everything possible to build up his name and reputation in England with his fine loan to Reading. He should have no problem finding a job next year.
Meanwhile, U.S. national team left back Antonee Robinson made his first appearance for Wigan Athletic’s first team since suffering an injury with the U.S. team in November ahead of the friendly vs. England at Wembley Stadium.
Kelman earns first start for Southend United
United States U-18 forward Charlie Kelman, 17, hit a career milestone on Saturday when he made his first professional start for Southend United in a 2-2 draw away at Blackpool. Kelman did not score or assist but he left the game in the 73rd minute with Southend up 2-1.
As an option for the U.S. U-20 team in both 2019 and 2021, Kelman might have a chance of breaking into this summer’s U-20 World Cup team. His chances have only heightened given that Jesus Ferreira’s citizenship process has still not gone through.
Sonora enjoys solid outing
In Argentina, 2015 U.S. U-20 World Cup midfielder Joel Sonora came off the bench in the 42nd minute and played the final 48 minutes for Talleres in a 2-1 away win over Newells Old Boys. The match was pretty ugly and three red cards were shown. But the three points moved Talleres into sixth place and Sonora had another strong showing as he looks for a way to become a first choice start for the club.
Sonora is quickly improving in what has been the first season of his career as a first team player. Already he has played in the Libertadores.
U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter was asked about Sonora last week at a press conference and he said Sonora is on the radar but is not inline for a call-up in March. That being said, if he can lock down a starting position for a good team in Argentina, his chances will only be much better.
Brooks & Wolfsburg demolished
While John Brooks has been very good for Wolfsburg in recent weeks, he along with everyone on Wolfsburg had a game to forget on Saturday in a 6-0 loss to Bayern Munich – which took over the league lead with the result.
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from this as Bayern is in top form at the moment and could beat most teams on the planet very easily. But for Brooks, it’s all about confidence and avoiding long, inconsistent slumps. A rebound next game would be a great sign.
Enochs receives a warm welcome
It’s not often where an American become a club legend for a European club. But Joe Enochs is exactly that after a 22 year tenure with Osnabruck which saw him play 12 years for the club before moving to the club’s front office, then academy, followed by a stint at the club’s head coach. Last year he was fired after a tough start to the season in the 3.Liga.
Now coaching FSV Zwickau, a smaller-budgeted team in the 3.Liga, Enochs made his first return to face Osnabruck – which are currently leading the league. Enochs remains so popular in Osnabruck that a section of the team’s stadium is actually named after him.
While Zwickau lost 3-0, Enochs received an ovation from the crowd.
FSV Zwickau’ American head coach Joe Enochs was given a huge ovation in his return to Osnabruck - where he is a club legend after a 22 year run as a player, front office manager, academy director, & head coach. Great to see https://t.co/6MEqekaUbJ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 9, 2019