Americans Abroad

Pulisic, McKennie, Richards, & Venezia duo lead strong weekend for Americans in Europe

Sure, not everything went well this weekend but it was a good weekend for the top USMNT players in Europe as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Chris Richards, and Antonee Robinson all played well and the multiple Yanks at Venezia & PSV enjoyed big wins. ASN's Brian Sciaretta reports. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 03, 2023
8:10 PM

ONCE AGAIN, it was another busy weekend for Americans abroad as we had some really positive performances from many key USMNT players such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and even Antonee Robinson, despite a loss. Plus, we saw starts for Chris Richards, Djordje Mihailovic, and Paxten Aaronson.

Some of the concerns this season remain. Gio Reyna is not playing. Tim Weah is still hurt and once again is looking to fall short of 2000 minutes this season (he is yet to hit that number). Matt Turner is still not playing.

But overall, the positives outweighed the negatives. Here are some thoughts on everything.


Juventus wins thriller

On Friday, Juventus defeated Monza 2-1 to temporarily move atop Serie A (before Inter Milan’s game on Sunday). This game had a wildly dramatic end with Monza equalizing the game at 1-1 in the second minute of stoppage time only to see Juventus find a winner in the fourth minute.


Weston McKennie went the full 90 for Juventus and he had a very good game playing both centrally and on the right side of the midfield. In stoppage time, he had a “secondary assist” on Federico Gatti’s winner. But the best thing for McKennie was the smart tactical game he played defensively. He was covering for his teammates and was always in the right place.

He continues to have one of the best and most surprising seasons for an American abroad. No one expected him to return to Juventus when he left for Leeds last January. Then when he did, many figured he would be out of Max Allegri’s plans and likely transferred quickly. Instead, he is a key part of the equation.


Pulisic’s big day boosts Milan


Christian Pulisic scored a big 49th minute goal to give Milan a 2-0 lead on Frosinone, in a game where it would go onto win 3-1.

On the play, Pulisic was assisted by Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan who sent a nice longball up the middle. Pulisic displayed a ton of skill on the play and his best moment might have been his first touch to control the ball. Then the movement and the shot were also first-rate.

Overall, Pulisic was great with 24/28 passing, 3/3 on his dribbles, two good chances created, and 5/7 on his ground duels.

This was the outing Milan needed from him after a disappointing loss at home in the Champions League to Dortmund midweek. They needed this to continue to put pressure on the top two in the league, Inter Milan and Juventus.

Yunus Musah went 90 minutes in this game for AC Milan and was 17/17 in passing – which is good, but it is also reflective of him not being on the ball a lot for a midfielder. He only had 32 touches and while they were all over the field, he was still limited in his involvement. What he did, however, was good and he did help defensively. Here is Musah's touchmap.


Richards gets the start – in midfield


Chris Richards earned a rare start for Crystal Palace away against West Ham in a London Derby but it was unexpectedly in midfield after defensive midfielder Cheick Doucoure injured his Achilles recently and is out long-term. It was not completely unheard of as Palace manager Roy Hodgson used Richards there once earlier in the season as a substitute in a draw against Nottingham Forest.

As for the game, it ended 1-1 and Richards played well. He went the distance and had 59 touches. The most impressive thing was his ball winning as he won 5/6 of his ground duels and 6/7 of his aerials. Passing wise, he was conservative but his touchmap showed a heavy work rate and that he covered a lot of ground.


Overall, it was what you would expect from Richards. Good defensively, conservative offensively. But the big question is will this experiment last? It’s hard to see a decent Premier League team with a lot of resources willing to develop a defender into a new position and having a lot of patience for it. But it could be situational where Richards gets the nod in games where they know they’ll be on the backfoot.

His touchmap for the day.

It’s still hard to read, but Richards played to his strengths in this game but there will be times when more is needed out of him in that role.


Robinson shines in heartbreaking loss


Fulham appeared heading for a 3-2 upset win over Liverpool in Anfield on Sunday but the hosts scored in the 87th minute and the 89th minute to find a way for a wild 4-3 win. It was a crushing loss for Fulham who fought every step of the way.

Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream both went the distance for Fulham, but it was Robinson who had a stellar outing with an assist (his third straight Premier League game with an assist) and an astonishing 13 interceptions (the most in a Premier League game since Opta started recording the stat), 12 ball recoveries, 3/5 tackling, 7/10 ground duels won, and 2/2 aerials won.  

But with his assists, he defensive play, and the goals he scored in the recent international window for the United States, Robinson is truly in great form, and he is a top notch left back at the highest level. Last year, he took his game to another level. This year, he is taking another big step.

As for Ream, he wasn’t great but he also wasn’t really at fault for the goals. Liverpool just had difference makers that requires entire teams to shut down, not just centerbacks. Aside from an own goal, each of Liverpool's goals were scored from outside the box.


PSV remains perfect, down Feyenoord


In what was the biggest challenge for PSV yet, they traveled to Feyenoord in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eredivisie. In what was an anticipated matchup, PSV came away with a 2-1 win to remain perfect with 42 points from 14 games. They are now 10 points clear of Feyenoord.

Sergino Dest went the distance for PSV at left back and was far quieter than he has been recently. He’s been very important to the team’s success this year in both the Eredivisie and the Champions League but this was a more run of the mill outing despite the higher stakes.

The American who impressed in this game was Malik Tillman who came off the bench in the 64th minute when the score was 0-0. Immediately after coming on, he drew a foul that led to the free kick which started the buildup to the opening goal. But Tillman in this game was just very tough to defend and he was a handful for Feyenoord. For Tillman, he has these games where he is very good and then he’ll struggle. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of finding consistency. It will be very interesting to see if PSV exercises an option to buy on their loan from Bayern Munich for him.

Ricardo Pepi was the Champions League hero midweek, but he did not get off the bench in this game because subs were required due to injuries to Joey Veerman and Jordan Teze.



Busio & Tessman strong in Venezia win


Venezia remained atop Serie B after a convincing 3-1 win over Ascoli on Saturday. The U.S. U-23 duo of Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio both went 90 in Venezia’s midfield and both were very good, especially in the first half. Busio picked up an assist via a cross that found Giorgio Altare in the 30th minute for a 2-0 lead.

Tessmann won 6/8 of his ground duels and 3/6 of his aerials while also tackling and defending well. Offensively, he had a big impact with his passing and created four solid scoring chances, three of which were in the first half.

These two are playing a big role leading the club into a strong position in a promotional race. They could see interest in January, but if Serie A is a good possibility, they might want to stick around. Meanwhile, you hope Venezia is willing to release the pair for the Olympics.


Stabaek relegated


After he was fired from Toronto, Bob Bradley was hired to lead his former club Stabaek out of a relegation hole. For a while, it seemed as if he would do it. Last week’s dramatic win pulled them out of the relegation zone. But on Sunday, Stabaek fell to Haugesund 3-0 (all goals in the second half after it was known Stabaek had to press for a winner due to results in the other games).

In the end, Stabaek was also the victim to a string of other results which did not go their way. Sandefjord unexpectedly defeated to Lillestrom (who started Sam Rogers in defense) to leapfrog Stabaek. And Vaalerenga’s 1-1 draw with Tromso was also enough to leapfrog Stabaek.


It was a perfect storm for Stabaek which did not go their way in the end. The biggest reason why the club was relegated was its poor performances over the summer months that put them deep in the relegation zone. Bradley was left to try to clean up the mess but ultimately fell short. Stabaek will now look to return quickly. It remains to be seen where Bradley (or his son Michael Bradley who was also on the staff) head.


Hoppe out in San Jose


Matthew Hoppe recently spent the last several months with San Jose, on loan from Middlesbrough. Hoppe has been trying to find stability in his career since he left Schalke. It was there in Germany when he gained a ton of attention with a five goals in a 12 day span including a Bundesliga hat trick. Since then, he went to Mallorca where he didn’t play. Then to Middlesbrough where he didn’t play. Then to a loan to Hibernian in Scotland where he started off well, but then tapered off.


But on Friday, San Jose announced they would not exercise the option to buy as part of his loan. He scored two goals for the club. This means Hoppe will return to Middlesbrough. Still, it’s hard to see him sticking with the club and he is probably looking at another loan or a cheap transfer.


Yanks in the Bundesliga


On Sunday, Paxten Aaronson, 19, got a surprise start for Eintracht Frankfurt in a visit to Augsburg on Sunday. He ended up playing just the first half and was subbed out at the break with Eintracht down 1-0. They ended up losing 2-1.

He didn’t play poorly but he probably also didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Playing right wing, he had two shots (8th minute, 44th minute) from inside the box but both were saved. He was also 15/17 in passing. But he was dispossessed twice and committed four fouls (drawing none).

It was a learning experience and it’s similar to what we saw with Kevin Paredes. There is a gap between being a sub (even a good sub) and a player who can start effectively. As Gregg Berhalter has said, he speaks with Eintracht’s staff and gets great feedback on Aaronson. They believe he’s a high-end talent, and he is. But he is still so young and is learning a great deal. Internationally, it would be great if Eintracht agrees to release Aaronson to the Olympic team where he can start and lead.  

In the biggest game in Germany this weekend, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1. It was a poor result for the surprising leaders Leverkusen as Bayern Munich can catch them with a likely win over Union Berlin (whenever that game is made up). It was a good result for Dortmund and Gio Reyna watched from the bench in this game. Assuming Reyna is healthy, Edin Terzic does not rate the American playmaker too highly. Reyna is a luxury player right now for them and he is not included in the team’s big games or the big moments. It certainly seems as if Reyna could be on the move sooner than later. That would probably be best for both parties.  

Lennard Maloney was part of a rare goal contribution for FC Heidenheim when his flick-on header off a corner landed at the feet of a sliding Benedikt Gimber who finished from close range. That goal pulled Heidenheim back a goal against RB Leipzig and reduced the deficit to 2-1. Unfortunately, that’s as close as Heidenheim would get and that was the final score.

To make matters worse for Maloney, he came down awkwardly on his ankle in the second half, tried to play through it, but was eventually subbed out in the 68th minute. But it was a good defensive outing for Maloney until that point, and his tackle led to the counterattack that resulted in the corner where he picked up the assist. Maloney won’t be a fit for every team, but for managers who want a physical presence in the midfield and are willing to tolerate very limited offense, Maloney works well. We will now wait to see how injured he is.

Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin had their away game on Saturday against Bayern Munich postponed due to a Bavarian snowstorm. Union Berlin fell into the last place after Cologne’s surprising win.

In that surprising 1-0 Cologne away win over Darmstadt on Friday, teenager German-American forward Damion Downs was listed out with a knock.

Kevin Paredes came into the game for Wolfsburg in the 76th minute trailing Bochum 2-1 at the time. He was 5/5 in passing but mostly unable to muster anything dangerous and Wolfsburg eventually lost 3-1 to fall to ninth place. A big question for Paredes after this season for Berhalter will be Copa America or Olympics? This assumes Wolfsburg will release him for the latter. Paredes still needs to find a way into more consistent starts although it seems like he is getting closer.

Joe Scally earned the start for Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday in a 2-1 win over Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Hoffenheim. What was interesting about this performance from Scally is that he played more defensively in a three-man backline. He had no touches in the final third and most were in his defensive half. It was a different role for him, and he performed well. Here is his touchmap.

It’s hard to read a lot into this new role, but the fact that the team succeeded could see it continued.

John Brooks did not get off the bench for Matarazzo’s team which remained in solid position at sixth in the table.


Yanks in Italy


As is the norm, Kristoffer Lund started at left back for Palermo on Friday, but he lasted just 58 minutes in a 2-1 loss at home to Catanzaro. The newly committed USMNT fullback didn’t do much in his time on the field and left with his team down 2-0 in a matchup against two promotion hopefuls. Palermo is in the midst of a very tough run with just one win from their last seven games.

Andrija Novakovich played 78 minutes for Lecco in a 1-0 win over Bari. With the win, Lecco moved out of the relegation playoff places and into midtable.


Yanks in the Premier League


A potential relegation “six pointer” could not have gone any worse for Sheffield United as they travelled to Burnley and were smacked around in a 5-0 loss. Down 2-0 at the time, Sheffield United’s Oliver McBurnie was sent off just before the halftime whistle and Sheffield United collapsed.

Auston Trusty went the distance for Sheffield United and wasn’t great, but was also far from the team’s biggest problem on the day. He was partially at fault making Jay Rodriguez on the opening goal and then he struggled after the team went down to 10 players. Barring something very unexpected, it seems like Sheffield United will be in the Championship next season and Trusty will be there with them. They now sit last in the Premier League with an astonishing -28 goal differential.

American-born Luca Koleosho scored the fourth goal for Burnley. The Italian youth international (who Gregg Berhalter acknowledges that he speaks to regularly) seems likely to be bought by a bigger team sooner than later.

Matt Turner
again watched from the bench as Nottingham Forest fell to Everton 1-0. While Odysseas Vlachodimos was not at fault for Everton’s goal, there were other moments he was shaky and perhaps Turner will get another chance as Forest has just 13 points from 14 games and needs to pick up the pace to avoid a relegation battle.


Yanks in the Championship


Don’t look now, but Queens Park Rangers is showing signs of life after a 2-0 away win over Preston North End. It was the second win in a row for QPR and it essentially began with the return of Reggie Cannon from injury. Cannon has been good in the last two games and this one he went 65 strong minutes at right back to help the team move to within three points of climbing out of the relegation zone. Cannon is still a long way from returning to the national team but everything good starts with playing better, which is what he’s doing. Charlie Kelman came on in the 90th minute for QPR to waste time.


Meanwhile, Duane Holmes went 90 minutes for PNE, which has now lost three in a row and has tumbled to eight place. Two of the losses in the past three games have come at home for PNE, which is playing poorly.

Haji Wright had a goal via a header called back in the 36th minute. Coventry went onto to lose to Ipswich 2-1. Wright went 74 minutes and was just 5/10 in passing with 19 touches, but he still was dangerous and tough to defend, despite leaving with the score 2-0. Coventry fell to 17th place with the loss.

Lynden Gooch went a full 90 for Stoke City in a 2-1 loss to Plymouth Argyle (who found a winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time in the second half). Gooch was playing right back in this game and was decent. But with the loss, Stoke City fell to 20th place. They have lost three in a row.

On Sunday, David Wagner’s Norwich City defeated Bristol City 2-1 away to move into 13th place of England’s second tier.


Yanks in France


Folarin Balogun played 74 minutes for Monaco in a 2-0 win over Montpellier. The USMNT forward exited with his team up 1-0 and five minutes after Montpellier was reduced to 10 men. Overall, it was a frustrating day for Balogun who had six shots, and one goal called back for offside, but was unable to find a goal that counted. For him, it’s just a matter of staying focused and avoiding ruts when things aren’t going his way. He’s in a good place because he will start at Monaco, but the team’s scoring output is not entirely dependent on him.


But with the three points, Monaco remained in third place in Ligue 1.

Also in Ligue 1, Emmanuel Sabbi played the final 24 minutes for Le Havre in a 2-0 loss at home to leaders Paris St. Germain. PSG was reduced to 10 men in the just the 10th minute but were still able to outclass the newly promoted Le Havre team that now sits midtable. Sabbi was not able to generate anything meaningful beyond a 67th minute shot from distance. But going against PSG’s defense was a tough assignment.


Yanks in Belgium


Mark McKenzie and Genk will be severely disappointed with Sunday’s 2-2 home draw with Gent. Genk had a 2-1 lead into stoppage time when Genk’s Tolu Arokodare had to be subbed off due a head injury. Genk did not replace him and played with 10 men instead. Gent was able to find an equalizer in the ninth minute of stoppage time in a devastating blow for Genk.

Mark McKenzie was in the middle of Genk’s opening goal when he got on the end of a scramble in the box and Yira Sor finished.

McKenzie played well in this game and had 11 clearances in addition to helping in Genk’s first goal. He also had three blocked shots and won 5/6 of his aerials. The only criticism was on the opening goal when he was next to the goal scorer (although McKenzie was marking a different player initially, and then had to pick up the scorer to help). But overall, he was solid.

Westerlo has had a tough start to the season as they sit second from the bottom and are in relegation danger of the First Division A. But Griffin Yow has continued to impress since returning from his injury which kept him out for nearly the first three months of the season. On Friday, Yow picked up another assist in a 3-1 loss to Anderlecht when he beat a few defenders out wide and sent in a cross that was headed home by Jordan Bos. Yow now has two goals and two assists in six First Division games (playing just 356 minutes).

For Yow, if he keeps it up, he could be a late emerger with the U.S. U-23 Olympic team next year. That team is tough to make with the roster at 18 players, but Yow is making himself too tough to ignore.

Elsewhere in this game, Bryan Reynolds went 90 for Westerlo but didn’t have a great game (along with most of his teammates). It is a relegation battle at this point for the remainder of the season for Westerlo.

And after the game, it was announced Westerlo had fired its manager Jonas De Roeck.

After taking the lead in the 68th minute, it seemed as if that all Eupen would need for a win over last-place Kortrijk. But in stoppage time, Kortrijk goalkeeper Tom Vandenberghe moved into the attack for a corner kick and sent a header past Gaga Slonina for a 1-1 draw. Slonina got has hand on the shot but was unable to keep it out.

Slonina finished with three saves, two from inside the box, but the result was very disappointing as Eupen fell to 13th place in the 16-team league and could face a relegation battle in the spring.

Also in this game, winger Alex Mighten played the final 16 minutes for Kortrijk.

On Sunday, St. Truiden defeated KV Mechelen 2-0 on the road. American forwards and recent Yale Bulldog Kahveh Zahiroleslam went 77 minutes in the win. He only took one shot but created three decent chances in the win. He has been an interesting story coming out of Yale and very quickly earning a spot in St. Truiden starting lineup. He is still looking for his first goal in the First Division. St. Truiden rose to eighth place with the win.

Sam Vines was still not in the matchday squad for reigning champion Royal Antwerp for a 1-0 lead over Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Marlon Fossey also remained injured and did not play for Standard Liege in a 2-0 away loss to Club Brugge.


Yanks in the 2.Bundesliga


Greuther Furth continued it’s charge up the table and into fourth after a 1-0 away win over Eintracht Braunschweig. Julian Green scored the only goal of the game via a penalty in the 31st minute drawn by Armindo Sieb. Green was subbed out in the 68th minute but still has four goals and four assists this season in 14 appearances. A national team return seems a ways off, but Green is turning in a strong season. U.S. U-23 defender Maximilian Dietz was not in the squad for Furth.

Johan Gomez went the distance for Eintracht Braunschweig, and he had three shots in the loss. Braunschweig is now eight points deep in the relegation zone and seems headed for the 3.Liga.

Terrence Boyd scored his second goal of the season for Kaiserslautern on Saturday but his 25th minute strike was the only good thing that happened to the club as they went on to lose 4-1 to 12th place Magdeburg as FCK fell to 13th.

St. Pauli and its Houston-born head coach Fabian Hurzeler remained at the top of the table after a 2-2 draw in the Hamburg Derby against HSV. St. Pauli’s second goal was one for the ages in terms of comedy.



Yanks in the Netherlands


Djordje Mihailovic remained in the starting lineup for AZ Alkmaar on Sunday away against Utrecht. Injuries gave Mihailovic this opportunity and now he is trying to make his case. He was solid midweek in the Conference League and he was looking to keep that momentum up in the Eredivisie.

In the end, the former Chicago Fire homegrown went 89 minutes in a 1-1 draw. Overall, he did well and completed 31/36 of his passes and created four solid scoring chances. He did his part to give AZ a chance to win but the winning goal never came. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Mihailovic this January. If he’s playing well, perhaps he sticks around.

Meanwhile, Taylor Booth made a late cameo for Utrecht as he tries to get back into the team’s starting lineup. He’s still trying to regain his form since he missed time due to an injury which kept him out nearly two months.  

Zack Booth, 19 and the younger brother of Taylor Booth, made his first Eredivisie start when get got the nod for Volendam at home to PEC Zwolle on Saturday.

It was a weird outing for Booth. He played 57 minutes, had just 17 touches, and was 7/9 in passing. But he left the game with the score 0-0. Volendam ended up conceding five goals after Booth was subbed out and lost 5-0. That fact alone will not hurt his ability to start more games.

American midfielder Antohny Fontana was an unused sub for Zwolle and has made just one appearance this season.

Volendam remains second from the bottom, with only goal differential separating them from the Eredivisie basement. PEC Zwolle sit ninth.

On Saturday, Sparta Rotterdam defeated Heracles 1-0 away, but Agustin Anello did not get off the bench for Sparta as his playing time seems to be fading.

In the second tier Eerste Divisie, Gedion Zelalem went 90 minutes for FC Den Bosch in a 3-3 draw with Jong Ajax. Den Bosh sits 19th in the 20-team league. FC Dordrecht scored an impressive 2-0 win over second place Roda JC Kerkrade. John Hilton, 22, went 85 minutes at left back in the win for second place Dordrecht. Finally, Justin Che and Korede Osundina were injured and did not play for ADO den Haag in a 3-2 loss at Helmund Sport.


Yanks Elsewhere


Rokas Pukstas, 19, wasn’t on the scoreboard for Hajduk Split but he still was dependable in an attacking midfield role as his team went on to defeat fifth place HNK Gorica 3-0 at home in Split. The 2023 U.S. U-20 World Cup midfielder was 24/32 in passing with eight passes into the final third. Hajduk Split remains atop the HNL with 39 points over 17 games. Second place Rjeka has 32 points but has played 16 games. Defending champion Dinamo Zagreb has 27 points through 14 games.

Meanwhile, Pukstas recently signed a deal through 2027, although he's certainly going to be sold before then.


In Scotland, Celtic were trailing St. Johnstone 1-0 into the 67th minute before rallying for three goals for a 3-1 win over the 11th place team. Cameron Carter-Vickers was not at fault for the St. Johnstone goal, which came off a scramble following a corner. But in this game, he impressively won 9/12 of his aerials to help Celtic maintain a 70% possession edge.


Also in Scotland, Dante Polvara did not get off the bench for Aberdeen in a 2-0 loss to Hibernian on Sunday. Meanwhile, Scott Pittman and last-place Livingston had their match against Ross County postponed due to weather.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, George Bello was an unused substitute for third-place LASK in a 0-0 draw with Austria Vienna. Bello started on Thursday in Liverpool in a 4-0 loss in the Conference League.

In Norway, neither Christian Cappis nor Kobe Hernandez-Foster were in the squad for Molde or HamKam as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the season finale. Both teams finished midtable.

In the Danish Superliga, Jonathan Amon did not get off the bench for Lyngby in a 2-0 win over Silkeborg.

Alex Mendez was an unused substitute for Vizela in a 2-1 away loss to Chaves. Mendez has played only 76 minutes all season in league play for Vizela, which fell to 14th place in Portugal’s top tier. Also in that league, Arouca defeated Boavista 4-0 away but Benji Michel did not get off the bench for Arouca.

In Hungary’s NB I, Henry Wingo played the second half for Ferencvaros in a 0-0 draw vs. Mezokovesd SE. Ferencvaros is in a title chase this year and sits second behind Paksi SE.

In Mexico, Club America defeated Leon 2-0 (4-2 on aggregate) to advance to the second round of the Liga MX playoffs. USMNT winger Alex Zendejas started and played 79 minute for Club America.

In Argentina, Club Huracan was eliminated from the Copa de la Liga Professional playoffs by Club Atletico Platense on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Alan Sonora started and played 80 minutes for Huracan and left with his team up 1-0. He was not on the field as Platense equalized in the 88th. His brother Joel Sonora was an unused substitute for Huracan.

In Brazil, Jonny Cardoso did not play for Internacional in a 2-1 win over Corinthians. Cardoso appears to have played his last game for Internacional who sit comfortably in the Copa Sudamericana positions with the season having just one week remaining. Cardoso appears to be off to Real Betis in Spain.

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