Americans abroad analysis
Pulisic scores for Chelsea, Busio & Tessmann feature in win, Harkes surges for Dundee United, & more
November 22, 2021
THIS PAST WEEKEND was rather mixed for Americans abroad. The good news, of course, was led by Christian Pulisic who got on the scoresheet for Chelsea in a 3-0 away win over Leicester and looks to be finally turning the page from an injury plagued start to the season. The rest of the bunch had a few decent performances, some quiet, some subpar, while rode the bench due to injuries or rest after the international window.
John Brooks appears to be moving beyond his poor run of form and the Wolfsburg central defender has been solid now for most of the past month. Nicholas Gioacchini made his first Ligue 1 start of his career on Saturday for Montpellier but was unfortunately subbed out at halftime due to a teammate’s red card creating the need for a tactical shift in a 2-0 loss to Rennes.
Sergino Dest didn’t play for Barcelona due to his ongoing injury and missed out on a 1-0 win over Espanyol. Gio Reyna continues to deal with his hamstring injury and he missed out of Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 win over Stuttgart. Zack Steffen also did not play for Manchester City in a 3-0 win over Everton.
The results for the Bundesliga’s two American managers were disappointing. Jesse Marsch and Pellegrino Matarazzo both had tough losses. Marsch and Leipzig blew an opportunity to climb into the top four after dropping a 2-0 defeat to Hoffenheim. Matarazzo and VfB Stuttgart are nearing a relegation battle after a 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund.
In terms of Americans going as unused subs or seeing only limited minutes, there was some to report – both expected and unexpected. Erik Palmer-Brown did not get off the bench for Troyes in a 1-0 loss to Lens in Ligue 1. Troyes is sitting just above the relegation zone. Fresh off his return from national team duty, Mark McKenzie was an unused sub for KRC Genk in a 2-0 loss to Beerschot. It’s been a disappointing season for both Mckenzie and Genk which is stuck in midtable at 8th place.
In the Championship, Alex Mighten and Ethan Horvath didn’t get off the bench for Nottingham Forest in a 1-1 draw with Reading. Duane Holmes was injured for Huddersfield’s 1-0 win over West Bromwich. In Spain’s Segunda, Shaq Moore stayed on the bench for Tenerife in a 1-0 win over Alcorcon. In Turkey, Haji Wright did not play for Antalyaspor in a 3-1 loss to Hatayspor. Christian Cappis remained on the bench for Brondby in its 2-1 away win over Midtjylland.
The season continued to be unkind to a bunch of former key U.S. youth internationals as Sebastian Soto was an unused sub for Porto B and Bryang Kayo did not get off the bench for Viktoria Berlin in the 3.Liga. Uly Llanez plods along in the Austrian second tier and he played 82 minutes on Friday for St. Poelten in a 1-1 draw with Vorwaerts Steyr. St. Poelten sits in 8th place in the 16-team second tier.
Then, of course, there wasn’t much to talk about for Konrad de la Fuente who started for Marseille but the game on Sunday against Lyon but it was abandoned due to a fan throwing a full water bottle which hit a Marseille player in the head. Ligue 1 continues to be plagued by fan violence this season and it is quickly becoming an embarrassment for UEFA to see one of its top leagues devolve into chaos on a monthly basis.
Marseille match postponed because a fan hit Dimitri Payet in the back of the head with a water bottle. How many embarrassing incidents in Ligue 1 this season, so far? https://t.co/BxbjNcVLiB— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 21, 2021
In terms of others news which we can expand on, here’s a deeper look at top stories.
Pulisic’s goal caps Chelsea win
Christian Pulisic, has dealt with COVID and an upper ankle sprain. Combined, both have kept him from playing for Chelsea for most of the season, so far. His minutes should gradually be increasing and on Saturday he began to look like his typical self.
The Hersey native played the final 28 minutes in a 3-0 win and scored the final goal. Apart from the goal he was active, a little rusty, but clearly on the right track towards getting back to his level.
Now it is just about getting him consistent minutes and then gradually some starts.
Busio & Tessmann win
After a dismal start to the season, Veneza has turned things around in an impressive way and two Americans are playing a part. Gianluca Busio has been a mainstay starter since his arrival and Tanner Tessmann is now getting into the mix with regular minutes.
On Sunday, Venezia posted a 1-0 away win over Bologna. Busio got the start and did relatively well. He technically assisted on the team’s only and winning goal although it appeared as if the assist was more of a fortunate deflection that advanced the ball forward. Even if it was lucky, Busio got the ball into a dangerous position where the team could have taken advantage of luck.
Busio played 80 minutes and was 5/5 with his long balls and 27/29 overall with his passing. His duel-winning at 3/17 wasn’t great and that is a bit of an outlier compared with his performances so far this year.
Tanner Tessmann, 20, came into the game in 60th minute and did pretty well – having two shots and forcing decent saves each time. He continues to improve, adjust, and progress towards a starting role.
From a national team perspective, Busio is checking a lot of boxes and will certainly still earn call-ups in 2022. The questions is that his style is so much different from the team’s other midfielders. To change from Musah (an aggressive dribbler) to Busio (an smaller, less physical, but solid passer) is very different. Does bringing in Busio change the team’s approach too much?
Tessmann is still adjusting to Serie A but he’s making progress. He’s big but he’s still adding physicality to his game. He’s a project for Venezia but one well worth taking.
Regardless, this was a great win for Venezia and the club is now pushing towards midtable.
Adams struggles in Leipzig loss
Tyler Adams hasn’t had a great month for his club and he was good but not great the last international window with the United States.
On Saturday, Adams started for Leipzig in a 2-0 loss and struggled throughout. He was in the area of Hoffenheim’s first goal off a corner and then his turnover gifted Hoffenheim’s second goal.
Adams will likely get through this rough patch, but there is no denying that it exists or that this was just one bad game. It’s been a rough period dating back to October for him.
Chris Richards came into the game in the 73rd minute to see out the win for Hoffenhiem. He did his part but he has work to do in order to get back into the Starting XI.
Both players are at a testing point right now.
Brooks solid in Wolfsburg
After a tough run withs Wolfsburg which saw him dropped from the November U.S. national team roster, John Brooks has responded very well. His change of fortune dates back to his last Champions League performance in October.
On Saturday, Wolfsburg and Arminia Bielefeld played to a 2-2 draw and Brooks was very strong defensively and wasn’t really at fault for either goal.
John Brooks: raw # for Wolfsburg in 2-2 draw vs Arminia Bielefeld— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 20, 2021
11/20 long balls
11/13 duels won
His duels, clearances, and long balls were all important part of Wolfsburg’s defensive effort. This was the response Berhalter was likely hoping to see from Brooks to get back into the team.
Big winner from Harkes
In Scotland’s Premiership, Ian Harkes is having a heck of a season. He was named the league’s player of the month in September and is continuing to play well. Thus far, he should be Best XI this season.
On Saturday, Dundee United hosted Aberdeen (with fellow American Christian Ramirez starting). Harkes had a great game and delivered the winner in the 80th minute with a volley from the outside of his foot.
This is better quality video of the goal from Ian Harkes over the weekend. I love this goal: a side-footed volley at a big moment to give Dundee United a 1-0 on Aberdeen. IMHO, he’d be on the Premiership team of the season, so far. pic.twitter.com/KkR7YBNOez— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 22, 2021
Harkes, 26, should be putting himself into a good position for a move upward in one of the two upcoming transfer windows. He’s not young, but he can help a team right now.
McKennie starts in nice Juve win
There was no weak link for Juventus on Saturday when they travelled to Rome and came away with a 2-0 win over Lazio. McKennie played the full 90 and was very useful defensively and pivoting into the attack. McKennie can score goals but even when he doesn’t standout offensively, he is an important part of the glue for Juve’s midfield.
After a tough start to the season, Juventus is now only a point outside of cracking the top 5 in Serie A.
Scally sharp as Gladbach down Furth
Two Americans started as Borussia Monchengladbach hosted Greuther Furth on Saturday. Joe Scally started and played 74 minutes at left wing back for M’Gladbach and Julian Green started for Greuther Furth.
There were no surprises I this one. M’Gladbach had an easy time in a 4-0 win over a very poor Greuther Furth team. Scally was once again consistent and reliable. He wasn’t flashy in this game and didn’t have any big plays – but he also didn’t make any mistakes. He’s been the best American breakout performer in Europe this year and his club moved inside the top 10 after a slow start.
Green was subbed out at halftime. But he and his team struggled in a tough outing. Furth simply haven’t looked serious about competing in the Bundesliga this season – sitting in last with just one point from 12 games.
Ream, Robinson, & Fulham into first
Fulham moved clean atop the Championship table on Saturday following a 4-1 win over Barnsley. Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson got the start for Fulham.
Both Americans continue to play well with consistently strong outings. Tim Ream is simply a remarkable Championship player and is one of the most effective central defenders in that league in recent memory.
Tim Ream: raw # for Fulham in a 4-1 win on Barnsley— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 20, 2021
8/11 long balls
5/5 duels won
?Fulham atop the Championship. Great season from their captain #USMNT
Combined with Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored his 21st goal of the season, Fulham are very strong at the moment to contend for promotion. The club just has to avoid selling Motrovic and stay healthy.
Yedlin starts in Turkish derby
Galatasaray and Fenerbahce is one of the most intense rivalries in the world and fresh after starting two games for the U.S. team, DeAndre Yedlin got the start. Moving from an intense international derby, Yedlin traveled to Istanbul for one of Europe’s fiercest games.
Unfortunately for Yedlin and company, Galatasaray struck first but Fenerbahce scored two goals in the second half. The winner came in stoppage time on an assist from former LAFC attacker Diego Rossi.
It was a tough result and Yedlin did not stand out either way. He is in a good position with his club but Galatasaray has stumbled to eighth in the table.
LDLT strong in Heracles win
How good was Luca de la Torre on Saturday for Heracles in a 3-1 win over Fortuna Sittard? Good enough to be named to the Eredivisie Team of the Week by de Telegraaf
That is a nice accomplishment for de la Torre who is continuing to show that last season (his first as a regular starter) was no fluke. In this game, it wasn’t just his passing, but it was also his dribbling in the center of the field. He regularly took defenders on and succeeded. Often times he drew fouls.
Heracles took the game to Fortuna Sittard – a relegation battling team and pressed them high up the field. De la Torre was a big part of that. It was certainly a game that he needs to have consistently both for the national team and to raise his stock to make a move after this season. It would not be a good sign to see him at the club after this year.
Other national team players quiet
For a bunch of U.S. national team players, it was tough to get back into the club situation after a busy international window.
Specifically, Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah started the two U.S. games in November and were thrown back into the starting lineup for their clubs this weekend. Both looked a little tired.
Brenden Aaronson went the distance for Red Bull Salzburg in a 0-0 draw with Admira Moedling. Aaronnson actually had 72 touches over 90 minutes (his highest of the season) but Salzburg should be disappointed to not win this one at home. Still, they are the runaway leaders right now and the Champions League is the main focus.
Tim Weah got the start for Lille on Friday and went the distance in 2-2 draw on the road with Monaco. Lille struck first with two goals from Jonathan David but Monaco rallied for a draw in the second half. Weah clearly looked tired from the international break and struggled in 1v1 situations. It is positive to see him start as much as he has this season.
Sam Vines also got the start for Royal Antwerp on Sunday. Vines was an unused substitute in both U.S. games but still was thrown right back into the mix for his club. In this game, Vines struggled defensively and wasn’t effective getting into the attack. He had been playing better before the break but this was a tough game for him and his team in a 2-1 loss. Despite the loss, Antwerp remained in second place. Also in this game, Chris Durkin made a late appearance for St. Truiden in the win.
Other Notes from Americans abroad
In the Bundesliga, Timothy Chandler started and played 66 minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 2-0 away win over Freiburg. In the 2.Bundesliga, Ryan Malone was an unused sub for Hansa Rostock in a 2-1 home loss to Erzgebirge Aue. In the 3.Liga, Terrence Boyd scored for Hallescher in a 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund’s U-23 team.
In Serie A, Bryan Reynolds was an unused substitute for AS Roma in a 2-0 road win over Genoa. In Serie B, Andrija Novakovich played the final 19 minutes for Frosinone in a 0-0 draw with Lecce.
In Turkey’s Super Lig, Tyler Boyd started and played 90 minutes for last-place Rizespor in a 3-0 loss to Konyaspor.
In the Portuguese Cup, Alex Mendez started and scored for Vizela in a 2-0 win over second-tier CF Estrela.
In Hungary’s NB I, Henry Wingo started for leaders Ferencvaros in a 3-0 win over Fehervar FC.
In the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi started and played 72 minutes for OB Odense in a 3-2 home loss to Viborg.
In the Austrian Bundesliga, Thomas Roberts played second half stoppage time for Austria Klagenfurt in a 0-0 draw with Austria Vienna.
In Cyprus, Mix Diskerud started and played 90 minutes for Omonia Nicosia in a 3-0 win over Aris Limassol.
In Brazil, Johnny Cardoso was an unused substitute for Internacional in a 2-1 home loss to Flamengo.
In Argentina, Joel Sonora started for Banfield and played 72 minutes in a 2-0 home loss to Aldosivi. His brother, Alan Sorona, was injured for Independiente in a 1-0 loss to Central Cordoba de Santiago.