Americans abroad analysis

Richards, Aaronson, Busio, Gioacchini standout among another slow weekend for Yanks abroad

There are more causes for concern than there are positive stories for Americans abroad these days and ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it all. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 13, 2021
7:05 AM

THE WEEKEND FOR AMERICANS abroad was led by a few really good outings from Chris Richards, Brenden Aaronson, Gianluca Busio, and even Nicholas Gioacchini in limited minutes from the bench. After that, it was mostly a period that ranged from average to poor for most players – and that fits a pattern from the last several months that hasn’t been good.

A few of the setbacks over the past months have been due to relatively minor injuries and COVID protocols, which will pass. But there are also questions of form.

Here is a rundown of the news, the performances of the players, and some thoughts on it all.


Weah injured


Tim Weah did not play for Lille in Sunday’s 0-0 home draw with Lyon and it was subsequently announced that Weah has been dealing with a thigh injury.

Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec said that Weah will miss the remaining games in December and won’t return until January.


For Lille, the club is sure to be cautious and conservative with Weah given his history with muscle injuries  - which essentially kept him out for the entire 2019/20 season and required surgery. While Lille sit midtable, they are only three points out of a European spot and are still alive in the knockouts of the Champions League. But having Weah for the latter part of the season and the knockouts in February is the priority.

For the national team, it becomes a bigger concern. Lille would almost certainly love to not have to send Weah for three cold weather games in North America in January. While it is way too early to rule Weah out for the January qualifiers, it is a legitimate question that he will be ready in time. That would be a big setback given Weah was the team’s best player in the November window.

The health/form of Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic, Konrad de la Fuente and even the looming return of Jordan Morris have all become more important.


BILD on Brooks

The German publication BILD published a piece on Wolfsburg and U.S. national team defender John Brooks that did not paint him in a favorable light.

Commentator Derek Rae offered up a translation on Twitter.


The article discusses that Brooks has become the “problem child” at Wolfsburg and his recent performances have not been good. Brooks is in the final year of his contract and makes a lot of money but there has been no agreement over a new contract.

Brooks was an unused substitute for Wolfsburg in a 2-1 loss to Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Stuttgart team. He was pulled at HT last weekend in a 3-0 loss to Mainz and was also an unused sub midweek in a 3-1 loss to Lille in the Champions League – which also bounced the club from all European competitions.

Finally, it mentions that Gregg Berhalter has not been impressed with Brooks’ recent performances.

What we know is that Brooks hasn’t been playing well for club or country. It’s an ugly situation and if this report came from within Wolfsburg, it is a bad look for airing dirty laundry. Why would Brooks want to sign a new deal with this club now?

What speaks well for Brooks is that while he’s being benched at Wolfsburg, the team is continuing to struggle. So it’s not as if new manager Florian Kohfeldt should be satisfied with a lineup that doesn’t include Brooks.

With Brooks being in the last year of his contract, his transfer value is low right now. Perhaps the club will look to unload him in January and move on? We don’t know. But the timing of this piece could possibly suggest either a tough negotiating tactic, or a shot at Brooks out the door.

Brooks has historically responded well in the face of adversity. The most recent time came in January 2020 when Wolfsburg bought central defender Marin Pongra?i? from Salzburg. It appeared as if the club was prepared to move on from Brooks and indeed, Brooks was on the bench for a few weeks. But when Brooks got an opportunity following a red card suspension to Pongra?i?, Brooks responded with a terrific run of form the remainder of the season.

No matter what, Brooks is being challenged again by his club and national team. We will see how he responds. 


Dest benched at Barca


Since Xavi was hired recently as Barcelona’s new manager, Sergino Dest has been in the news on a range of matters – and none if it is good.

Just in the last week there were four negative pieces of news. First at the beginning of the week, it was suggested that Dest needed intense work with the new coaching staff on tactical training.


Later in the week, Dest was pulled at halftime of a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League – a loss which eliminated the club from the competition.

Then at the end of the week, it was reported that Barcelona could be looking to unload Dest in January as the club needs money for a rebuild under Xavi.


Finally, on Sunday, Dest was an unused sub in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna. It was a result that sunk Barcelona to eighth place in La Liga.

Barcelona is still trying to figure things out right now in its cash-poor, Messi-less era. Dest remains a logical asset to sell. It’s not because he’s a bad player, he just needs time to reach his potential and Barcelona needs money now. With two different teams, Dest has a ton of Champions League experience for a 21-year-old player.

But Barcelona probably isn’t going to sell unless they get some big offers that generate real cash. At this point, no one should be surprised if Dest really is on the market and finds a new club next month. But the numbers have to be big, and that may or may not happen. The worst case scenario for Barca is that they take the time to work with Dest and develop him.  


Loads of DNP/Cameos


We know Weah, Brooks and Dest didn’t play over the weekend – but they were far from the only top American players who either didn’t play or saw only very limited minutes.

Gio Reyna remained out for Borussia Dortmund and, while he’s getting closer, was out of the matchday squad for Saturday’s 1-1 raw with Bochum. The reports are that he’s close, but nothing has been definitive as to when he will return.

Weston McKennie is training with Juventus but Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Venezia was too soon for his return from the injury he suffered earlier in the month.  Juventus hasn’t played well without him and McKennie should be a welcome return once he’s fully fit.

Christian Pulisic did not get off the bench for Chelsea in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Leeds United. While he hasn’t necessarily struggled since returning from his injury last month, Pulisic hasn’t proven to be a better option than his teammates either – in the eyes of Thomas Tuchel.

Yunus Musah played only stoppage time for Valencia in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Elche.

Matt Miazga reportedly is out for COVID protocols, and he missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw for Deportivo Alaves against Getafe. Alaves currently sit three points out of the relegation zone in La Liga and Miazga has struggled for minutes the past two months.

Reggie Cannon played just the final 27 minutes for Boavista in a 2-0 loss to second place Sporting CP.

Konrad de la Fuente was not in the squad for Marseille in Sunday’s 2-0 away win over Strasbourg. He was listed as part of the traveling roster the day before the game.


Julian Green continues to have a brutal season for Greuther Furth. Again, he went as an unused substitute on Sunday in the club’s first Bundesliga win – downing Union Berlin 1-0 in a result that was completely against the run of play. Furth remain deep into last place with Green rarely seeing the field the past two months. It makes it even more odd that he signed a new deal recently to remain with Furth.

Antonee Robinson missed last week’s game for Fulham due to an illness but on Saturday he returned to the roster but did not get off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Luton Town. His American teammate, Tim Ream, however played very well for the Championship leaders in what was a disappointing draw.

Owen Otasowie is still yet to make his first-team debut for Club Brugge after a $4 million transfer over the summer from Wolves. He hasn’t adjusted well but was given a start on Friday in a reserve team game – but came off in the 50th minute with what appeared to be a knock.

In Belgium, Chris Durkin was an unused substitute for St. Truiden in a 2-1 home loss to Cercle Brugge.

Finally, it continues to be a brutal season for American forward Sebastian Soto who continues to not play for Porto B after earning a loan from Norwich – where he never really played.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing at all that Richard Ledezma didn’t play for PSV over the weekend in a 2-1 win over NEC Nijmegen. At this point, it’s great to see him on the bench (where he was an unused substitute) and able to play. This past weekend marked one year since his ACL tear and 367 days and counting without first team minutes is a big setback, even by ACL standards. He will play for PSV soon, but it could take awhile to shake off the rust.


Not too much from other Yanks


A bunch of Americans played over the weekend but didn’t really standout – either for good or bad.

On Saturday, RB Leipzig defeated Borussia Monchengladbach 4-1. Tyler Adams played the final 19 minutes in the win, while Joe Scally played the full 90 in the loss. For Adams, he has been playing mostly mop-up duty for Leipzig (even before Marsch left the club). He played well but didn’t stand out too much in helping to see out the win.

Scally, however, is being challenged for the first time in his young career. He’s been exceptional to start the season but has finally come to a time when neither he, nor anyone on his team, is playing well. He was caught ball-watching on a free kick for Leipzig’s second goal and wasn’t really able to get forward effectively. M’Gladbach has been outscored 10-1 over the past two games. Scally has started every one of the team’s games this season but for the first time, he has to work through a tough patch where everyone is struggling. All players have to go through it, and he coming weeks will be interesting to see how he responds.

In Switzerland, BSC Young Boys defeated Sion 4-3. U.S. national team forward Jordan Pefok started and played the distance but did not factor into any of the goals.

Mark McKenzie continued to start for KRC Genk and played the full 90 for KRC Genk in a 1-0 away loss to Gent on Sunday. McKenzie was certainly decent in this one and was not at fault for Gent’s goal, but this season has seen the entire Genk team struggle and it’s still way too early to say if he has locked down a starting job. Typically one of the strongest teams in Belgium, Genk is in 11th this season and last week the club fired manager John van den Brom.

The managerial change has given McKenzie a new opportunity to impress and these games are important to build up a case to start. Sunday was a decent statement with him connecting 9/11 long balls (mostly up wide to the wingers), winning 4/5 duels, had 5 clearances, and had 4 interceptions. All this while completing 92% of his passes. But losing to Gent overshadows his performance and could lead to more tinkering with the starting XI.

Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp lost a brutal game to Standard Liege – at home 3-2. This was a game where the manager completely lost control and the teams had a bunch of altercations on the field. Just before halftime, Antwerp was reduced to 10 players and Standard Liege took a 1-0 lead shortly after the second half. Antwerp played terrific soccer for a 25-30 minute stretch down a man and took a 2-1 lead.

In the 86th minute, Antwerp collapsed and conceded two quick goals (Vines was slow to track back on the second) and Antwerp picked up a second red card after the final goal. At the end, there was another ugly altercation. It was a tough game for Vines to standout and he was mostly quiet. He’s doing relatively well, but this game was simply ugly all around for everyone on Antwerp.

Josh Sargent played the full 90 for Norwich on Saturday in a 1-0 home loss to Manchester United. The St. Louis native continued to be used at right wing and in some aspects had a nice performance. He passed well (16/18), moved well, and drew three fouls. Scoring and getting into dangerous positions is still elusive for him. Part of that is on a Norwich team that looks like relegation fodder, and also some of it is on Sargent playing a position relatively new for him. He’s in a tough position to succeed but if Norwich are relegated, perhaps Sargent will be in a great position to build his career and then maybe succeed in the Premier League down the road.

In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre and everyone on Heracles all had a day to forget as they were on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision to Vitesse. It was the fourth loss in a row for Heracles which is in a tough spot and now in the last survival spot in the table. Two teams below it are now withing striking distance of Heracles with a win. De la Torre wasn’t poor but he also struggled offensively to get his team going.

In Turkey, DeAndre Yedlin went the distance for Galatasaray on Monday in a 1-0 loss to Sivasspor. Galatasaray has played well in the Europa League but it’s Super Lig season has been massively disappointing, and it how sits in ninth place. Yedlin has played relatively well, but it is a tough environment at one of the big Istanbul teams during a tough season.


MOTM Richards scores winner


Last weekend Chris Richards played well for Hoffenhiem in his return to the starting lineup and it was clear he did enough to keep his starting job with the Bundesliga club. On Saturday, the Alabama native raised his level even further when he scored a dramatic winner in Hoffenheim’s 2-1 away win over a very good Freiburg team.

Richards had a pretty good game until the very, when he got on the end of a corer kick and headed home his first Bundesliga goal.

In a season which has been a tough one for Americans broad, Richards is succeeding again after a few games on the bench. He battled his way back into the starting XI and looks as if he will be keeping it for the time being.


Busio helps Venezia draw Juve


On Saturday, Venezia had a difficult task in hosting Juventus. Gianluca Busio played the entire game while fellow American Tanner Tessmann came into the game in the 64th minute. The final score was 1-1 with Venezia four points clear of the relegation zone with the win.

Busio, 19, had nice game where he won a huge percentage of his duels and passed well. It wasn’t easy, but they grinded out a result against a much more talented opponent. For Busio, there was little doubt that he could pass at this level, but the biggest questions were his defense. He did very well in this game on that side of the ball.

Once his final pass and/or shot becomes more clinical, he could be a very dangerous player.


Meanwhile, Tanner Tessmann continues to get minutes off the bench as he adjust to Serie A. With him getting such regular substitute minutes, it seems like only a matter of time before he begins starting on a regular basis for the club.


Aaronson, Salzburg continue strong run


Midweek, Red Bull Salzburg defeated Sevilla 1-0 to advance to the knockout stages of the Champions League. On Sunday, they defeated WSG Tirol 5-0 to maintain a 14-point lead in the Austrian Bundesliga.

Aaronson started and picked up an assist and “hockey assist” in his 90 minutes of action. Overall it was a very good game from the New Jersey native who played in the No. 10 position for Salzburg.



Gioacchini assists for Montpellier


Nicholas Gioacchini, 21, has had a good season, thus far. While it is true that he has only started two times for Montpellier (on loan from SM Caen), Gioacchini has played in every single game and has generally done well with his sub minutes

In Saturday’s 4-0 win over Brest, Gioacchini came into the game in the 77th minute with the score 3-0 and he assisted on the team’s final goal on a fantastic individual effort where he forced a turnover and took the ball 30-40 yards to lay it off to Valere Germain for the goal.


Gioacchini has already shown himself to be a good player at this level. Now its about taking advantages of his chances whenever he starts.


Tomkinson makes Norwich’s bench


Finally, a big congratulations to Jonathan Tomkinson. The young American teenager was named to the roster for first time for Norwich City in the 1-0 loss to Manchester United. While the Plano, TX native did not get into the game, this was a big moment for the promising central defender.

Tomkinson likely would have been with the U.S. U-20 World Cup team if that cycle had not been cancelled. He recently signed a contract extension. If Norwich is relegated, Tomkinson could play a big role next season in helping the club get back up.


Notes from around the globe


In Denmark on Sunday, Emmanuel Sabbi and OB lost to Randers  2-1 but prevailed on aggregate after a 2-0 away win in the first leg. Sabbi scored the winning aggregate goal on Sunday. Christian Cappis started and played the first half for Brondby which defeated Midtjlland 2-1 in the second leg but lost on aggregate 3-2.

In Scotland, Cameron Carter-Vickers started and played the full 90 for Celtic in a 1-0 win over Motherwell. Dundee United lost to Livingston 1-0 at home with Ian Harkes going the full 90 for Dundee United and Scott Pittman playing the final 34 minutes in the loss. Christian Ramirez played a full 90 for Aberdeen in a 1-0 away in over St. Johnstone.

Meanwhile, the Daily Record in Scotland published their list of 50 best player in Scotland and three Americans make the list.


In the Championship, Duane Holmes started and played 89 minutes for Huddersfield in a 1-1 draw with Coventry. Ethan Horvath remained on the bench for Nottingham Forest in a 4-1 away win over Swansea City. In Ligue 1, Lynden Gooch started and played the first half for Sunderland in a 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle.

In Germany’s Bundesliga, Timothy Chandler did not get off the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 5-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen. In the 2.Bundesliga, Ryan Malone played all 90 minutes for Hansa Rostock in a 3-0 loss to HSV.

In Turkey’s Super Lig, Tyler Boyd played 71 minutes for Rizespor in a 3-1 win over Goztepe. Meanwhile, Haji Wright was a late, time-wasting sub for Antalyaspor in a 2-1 upset win over leaders Trabzonspor.

In Spain, Shaq Moore played 71 minutes for Tenerife in a 1-1 draw with Lugo in the Segunda.

In Serie B, Andrija Novakovich played the second half for Frosinone in a 3-2 loss to Monza.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, FC Dallas loanee Thomas Roberts played the second half in the midfield for Austria Klagenfurt in a 3-0 loss to Sturm Graz.

In France’s Ligue 2, Amir Richardson started and played 79 minutes for Le Havre in a 1-0 loss to Ajaccio.

In Hungary, Henry Wingo was out of action for Ferencvaros in a 2-0 loss to Debrecen. 

In Argentina’s Primera, Alan Sonora started and played 80 minutes for Independiente in a 1-0 win over Talleres de Cordoba.

Post a comment