Americans abroad analysis
Sargent, Musah, Gioacchini impress over the weekend for Americans abroad
November 23, 2020
THE WEEKEND FOR Americans abroad failed to bring a lot of fireworks or many MOTM-type performances but it wasn’t bad either. Instead it was consistent and steady in a good way.
The good news is that most players who were with the U.S. team returned to the standard level they are at with their clubs. No one was in a worse standing because they took off a week to play for the U.S. team.
Among the top players, Christian Pulisic was still injured for Chelsea and it is unclear when exactly he will return. Gio Reyna, Sergino Dest, and Weston McKennie were all subs while Tyler Adams got the start for Leipzig.
Among the players outside of the top tier of the national team, there are on-going concerns where the minutes will come from. Uly Llanez, who picked up a knock with the U.S. team on Monday, was not in action. Richard Ledezma was exceptional, but it was with Jong PSV. Chris Richards is still on the bench for Bayern Munich. Konrad de la Fuente played the second half for Barcelona B of a 2-0 loss to CE L'Hospitalet. Both goalkeepers – Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath – were unused subs for Manchester City and Club Brugge respectively.
That being said, here is a rundown of what were the top stories and how I felt about them.
Sargent strong for Werder
Josh Sargent was probably the most impressive American player in Europe over the weekend. Werder Bremen was given an uphill assignment against Bayern Munich but it was Werder that was the better team for long stretches.
Sargent, 20, nearly put Werder Bremen up in the first half only to have his sliding shot saved spectacularly by Manuel Neuer.
Then just before the half, Sargent’s made a terrific assist on Maxi Eggestein’s goal to put Werder in position for the upset.
That turn and assist from Josh Sargent ????— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 21, 2020
Maxi Eggestein gives Werder Bremen the lead over Bayern! pic.twitter.com/rWUGaJsfX1
Bayern fought back with the equalizer and Sargent again had a great chance to win it in the end but was denied by Neuer.
Was it perfect? No. Sargent will probably look back and think he could have done more with his finishing but Sargent’s movement in this game was excellent. He was regularly involved and was only not on the scoresheet because of the greatest goalkeeper in the world.
But on any other day, Sargent is on the scoresheet multiple times. His numbers show that he worked hard.
- 90 minutes.
- 42 touches
- 3 shots
- 2 key passes
- 1 assist
- 3 chances created
- 12/22 passing (54%)
- 1/1 long balls
- 5 duels won (14 lost)
- 2 dribbles
- 2 fouls
- 2 aerials won (8 lost)
Consider that getting on the ball 42 times as a center forward away at Bayern Munich is difficult. But he still managed three shots and two key passes. It was a tough task and Sargent handled himself very well.
Adams starts at right back for Leipzig
Tyler Adams had a good international window with the U.S. team where he played well at the No. 6. In his first game back for Eintracht Frankfurt, Adams played right back (Timothy Chandler did not get off the bench for Eintracht).
It is definitely not his main position but his numbers were still decent in this one. As is typical for Adams – he is on his best when he gets north of 85 touches over a 90-minute period. Despite playing right back, he managed to do that.
- 90 minutes
- 88 touches
- 0 shots
- 0 key passes
- 54/58 passing (93.1%)
- 1 aerial won
- 2 dribbles
- 3x fouled
- 2 tackles
- 2 interceptions
- 1 clearance
- 2 crosses
- 2/4 accurate long balls
His touch map also shows that he didn’t necessarily drift to the middle either – as he did for Berhalter in the one game he played right back.
This suggests that wherever Adams plays, his team is going to look to get him the ball and involved. But just like the U.S. team, Leipzig is at its best when Adams in in the middle because he contributes so much more to the offense too and is more of a disruptive presence in the middle.
Musah and Valencia mount comeback
Yunus Musah, 17, showed a ton of promise in his first U.S. national team camp last week and Gregg Berhalter gave him a chance to play in his preferred central midfield position in those two games.
At Valencia, Musah plays on the right side but will eventually probably transition into the middle. On Sunday, Musah again returned to the right against Deportivo Alaves.
Valencia quickly fell into a 2-0 deficit but mounted a comeback with goals in the 72nd and 77th minute for the draw.
A few things stood out about Musah’s performance. He was better in the second half and he was effective on the dribble. He was fouled five times – which was the highest in the game by far. It showed how difficult it is for opponents to stop him and fouling him is sometimes the only solution.
For a team that plays through the middle, Musah is not in the best position to see the ball a lot but his numbers were still solid.
- 90 minutes
- 38 touches
- 0 shots
- 1 key pass
- 90.5% passing (19/21)
- 3 dribbles
- 5x fouled
- 2 tackles
- 1 cross
In general, he will want to make more than 21 passes over a 90 minute game but with his effectiveness on the dribble, he is a very important part of the Valencia attack.
Gioacchini draws big penalty
After a very successful first camp with the United States, Nicholas Gioacchini went right back into the starting lineup for SM Caen as the Kanas City-born forward is a key part of the club’s push for promotion.
On Saturday against Le Havre, SM Caen fell behind 1-0 just before the half. In the second half, Caen found the equalizer in the 76th minute. Gioacchini was involved as his run behind the defense opened the play up. His shot was blocked but it fell to Yacine Bammou and his pass to Yoann Court tapped it in.
Gioacchini’s biggest moment came in the 85th minute when he was fouled in the box to earn a penalty for SM Caen. Yacine Bammou made no mistake with the penalty and it was enough for a winner.
This was a hard-fought win over Caen against another club that is looking for promotion. Here are Gioacchini’s numbers for this game:
- 90 minutes
- 31 touches
- 11/17 passing
- 7 duels won (4 lost)
- 4x fouled
- 4 shots
- 1 penalty drawn
- 1 tackle
These numbers reflect what kind of a player Gioacchini is. He is a powerful forward that can win duels and draw a lot of fouls. He will get his opportunities. But what the numbers don’t reveal is that he also moves very well in an open game as well.
Ledezma exceptional for Jong PSV
The weekend for Americans abroad began with a great performance from Richard Ledezma with Jong PSV. This is the type of outing that should have him back with the first team very soon.
In this game against MVV Maastricht, Jong PSV fell behind 3-0 but began its comeback in the 66th minute with its first goal. Ledezma managed an assist in the 82nd minute and then the team found the equalizer in the 83rd. Here is a video of that perfect long ball.
Ledezma’s numbers accurately display just how busy he was throughout this game.
Very busy and good day for Richard Ledezma in this one, a 3-3 draw for Jong PSV:— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 20, 2020
5 key passes
4/9 accurate long balls
67/79 passing (84%)
42 passes in opponent’s half
6 chances created#USMNT https://t.co/DmKSJz1s3o
He was on the ball more than once per minute over the entire game. He also had six chances created with five key passes (passes that directly lead to shots). 62% of his 67 completed passes were in the attacking half.
On the heels of a great debut for the U.S. team where he had two assists off the bench, Ledezma is playing well right now and is full of confidence. In his Eredivisie debut just before the window, Ledezma picked up a quick assist off the bench. All things are trending positive for Ledezma.
PSV’s first team played to a 1-1 draw with FC Twente on Sunday. That should only keep Ledezma’s name in the mix for a return soon.
Robinson’s starts in Fulham loss
Fulham started a difficult four-game stretch on Sunday with a 3-2 loss at home to Everton. Upon their return from the U.S. national team, Antonee Robinson got the start for the Cottagers while Tim Ream was on the bench.
Everton had control of this game with a 3-1 lead at half. Fulham missed a penalty in the second half before pulling one back in the 70th. In the end, it was not enough.
Robinson, 23, was pretty good in this one and his athleticism was a big reason why Fulham was able to keep Everton pinned back for most of the second half. He was able to get on the ball a lot and could have assisted on an equalizer.
Antonee Robinson: Raw # for Fulham in 3-2 loss to Everton— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 22, 2020
2 key passes
44/58 passing (76%)
1 aerial won
4 duels won (2 lost)
3/4 accurate crosses
2/3 accurate long balls#USMNT pic.twitter.com/v3GzzPtbyo
Since breaking into Fulham’s starting lineup, Robinson has been one of Fulham’s best players. Playing in a relegation battle isn’t easy but Robinson gives Fulham an ability to get the ball quickly from defense into the attack.
This is going to be an interesting season for Fulham and by no means is relegation assured. There are four teams that appear as if they will be in the relegation mix but three will go down. Right now Fulham is on top of this group that also consists of West Brom, Burnley, and Sheffield United.
Following this game, Fulham has difficult games ahead against Leicester City, Manchester City, and Liverpool.
Brooks starts in Wolfsburg win
John Brooks and Wolfsburg picked up three points on Saturday with a win over a Schalke team that is still winless and now in last place.
Wolfsburg had Schalke pinned back in this one and Brooks handled himself well. Whenever he was pressed into action, did well to intercept passes or make clearances. Otherwise he was simply asked to help in the possession game. He actually had the most completed passes out of any other player.
- 90 minutes
- 81 touches
- 56/66 passing
- 1/7 accurate long balls
- 2 duels won (5 lost)
- 4 clearances
- 4 interceptions
- 1 tackle
- 2 fouls
With the win, Wolfsburg moved into sixth place as it once again appears to be a team hovering around the European spots – mostly riding on its steady defense (with Brooks front and center) to get it there.
Julian Green was not on the last U.S. national team roster and with the impressive next generation of players that Gregg Berhalter seems interested in, it will be tough for Green to make his way back into the team.
With the way Green is playing, however, he will be making it hard for Berhalter to leave him off in 2021. Right now, Green is playing very well for a Greuther Furth team that is in second place in the 2.Bundesliga and looks to be a genuine promotion contender.
25-year old Tampa FL-born Julian Green scored this exclamation point of a free-kick today in the German second division ???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/K4qlIJNZ5B— roger bennett (@rogbennett) November 22, 2020
Against Jahn Regensburg on Saturday, Green was very active in the attack and scored the third goal of a convincing 3-1 win. His goal showcased his best strength – an outstanding shot from distance that is one of the best in the U.S. national team player pool.
- 80 minutes
- 36 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 goal
- 16/20 passing
- 4 crosses
- 3 duels won (3 lost)
- 2x fouled
- 2 interceptions
- 1 tackle
Green had a very good game and is in a good position to play in a genuine promotional race this season.
Dest, McKennie, & Reyna sub in
For a trio of the top American players, the weekend involved appearances off the bench.
Saturday’s game for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid was a real measuring point for the club as to where it stands this season – which is off to a rocky start. Everyone knows that Barcelona is in the midst of a “changing of the guard” period – but how much work needs to be done?
Atletico Madrid had the most points/game ratio in La Liga so far this season so it was a massive test.
Barcelona ended up losing 1-0 and fell to 12th place in La Liga with 11 points from eight games. It is 12 points behind leaders Real Sociedad (which has played 10 games) and now nine points behind Atletico Madrid.
Sergino Dest, 20, subbed into this game in the 61st minute for Gerard Pique. Over his 29 minutes he had 20 touches and completed all 16 of his passes. It was a tough situation for Dest who did not stand out – neither positively nor negatively. Dest is certainly one of the future at Barcelona but this is a tough situation at the moment as some of the best players in the history of the storied club seem set to move on.
Weston McKennie, 22, was perhaps the best player for the U.S. team over the international window. On Saturday, he returned to Juventus and came off the bench in the 68th minute to see out a 2-0 win over Cagliari. There were a couple of rocky passing moments and he had a shot saved, but overall it was fine to see out a win.
Gio Reyna, 17, played out the final 15 minutes of Borussia Dortmund’s 5-2 win over Hertha Berlin where the sensational Erling Haaland scored four goals. Reyna played well in his time on the field but the game was decided when he entered as Dortmund had a 4-1 lead. Reyna completed 11/12 passes, had 20 touches, and had 2 shots.
For the two top American coaches in Europe, it was an eventful weekend – and not all of it was good.
Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg team entered into Saturday’s game against SK Sturm Graz with a tremendous record in the Austrian Bundesliga. Salzburg had six wins and a draw from seven games with a +20 goal differential (its 25 goals scored and five goals conceded both best in the league).
Marsch’s team was probably looking ahead to Tuesday’s visit to Bayern Munich because it ended up losing 3-1 at home to Sturm Graz. Even when resting some key players, Salzburg should have the talent to win any game in the Bundesliga. This was a trap game, and it was a victim to it. Fortunately Rapid Vienna and LASK also failed to win over the weekend so Salzburg remained in first.
???? Cican #Stankovic: "The coach addressed it at half-time that we were losing way too many duels. Then we decided to do better and blew it in the first five minutes. It hurts to see Sturm Graz cheering. We were not ourselves today." #RBSSTU pic.twitter.com/AvWXvD5623— FC Red Bull Salzburg EN (@FCRBS_en) November 21, 2020
In the Bundesliga, VFB Stuttgart played to a wild 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim. Managed by New Jersey’s Pellegrino Matarazzo, newly-promoted Stuttgart have played well this season having lost just once in its first eight games (that loss was in the opener). This game had very poor defense. Hoffenheim scored first, Stuttgart scored the next two, Hoffenheim scored the following two for a 3-2 lead. Then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Stuttgart equalized.
""Unfortunately we fell behind with Hoffenheim’s first chance of the game," Matarazzo said. "We’d been playing very well up until then and we didn’t ease off after they scored – instead we kept going and deservedly got two goals of our own. At the end of the day the 3-3 draw is evidence of the team’s character."
Even though it is early in the season, Stuttgart is showing some very positive traits under Matarazzo. These are traits that were noticeable last season as it successfully pushed for promotion. For one, the team plays remarkably hard and does not stop pushing for goals. It also plays an attractive and attack-oriented style that is fun to watch. The team obviously likes playing under Matarazzo. On a negative note, however, is that Stuttgart need defenders and a better defensive structure. It still coughs up too many opportunities.
Johannsson reboot continues
Aron Johannsson was left off the last U.S. national team roster and it was telling because Gregg Berhalter decided to go with younger players – and those younger players in Niko Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto played well. When you combine that with Josh Sargent and some domestic options who are promising (Daryl Dike, Jeremy Ebobisse, Ayo Akinola) the path for a return to the national team is tougher for Johannsson, who is now 30.
But even if Johannsson doesn’t return to the national team, what he is doing this season is great and heartwarming story. The past five years have been brutal for Johannsson has he has dealt with a wave of injuries that have prevented him from playing any sort of meaningful minutes. He lost most of the prime years of his career but is now trying to salvage it.
In 2020, Johannsson is on a terrific roll in Sweden with Hammarby and on Sunday he scored his 12th of the Allsvenskan season to go along with another three he has scored in the cup. His goal equalized the game against Malmo at 1-1. The game ended 2-2.
The reboot of Aron Johannsson in 2020 continues. Here is his 12th of the season (15th including the Swedish Cup) for Hammarby - which trails Malmo 2-1 at HT pic.twitter.com/7KTPVgQd6G— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 22, 2020
With the failure to win, Hammarby is almost certain to come up short in its attempt to qualify for Europe. With two games remaining, it must make up a four-point gap.
Either way, Johannsson has become fun to follow again and might have some more interesting twists and turns in his career left.
Elsewhere around the globe
In the Portuguese Cup, Reggie Cannon played 120 minutes for Boavista as it snuck past second tier Vizela on Sunday.
In Belgium, United States national team defender Matt Miazga lost for the first time at Anderlecht on Sunday when he went the distance in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a Beerschot team that is now second.
Staying in Belgium, Georgia native Joe Efford played the first 75 minutes at right wing for Waasland-Beveren in a 2-0 loss to Cercle Brugge on Sunday. Ethan Horvath was an unused sub for Club Brugge in a 1-0 win over Kortrijk – which did not feature American defender Brenden Hines-Ike.
Heading up to the Scandinavian leagues, Romain Gall had a nice performance for Orebro in a 2-0 win over AIK. The French-born American winger was dangerous throughout and had a shot which eventually resulted in an own goal.
Mix Diskerud and Helsingborg fell to Elfsborg 2-1 on Sunday but the former New York City FC midfielder scored his team’s only goal.
Mix Diskerud’s goal today for Helsingborg in a 2-1 loss to Elfsborg. BTW, I still can’t believe he’s 30 years old. I remember when he was a teenager with real #dualnationalpanic surrounding him until @TRongen brought him to the 2009 U-20 WC. pic.twitter.com/S6s0e1l0hV— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 22, 2020
Meanwhile over in Norway’s top flight, Seattle native and former Sounder Henry Wingo had a strong game for Molde when he went the distance in a 3-0 away win over Stabaek.
In Austria, Erik Palmer-Brown had a good outing for Austria Vienna in a 1-1 draw with St. Polten on Saturday. His numbers were solid as he continues to be a rock in the back.
Erik Palmer-Brown: raw # for Austrian Vienna in 1-1 draw vs St Poelten— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 22, 2020
32/37 passing (86%)
1/4 long balls
1 key passes
3 duels won (0 lost)
1 aerial won (0 lost)
Heading to the Swiss Super League, Jordan Siebatcheu played the final 12 minutes for Young Boys in a 2-1 win over Basel. The Washington, DC native has now made six Super League appearances for Young Boys but all have been over the bench and they total 50 minutes. He is still looking for his first goal in the league.
Heading over to England, Duane Holmes returned to the starting lineup for Derby County following a managerial change during the international break. The attacking midfielder from Georgia played 72 minutes against Bristol City but Derby fell in a 1-0 decision. It’s been a terrible season for Derby which remains in last place.
Queens Park Rangers played Watford to a 1-1 draw on Saturday in the Championship and QPR’s American captain Geoff Cameron went the distance and U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman was an unused substitute and is still looking for his club debut since arriving in September.
In League One, U.S. U-20 attacking midfielder Indiana Vassilev continues to have a rocky time on his loan to Burton Albion as he started and played just the first half in a 3-1 loss at home to Northampton Town. It’s a tough situation for Vassliev as Burton Albion are a poor team all around and are in last place of League One.
Meanwhile, Lynden Gooch assisted on this wondergoal form Grant Leadbitter in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Doncaster.
Heading up to Scotland’s Premiership, Ian Harkes played the final 30 minutes for Dundee United in a 2-1 win over Hamilton Academical on Saturday. Dundee United was trailing 1-0 when Harkes entered. Fellow American midfielder Dillon Powers was an unused sub for Dundee United.
In the Eredivisie, U.S. U-23 hopeful Luca de la Torre was probably among the best players for Heracles in a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of leaders Ajax. The San Diego native had two shots, 43 touches, 3 tackles, and completed 28/32 passing. There wasn't much he could do, however, as Heracles was completely outmanned in this one.
In Germany, Bobby Wood played the final 22 minutes for 2.Bundesliga leaders Hamburg SV in a 3-1 loss to Bochum. Unfortunately for Wood, the score was 1-1 when he entered.
Also in the 2.Bundeesliga, U.S. U-23 eligible winger Kevin Lankford played the full 90 minutes for St. Pauli in a 2-0 loss to Paderborn (U.S. U-20 midfielder Leon Flach was an unused sub for St. Pauli). Lankford probably won’t make the U.S. U-23 team but he is a versatile and physical winger that can help his team in certain situations.
Kevin Lankford, raw # for St Pauli in 2-0 loss to Paderborn— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) November 21, 2020
2 chances created
1/1 long balls
2 key passes
8 duels won (7 lost)
1 aerial won https://t.co/j35MH6dewW
In Italy’s Serie B, Andrija Novakovich started for Frosinone in a disappointing 2-0 loss to Cosenza at home on Friday. Frosinone is a team that wants to push for promotion while Cosenza is likely a relegation battler. This was a loss that might cause regret later in the season.
In Turkey's Super Lig, Chicago's Eric Lichaj played a full 90 at right back for Fatih Karagumruk in a 1-1 draw with Sivasspor. Lichaj continues to be part of a club that is impressing fresh after promotion as it currently sits in fifth place. Lichaj, unfortunately, was credited with an own goal for the only goal from Sivasspor.
In Poland's top flight, Kenny Saief played 69 minutes for Lechia Gdansk in a 3-2 win over Slask Wroclaw on Friday. With the win, Lechia Gdansk moved into fourth place.
In Argentina's Copa de Liga Profesional, U.S. U-23 eligible and New Jersey-born Alan Sonora played the final 20 minutes for Independiente in a disappointing 0-0 draw with Central Cordoba SdE.
In Brazil's Serie A, Internacional dropped a 2-1 decision to Fluminense on Sunday night. Internacional has been struggling lately having just one point from its last three games. In this game, it had a lead but conceded goals in the 57th and 81st minute. United States national team midfielder Johnny Cardoso played the final 29 minutes in the loss. Johnny was active in this one with 40 touches, 1 dribble, fouled twice, 2 tackles, and completed 24/28 passes. As is typical, Johnny showed a solid range of passing in connecting on 4/5 accurate long balls.