Americans abroad analysis

Sargent, Ramirez, & Musah score while Tessmann & De la Torre impress

It was a busy weekend for Americans abroad with performances both up and down. Josh Sargent had the best weekend out of all but he was far from the only one who stood out. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down with his thoughts and analysis of all the games. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 24, 2022
7:00 AM

THE WEEKEND ABROAD was generally solid for Americans abroad and the good news starts with Josh Sargent who ended a 1000-minute Premier League drought with two huge goals in a critical win for Norwich. But the good news was not limited to him either as players such as Tanner Tessmann, Yunus Musah, and the Fulham defensive duo all enjoyed their final games before the January international window.

We had some more player movement ahead of and during the international window.

Justin Che joined Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga and the U.S. U-20 defender has always been linked to a permanent move abroad. Last year he was with Bayern Munich’s reserve team on loan before returning to play the second half of the season with FC Dallas. He will join Chris Richards at Hoffenheim but will probably spend time with the club’s youth and reserve teams.

The first step is for him to settle into a position. He has played as a right back mostly for Dallas (and the U.S. U-20 team) but central defense is probably his future position. Will he move there? He is athletic but needs tactical work and that will start with settling in on a position.

Bryan Reynolds joined Kortrijk on loan from Roma on a loan for the rest of the Belgian season. He’s essentially had a lost year in 2021 since his move from Dallas and this should get him minutes. Kortrijk is a smaller team in Belgium’s top flight and is thin at right back. He is moving to a club that needs him. Is this going to put him beyond Dest, Yedlin, Cannon, Scally, Lennon, and possibly others in the right back pool? Probably not. Reynolds does indeed have an upside but his national team future is probably next cycle. That should be expected given his youth.


Sargent’s brace lifts Norwich


If Norwich survive this season in the Premier League, Friday’s 3-0 away win over Watford will be a big reason why. And a big reason for that win was Josh Sargent who ended his 1000 minute Premier League scorless drought in style with two very well taken goals.

Despite starting the game on the wing, Sargent was able to get himself into central positions at key moments and hit two very big finishes. When Sargent scored, the relief of finally scoring for his club was obvious on his face. There had been a decent argument that struggles thus far were more mental than due to a lack of talent. This game gave evidence to that. By all reports, Sargent had been training hard and training well.


Now we will get to see if he can build on this huge game and be an asset that keeps Norwich in the top flight.

As for the national team, Sargent was not on the current roster as his recent scoring outburst happened after the roster was put together. It was understandable that he didn’t make it. But Berhalter likes Sargent and repeatedly called him up prior to his drought. My guess is that Sargent finds his way back into the team quicker than Jordan Pefok or Daryl Dike – who both struggled for call-ups despite scoring. Combined with Pepi still being young and unproven, Sargent’s return in March seems like a good bet to take if he continues to play well.

Dike injured in first WBA start


Daryl Dike made his first start for West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and the good news is that in the first half he looked dangerous. He was moving well, winning duels, and was active with five shots through 53 minutes.


But Dike was forced out in the 53rd minute with what looked to be a hamstring injury although an official diagnosis hasn’t been made. It was 0-0 when he left but West Brom rallied with three late goals for a 3-0 win to move into fifth place.

This is a tough time for Dike to get injured as he’s in the middle of a promotion race and in a time when needs to score goals to get back into the national team picture. He needs to make himself impossible to ignore and occasional goals are not going to do it. He needs to recreate the momentum he had a year ago with Barnsley. He can do that, but hopefully he can heal this international window.


Fulham wins again


On Saturday, Fulham only scored three goals en route to a 3-2 away win over Stoke. That is a step back from the 19 goals the club scored over its last three goals. Still the three points kept it eight points clear atop the Championship table.

Per usual, Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream went the distance for Fulham in what was actually a very tight game. Robinson was very active with 75 touches, winning 5/8 duels, having 4 interceptions, while completing 35/47 passing including 4/9 in long balls.

It’s been a good season for both, and promotion is looking like a sure bet. If that happens, Tim Ream will have built up an amazing resume in the Championship.


Tessmann impresses in big start


Due to a COVID outbreak within Venezia which claimed American midfielder Gianluca Busio, the club was far from 100% in its trip to face Serie A leading Inter Milan. Tanner Tessmann earned the start and while he has been playing regularly, this was the biggest challenge of his career.

Overall, Tessmann had a very nice outing. He left in the 66th minute with the game 1-1 and did everything he could to help his team be in a position to earn a surprising result. Unfortunately, Inter rallied and found a late winner after Tessmann exited.


As expected, Tessmann didn’t see that much of the ball as Inter had 70% of the possession. But he had a series of slick touches and passes that helped his team keep the ball. Defensively, however, he won the ball a bunch of times and was very important in limiting Inter’s offense. He won an impressive 6/8 of his duels, added three clearances and two interceptions.

Tessmann’s time with the national team will come. For now, it is a good thing he remain with the team just as he is building momentum in the starting lineup. Relegation will be tight but Tessmann’s improvement is a huge asset.


Pepi & Augsburg blown out


Ricardo Pepi remained in the starting lineup for Augsburg on Saturday but played just 57 minutes. He was subbed out when Augsburg trailed 2-0. Augsburg ended up getting blown out 5-1 by the 3rd place team. Augsburg is in the relegation playoff position – two points deep and only a point clear of automatic relegation.

Pepi had some nice moments here or there, but his team was completely mismatched. This transfer continues to look odd. A relegation-bound team spending a ton of money on a young and still unproven (but promising) forward when the team could have used the money to upgrade in numerous positions. What’s the plan for him if they get relegated?

There is no time for that speculation now, however, as every game is critical to saving Augsburg’s season and avoiding the drop.


Brooks vs. Adams in Bundesliga


On Sunday, RB Leipzig hosted Wolfsburg with John Brooks getting the start for Wolfsburg while Tyler Adams was on the bench for an improving Leipzig team. Leipzig ended up winning 2-0 with Tyler Adams coming into the game in the 56th while Brooks played the full 90.

Brooks was sharp, despite the loss and was looking to do more with the ball. Wolfsburg’s offense is the biggest problem right now and the club is now flirting with relegation – sitting just one place and two points clear of the relegation playoff zone. He had six clearances and two interceptions and a few nice passes out of the back. It wasn’t groundbreaking but he did okay as Wolfsburg continue to fall apart.

On a related note, Wolfsburg’s tailspin makes this a tough time for all involved at the club – including Brooks. It is going to be tricky to ink him to a new deal. Florian Kohfeldt was hired in November as the new manager and he could be out soon. There is a lot of uncertainty.

Adams played 35 minutes to see out the win and played well. His header started the sequence to the team’s second goal and he did his part to keep Wolfsburg at bay. In one moment, he picked up a yellow for a foul on Brooks as Brooks was looking to get forward into the attack and Adams committed a professional foul.

Adams will arrive in USMNT camp on the heels of a series of performances to continue his strong start to 2022.


Weah looks dangerous for Lille


After making his first appearance midweek since his injury on December 3 in training, Tim Weah earned his first start of 2022 on Saturday against Brest.

The good news for Weah is that he played well over his 67 minutes. He started on the right wing and had three key passes included in his 20/24 passing. But he was energetic and lively in this one. The problem for Lille is that the rest of its offense didn’t show up – including Canadian international Jonathan David who had an off day.

Lille ended up losing 2-0 to fall to 10th. Despite that midtable setting, the standings are tight and they’re just two points out of European spot.

For Weah, he will arrive in USMNT camp in a much better place now that his injury is behind him. He might not be able to start all three games, but he should be able to start one or two games during this upcoming window.


Musah outstanding for Valencia


Yunus Musah is playing the best soccer of his season and he had a big moment on Saturday when Valencia visited Atletico Madrid.

Musah, 19, earned the start and scored the opening goal in the 25th minute to give Valencia a 1-0 lead on 4th place Atletico. Unfortunately, Musah was subbed out in the 88th minute with Valencia up 2-1 and Atletico rallied for two stoppage time goals for an improbable 3-2 win. Valencia fell to 10th place as a result.


It was a heartache for Valencia, but Musah had some huge moments with the goal being the biggest. He only had 25 touches in this game and was credited with 7/13 in passing. His dribbling was his strength in this game and he is elite at that. He still has a ways to go to balance his game out, but the goal and Atletico was certainly another statement that he is continuing to play well and is now hitting his stride heading into the January window. 


Mckennie starts vs. Milan


On Sunday night, Weston McKennie started for 5th place Juventus away against 3rd place AC Milan in a matchup between Italy’s two most historical powers. McKennie entered into this game in “the form of his life” as U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter put it last week.

The game finished 0-0 and by McKennie’s high standards, this was somewhat of an off-game for him. Defensively he was okay, but offensively he lacked the impact of recent games where he was effective on the dribble and advancing the ball into dangerous positions.

Most importantly, however, he played the full game and will head to the United States healthy for the January World Cup qualifiers.


McKenzie starts for Genk


Mark McKenzie got the start for Genk on Sunday against surprising Belgian leaders Union St. Gilloise who were only promoted to the top tier last season. McKenzie has been in and out of Genk’s lineup this year and it hasn’t always been smooth, but this was a big test for him.

McKenzie played the first 67 minutes before being subbed out as part of a double substitution. Genk was trailing 1-0 at the time. After he left, Genk equalized but Union SG found a late winner via a controversial penalty deep into stoppage time.

The sub was tactical and McKenzie played well. He wasn’t at fault for Union SG’s opening goal and his passing was crisp from distance (4/4 in long balls). McKenzie hasn’t been poor this season and most of his games have generally been positive. Genk, unfortunately, has been disappointing this season and has fallen to ninth place.

McKenzie will now arrive at the USMNT camp but has an uphill climb for playing time as Chris Richards is playing well and Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson have both had good runs with the national team in 2021.


Duncan debuts for Oostende


Kyle Duncan walked right into the starting lineup for Oostende in Belgium’s top flight where he started in a home game vs. third-place Royal Antwerp.

Unfortunately for Duncan, Royal Antwerp scored two second-half goals to win 2-1 and erase a 1-0 deficit. Sam Vines did not get off the bench for Antwerp and it was a difficult week for the Colorado homegrown who was also left off the roster for the U.S. national team.

Duncan was rusty at the start but grew into the game and generally played well. It was a promising first start with the club and it was Duncan’s first game since the Red Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs in November. Oostende are just four points clear of the relegation playoff zone so there will be pressure on Duncan to adjust quickly.

For the national team, Duncan has an uphill climb to get into the mix – although it is not impossible. Things are breaking his way. Cannon has been up and down at Boavista and is playing more of a central defender. Yedlin has had a rough season at Galatasaray. Julian Araujo has left the program. For players like Duncan and Aaron Herrera, they’re both solid right backs and they’re not as far behind the rest of the pack as initially thought. Yes, Dest and Joe Scally are playing at a higher level but injuries and changes in form do happen.


De la Torre strong for Heracles


On Sunday, Heracles played Go Ahead Eagles to a 1-1 draw in a matchup between two midtable Eredivisie teams. De la Torre was named to the USMNT roster for January and he backed that up with a very good outing in a 1-1 draw. He was easily one of the best players on the field for the game. His combination of effective dribbling (4/5 successful) and his passing (27/29) kept Heracles on the front foot most of the game.

Go Ahead Eagles actually had more possession (57%) but Heracles had 15 chances compared with just five for the Eagles. De la Torre was a big part of Heracles being a far more effective team.

It will be interesting to see what happens to De la Torre after this season. He will soon turn 24 and he is no longer a young player – although certainly not old. He has a strong track record in the mid-table of the Eredivisie after struggling in England. His resale value likely isn’t too high but there are a number of teams he could help out right now.


EPB start in Troyes loss


Erik Palmer-Brown has had a great start to 2022 and has performed well in his first two starts of the calendar year for Troyes in Ligue 1. On Saturday, he made his third straight Ligue 1 for Troyes in a 2-1 loss to Angers.

Palmer-Brown, 24, was fairly solid in this one but seemed to come to life after there was a positional switch in the second half that moved him to the middle of a three-man central defender setup. Troyes lost this game on a pair of penalties that were not conceded by Palmer-Brown. That speaks well of him but this team is still just one point clear of the relegation zone.

Palmer-Brown is a talented defender who could push for a spot on the national team at any time – even if central defense has been a team strength thus far in World Cup qualifying. For now, he is still new to his starting job at Troyes and is in a critical time for both himself and the club. He is going to likely play a role whether or not the team stays up. For now, it is best that he remains with his club.


Cannon impresses in new role


Reggie Cannon went a full 90 on Saturday for Boavista in a 1-1 away draw at Pacos de Ferreira. As he has been doing in recent games, he started on the right side of a three-man backline in mostly a central defender role – once again, he impressed in this position.

In this role, Cannon sits deeper and is able to use his athleticism to defend. While he occasionally pushes forward, he doesn’t get up and down the wings as a traditional right back or wingback. It plays to Cannon’s strengths more and while this might not translate over the national team well, it is a role he can find a lot of success at the club level.


Elsewhere in Europe


In the Bundesliga, Chris Richards went a full 90 for Hoffenheim in a 3-2 home loss to Borussia Dortmund (with Gio Reyna still out for BVB). After a terrific start to the season, Hoffenheim has begun 2022 on the backfoot with two losses in the Bundesliga and a loss in the German Cup.

Pellegrino Matarazzo's Stuttgart team is now in the relegation zone of the Bundesliga and is playing poorly with just one point from its last five.

Last place Greuther Further came away with a surprising 2-1 win over Mainz on Saturday. Julian Green was not in the squad for Furth while German-American (and former German youth international) Timothy Tillman started and went 90 for Furth.

Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 2-0 loss to Arminia Bielefeld. This result blew open the relegation battle as it moved Bielefeld to safety. This put Americans such as Brooks, Matarazzo, and Pepi into a more dangerous position.

Joe Scally played the final three minutes plus stoppage time for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 2-1 home loss to Union Berlin.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Ryan Malone had a very good performance in central defense for Hansa Rostock in a 0-0 draw with Heidenheim. The former standout at Springfield College of Division III is going to play a big role for Hansa Rostock down the stretch in its relegation fight.

In England’s Premier League, Christian Pulisic did not get off the bench for Chelsea in a 2-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday.

In the Championship, Duane Holmes only just returned to training after sitting in isolation due to COVID. He was not in Huddersfield’s squad for a 4-3 away win over Reading. Ethan Horvath also was an unused substitute for Nottingham Forest in a 2-1 win over Derby. English-American Alex Mighten remains out injured. Matthew Olosunde returned to the field and came into the game in the 36th minute for Preston North End 1-0 away loss to Swansea City.

In third-tier League One, Lynden Gooch started and played the full 90 for Sunderland in a 1-0 win over Portsmouth. Sunderland moved into second place and are in contention for promotion this season. Marlon Fossey played a full 90 at right back for Bolton Wanderers in a 1-0 away win over Shrewsbury Town. Finally, Charlie Kelman played the second half for last-place Gillingham in a 3-2 loss to leaders Wigan Athletic.

In Italy’s Serie B, Andrija Novakovich came off the bench in the 65th minute for Frosinone and picked up an assist on the winning goal in the 72nd minute on Emanuele Cicerelli’s shot that beat legendary Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon for a 1-0 win over Parma. Frosinone moved into seventh place with the win and are in line for the playoffs.

In France’s Ligue 1, Konrad de la Fuente was injured and missed Marseille's 2-0 win over Lens. Nicholas Gioacchini came into the game in the 71st minute for 6th place Montpellier as they found a late winner in a 3-2 victory over Monaco. In Ligue 2, Amir Richardson returned from a COVID absence and played the first 59 minutes for Le Havre in a 0-0 draw with Rodez.

In Spain’s La Liga, Matthew Hoppe was an unused substitute for Mallorca in a 3-0 loss to Villarreal on Saturday.

In Belgium’s top tier, Chris Durkin came into the game in the 72nd minute for St. Truiden against relegation battling RFC Dearing with the score 1-1. After his team took the lead, Durkin assisted on a stoppage time goal to finish the scoring 3-1.

In Portugal's Primeira Liga, Alex Mendez started for Vizela at Tondela but was subbed out at halftime. Vizela was losing 2-1 at the break but rallied for a 3-2 win.

In the Eredivisie, Richards Ledezma did not get off the bench for PSV in a 2-1 home loss to Ajax. In the second tier Eerste Divisie, U.S. U-20 winger Dante Sealy had a solid outing and played 90 minutes for PSV II in a 3-0 win over Excelsior.

In the Scottish Cup – all Americans advanced. James Sands did not get off the bench for Rangers in a 4-0 win over Stirling Albion. Christian Ramirez started and played 73 minutes and scored the second goal of a 3-0 win over Edinburgh City. It was his 13th goal in all competitions this season. Scott Pittman played the full 90 for Livingston in a 1-0 win over Ross County. Ian Harkes played the final 30 minutes for Dundee United in a 2-1 extra time win over Kilmarnock. Cameron Carter-Vickers was not in the squad for Celtic which fielded an experimental squad in a 2-1 win over Alloa Athletic on Sunday.

In the Turkish Super Lig, DeAndre Yedlin played just the final 2 minutes for Galatasaray in a 2-1 home loss to Trabzonspor. Unfortunately for the USMNT right back, he was on the field for Trabzonspor's winning goal which sent Galatasaray to 15th place - just three points clear of relegation. Tyler Boyd played the second half for Rizespor in a 0-0 draw with Hatayspor. Boyd and Co. remain in the relegation zone. Haji Wright and Antalyaspor also remained in the relegation zone following a 0-0 draw with Gaziantep. Wright played the first 57 minutes. No matter how you look at it, it has been a tough season for Americans in Turkey.

In the Israeli Premier League, Kenny Saief started and played 77 minute for Ashdod in a 1-0 away win over Bnei Sakhnin. Josh Cohen started and played 90 minutes for Maccabi Haifa in a 1-1 draw with Hopoel Jerusalem.

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