Americans Abroad

Six Yanks pulled at HT while Slonina, Yow, and Paredes impress in busy weekend abroad

It was a weird weekend and it was mostly uneventful but six U.S. internationals were pulled at halftime for a variety of reasons. It good news, Gaga Slonina, Griffin Yow, and Kevin Paredes were a trio of Yanks who can say they impressed. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 30, 2023
1:05 PM

THE WEEKEND FOR Americans abroad was weird. There were some good performances, very few poor performances, and mostly performances that were somewhere in the middle and mostly forgettable. For some reason, however, there was a very high number of national team players who started and were pulled at halftime.

For that reason, we’ll start there.


6 USMNT players in “Club 45”


Over the weekend, I jokingly called this “Club 45” because of the unusual number of players it involved in games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. U.S. national team players Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Folarin Balogun, Malik Tillman, Gio Reyna, and Alejandro Zendejas. Those are six players who have typically been called up to the U.S. national team in 2023.

The reasons why these players were pulled at halftime varies. Alejandro Zendejas scored a great goal for Club America, and he was pulled as America decided to adopt a defensive approach to hang onto a 3-0 lead away at Monterrey (which they did).

Christian Pulisic was removed because Stefano Pioli said he was “fatigued” and that keeping him on the field would have been “dangerous.” That is fair enough. He also added that Pulisic had been playing well and he assisted on Oliver Giroud’s opening goal in the 22nd minute. Unfortunately for Milan, a 2-0 halftime lead away on reigning champions Napoli evaporated and the teams played to a 2-2 draw. Yunus Musah went the distance for Milan, however, and was pretty strong in a deeper, defensive role. He covered a ton of ground in this game.

AC Milan fell to third with the draw as they were overtaken by Juventus. And speaking of which…

Tim Weah was also pulled at the half for Juventus against Hallas Verona when the score was 0-0. The reasons for him getting removed were due to his hip flexor but we don’t know the severity of it. Weah wasn’t bad, but the team was better after he left – largely because of Weston McKennie.

McKennie started centrally but moved wide and into Weah’s place in the second half. McKennie was very good in both positions and Max Allegri agreed. Unfortunately, the way the team performed likely opens up the possibility of McKennie moving back to the right side (like how it was done in the first two months of the season) at the expense of Weah.

Gio Reyna’s
first start of the season for Borussia Dortmund wasn’t great. He played the first 45 minutes for Dortmund’s 3-3 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt and he was entirely on the left side of the field. You can see this on his touchmap.

But for Reyna, his chemistry with left back Ramy Bensebaini was poor and the two were not on the same page – offensively and especially defensively. When given the choice, Reyna was pulled. Reyna’s name might be heavily discussed in January.

Also in this game, Paxten Aaronson did not suit up for Eintracht and Timmy Chandler was an unused substitute. The news about Aaronson was not expected.

Despite Ajax's horrific start to the Eredivisie and PSV's perfect start, it is always a big game whenever these two teams meet - which they did on Sunday in Eindhoven. After Ajax scored first, PSV cruised to a 5-2 win. Ajax now sits last in the Eredivisie while PSV has a perfect 30 points on 10 games.

Malik Tillman was part of Club 45 and he had another poor start. When he came off, PSV was down 2-1. He was not on the field for his team's terrific second half when they outscored Ajax 4-0.

The interesting thing about Tillman's sub is that his midfield partner Joey Veerman was also pulled at halftime due to a poor half. So moving forward, who is ahead: Tillman or Veerman?


As for Sergino Dest, he was solid but unspectacular over 90 minutes against his former club while Ricardo Pepi didn't have much to do in his seven-minute cameo.

Finally, Folarin Balogun was pulled at halftime for Monaco in a 2-0 loss away to Lille. The goals were scored in the first half and Balogun never got going in this game. He only was 6/8 in passing with 0 shots while creating little. But things never got better for Monaco after Balogun left either.


Yanks in England


In the Premier League, Liverpool defeated Nottingham Forest 3-0 and Matt Turner started for Forest but made a massive mistake on the final goal in the 77th minute. It was a bad miscommunication between him and the defender, but Turner was caught in no-man’s land and Mo Salah was there to round out the scoring.

The question then becomes how long is Turner’s leash? The club purchased Greece’s No. 1 Odisseas Vlachodimos from Benfica for a reason, and it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before there would be a goalkeeper controversy. This game is going to tell us a lot?  

Auston Trusty went the distance for Sheffield United in a 5-0 defeat to Arsenal. Sheffield United have just one point from the season. Trusty didn’t really standout and was at fault or one of the goals. But Sheffield United is probably focused next year on the Championship and Trusty should be part of that. It’s great he’s in the Premier League, but Sheffield United unfortunately don’t look serious about staying in this league.

As for Trusty, this could get him a look with the national team under Gregg Berhalter. Central defense has generally had a large pool of the same players for a long time with no one stepping up other than Tim Ream, who is 36.

Speaking of Ream, he and Antonee Robinson went the distance for Fulham in a 1-1 away draw against Brighton & Hove Albion. Fulham was lucky to escape with a draw and both Ream and Robinson played well. Robinson had a huge goal-line clearance in the second half to save the day for the 14th-place Cottagers. Ream was the captain again and was his steady-self with solid passing out of the back.

Meanwhile, Chris Richards was an unused substitute for Crystal Palace in a 2-1 loss at home to Tottenham. His situation in January will be interesting. He could get sold or loaned, but Palace are potentially going to sell central defender Marc Guéhi for a huge sum. So then, does Palace have to hold onto Richards for Guéhi’s departure or do they buy another central defender instead so that they can sell Richards? There are so many moving parts with Richards right now.

Similarly, what about Tyler Adams? He is out for along time for Bournemouth which defeated Burnley 2-1 on Saturday. But what is the plan for Adams if they go down and Adams barely plays this season. He probably won’t be able to run away from another relegation on the heels of an injury.

In the Championship, Preston North End continued cooling off after a great start to the season. On Saturday they dropped a 1-0 decision away to Hull City. Duane Holmes went 60 quiet minutes in the loss.

Queens Park Rangers fell at home to Leicester 2-1. Reggie Cannon started for QPR and was rusty in the loss going the full 90. American forward Charlie Kelman went 60 minutes in the loss. It was the club’s sixth straight loss and manager Gareth Ainsworth was sacked afterward. It’s going to be a huge uphill climb for the team to stay up (they’re already six points deep in the hole). For Cannon, what are his plans if they go down?

Stoke City defeated Middlesbrough away on Saturday with Lynden Gooch going the last 18 minutes for Stoke City. It was the third win in a row for 11th place Stoke.

Norwich dropped a 3-1 decision away to sixth-place Sunderland. Josh Sargent remains injured, and David Wagner’s Norwich continues to sink. Now they’re in 17th place and are sure to be heading into a season where there is no hope of promotion and no real threat of relegation.

Haji Wright and Coventry host West Bromwich Albion on Monday with Daryl Dike still injured.


Yanks in Germany


Three Americans started on Saturday when Borussia Monchengladbach defeated FC Heidenheim 2-1 with Gregg Berhalter in attendance. Joe Scally went 90 minutes in the win while Jordan Pefok went 87. Lennard Maloney, meanwhile, went 85 minutes in the loss.

Scally is the most consequential American in this game in terms of the national team and he had a good game. Despite a few wins, however, Heidenheim is a weak Bundesliga team. Scally had a lot of space to play and was effective getting on the ball, and passing well. Pefok, meanwhile, was also decent in his hold up play, drawing fouls (he drew three), and he was also more effective in connecting with his teammates due to the step down in the level of the opponent. Given that Berhalter watched, it’s hard to see Pefok moving the needle much in terms of getting a call-up.

As for Maloney, it was a typical physical game from him. He won aerials, tackles, and duels but wasn’t much part of getting involved in the attack or in progressive passing.

One of the best performances on the day for Americans in Germany was Kevin Paredes, who went 74 minutes for Wolfsburg in a 3-2 loss to Augsburg. When Paredes left the game, Wolfsburg held a 2-1 lead. What was good about this game is that Paredes was aggressive on both sides of the ball. He pushed to make things happen and break the game open offensively. Defensively, he fought hard to win lose balls and disrupt Augsburg’s attack. Augsburg took advantage of Paredes’ absence over the last 15 minutes.

In the game’s equalizing goal, Wolfsburg’s possession began with Kevin Paredes forcing a turnover to win the ball. Despite the loss, Paredes really helped his case for more starts. That is something that has been lacking (prior to this game he started just once for Wolfsburg since arriving from DC United).

With a 2-0 win on Saturday, Werder Bremen sent Union Berlin to its 10th straight loss across all competitions on Saturday. Brenden Aaronson started for Union and played 60 minutes (he left when his teammate, Rani Khedira, was sent off). Aaronson is not the problem with Union, but he has not been able to emerge as a solution. Instead, he’s getting stuck in the mud that is his team. He was 10/11 in passing and had 24 touches, but only had one pass in the final third and one touch in the attacking box.

Hoffenheim defeated Stuttgart 3-2 away on Saturday in what was a pleasant experience for Hoffenheim’s American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo to defeat his former club in their building. With the win, Hoffenheim strengthened its grip on sixth place. John Brooks went 90 minutes in the win for Hoffenheim but received only average marks from the local media (he was just 1/7 in long balls).

Damion Downs did not suit up for FC Koln in a 6-0 loss away to Leipzig. Koln looks like relegation fodder at this point.

Greuther Furth moved into 10th place in the 2.Bundesliga after a 4-0 win over an Osnabruck team that is in the relegation zone. Julian Green scored a 45th minute free kick goal for a 2-0 lead and went the distance in the win. U.S. U-23 defender Maximilian Dietz played the final 25 minutes in the win.

Last-place Eintracht Braunschweig dropped a 4-1 decision at home to Fortuna Dusseldorf. U.S. U-23 attacker Johan Gomez played the second half in the loss.

FC Kaiserslautern drew Hamburg SV on Sunday and Terrence Boyd returned to the starting lineup for FCK, scoring the team’s third goal for a 3-1 lead before HSV scored two goals to force a draw.

St. Pauli remained atop the 2.Bundesliga and continue to do a good job under Houston-born manager Fabian Hurzeler.


Yanks in Belgium


Gaga Slonina was one of the top American performers in Europe over the weekend when he made four quality saves, all from inside the box, en route to a 2-0 clean sheet win over Sporting Charleroi. Eupen had lost six in a row coming into this game and Slonina conceded 11 goals over his previous three games.

This was an important win to pick-up points, reverse the trend, and climb a little further from the relegation zone as they now sit 10th in the 16-team league.

Griffin Yow, 21, is one of the more “under the radar” Americans to keep a close eye on in the months ahead. The former DC United winger was Westerlo’s best player this past preseason and was a standout for the reserve team last year. But he missed the first two months of the season with an MCL injury in his knee. Last weekend, he came off the bench in his season debut and scored a stoppage time equalizer in a draw with Molenbeek.

On Sunday, Yow earned his first start of the season for Westerlo at home against first place Union SG. While last-place Westerlo lost 3-1, Yow went the distance and assisted on a first-half equalizing goal. Bryan Reynolds also ended up going the full 90 for Westerlo but he did not make much of an impact. Westerlo remained last in the First Division with seven points from 12 games.

For Yow, the big question now becomes whether he can push into the U.S. U-23 team. It will be hard since that team is good on the wings. But he is versatile and is peaking at the right time. He probably will get a look in November and from there, it is just what he does with it. But he’s emerged as one that could surpass expectations.

Kahveh Zahiroleslam, 21, made his first professional start for St. Truiden on Saturday in a 2-1 win over Molenbeek. While he didn’t make much of an impact on the game, he continues to surprisingly get opportunities after joining the club from Yale University. In this game, he played as a striker. St. Truiden rose to ninth place with the win.

A week after his best game of the season, Marlon Fossey scored an own goal for Standard Liege in a 3-1 loss to Gent on Sunday. Fossey, 25, went 62 minutes in the loss and even a part from the own goal, didn’t do as much as last week. This was a strange game where Standard had two penalties saved and Gent had one saved. Then you had an own-goal.

Alex Mighten played the final 24 minutes but did not make any impact for Kortrijk in a 3-0 loss at home to a KAA Genk team that was without Mark McKenzie.


Yanks in Italy


In Serie B, last-place Lecco pulled off an astonishing upset in Sicily when they defeated Palermo 2-1. Andrija Novakovich played 79 minutes at forward in the win and while he didn’t have any shots, he was useful in his hold-up play. U.S. national team left back Kristoffer Lund started and went 75 minutes for Palermo in the loss. Lund played well in the defeat and created several chances. It was a positive showing for him despite the result.

With the loss Palermo fell to fourth place.

Venezia defeated Pisa 2-1 on Sunday. Tanner Tessmann went 90 minutes and assisted on the game-winning goal in the 74th minute. Overall, Tessmann had a strong performance on both sides of the ball and continues to move towards January where he could be the subject of transfer rumors. Gianluca Busio also was effective in his 72 minutes in more of a possession-based role in central midfield. Venezia currently sit second.

The two are playing well together and that should also pay dividends to the U.S. U-23 team where they both are potential Olympians.


Yanks in the Netherlands


Aside from the PSV-Ajax game talked about above, it was an unproductive weekend for Yanks in Holland.

Anthony Fontana was an unused substitute for PEC Zwolle in a 1-1 draw at Vitesse. The same was true for Agustin Anello for Sparta Rotterdam in a 2-0 win over RKC Waalwijk. Zach Booth was not in the squad for Volendam in a 3-1 win over Excelsior to move out of the relegation zone.

It was a very scary moment when AZ Alkmaar hosted NEC Nijmegen and NEC’s Bas Dost collapsed on the field with a potential heart issue that stopped the game. Djordje Mihailovic was on the bench for AZ.

Taylor Booth started for Utrecht in a 0-0 away draw with Fortuna Sittard. The U.S. U-23 winger/outside midfielder played 60 minutes, missed two shots wide left, and completed 12/21 passes. He is still rusty after recently returning from a hamstring injury.

In the second tier Eerste Divisie, Ado Den Haag played to a 2-2 draw with VVV Venlo. American defender Justin Che started but was removed after seven minutes due to an injury.

Dordrecht defeated Den Bosch 5-1. John Hilton played 90 minutes at left back for Dordrecht while forward Korede Osundina played the last 13 as he made his European debut after getting sold from Orange County SC to Feyenoord and then loaned to Dordrecht. Gedion Zelalem served a red card suspension for Den Bosch.


Yanks in France


Aside form Monaco and Folarin Balogun, there was just one more American to talk about in France.

Metz and Le Havre finished 0-0 on Saturday and Emmanuel Sabbi started and played 60 minutes for the visiting Le Havre which sits in 13th place fresh off promotion. Sabbi, 25, had a header in the 25th minute which forced a save. This was his second straight start and one thing that is standing out about Sabbi is his defense. This is getting him chances. His offense is just a matter of him finding chemistry with his teammates, who are all adjusting to this league and this team.


Yanks in Spain


Celta Vigo dropped a 1-0 decision away to a very good Girona team that is in the top three of La Liga to start the year. Luca de la Torre, 25, went 90 minutes in the loss and had a goal called back late that would have put Celta up 1-0. Minutes later in stoppage time, Girona found a winner. Other than his close-range goal called back, de la Torre didn’t have much of an impact on this game.

Celta currently sits in the relegation zone but of all the teams in Europe’s big leagues that in the relegation zone, Celta is the best one. They play well against good teams for long stretches but they lose focus in brief periods and are crushed for it. This is not a Sheffield United that simply can’t compete. Cleta just need to learn to play a 90 minutes game.

That being said, I’d be very surprised if they don’t crawl out of the relegation zone soon and end up mid/lower-mid part of the table.

In the Segunda, Mirandes defeated FC Cartagena 2-1 and Jonathan Gomez played the full 90 minutes in the win and assisted on the game-winner in stoppage time. The recent U.S. U-20 left back is starting to find his stride nicely in recent weeks. In this game, Gomez also completed 45/48 of his passes with 10 passes into the final third.

The task for Gomez is to remain within reach of the U.S. Olympic team. That is not easy with John Tolkin, Caleb Wiley, and George Bello all playing well right now.

Eibar have been playing great soccer, but it remains to be seen how Konrad de la Fuente will fit into the picture. The former U.S. youth international is back from injury, but has gone as an unused substitute the past two games as Eiber keeps winning and looks like a contender for promotion. De la Fuente, 22, is at the club on loan from Marseille.


Yanks Elsewhere


In the Scottish Premiership, U.S. national team left back Cameron Carter-Vickers started and went 90 minutes for Celtic in a 0-0 away draw with Hibernian. Carter-Vickers played well but wasn’t seriously tested. Instead, he was a possession-based player with 141 touches, 119/130 passing, 5/8 long balls. Hibs was very good sitting deep and allowing Celtic to have the ball in midfield. The strategy worked.

Celtic remained atop the Premiership table and still have a five point cushion on Rangers, who sit second.

Elsewhere in the Premiership, Dante Polvara played the last 35 minutes for 10th-place Aberdeen in a 2-0 away loss to Kilmarnock. Polvara has two goals in the Europa Conference league, against PAOK and Eintracht Frankfurt but hasn’t found as much success in the Premiership.

Scott Pittman went as an unused substitute for a 10-man Livingston in a 2-0 loss at home to Dundee FC.

In Portugal, Alex Mendez played the last 18 minutes for Vizela in a 2-0 loss at home to Porto. It was just the second appearance of the season for the 2019 U-20 World Cup veteran.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Geoge Bello continues to play much better on a regular basis as he played 90 minutes for LASK in a 3-3 draw at Rapid Vienna. LASK continued to sit third and Bello might just sneak into the Olympic team pool in the November camp.

In the Greek Super League, Lamia defeated Asteras Tripolis but were without Caleb Stanko. Joe Efford played the last seven minutes for PAS Giannina in a 2-0 away loss to Aris. PAS sits second to last and have lost five in a row.

Bob Bradley and Stabaek are now fully in the safe positions in Norway’s Eliteserien after a 2-2 away draw with Sarpsborg on Sunday. Stabaek needed an 84th minute equalizer to rescue the point. This was also the first game for Stabaek with Michael Bradley on the coaching staff. Next week, Stabaek take on leaders Bodo/Glimt (which hosts Sam Rogers and Lillestrom on Monday).

Also, on Monday in Norway, Christian Cappis and Molde host Tromso.

In Sweden, Degerfors drew Varberg 1-1 away with Joe Gyau going 90 minutes at right back for Degerfors – which is two points deep in the relegation hole with two games remaining.

In Denmark, Jonathan Amon played the final 15 minutes for Lyngby in a 2-1 away loss to Midtjylland. He’s playing regularly again, which is amazing given where he was, but he is still not making big impacts in games.

In the Budapest Derby, Ferencvaros defeated Ujpest 3-0. Henry Wingo played 90 minutes for first-place Ferencvaros at right back in a win over their rivals which sit in third.

In Brazil, Internacional dropped a 3-4 decision at home to Coritiba with Johnny Cardoso going 90 minutes for a 10-man Internacional. This was a bad loss for Internacional to team in the relegation zone. Internacional currently sit 12th.

In Argentina, Joel Sonora, Alan Sonora, and Huracan host Barracas Central on Monday

In Mexico, Santos Laguna defeated Club Juarez 5-1, former U.S. youth international Sebastian Saucedo went 56 minutes in the loss.

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