Americans Abroad

Turner, Yow, Novakovich, & Gooch impress on a busy Boxing Day for Yanks

It was a busy weekend for Yanks in Europe's Boxing Day games, with a few players standing out with big outings. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down with Griffin Yow, Matt Turner, Andrija Novakovich, and Lynden Gooch leading the way. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 27, 2023
9:30 AM

IT WAS A BUSY AND eventful boxing day for Americans in Europe as three different players got on the scoreboard while others were part of several big wins and solid overall performances. Yes, there was some unfortunate performances and results but overall, it was a good day for Yanks.

Let’s start with the good.


Turner gets a needed performance


Matt Turner needed to be part of a big win since he reclaimed the starting job at Nottingham Forest. Ahead of the winter transfer window, Nottingham Forest could be tempted to upgrade at goalkeeper as the club has been drifting closer to the relegation zone with Luton Town heating up. On Boxing Day, Turner got the outing he needed when he made six saves en route to a 3-1 away win over Newcastle. The only goal he conceded was off a penalty.

To be fair, he had some unconvincing moments with the ball at his feet but overall, he was a big net positive in this big win. The big story was the hat trick from Chris Wood, but Turner’s outing won’t go unnoticed.

No matter what, it will be a daily battle for him to keep this starting job.


Novakovich’s Brace boosts Lecco


Andrija Novkaovich had a tough season in 2022/23, but his move to Lecco has seen his productivity increase. On Boxing Day, he had his best performance of the season with two goals for Lecco in a big 2-1 win over Sudtirol that moved Lecco into 16th place in the 20-team Serie B. Sudtirol and Lecco are now even on points.

On the first goal, he was able to head home a cross to equalize the game in the 62nd. Then in the 74th, he redirected as shot with his head for a winner.

For Novakovich, Lecco was taking a bet that he would showcase the firm he had with Frosinone before he moved to Venezia – a move that just did not work out. He still has a ways to go before getting back to the level he was at with Fortuna Sittard in the Eredivisie in 2018/19 when he scored 10 goals in all competitions or with Frosinone in 2020/21 when he had 11 goals in Serie B.

Novakovich now has four goals on the season and he is going to be needed for Lecco to avoid relegation. If this performance can give him momentum, they’ll be in good shape.


Yow continues to heat up for Westerlo


Griffin Yow, 21, has had a terrific start to the season – which, for him, was delayed by injury. But on Boxing day, he opened the scoring for Westerlo in a 3-0 win over Molenbeek. It was the former DC United’s homegrown winger’s third goal of the season to go along with two assists in 698 minutes. But anyone who was paying attention to Yow in the preseason shouldn’t be surprised as he was Westerlo’s best player.

In addition to the goal, Yow had five shots and created multiple chances.

Yow has put himself into position to being a breakout player in 2023/24 and if he continues to play this well, he will be among the better young players in the First Division. There is still a long way to go, but he has helped himself.

Internationally, Yow has not been part of anything since the 2019 U-17 World Cup where he made two starts. But he is still eligible for the U.S. U-23 Olympic team in 2024. That team is tough to make with just 18 players making the team. He is competition with players such as Diego Luna, Brian Gutierrez, Paxten Aaronson, and Bernard Kamungo. If he continues his current form, he’s likely to make the roster for the March camp. From there, it will be up to him. But he is putting himself into a great position.

On the flip side, Bryan Reynolds also played well for Westerlo at right back but also had to leave the game in the 89th minute with an injury. Fortunately for him and for Westerlo, the team will be off for a few weeks for a winter break.


Gooch heating up for Stoke


Lynden Gooch, 27, is heating up for Stoke City and has put in a bunch of solid performances in a row. His latest came in a 3-1 away win over Birmingham City on Tuesday.

His nice run and goal in the 31st minute gave Stoke City a 2-0 lead and it was his second goal in three games. He’s in form and this has been helping Stoke City move further away from the relegation zone in the Championship. They now sit in 18th place but are seven points clear of the drop zone.

One big takeaway is that Gooch is now playing more as a winger – his natural role. Stoke City (and previously Sunderland) had been playing him at fullback in recent seasons. But he is now pressed into the attack in an effort for him to generate offense. So far, so good.


CCV injured again?


Celtic defeated Dundee FC 3-0 away on Boxing Day but the big story was Cameron Carter-Vickers having to be removed in the 55th minute due to an injury. He left grabbing his leg, but was able to walk off under his own power.

The update after the game was somewhat positive from Brendan Rodgers.

This is huge because the Old Firm derby awaits on Saturday with Celtic hosting Rangers. Celtic has struggled a bit lately and this has opened the door for Rangers. Celtic has a five-point lead in the table but Rangers have played two fewer games. That has made this game against Rangers critical and Celtic needs CCV to be at their best.


Elsewhere on Boxing Day


In the Premier League, Sheffield United suffered a brutal 3-2 loss at home to Luton Town in a relegation battle “six-pointer.” Sheffield United actually had the lead into the 77th minute squandered two late own-goals, with the final one coming deep into stoppage time, to drop loss at home. With the loss, Sheffield United sits in last place in the Premier League and is seven points deep in the relegation hole.

Auston Trusty went 90 minutes in the loss but wasn’t at fault for any of the goals. He was decent in his performance as he started at left back but moved centrally after the break.

The same could be said for Antonee Robinson who was not at fault for Fulham in a terrible 3-0 loss away to AFC Bournemouth. Robinson played well and got into the attack effectively but Fulham has been skidding lately and this is their third Premier League loss in a row to fall to 13th place (while Bournemouth has now won four in a row and has climbed to 10th place – with Tyler Adams expected back later in the season). Tim Ream is out a few more weeks for Fulham with a calf issue.

Then on Wednesday, we had this.


In the Championship, Duane Holmes played very well for Preston North End in 2-1 win over fourth-place Leeds United. Preston North End has fluctuated wildly this season between very good and very bad. But in ninth place, they still have hopes of making the promotional playoffs as they’re only one point out of the top six. Holmes, 29, was very effective on both sides of the ball.

Millwall defeated Queens Park Rangers and after a three-game winning streak, QPR has become unglued again with a draw followed by three straight losses to remain five points deep in the Championship relegation zone. Reggie Cannon came off the bench and had a few nice spurts into the attack but overall, couldn’t help. Charlie Kelman was an unused sub. Cannon has two clear motivations. He must help QPR climb, and he also needs to play to find suitors to prevent him from going to the third tier should QPR suffer the drop. There doesn’t seem to be any chance for Kelman to avoid it, however.

West Brom defeated Norwich City 1-0 at home and the David Wagner-managed club fell to 12th place with the loss while West Brom moved into fifth place. The good news for both teams is that Daryl Dike and Josh Sargent have returned to training for West Brom and Norwich, respectively. Both have been out with long-term injuries.

In Serie B, Palermo moved into fifth place with a 3-2 win over sixth place Cremonese in Sicily. It was a hard-fought win as Palermo trailed 2-1 heading into the 72nd minute when they equalized. Then in the seventh minute of stoppage time, they found a winner. Kristoffer Lund played the whole game for Palermo at left back where he didn’t have any major moments either good or bad. He was just steady.

Venezia, meanwhile, will be kicking themselves for only managing a 2-2 draw away at FeralpiSalo, which is the last-place team in Serie B. With the draw, Venezia still sit second on goal differential but are winless in four and have drifted back to tight pack of teams chasing them. Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio both went 90 minutes in the draw. Both goals were entirely preventable and Tessmann was slightly at fault for the second goal when he appeared to let up after he thought the ball was rolling to the end line. The attacker managed to keep it in, and passed to it a player who Tessmann was originally guarding for the goal. Minutes later, Tessmann hit the crossbar with a free kick.

In Belgium’s First Division, Genk defeated Royal Antwerp in a convincing 3-0 win that was more lopsided than anticipated. Mark McKenzie went 90 minutes and was good on the ball and did not have to defend much. Sam Vines also went 90 minutes at left back for Royal Antwerp in his second game since his comeback. He didn’t do much that was noteworthy, but it’s good that he’s back.

Genk remained in fourth place with the win and has three wins over their last four games. Antwerp, the defending champions, fell to sixth place with the loss.

Eupen is in deep trouble right now and they very much look like relegation fodder. On Boxing Day, they visited OH Leuven, who are just one place ahead of them. But the gap was very wide, and Leuven walked away with a 3-0 win. Gaga Slonina did about as well as could be expected and kept the game closer than expected with three big saves from close range shots. He’s going to need some huge games down the stretch if he is to help Eupen avoid the drop.

Meanwhile, Kotrijk is the worst team in Belgium’s First Division by far and on Tuesday they fell to Genk at home 2-0. Alex Mighten did not get off the bench and, so far, this has been a miserable loan from Nottingham Forest.

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