Wood Keeps Scoring; Pulisic Plays Again; Miazga Woes
April 11, 2016
IT WAS A BIPOLAR WEEKEND for Americans abroad: A few youngsters enjoyed some breakthrough performances and perhaps set themselves up for an interesting offseason…but for most, it was one to forget.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of the weekend that was.
Wood sets an American record
Bobby Wood, 23, scored two more goals on Friday in Union Berlin’s 4-0 romp over Paderborn. That alone is nothing new; he now has 16 on the season, good for third-best in the 2.Bundesliga. In doing so, though, he set an American record for scoring in Germany’s top two flights, breaking Conor Casey’s mark of 14 goals, set in 2004 with Karlsruhe.
The Hawaiian is picking up remarkable steam, and with five games remaining on the season, he could very well push for 20 on the season. Wood certainly has the momentum, at least, having scored in seven straight games, with nine goals during that stretch.
Both of his goals Friday were of a high level of skill and quality, too:
Aside from those whose teams were promoted, most players who have been among the leading scorers in the 2.Bundesliga do earn an upward transfer, and Wood could be primed to do the same.
To get a better idea of where he could land, I looked back at the top five scorers in each of the last four years of the 2.Bundesliga. I tried to find players who fit Wood’s age (mid-20s), who scored a minimum of 15 goals on the season, and who made a move.
2015—Rouwen Hennings, then 27, scored 17 goals for Karlsruhe. In the offseason he was transferred to Burnley of the English Championship. He has just one goal this season.
2014—Jakub Sylvestr, 25, scored 16 goals for Aue. He moved to Nurnberg, which was also in the 2.Bundesliga. He scored nine the next season and just one the following year.
2013—Daniel Ginczek, 21, scored 18 goals for St. Pauli. He moved to Nurnberg in the Bundesliga and scored three goals in 2013-14, then moved within the Bundesliga to Stuttgart for 2014-15 and scored seven goals.
2012—Nick Proschwitz, 25, scored 17 goals for Paderborn. He moved to Hull in the Championship and scored three goals in 2012-13. Returned to Paderborn at the beginning of this season. Moved to Sint-Truiden in Belgium in January. Has never come close to replicating his 2012 output.
Wood should certainly be expecting offers, then, although probably not from a team higher than mid-table in the Bundesliga. From there, success is certainly possible, but it’s by no means assured.
Hyndman earns minutes, saves Fulham
For longtime American fans the story is familiar. Fulham finds itself toward the bottom of the table and needs a goal to pull out of a relegation fight. An American rises to the occasion.
On Saturday, sitting near the bottom of the English Championship, Fulham needed a win against Cardiff City to put distance between itself and the drop zone. And this time it was little-used Emerson Hyndman, of all people—earning the start on his 20th birthday—who came up big, scoring the game-winner in second-half stoppage time. It was his first professional goal.
Hyndman, a regular last season, has made just 12 appearances in 2015-16, including seven starts. In the last year of his contract, he’s almost certainly gone at season’s end.
Yet, bizarrely, Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic talked about Hyndman after the game as if he were set to be a central part of the club going forward.
"Today it was Emerson’s birthday so he has had a great present for himself and for all of us,” Jokanovic said. “He is probably one of our most talented players. I am a little bit disappointed in myself for not finding more minutes for him this year. I believe in front of him he has a brilliant future and he is a very talented player. He is quality on the ball. I believe in the future he can be a very important player for us.”
Pulisic shines in another Dortmund start
While Wood and Hyndman look to impress prospective clubs, Christian Pulisic has no need to consider other destinations. Already at one of the best clubs in the world, Borussia Dortmund, Pulisic is beginning to see increased minutes at the very young age of 17.
Pulisic earned his second start with the club Sunday against Schalke, as Thomas Tuchel elected to rest a number of regulars. And while he may not have scored or notched an assist, Pulisic was very impressive in creating and making things happen for the visitors, going 72 minutes in an eventual 2-2 draw.
With five more Bundesliga games, plus the German Cup and the Europa League, Pulisic will likely log more first-team playing time in the weeks ahead.
Miazga struggles in second start
It wasn’t all great news for young American players, as Matt Miazga showed some growing pains Saturday in his second start for Chelsea.
Swansea ended up winning, 1-0, and Miazga was pulled at halftime after he’d been responsible for the only goal. He was far from the only player who struggled in the game for the Blues, but he clearly had a tough day.
Still, the reality is that setbacks are to be expected after joining such a demanding club in the middle of a season. The test for Miazga will be how he responds to the adversity and the media scrutiny—which, make no mistake, was intense. Mental toughness is a must in the Premier League, and Miazga’s will be tested here.
Lots of bad results
Miazga was hardly alone among Americans abroad who are happy the weekend is now over.
Fabian Johnson went 78 minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach in a surprising 1-0 loss to Ingolstadt (which left Alfredo Morales on the bench as an unused sub). Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, had a golden opportunity to climb out of the relegation zone but blew it in a 2-0 loss at home to fellow relegation-battlers Hoffenheim. Chandler went a full 90 at right back in the loss, but Eintracht is in second-to-last place and three points from clear safety.
In the Premier League, Geoff Cameron went a full 90 for Stoke City, which was hammered by Liverpool, 4-1; DeAndre Yedlin started and played well for Sunderland despite a 2-0 loss to leader Leicester City; and Brad Guzan and Aston Villa lost their eighth game in a row—a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth.
The Championship was no friendlier American players, as Cody Cropper started in goal for MK Dons in a 4-0 home pounding at the hands by Rotherham United, and Danny Williams went a full 90 for host Reading in a 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City.