Yanks Prosper in Germany Over This Past Weekend
February 29, 2016
GERMANY WAS THE PLACE TO BE for Americans abroad this past weekend, as both Fabian Johnson and John Brooks helped sustain their Bundesliga clubs’ Champions League hopes. Meanwhile, in the country's second tier, Bobby Wood remained red-hot.
Indeed, Jurgen Klinsmann should be encouraged by how a number of his key players are playing right now. Besides those three, Geoff Cameron started for Stoke City in a win, DeAndre Yedlin went a full 90 for Sunderland in a 1-0 loss to West Ham, and Alejandro Bedoya continued his strong attacking form with Nantes.
Add to that Clint Dempsey’s two goals in the CONCACAF Champions League, and there’s a lot to like from a national team perspective right now.
Three Yanks Push for Champs League
Over the past year, Johnson has easily been the best American player in the game. The Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder built on this standing Saturday. The Munich-born attacker scored a terrific tying goal for Monchengladbach—his sixth goal of the season and eighth across all competitions—in a 2-2 draw at Augsburg. He also completed more than 78% of his passes.
As Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund run away with the top two spots in the German league, the battle for third, the league’s final direct entry into the group stages of the Champions League, is intense. And two Americans are caught up in the thick of it: With a 1-0 win at Cologne on Friday, Brooks helped Hertha Berlin go three up on the league’s fourth-place side, which just so happens to be fourth-place 'Gladbach.
All told, there could be a strong American contingent in the Champions League next year, assuming at least one team between Hertha and Gladbach makes it in alongside Dortmund, where Christian Pulisic plays.
After featuring regularly for Dortmund’s first team over the past month, the 17-year-old was back with the club’s U-19 team over the weekend against Schalke and came up with two great chances, with one of his shots clanging off the crossbar. Rejoining the U-19 team did raise some eyebrows but Dortmund has been handling the midfielder’s development in terrific fashion so far. A chance for greater minutes is no setback.
Bobby Wood remains hot
With Jozy Altidore set to miss a few weeks at the start of the MLS season and Aron Johannsson still a ways off in his return, Bobby Wood has picked a good time to get on a roll.
On Friday, as Union Berlin hosted Karlsruhe, the Hawaiian broke a 1-1 draw in the 60th minute with the eventual game-winner—after his team had been reduced to 10 players.
The shot took a very fortunate deflection but Wood has been playing so well that at this stage he’s earned this kind of luck. The goal, his 10th of the season, moved him into a second-place tie for the 2.Bundesliga scoring title; he has scored five goals in his past five games.
Once threatened with a relegation battle, the three points moves Union comfortably into midtable at ninth place.
Cameron returns from injury
Geoff Cameron was a welcome sight Saturday, returning to the field after a lengthy absence due to an ankle injury. He went the distance for Stoke City in a 2-1 win over last-place Aston Villa. The 30-year-old Cameron, who had been deployed mostly at defensive midfield prior to his injury, started in central defense for the Potters, moved into eighth place with the result.
If it wants to contend for a spot in Europe, Stoke will have to make up a five-point deficit to fifth-place Manchester United. That is a tall task, to be sure, but a healthy Cameron is a boost.
Bedoya steady in scoreless draw
Even at home, eighth-place Nantes was certainly the underdog against second-place Monaco on Sunday, making the game’s scoreless draw and solitary point a solid result for Bedoya and Co.
The U.S. midfielder, though, nearly gave Nantes all three. His shot from inside the box in the opening forced a great save from Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic, and Bedoya later set up a great chance for Kolbeinn Sigthorsson that Subasic again kept out.
Overall—and surprisingly—Nantes ended up unlucky not to win: It outpossessed Monaco 55%-45% and outshot the visitors 13-4.
Hines-Ike scores first career goal
Swedish Allsvenskan club Orebro proved to be a successful launching pad for Bedoya, and central defender Brendan Hines-Ike, 21, is now hoping it will be the same for him.
On Saturday in the Swedish Cup, the Denver native played the entire 90 minutes sand scored his first professional goal in the 79th minute of a 3-1 win over GAIS—a perfectly shot that rattled in off the goalpost. As the league season approaches, Hines Ike is taking strides toward nailing down a starting position.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.