Yanks Struggle, Then Step It Up, in Overseas Action
December 04, 2017
Friday and Saturday doldrums
In the first Bundesliga game of the weekend, on Friday, Bobby Wood and Hamburg played to a scoreless draw with Freiburg to drift closer to the relegation zone. Unless HSV can add some solid midfielders in the January transfer window, it is going to be a rough season for Wood. The Hawaiian is completely starved for service right now and in 87 minutes on Friday he only made 40 touches.
On Saturday, Christian Pulisic was decent for Borussia Dortmund but will probably be disappointed in the club’s 1-1 draw with Bayern Leverkusen. Meanwhile both Weston McKennie and the entire Schalke team will need to play better than it did in its 2-2 draw at home with last place Cologne. Dropping points in games like these is costly in a push to make the Champions League and could force manager Domenico Tedesco to make changes to his starting XI—which includes McKennie.
Yanks lost a lot of games this weekend: Matt Miazga and Vitesse lost to Feyenoord 1-0. Julian Green and Greuther Furth fell further back in the 2.Bundesliga relegation zone with a 2-0 loss to Duisburg. Terrence Boyd and Darmstadt are only four points ahead of Furth after a 1-0 defeat to Jahn Regensburg. In Belgium, Ethan Horvath has lost his starting spot for Club Brugge and Kenny Saief is still not completely healthy and was an unused substitute for Gent.
In England, Danny Williams and Huddersfield had another bad game, falling 2-0 to Everton. David Wagner’s team has now dropped four games in a row by a combined score of 13-1. Meanwhile, DeAndre Yedlin only played the final five minutes for Newcastle in a 3-1 loss to Chelsea. (Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron remain out with injuries.)
Gonzalez, Monterrey in Liga MX Final
Christian Pulisic was the young American breakout performer in 2016 and Jonathan Gonzalez might be the breakout performer in 2017. That is saying a lot given the performances so far from Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Zack Steffen. But Gonzalez has been remarkable for a dominant Monterrey team.
After a 1-0 road win over Morelia in the first leg on Thursday, Sunday’s second leg was no contest as Monterrey coasted to a 4-0 win. With the 5-0 win on aggregate, it will meet Tigres in the final with the first leg taking place on Wednesday.
Gonzalez, 18, has been consistent for his club and his stated desire is to continue representing the United States internationally. He has played with the U.S. from the U-14 age group with his last appearance coming for the U-20 team last February in World Cup qualifying (while playing up an age group). He has seemed disinterested in Mexico so far but El Tri is not giving up.
Mexico does have an advantage in that it will be playing in the 2018 World Cup and can offer Gonzalez a chance to make the World Cup team. The California native now has an impressive resume as a starter for Mexico’s best team. But for Gonzalez to even participate in a friendly for Mexico he would need to file a one-time switch and that would preclude him from ever returning to the U.S. setup.
The odds are that he sticks with the United States but the fact Mexico is not giving up should be alarming for the United States given El Tri’s World Cup leverage. But it is also a testament to how highly rated he has become.
Brooks stands out in Wolfsburg win
It would not be surprising if eventually John Brooks is the next United States national team captain. Of course that will depend on the next coach but Brooks will bring a strong resume to the table.
Certainly there have been times for both club and country where Brooks has been inconsistent but if he can reduce his bad games, he can be truly elite. That is how he was on Sunday for Wolfsburg in a 3-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. (Fabian Johnson went as an unused sub for Monchengladbach.)
How good was Brooks? He was credited with six tackles, six clearances, two interceptions, one blocked shot, and 97% pass completion all while helping to secure a clean sheet. If he can continue that, he will be worth the hefty $18 million price tag Wolfsburg paid for him this past summer.
Amon turning heads and defenders
Charleston, South Carolina native Jonathan Amon, 18, had been earning rave reviews for his play in Denmark and his performance on Sunday will only serve to increase the hype.
The left winger earned another start for third place FC Nordsjaelland and this time it came on the road against the defending Superliga champions FC Copenhagen. With all of the country’s sports media following the game, Amon made one of the best plays of the game with Nordsjaelland up 1-0.
In a 1v1 situation against Copenhagen’s Peter Ankersen—a Danish international who recently played in both legs of the World Cup playoff win over Ireland—Amon easily beat his man off the dribble to set up Emiliano Marcondes for a goal and Nordsjaelland would leave with an impressive 3-1 win.
"This is what I love to see—a 'street player' who challenges when he has the ball, no matter who is in front of him,” said Nordsjaelland head coach Kasper Hjulmand after the win. “I do not think he knows the opponents. He just drives on as it was in the schoolyard. He can beat a man in a phone booth and I just love seeing the playful, immediate and somewhat innocent way it's done."
"He is insanely [good]. Of course, Jonathan still lacks a lot, but I see a super potential, which I'm looking forward to working on.”
Robinson, Bolton move up
The best performance for an American on Saturday came from Antonee Robinson. The left back on loan from Everton to Bolton helped his team two a 3-1 win over Barnsley. After an abysmal start to the season, Bolton is now out of the relegation zone and Robinson has emerged as a starter for the team during its ascent.
Robinson, 20, is extremely fast and was very good defensively for Bolton during the win where he led the game with six interceptions. He also had six clearances and two tackles.
The English-born Robinson has had a great loan so far to Bolton but that loan is set to expire in January. At this point it would seem to be in everyone’s best interest if he could remain at the club for the entire season as he is playing and thriving.
With this growth this year, perhaps he can compete for a starting job at Everton next summer. But for now he’s getting invaluable minutes in the middle of an intense relegation battle. That beats sitting on Everton’s bench.