Getty Images

Americans Overseas: All Aboard the Pulisic Hype Train

Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Borussia Dortmund as Bruce Arena prepares to get World Cup 2018 qualification back on track.

 
beIN SPORTS
 

Another week, another milestone for Borussia Dortmund’s young American, Christian Pulisic. And while many are pleading caution and patience in dealing with the 18-year-old from Pennsylvania, it’s hard not to get excited about the future following his Champions League heroics last week. Trailing by a first-leg goal against Benfica, and missing star players like Mario Goetze and Marco Reus, Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel bypassed record-signing André Schürrle and gave the starting assignment to Pulisic. And boy did he respond to the challenge. A flicked header led to the equalizing goal, and after setting up numerous chances, Pulisic grabbed the reins himself to put Dortmund ahead for good, a brilliant chip under pressure for his first Champions League goal. He became the seventh American to ever score in the European championship, and the youngest of the bunch. Pulisic now has five goals and nine assists in all competitions for Dortmund.

Consider former German captain Lothar Matthaeus impressed, "the way he lobbed the 'keeper, at 18 years old, that's rare class." And Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez Blanco is also a Pulisic fan, and believes he can get even better if he stays on course.

 

NATIONAL TEAM NEWS

It should be a busy summer for the United States national team, and combined with a new man in charge that means opportunities abound for American players at home and abroad. It all starts next week as World Cup qualifying resumes. The U.S. hosts Honduras in San Jose, Calif. next Friday before a road game in Panama which will be broadcast on beIN SPORTS next Tuesday. Arena is expected to announce the players he’s calling up later this week, and due to injuries and suspensions there might be a few surprises.

It’s the final round of qualification and after two games have been played, the red, white and blue are in the unfamiliar position of last place in the six-team hexagonal. The top three finishers all qualify automatically for the World Cup finals, with the fourth placed finisher playing off against Asia’s fifth placed team for a ticket to the tournament. Even with their poor start, the U.S. is expected to qualify, but it did cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job as manager and lead to Arena’s return.

While he’s got more immediate concerns in mind, Arena also learned how his next challenge will begin as CONCACAF held the draw for this summer’s Gold Cup championship. The U.S. will host the tournament, and was placed in group B and will again face Panama, along with Martinique and either Haiti or Nicaragua, who start their home and away matches next week for the final berth in the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, one of Arena’s former players is part of Martinique’s coaching staff. David Regis was born in Martinique, but represented the U.S. in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

 

Getting back on track for Russia limits Arena’s ability to test new talent, but the Gold Cup offers an opportunity for many new faces to be given a shot at proving their worth. Arena mentioned he is looking at players like Tim Ream (Fulham), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Paul Arriola (Tijuana), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), and Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna) with an eye towards qualifiers. Meanwhile, others like Julian Green (Stuttgart) and Lynden Gooch (Sunderland) might have to wait until the Gold Cup to get their chance to impress.

 

Accolades continue to pour in for the victorious United States under-20 national team, fresh off their first CONCACAF crown. Sporting KC’s Erik Palmer-Brown was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. The promising defender spent much of last year on loan at FC Porto. In all five U.S. players were represented on the CONCACAF Best XI. Including two others with time abroad. Fulham right back Marlon Fossey was joined by Liverpool midfielder Brooks Lennon, who has returned to MLS’s Real Salt Lake on loan for the season. Lennon’s RSL teammate Justen Glad was also on the Best XI, as was Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of the German legend and former U.S. manager, who also earned the Golden Glove as the tourney’s best goalkeeper. The U.S. finds out its path to the final with the Under-20 World Cup draw set for Wednesday.

And now a look at some more of what was happening on the field:

 

BELGIUM

Panama City, Fla. native Kenny Saief got an assist in a losing effort, setting up a goal in KAA Gent’s 5-2 home loss to Genk in Europa League play. An injury over the weekend scratched the 23-year-old Israeli-American winger from the starting lineup in their 3-0 league win over Mechelen. Saief has five goals for the season, as Gent stand fourth in the Jupiler League standings.

 

DENMARK

National team winger Rubio Rubin almost notched his first goal for new club Silkeborg IF, a late consolation in a 5-1 defeat at Nordsjaelland. The former Utrecht prospect deflected a cross towards goal, that was eventually ruled as an own goal. More importantly, it was a costly defeat as Silkeborg falls out of the Championship Round places and needs to beat leaders Copenhagen next week to have any chance of avoiding the Relegation Round.

 

ENGLAND

Newcastle United continues its quest for promotion, but national team right back DeAndre Yedlin isn’t part of the push for now. Yedlin was hurt in training. Initially it was thought to be a minor thigh injury, but Toon manager Rafa Benitez later revealed the news was “worse than expected” and the former Sounder has already missed the last two matches, and could be out for the next couple of games at least. While Newcastle has cover at right back, it could cause problems for U.S. boss Bruce Arena, as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timmy Chandler is suspended for the March 24th qualifier against Honduras and potential backup Eric Lichaj had to leave Nottingham Forest’s match with an injury this past weekend.

After more than four months of recovery, Geoff Cameron made his second straight start for Stoke City in an impressive scoreless draw at Manchester City. Cameron is unbeaten in his last six starts for the Potters, with three wins and three draws. Even more impressive is the fact that with Cameron on the field, Stoke have not allowed a goal in 389 minutes. Stoke stands ninth in the Premier League standings, with an outside chance for a European berth with ten games remaining.

On track for a berth in the promotion playoffs has Huddersfield Town’s German-American manager David Wagner in the spotlight. The former U.S. national team striker was honored with the Championship Manager of the Month award for the second time this season. Back-to-back wins have the Terriers back on track in March. Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Brentford keeps Huddersfield third in the table, six points out of automatic promotion to the Premier League, and with an 11 point edge on a playoff spot with just seven games remaining.

 

Tim Ream finally found the net for Fulham this week, the problem was it was his own net. Last week, less than five minutes into the match, an errant clearance sliced into the Cottagers net to give Leeds United the lead. A late goal helped Fulham salvage a point to keep them in the race for promotion. The result was better on the weekend, but Ream still had a moment to forget as Fulham won at Newcastle 3-1, despite his miss from the penalty spot.

 

West Bromwich Albion center back Danny Barbir was on trial at Stoke City this past week, with the 19-year-old American suiting up for the Potters u23 team in their 1-1 home draw against Norwich City. The 6-3 defender was born in Atlanta, but raised in Allentown, Penn. and might have earned himself a second look.

 

In PL2 play on Monday, promising right back Matthew Olosunde earned a penalty for Manchester United’s u23s that gave the Red Devils the lead, but a late Southampton equalizer ended the game in a 3-3 draw. United stays just in front of the Saints in eighth place in their division table.

 

FRANCE

Alex Morgan returned to club play with a bang, notching three goals in her first 90-minute appearance for Olympique Lyonnais in a 6-0 blowout of Rodez Aveyron FC in the quarterfinals of the French Cup. The hat trick comes just days after Morgan was honored as part of FIFPro’s Women’s World XI. Lyon travel to Henin-Beaumont in the semifinals next month. PSG hosts St. Etienne in the other semi.

 

GERMANY

Despite having an earlier goal waved off, national team striker Bobby Wood bounced back late to lead Hamburg to a 2-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. The three points have Hamburg on the verge of escaping the drop zone, and just three points out of 12th place. Wood’s performance earned him a nomination for Bundesliga MVP of the week.

 

Wood’s U.S. teammate Fabian Johnson came off the bench late for Gladbach, but he could not spark the comeback. It was a landmark moment as Johnson registered his 100th appearance for the Foals. And his recent play also drew the attention of EA Sports, who honored him on their FIFA Team of the Week.

 

John Brooks and Hertha Berlin cooled off Dortmund with a 2-1 win over the weekend. Hertha holds the fifth spot in the table, two points out of the Champions League places with eight games remaining.

While Aron Johannsson continues his on-field comeback for Werder Bremen, he had something to celebrate off it this week, the birth of his daughter.

 

A 2-1 home win over Holstein Kiel lifted Joe Enoch’s VfL Osnabruck back within a point of the promotion spots. The win snaps a skid of four straight defeats and while they’re sixth in the table, the Lilywhites are just one point out of third, and three points out of second place and automatic promotion to the 2.Bundesliga with 12 games remaining.

Elsewhere in the 3.Liga, Canadian defender Daniel Stanese scored his first goal of the season to help VfR Aalen to a 2-0 win over Sonnenhof Grossaspach. Stanese was born in Queens, N.Y. but his Romanian parents moved the family to British Columbia when he was still an infant. He’s in his first year at Aalen after playing the last three seasons for Augsburg’s reserves. Former U.S. youth internationals Mario Rodriguez and Joe Gyau started for the visitors, and Gyau was subbed out in the first half after an early yellow card.

In Regionaliga action, Charlie Rugg scored to help Pirmasens to a 3-2 win over Hoffenheim’s reserves. It’s the second goal of the season for the 26-year-old LA Galaxy prospect out of Roslindale, Massachusetts. The win lifts Pirmasens clear of the relegation zone.

 

ISRAEL

Weeks after making the move from Hapoel Tel Aviv, former Crew striker Aaron Schoenfeld finally made his league debut for Maccabi Tel Aviv, coming off the bench to close out a regular season-ending 1-0 win over Hapoel Haifa. Maccabi stands second in the table and advances to the Championship Round, looking to extend its record with a 22nd title. Maccabi has a chance for some more silverware. They travel to Beitar Jerusalem next month in the semifinals of the State Cup.

 

ITALY

Josh Perez continues to impress for Fiorentina’s primavera, with a goal and an assist in the Viola’s 4-0 home win over US Latina. With the score at 1-0, the 18-year-old winger ran down a long pass past a stumbling defender to calmly tuck the ball under the keeper and into the net. (You can see it at the 2:00 mark in the highlights.) He followed that up with a whipped in corner to the back post that was bundled home. Perez is second on the team in scoring with eight goals on the season. Following the win, Fiorentina climbs to second in the table and on track for a spot in the championship round and promotion to the Primavera 1. Perez was also named to the Fiorentina squad that will take part in the 69th edition of the Viareggio Cup which starts this week.

 

MEXICO

Paul Arriola with a game winning goal to send Club Tijuana to the Copa MX quarterfinals. It’s the fourth goal the Chula Vista, Calif. native has scored for Xolos, and arguably the biggest. Fellow national teamers Joe Corona and Michael Orozco also played the full 90 in the victory. Tijuana host Morelia on Tuesday with a spot in the semifinals at stake. Xolos stand third in the Liga MX table, just a point out of first, but the referees strike postponed the entire weekend’s action, including Tijuana’s trip to face Jonathan Bornstein and Queretaro.

 

Elsewhere, Jorge Villafana helped Santos Laguna beat Necaxa 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Fellow national team defender Ventura Alvarado was on the Santos bench, but did not get on the field against his old team. Santos hosts Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals this week.

 

Meanwhile, Bornstein and Queretaro were eliminated by Liga Ascenso side Juarez, losing on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation. Juarez travels to Chivas and Monterrey hosts Puebla in the other quarterfinal matches on Wednesday.

 

NETHERLANDS

Matt Miazga is making the most of his loan from Chelsea, as he has helped Vitesse Arnhem close in on its first-ever title. Less than two weeks after edging Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch Cup semifinals, the two clubs faced each other in Eredivisie play, and it wasn’t even close. The former NY Red Bulls defender helped Vitesse keep a clean sheet, and his flicked header set up the finale in a 5-0 thrashing of Sparta. Miazga’s side stands fifth in the table and on track for a Europa League play-off spot with eight matches remaining.

 

SCOTLAND

It was quite a week for 20-year-old Dallas native Emerson Hyndman. The loanee from Bournemouth was named Rangers Player of the Month, and then he got his first taste of the Old Firm derby in a thrilling 1-1 draw at Celtic. Trailing by a goal with time running out, Hyndman’s hard shot could not be contained and was tapped home for the equalizer. The tie snaps Celtic’s 22-match winning streak in the Premiership and sets the stage for their Scottish Cup semifinal next month.

 

 

SWEDEN

Unable to fit in at New York City FC, Mix Diskerud is headed back overseas. The national team midfielder has been loaned to Swedish giants IFK Goteborg for the season. The Oslo-born attacker is keeping his fingers crossed that he can rediscover his form in Sweden. However, his first appearance off the bench wasn’t enough, as Goteborg were eliminated from the Swedish Cup following a 2-1 quarterfinal home loss to Norrkoping.

 

MOVES & MORE

FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman has caught more than Bruce Arena’s eye. Reports out this week that the 23-year-old is being scouted by Hannover and Stuttgart.

Various reports have former MLS star Michael Emenalo, now in the technical director at Chelsea FC, in preliminary talks to sign Houston Dynamo academy midfielder Kelechi Onyewuenyi. The Katy, Texas native with Nigerian roots turns 18 on Wednesday. Norwegian power Rosenborg is also reportedly interested, despite the fact he has started only three games for Houston’s u18 team this season.

Former U.S. international Bobby Convey is in a battle with asthma, which led him to retire from the game. The 33-year-old Pennsylvania native opened up about his battle, which had him hospitalized and fighting for his life. Convey was a fan favorite during his time at Reading FC, and the Royals wrote to Convey to let him know they’re pulling for him.

 

These are just a few of the U.S. footballers playing overseas. We will continue to shine the light on many more in the weeks and months to come. American soccer ambassadors continue to make inroads around the globe. Feel free to add your comments below to share your thoughts, shout-outs and suggestions. We’re asking for your help to correct any errors and make sure nothing important gets overlooked. So tweet to us @beINSPORTSUSA, or to me directly @PhilSchoen and use the hashtag #beINOverseas. We’ll pass it on.