Americans Overseas: Bruce Arena's Selection Headaches

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Phil Schoen

World Cup qualifying is back, and it wouldn't be fair to new boss Bruce Arena if things went too smoothly. Injuries have short-circuited four internationally-based call-ups, and maybe five or six in total. The U.S. welcomes Honduras and travels to Panama for its next two qualification matches, still searching for its first win in the Hex.

Potential right backs DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Lichaj were both already injured and forced Bruce Arena to look elsewhere. And additional injuries after the announcement of the 24-man squad have led to more changes.

Left wing Fabian Johnson was hurt in Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Europa League action, while Hamburg striker Bobby Wood strained his back in HSV’s Bundesliga game on Saturday. Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and NY Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan were called in, as was KC’s Matt Besler and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski following concerns about the health of Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks and Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris.

In addition, Middlesbrough’s Brad Guzan declined his call-up to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. With the next qualifier against Honduras set for San Jose, Calif., Earthquakes keeper David Bingham was called up to take his place. Meanwhile, Timmy Chandler and Jermaine Jones are suspended for the Honduras game, but will be eligible when the U.S. faces Panama in the matchday four qualifier which will be broadcast on beIN SPORTS next week. Arena called in Jones, but elected to save Chandler the cross-Atlantic trip for just one game.

 

Even after the extra room created by the absences, several deserving internationals were not called in by Arena. However, Club Tijuana’s Paul Arriola and Rangers playmaker Emerson Hyndman are expected to be part of the U.S.’s next-gen lineup for this summer’s Gold Cup.

One other news note from this past week that could have an impact on the number of Americans who head abroad was the decision by US Soccer to shut down their under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. Thirty-three players have graduated from Bradenton to the full national team over the 18 years of its existence.

 

While the emergence of numerous top-level academies around the U.S. gives more opportunities for young players than existed in 1999 when the Bradenton residency program was founded, more options have also opened internationally. Many young American players have migrated to Mexico to learn their trade, with more than a dozen coming through Tijuana alone. Schalke is not the only German power that is also actively recruiting American talent, and that outreach is increasing in Spain, the Netherlands, England and elsewhere.

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

 

EUROPEAN ACTION

After Christian Pulisic's Champions League heroics saw Borussia Dortmund advance, the German giants were drawn to face Monaco in the Champions League quarterfinals. It's a showdown of two of the best young teams in Europe. Meanwhile, Pulisic drew some fantasy football limelight for his goal and assist against Benfica.

 

Fabian Johnson injured early in Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 2-2 home draw against Schalke 04. It ends Johnson’s European season, as Gladbach were eliminated on away goals after the two teams ended level at 3-3 on aggregate. The club later reported Johnson suffered a strained thigh muscle, but it will keep him out of action for the national team for the current round of qualifiers.

 

ENGLAND

Geoff Cameron continued his return following a nearly four-month injury with a strong, but unsuccessful effort in a 2-1 loss to Chelsea. Cameron stepped up into the midfield and was responsible for keeping Blues playmaker Eden Hazard in check for much of the 90 minutes. Even with the late loss, the Potters are a comfortable ninth in the table, with an outside shot at a European berth.

 

The battle for promotion in the Championship continues to be a battle, and Reading FC keeps their hat in the ring with a 2-0 road win at Sheffield Wednesday. American midfielder Danny Williams helped keep the clean sheet as the Royals stay sixth in the table with a six point hold on a playoff spot with just six matches remaining in the regular season.

In the u23’s, Danny Barbir played his second straight match for Stoke, on trial for a potential move from West Bromwich Albion. The big central defender went 90 in the Potters 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Carli Lloyd made her Manchester City debut. The reigning World Player of the Year helped City to a 1-0 win over Reading in FA Women's Cup action to advance to the quarterfinals. Man City will travel to Bristol City in the next round this Sunday.

Even more impressive was Lloyd's former teammate, Heather O'Reilly leading defending FA Cup champions Arsenal to a 10-0 win over Tottenham. O'Reilly registered an assist in the blowout. Arsenal travel to Birmingham City on the weekend.

Fellow American Crystal Dunn chipped in with a goal and an assist to guide Chelsea to a 7-0 victory over Doncaster. The Blues finished runners-up last year, host Sunderland. The last final eight pairing pits Liverpool against Notts County.

 

FRANCE

Back from international play, Alex Morgan continued her red-hot form for Olympique Lyonnais. Coming off the bench in the second half, the U.S. women's national team star scored twice in a 5-0 win at ASPTT Albi. The win leaves Lyon atop the standings, with a seven point lead over PSG. Meanwhile, Morgan continued to provide an inside look at her new surroundings for the club.

 

GERMANY

He’s had better days, but John Anthony Brooks' goal was one of the few bright spots in Hertha Berlin’s 4-2 Bundesliga loss to Cologne on the weekend. Former St. Louis Billiken Vedad Ibisevic scored from the spot for Hertha’s other goal in a losing cause.

 

Right back Timmy Chandler got the better of Bobby Wood and Hamburg as he helped Eintracht Frankfurt to a 0-0 draw at home. HSV falls two points on the wrong side of the relegation line, while Eintracht slip out of the Europa League spots to seventh in the Bundesliga table.

In a weather-delayed German Cup quarterfinal, Borussia Dortmund wunderkid Christian Pulisic sparked a strong second half, opening the scoring in the 3-0 victory over underdog Sportfreunde Lotte. Pulisic was on a run that saw him score three goals over four games, and he now has five goals and eight assists on the season. Borussia travels to Munich to face Bayern in semifinal action next month. The other semi sees Fabian Johnson’s Borussia Moenchengladbach at home against Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt. Pulisic is also getting some love from Dortmund superstar Pierre Emrick Aubameyang.

 

Young netminder Justin vom Steeg was called up to Fortuna Duesseldorf's first team for the second time this season, but still awaits his debut after spending the 3-0 win at Karlsruher SC on the bench. The win lifts Fortuna to eight in the 2.Bundesliga standings. The 19-year-old Santa Barbara, Calif. native has three shutouts in 10 games with Fortuna's reserve team.

Sacramento-born Marc Heider is helping VfL Osnabrueck back into promotion contention, scoring his fourth goal of the season in the Lilywhites 3-0 win over Chemnitzer. The 30-year-old German-American also has three assists on the season, as Osnabrueck, coached by fellow American Joe Enochs, climbs to within a point of the playoff spot for a berth in the 2.Bundesliga.

 

ITALY

Josh Perez got Fiorentina off to a great start in the prestigious Viareggio Cup last week, scoring the game winner in a come-from-behind 3-2 thriller against Argentina's CAI Comodoro Rivadavia. Fiorentina fell behind the Argentine side 2-0 before bouncing back for the victory, with Perez scoring the winner with just eight minutes left on the clock, (see the goal at 1:47 of the highlights.) After winning all three of their group stage games, Fiorentina is set to face Sassuolo in their Group A quarterfinal match on Wednesday.

 

Toronto FC’s youth academy also took part, and while TFC III did not advance they did get noticed. A defeat against Dukla Prague sent the Reds back to Toronto, but not until after they had come from behind to draw their first two matches against SS Maceratese, 3-3, and defending champion Juventus FC, 1-1. World Cup hero Fabio Grosso manages the Turin youngsters and said Toronto gave Juventus their stiffest test in the group stage.

 

JAPAN

Steven Lenhart saw his first start in his Japan adventure, lining up for FC Imabari in a 0-0 road draw at Verspah Oita. The 30-year-old former Columbus and San Jose fan-favorite was one of five players making their starting debuts for the fourth division side. Imabari outshot Oita 15-7, and missed a first half penalty in the tie. While Imabari is still searching for its first win, it is also undefeated having drawn each of the opening three matches. Lenhart made his debut off the bench in last week’s scoreless home draw against Honda FC.

 

Elsewhere, it was a miserable season debut for promising Japanese-American goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt. After spending the first four matches of the new J-League season on the bench, the 25-year-old netminder was on the receiving end of Velgata Sendai's 6-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Tokyo in J-League Cup play. The Japanese cup is played in two groups of seven teams, before a knockout stage, so Schmidt should be back in goal next month at home against Jubilo Iwata. The 6-5 Schmidt was born in Illinois to an American father and Japanese mother, but the family moved to Japan when he was still in elementary school. Schmidt spent the last two seasons on loan in the second division. He was the most valuable player for Roasso Kumamoto in 2015, and spent last season with Matsumoto Yamaga where he registered 19 clean sheets en route to a third-placed finish in the J2 League.

 

MEXICO

A homecoming of sorts for Pachuca defender Omar Gonzalez. He came back to Dallas with Tuzos to visit his old stomping grounds in semi-final action of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. A 2-1 loss to FC Dallas still has Pachuca in good position, needing only a 1-0 victory in the home leg to advance to the final.

In Liga MX play, a multi-American derby as Michael Orozco led Club Tijuana to a 1-1 draw against fellow national team defender Jorge Villafana and Santos Laguna. Paul Arriola came in for Xolos to start the second half, while Joe Corona did not dress. It was the first league action for the newly capped national team left back in six months. Santos defender Ventura Alvarado was an unused substitute for the visitors. The draw sees Tijuana slip to fourth in the Liga MX standings, while Santos stands 11th, but just one point out of the post-season places with seven rounds to play.


Edgar Castillo put in a solid shift at left back for Monterrey in their 2-0 home win over Atlas. The win propels Monterrey up to second in the standings. The club also recently gave Rayados fans an opportunity to learn a bit more about their left back.

 

Former FC Dallas academy star Diego de la Tejera made his Liga MX debut, coming off the bench for the final five minutes for Club Leon in their 3-2 home loss against Toluca. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder was born in Leon but moved to the States, and along with his older brother Jose, played in the FC Dallas youth teams. Like his brother, Diego returned to Mexico and Leon's youth teams, and was promoted to the full team last year. National team goalkeeper William Yarbrough was in net for Leon, who stand dead last in the table after ten games played.

 

SCOTLAND

Another game, another goal for Emerson Hyndman as the young Texan continues to take Scotland by storm. With new Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha looking on, the U.S. youth international capped off a great buildup by guiding home the opener in a 4-0 thrashing of last-placed Hamilton Academicals. Rangers hold at third in the table, already assured of a spot in the Championship bracket for the second phase of the Premiership.

 

MOVES

Former U.S. u23 international Evgeni Starikov has returned home, leaving Ukraine's Chornomorets Odessa to join the NASL's New York Cosmos. The speedy winger was born in Odessa, but grew up in California before his family moved to Florida before his junior year in high school. The Stetson University product spent five years under contract to Zenit St. Petersburg, but was loaned out most of the time.

Promising youngster Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus has returned to San Jose’s academy team. The 16-year-old defender spent nearly a year in Germany with Hoffenheim’s u17 team.

 

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.