by Phil Schoen
Club soccer is back in the spotlight after the international break, and many Americans are shining, perhaps none more so than the reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd. Carli Lloyd got her first taste of European action as Manchester City pulled out a second straight 1-0 win over Fortuna Hjorring.
The Danish side features Missouri native Janelle Cordia, but the ex-Tiger couldn’t slow down the citizens. Lloyd scored the lone goal in the opening leg on the road.
The win sets up a Champions League semifinal showdown with Alex Morgan and Olympique Lyonnais. Lyon advanced on aggregate over Wolfsburg, despite a 1-0 loss last week. The other semifinal sees Barcelona squaring off again against PSG.
Morgan also continued her behind-the-scenes videos of her adventures in France.
U.S. under-20 coach Tab Ramos named 25 players who will be called in to a European camp in London this week, with an eye towards this summer’s u20 World Cup. The U.S. won its first-ever CONCACAF crown in qualifying for the tournament to be held in South Korea, however many of its European players were unable to participate in the tournament. Eight internationally-based Americans will get the chance to impress Ramos: Goalkeeper Justin vom Steeg (Fortuna Dusseldorf); defender Danny Barbir (West Bromwich Albion – on trial with Stoke City); midfielders Keaton Parks (trying to end his contract with Varzim to enable a move to Benfica), Mukwelle Akale (Villarreal), James Murphy (Sheffield Wednesday), Sebastien des Pres (Blackpool), and forwards Stephen Payne (Estoril Praia), and Emmanuel Sabbi (Las Palmas).
And now a look at some more of what was happening on the field:
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Bosnian-American striker Danijal Brkovic is doing his part to help Celik Zenica avoid the drop. The 25-year-old Binghampton, N.Y. product returned to action for the first time in a month and scored an injury time equalizer in Celik’s 3-3 road draw at Mladost Doboj Kakanj. It was his fourth goal of the season, but his first since November. However it might not be enough. His club needs to make up an eight-point deficit with just nine games remaining to avoid relegation.
Steve Clark earned the shutout for Horsens, but couldn’t get a win in a scoreless home draw against Odense BK. Fellow yank Conor O’Brien started for Horsens and was subbed out late. Horsens are in the relegation rounds of the Danish Superliga season, but are still in contention for a Europa League playoff spot.
Danny Williams and Reading beat Leeds United 1-0 in a top of the table clash. The win lift’s the Royals over Leeds to fourth in the table, ten points out of the automatic promotion spots, but with a seven-point hold on a playoff spot with seven games remaining in the regular season. Williams Reading teammates used his fondness for table tennis to set him up for an April Fool’s Day trick with a young visiting fan.
Amid reports he could be leaving the City Grounds at the end of the season, Eric Lichaj returned from injury to help Nottingham Forest to a 1-1 draw at eighth-placed Preston North End. Lichaj had missed the last three weeks, including a call-up to the national team due to his injury. The point keeps Forest two points above the relegation zone.
Andrija Novakovich’s 71st minute penalty was the only goal of the match and all Reading’s under-23 team needed to win at Newcastle United and advance to the Premier League Cup semifinals. The 20-year-old Wisconsin native has scored 10 goals for the Royals so far this season and was denied a second goal by the keeper just moments later. Swansea City, Norwich City, and Portsmouth are the other teams to advance to the semis. The Royals won the inaugural PL Cup crown in 2014 and are just one win away from advancing to the final.
Timothy Weah can’t stop scoring for PSG, especially when it comes to Valenciennes. Last week, the 17-year-old attacker scored the game-winner in a 2-1 win in u17 action. This past weekend, the two teams met up in a u19 game and the New York City native found the net again in PSG’s 4-0 victory over Valenciennes.
Bobby Wood got an assist in Hamburg’s 2-1 win over Cologne. The national team striker returned from his back injury to set up the opening goal. The win lifts HSV out of the relegation zone, just three points out of tenth place in the Bundesliga table.
Timmy Chandler helped Eintracht Frankfurt keep Borussia Moenchengladbach at bay, earning a 0-0 draw at home. However, Eintracht falls to seventh in the table, out of the European places for the first time since November. A yellow card will keep Chandler out of Eintracht’s next match at Cologne.
While an injury kept Fabian Johnson out of the Gladbach lineup, BMG got him to sit down in front of the camera for a light Q&A session.
Alfredo Morales helped Ingolstadt earn a 2-1 win over Mainz in their effort to stave off relegation. Ingolstadt is still second from the bottom, but is now only seven points from safety with eight games remaining.
Julian Green played until midway through the second half to help VfB Stuttgart earn a comeback 3-3 home draw against Dynamo Dresden. Stuttgart trailed by three goals after 26 minutes before fighting back for the point that keeps them atop the 2.Bundesliga standings.
Russell Canouse lined up at defensive midfield and helped Bochum earn a scoreless draw at SV Sandhausen. The 21-year-old Lancaster, Penn. native – a former youth club teammate of Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic at PA Classics – is on loan from Hoffenheim. The point keeps Bochum seven points clear of the drop zone with eight games remaining. The hosts were hampered by the absence of American striker and top scorer Andrew Wooten who was diagnosed with a small tear in his Achilles tendon last week. Wooten, who has nine goals on the season, has missed the last four games, but is expected to return to training this week.
In 3.Liga action, American Shawn Berry and Canadian Lawrence Corbin-Ong helped the FSV Frankfurt defense earn a point in a scoreless draw at Fortuna Cologne. Frankfurt needs three points to climb out of the drop zone with eight games remaining.
Meanwhile, Joe Enoch’s VfL Osnabrueck continues its comeback climb with a 2-1 home win over Hansa Rostock. The victory lifts the Lilywhites back into the promotion playoff spot, and just two points out of an automatic promotion berth.
Joe Gyau got the start in Sonnenhof Grossaspach’s 2-1 road win at SC Paderborn. The son of former U.S. national teamer Philip Gyau set up several chances and hit the post before exiting in the 86th minute. The win lifted Sonnenhoff to seventh in the table, just five points out of the promotion spots.
Jann George signed a new two year deal with SSV Jahn Regensburg before helping them earn a 1-1 road draw at MSV Duisburg. In the first half with Jahn down a goal, George threaded through a nice pass, but the ensuing shot clanged off the crossbar. SSV Jahn is four points out of the playoff spots in fifth place in the table. The 24-year-old Nuremburg native is the Regensburg side’s most dangerous attacker this season with eight goals and four assists from the right wing.
Schalke’s three young Americans continue to shine, as Haji Wright, Weston McKennie and Nick Taitague all started in the 3-1 road draw at Viktoria Cologne.
Wright scored his 10th goal of the season, playing the full match, as did McKennie, who registered an assist. Taitague subbed out early in the second half. Schalke holds a two-point lead in the West division.
Over the international break, McKennie and Taitague made their first team debuts for Schalke in a 3-1 friendly defeat in a charity match at Hannover 96. Wright, who played for the first team over the winter break, was injured and unable to participate.
Josh Perez continues to impress for first team minutes for Fiorentina, and a spot on the U.S. squad in this summer’s u20 World Cup. Fresh off a solid performance in the prestigious Viareggio tournament, Perez was denied a goal of his own by a good save from the Lazio keeper, but helped the Viola primavera to a big 5-2 come-from-behind win over Lazio in a showdown of the top two teams in the league. Lazio still leads the table, but Fiorentina draws to within four points of the league leaders.
Jorge Villafana continues his good run of form, helping Santos Laguna to a 1-0 shutout win over Jonathan Bornstein and Queretaro. The win leapfrogs Santos over the Gallos Blancos and into the eighth and final playoff spot with six games to play.
Omar Gonzalez and Pachuca were held to a scoreless home draw by Puebla. The Tuzos slip to fifth in the table, tied on points with Tijuana. Pachuca travels to Santos this weekend.
Joe Corona helped Tijuana to a 3-3 draw at Atlas by setting up a spectacular overhead goal with his corner kick. Michael Orozco played the full 90 in defense, while Paul Arriola came off the bench midway through the second half. Xolos stand fourth, four points off the Liga MX lead.
William Yarbrough kept a clean sheet in Club Leon’s 1-0 road win at Tigres. Yarbrough had four saves on the night, and was forced into a late kick save to preserve the win and his third shutout of the season. It’s only the second win of the season for Leon and snapped a three match winless streak. Leon stands bottom of the table, but only seven points out of the playoff spots.
El Paso native Joaquin Alonso Hernandez might be stuck on Monterrey’s reserve team, but he’s doing his best to get noticed. The 23-year-old striker scored four goals in the Monterrey Premier’s 5-4 road thriller at Leones Negros last week. The 2013 u20 World Cup veteran added his 11th goal of the season this weekend in a 3-1 home win over Durango. Rayados have won three of their last four matches to climb to sixth in the Segunda Division standings, with Hernandez chipping in with six of their 12 goals during the hot streak.
While Club Tijuana’s senior side has been flying high, their u20 team has been struggling, coming into the weekend next to last in the table. However, a 7-4 win over Atlas gives them hope, considering they had only scored six goals all season coming in to the game. Xolos’ American contingent led the way as Amando Moreno scored twice, and Jesus Enriquez and Alejandro Guido found the net as well. It was the first appearance for Guido since he was injured nine months ago. Three other Americans also took part for Tijuana: John Requejo, Edson Alvarado and Antonio Nava.
Matt Miazga’s loan stint from Chelsea to Vitesse Arnhem continues to pay dividends. The former NY Red Bull defender helped Vitesse to a 2-1 home win over NEC Nijmegen, shutting down their Gelderland derby rivals on defense and almost scoring on two first-half headers. With the win, Vitesse jumps two spots up to fifth in the Eredivisie standings with a five-point hold on a Europa League playoff spot with six games remaining. Vitesse also plays AZ at the end of the month in the Dutch Cup Final. News also broke this week that Vitesse is talking to Chelsea about extending Miazga’s loan through next season.
Vitesse Arnhem is also working on a new deal with 19-yeare-old Ormand Beach, Fla. midfielder Kai Koreniuk. Koreniuk leads Vitesse’s u21 team in scoring with 13 goals, but has mostly played with their u19 team where he’s scored 14 times. Koreniuk was invited to Tab Ramos’s U.S. u20 camp in London, but Vitesse reportedly would not release him. The Netherlands youth teams are also vying for his services.
Former Colorado Rapid defender Shane O’Neill stepped off the bench due to a serious first half injury, and helped NAC Breda to a shocking 4-0 road win at league leading VVV Venlo. O’Neill had been out of action for the past six weeks recovering from a concussion, but is now in position to reclaim his starting spot for the rest of the season. Arsenal-loanee Gedion Zelalem, O’Neill’s former teammate on the U.S. u20 national team, played the last quarter hour for Venlo, who still hold an 11-point lead atop the First division table. Breda is seventh, but in a four-way tie on points with fourth placed PSV II. And since, the reserve teams of PSV and Ajax, currently second, cannot earn promotion, NAC is in playoff position with six games left in the regular season.
Emerson Hyndman and Rangers stumbled over the weekend in a 1-1 home draw against Motherwell. However, the Scottish giants could be in for a bigger fall in the off-season. Various reports have arch-rival Celtic FC considering a bid to sign Hyndman, currently on loan from Bournemouth. Celtic pounded Perry Kitchen, Bjorn Johnsen and Hearts 5-0 on Sunday and have already clinched the Premiership crown with eight games remaining, while Rangers have fallen 10 points back of Aberdeen in the race for second place.
Quite the weekend for Minnesota native Mukwelle Akale. Just days after learning he was called in to camp for the under-20 national team in London later this month, Akale came off the bench early in the second half and found the net just five minutes later for Villarreal’s C team to tie the score at 1-1 against Rayo Ibense. However the match ended in a 3-1 loss. It’s the first loss of the new year for the yellow submarine, ending a 13 match unbeaten streak. Villarreal falls to fourth in their third division group, but holds a three point edge for a spot in the promotion playoffs.
Miami native Nico Garcia Morillo heads back to Spain with Atletico Madrid’s u17 team with some silverware in tow. Atleti beat Nigerian PFL All Stars 2-1 in South Africa to defend their Future Champions title. Garcia Morillo scored Atleti’s final goal in their tournament opening 4-0 win over University of Pretoria.
15-year-old Miami native Konrad de la Fuente has been tearing it up for Barca’s Cadet A team. De la Fuente scored the final goal in Barca’s 3-0 win over Lleida, his seventh goal of the season. Barcelona is tied atop the table with Espanyol with five games remaining. De la Fuente also represented the team on a visit to a hospital for disabled children during last month’s trip to Abu Dhabi.
Two weeks ago, against Lleida’s Juvenil B team, Ben Lederman made his competitive return to Barcelona’s La Masia with an 11-minute appearance off the bench, helping Barca fight back for a last-minute 2-2 draw.
Another young American at La Masia is making noise as 12-year-old Dallas, Texas native Kevin Kelley scored the opener just six minutes into the Alevin B’s 6-0 thrashing of Sant Cugat. It’s the seventh straight win for Barca, who sit in second, six points back of the leaders, Espanyol.
NYCFC loanee Mix Diskerud made his Allsvenskan debut, playing 87 minutes of IFK Goteborg’s season-opening 1-1 home draw against Malmo FF.
Former DC United netminder Josh Wicks also made his Swedish top-flight debut, stopping five shots in a 2-0 road win for IK Sirius at Djurgarden. Wicks had 11 shutouts last season for AFC Esklstuna to earn promotion to the Allsvenskan, but he elected to move to rivals Sirius in the off-season.
Elsewhere, Brendan Hines-Ike helped Orebro to a 2-1 opening day home win over Jonkopings Sodra. The 22-year-old defender out of Denver, Colo. appeared to stop a shot with his arm late in the first half, but the referee ignored the calls for a penalty.
Romain Gall made his Allsvenskan debut, coming off the bench with seven minutes remaining in GIF Sundsvall’s 3-1 debut at home against Eskilstuna. The Paris-born, Virginia-raised midfielder has seen action with both the Columbus Crew and Austin Aztex before heading abroad. He made the jump to the top flight with an off-season transfer from Nykopings BIS.
Relegated last year, Matt Pyzdrowski has Helsingborg headed in the right direction following a 1-0 home win over Trelleborg in their season opener in the second division Superetten. The 30-year-old Marquette product needed to make only one save on the day.
Ryan Finley and IFK Varnamo lead the Superettan after the opening weekend following a 4-0 blistering of Atvidaberg. It’s Varnamo’s largest margin of victory since earning promotion to the second division six years ago. The 26-year-old New Jersey native set up the first goal of the match, exiting with just seven minutes remaining.
Former Real Salt Lake star Luis Gil is reportedly on his way back to Major League Soccer. Unable to secure a regular spot for Santos Laguna, Gil’s old RSL boss Jason Kreis is looking for a reunion in Orlando City on loan with an option to buy.
Under-20 starting goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann continues his European tour. After spending last month training with VfB Stuttgart, the son of the former U.S. coach and German legend Jurgen Klinsmann, is set to join Everton on trial this month.
Ex-USL goalkeeper Zac Lubin is back in Sweden. The 27-year-old Montana native signed with Ljungskile in the third tier First Division after spending the last two seasons with Swope Park and Tulsa. The former Seattle Sounders reserve spent 2014 with IFK Lulea.
Former U.S. youth national teamer Ahinga Selemani has signed with Panetolikos of the Greek Super League. After spending the last two months training with the Canaries, Selemani announced he had joined the club last week. The Canada-born Michigan-raised striker spent 2015 with the Wolverines and last season at UC-Santa Barbara before electing to turn pro.
Numerous reports in England have Manchester United signing promising 15-year-old American central midfielder Will Vint to their academy. It might be a coincidence, but his father, Peter Vint, just stepped down as Everton’s academy director just a year after leaving his position as the High Performance Director for the U.S. Olympic Committee to join the Toffees.
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.