By Phil Schoen
Some news from England, Mexico and the youth ranks to pass on this week. And there could be some changes and improvements to our Americans Overseas coverage. Keep reading and I’ll share the latest a bit later in this week’s column.
The US under-17 national team had already won a spot in this fall’s World Cup in India. It had also earned its first win ever against arch-rivals Mexico, but the red, white and blue fell short in the CONCACAF final as they tried to do it again. Both teams had numerous chances to score before PSG’s Timothy Weah set up Andrew Carleton to give the Yanks a second half lead that lasted until an injury time equalizer. Mexico won the title 5-4 on penalties. The draw is set for next month in Mumbai.
They’d already clinched promotion back to the Premier League, but a bit of luck saw DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle United win the English Championship title in the final minute of the final day of the regular season. Yedlin assisted on the opening and winning goal in a 3-0 thrashing of Barnsley, but were destined for a second-place finish until Brighton blundered, conceding an 89th minute equalizer at Aston Villa that saw the Magpies fly atop the table.
Meanwhile, Americans have been crucial to the success of three of the four teams fighting it out for the final EPL promotion spot. Defensive midfielder Danny Williams and Reading finished third after winning 4-2 at Burton Albion. Williams was rested on the final day, coming in off the bench for the final quarter-hour. The Royals will face national team defender Tim Ream and Fulham with the winner advancing to the promotion playoff final. The other side of the bracket sees Sheffield Wednesday square off against Huddersfield Town, managed by former U.S. striker David Wagner, a candidate for manager of the year after lifting the Terriers from last year’s 19th placed finish to the playoffs. The final is set for Wembley Stadium on May 28th and will be broadcast on beIN SPORTS with the winner earning promotion to the Premier League and the $250 million that goes with it..
Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest Player-of-the-Year Eric Lichaj helped the reds dodge the drop from the Championship with a 3-0 shutout over Ipswich Town. And 22-year-old Georgia-native winger Duane Holmes leads Scunthorpe United into the League One playoffs, with an eye on promotion to the Championship.
In Mexico, the final round of the regular season saw Omar Gonzalez CONCACAF Champions Pachuca fall short in their post-season question, but Club Tijuana’s American contingent finished top of the table and national team left back Jorge Villafana and Santos Laguna also made the post-season after a fifth-place finish, coming back from two goals down, despite two red cards, for a 2-2 draw with Toluca. Xolos will face Morelia in the first round of the playoffs, while Santos takes on Toluca. Tigres-Monterrey and Chivas-Atlas round out the action.
National teamer Fabian Johnson continues his comeback from injury, but could also be working on coming back to Borussia Moenchengladbach for a few more seasons. The two sides are negotiating over a new contract.
Just two games remain in Germany’s 3.Liga, but Jann George has Jahn Regensburg on the verge of promotion. Two more goals for the 24-year-old German-American in a 4-1 win at Rot Weiss Erfurt that gives him ten tallies on the season. SSV Jahn is level on points for the promotion playoff berth, but falls short on goal differential.
In u19 Bundesliga play, another goal for McKinze Gaines, his seventh of the season, to help Wolfsburg close out the regular season with a 4-2 win over Hertha Berlin. The Wolves win their group, while Schalke 04 finished second in theirs as former FC Dallas academy star Weston McKinnie scored his fourth goal of the season for Schalke in a 1-1 road draw at Wuppertaler SV. Wolfsburg battles Dortmund and Schalke faces Bayern Munich in the playoffs.
- Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath became the first American to play for Club Brugge in the Belgian power’s 125-year history, with a 3-1 road win at Sporting Charleroi, despite a Horvath mistake that gifted away a goal. Horvath bounced back by assisting the finale. Three games remain, with Brugge holding a four point hold on a Champions League place, and trailing league-leading Anderlecht, their next opponent, by four points.
- Mix Diskerud put in a Man of the Match performance to help IFK Goteborg to its second win of the season, a 3-0 shutout over Kalmar FF. In addition to his defensive efforts, Diskerud assisted in the opening goal and helped set up another. The win lifts Goteborg to ninth in the Allsvenskan table after seven games, but just one point out of second.
- One division down, Matt Pyzdrowski helped Helsingborg IF stay unbeaten with a 2-1 road win at Atvidaberg FF. The 30-year-old Illinois native and former Marquette netminder has three wins and three draws with four clean sheets in the opening six games of the new season as Helsingborg stands second in the Superetten.
- Nermin Crnkic can’t stop scoring for FK Sarajevo, his latest coming less than 20 seconds into a 1-0 win over Sloboda Tuzla. It’s his ninth goal, along with four assists, in all competitions, and keeps Sarajevo stay three points off the lead with three matches remaining. The 24-year-old Bosnian-born former Michigan Bucks midfielder also helped Sarajevo advance to the cup final. They start the two-legged series at home against Siroki Brijeg on Wednesday.
- Ben Lederman scored his first official goal since his return to La Masia in a 1-0 road win for Barcelona’s Juvenil B squad at Figueres. The win keeps Barcelona top of the table and came just two days before celebrating his 17th birthday. Meanwhile, Miami native Konrad de la Fuente was honored by the club for his game-winning goal in Cadete A’s 3-2 win at Cornella..
- Rising and setting suns in Japan, as 25-year-old 6-foot-5 Illinois-born goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt played his fourth straight J-League match for Vegalta Sendai, but was unable to follow up on his first top-flight win in a 2-0 home loss to FC Tokyo. Elsewhere, former MLS star Stephen Lenhart ended his Far East adventure, announcing his retirement after spending the last few months with FC Imabari in Japan’s fourth division.
- While he had to settle for a game with the under-23s, 19-year-old New Jersey native Matthew Olosunde is moving up the Manchester United pipeline. After shining for United’s youth team in last month’s Dallas Cup, the former NY Red Bulls academy right back was part of the travelling squad for the Red Devils recent trip to Arsenal. He didn’t dress for the Premier League match, but did put in a 90-minute shift as United fought back from two goals down for the 2-2 draw in PL2 action.
As I mentioned earlier, we are considering reformatting our Americans Overseas coverage into a podcast, which should make it easier to share and a bit more interactive and engaging. In addition to updates on the big stories abroad, I’d love to answer whatever questions you might have, so send them in to email@example.com right away!
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.