by Phil Schoen
The first two matches in Bruce Arena’s second stint as United States manager ended without defeat, and without a goal allowed. The U.S. followed up its scoreless draw against Serbia with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in Chattanooga last Friday night. While the January camp served as an opportunity for many Major League Soccer players to prove they deserve a shot, the only internationally-based player called in proved himself worthy. Santos Laguna left back Jorge Villafana earned his first two caps, and got his first start against the Reggae Boyz.
Perhaps it’s because the international leagues are in season, but the foreign-based players aren’t in the picture much for the current youth national teams either. Under-20 coach Tab Ramos called in 24 players to camp in Orlando, Fla. It’s the final camp before the start of u20 World Cup qualifying, and Ramos is expected to name his qualification roster at the end of camp. While Ramos said foreign-based players are under consideration for the WCQ team, only three internationals were called in to camp. Emmanuel Sabbi from Spain’s Las Palmas joins two Mexican-based players in Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey) and Jonathan Suarez (Queretaro). Real Salt Lake’s Brooks Lennon, recently acquired on loan from Liverpool, was also called in to camp.
Meanwhile, u19 coach Brad Friedel only called one international player into his training camp roster set for Sunrise, Fla. West Bromwich Albion defender Danny Barbir is the only foreign-based player called in for games against El Salvador and NASL side Miami FC.
The U.S. u16’s are already in Buenos Aires, Arg., but with only two foreign-based players in tow. Of the 21 players called in by Shaun Tsakiris, only Argentinos Juniors Matko Miljevic and Nicholas Mendonca of Flamengo are playing outside the U.S. Miljevic was born in Miami, but grew up in Argentina and is already playing with the Bichos’ u18 team. Mendonca is also from South Florida, born in Coconut Creek but is also a naturalized Brazilian and spent time last year with their u16 national team. During their stay, the U.S. is set to play three friendlies against Argentinos Juniors, San Lorenzo and Racing Club.
And now a look at some of what was happening on the field:
Lynden Gooch’s return from injury is drawing near, as the Southampton attacker scored in a rehab stint with the Saints u23 team in their UEFA Youth League loss to Manchester City. Gooch found the net midway through the second half to make the score 2-1, but City pulled away for the 4-1 win. Gooch suffered an ankle injury in early December that’s kept him out of action for two months.
DeAndre Yedlin another Man of the Match performance over 90 minutes for Newcastle in the magpies 1-0 win over Derby County. In addition to his normal express train impersonation down the right flank, the former Sounder made a game-saving goal-line clearance in added time to preserve the win. Newcastle holds a one point lead atop the Championship table.
On the managerial side of things, David Wagner seems to have righted the Huddersfield ship as the Terriers registered their third straight win to climb to fourth in the table, just a point behind Reading. Huddersfield Town needed a last minute goal from Michael Hefele to edge out Leeds United 2-1, and the former U.S. striker showed he still has some speed to get downfield to celebrate with his players. However, his quick feet didn’t go over so well on the Leeds bench, and the subsequent altercation meant Wagner was sent to the stands.
In a late transfer that snuck in the window and under the radar, 22-year-old Virginia native Gboly Ariyibi left Chesterfield for Nottingham Forest, joins Eric Lichaj under new manager Gary Brazil. While Ariyibi still awaits his Forest debut, Eric Lichaj put in another 90 minutes, while wearing the captain’s armband. After playing much of the first half of the season on the left, since the coaching switch Lichaj played his third straight match at his natural right back position in a 2-1 win against Aston Villa. It’s the second straight league win for Forest as they climb to 16thplace, 13 points out of the promotion spots, but eight points clear of the relegation zone. After scoring against Qatar for the U.S. u23’s in a midweek friendly, Ariyibi did see action with Forest’s u23 team in their 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday on Monday. Another young American, 19-year-old New Jersey native James Murphy scored the only goal of the game to give the Owls the win.
Fabian Johnson continued his injury comeback with a game-winning assist for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a 3-0 win over Freiburg. Johnson is still recovering from an Achilles injury and came off the bench for the final 25 minutes of a scoreless game. The U.S. international set up Lars Stindl with a well-aimed midfield header eight minutes after entering. The foals jump to 11th in the Bundesliga standings with the win.
John Brooks helped Hertha Berlin to a 1-0 win over Ingolstadt and fellow American Alfredo Morales. Hertha holds on to the final Europa League berth with the victory, but are only two points out of third place and the automatic Champions League spot that goes with it.
Another impressive performance from right back Timmy Chandler and surprising Eintracht Frankfurt in a 2-0 win over Terrence Boyd and Darmstadt. Eintracht stays in Champions League contention, while Darmstadt is mired deeper at the bottom of the table, seven points from safety with 15 games remaining.
Up next for the Bundesliga strugglers will be a trip to fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund, who edged second-placed RB Leipzig over the weekend, 1-0. Young American phenom Christian Pulisic had an impressive performance off the bench. The performance shows he has no intention of slowing down. Bundesliga fans voted Pulisic as the best right midfielder in the league for the first half of the season.
Striker Bobby Wood had frustrating day as he was unable to convert on several good chances, but came out on top as Hamburg earned the 1-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen. The win lifts them out of the automatic relegation zone, and only in the relegation playoff spot on goal differential against Werder Bremen. However, they are on the road to face Leipzig in the next round.
Julian Green got on the scoresheet for his new club Stuttgart in Monday’s 2-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in only his second start. Green struck a nice volley in the 20th minute to double Stuttgart’s lead, and left after the hour mark. Jerome Kiesewetter came off the bench for Fortuna at halftime, and almost tied it up in the 71st minute. The win lifts Stuttgart to the top of the 2.Bundesliga table.
Andrew Wooten rediscovered his shooting touch, ending a three-match drought with his first goal of the new year and ninth of the season, ensuring Sandhausen’s 2-0 win over Erzgeberge Aue. SVS climbs to sixth in the 2.Bundesliga standings, just five points out of the promotion spots with 15 matches left to play. Sandhausen host the Bundesliga’s Schalke 04 on Wednesday in German Cup play with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals.
Sacramento-born striker Marc Heider saved a point for Osnabruck with an injury time equalizer in their 2-2 draw at Duisberg. It was the second goal of the season for the 30-year-old, who returned to Osnabruck after seven seasons with Holstein Kiel. It was a matchup of the top two teams in the 3.Liga, and keeps Joe Enoch’s side in second place, three points off the lead and on track for promotion.
In u19 action, Isaiah Young made his Werder Bremen debut, but it was one to forget in a 6-0 shellacking against Hannover. The 18-year-old signed with Werder just last month, after turning down a chance to play at Wake Forest this past fall. Austro-American teenager Lyonel Hyer came off the bench and into the 96ers midfield for the final 13 minutes. Hyer came up through the Wolfsburg system, but moved to Hannover this season.
After spending the winter break training with the first team, Haji Wright started the second half of the u19 season showing he learned a few things. The former LA Galaxy and Cosmos project scored twice for Schalke in a 4-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf. Wright has scored eight goals in 14 matches, and he isn’t the only American on 04’s roster. Former FC Dallas youngster Weston McKennie is recovering from injury after an impressive debut, while Virginia native Nick Taitague has been training with Schalke and is expected to sign a contract later this month after his 18thbirthday. Schalke leads the u19 West standings by four points over Dortmund.
Financial difficulties forced former Crew striker Aaron Schoenfeld from Hapoel Tel Aviv to their arch-rivals Maccabi. The 26-year-old striker from Tennessee debuted in 1-0 win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Schoenfeld scored 10 goals during his time at Hapoel, who are forced to sell players due to difficult financial circumstances. After completing the reported $800,000 transfer, Maccabi sports director Jordi Cruyff signed the American striker to a 3-and-a-half year deal for $380,000 a season.
Paul Arriola is another year older and another goal richer. The Chula Vista, Calif. native celebrated his 22nd birthday with a goal in Tijuana’s 4-2 win over US keeper William Yarbrough and Club Leon. Joe Corona and Michael Orozco both got the start, but Orozco had to leave after 20 minutes with an injured left ankle .The Xolos are flying high with four straight wins to lead Liga MX by two points after five games.
With a transfer window move handing the starting right back spot to Desevio Payne, he got off to a good start, playing the full 90 minutes in Groningen’s 1-1 draw with Excelsior. The South Carolina-born, Dutch raised fullback should see a lot more action from here on out. The draw keeps Groningen in ninth place, six points out of the post-season spots.
After joining the Dutch club on loan from Arsenal, Gedion Zelalem made his debut for VVV, coming off the bench for the final quarter-hour of Venlo’s 4-1 win over De Graafschap. The victory maintains Venlo’s four point hold on the top spot in the Netherland’s second tier.
Emerson Hyndman, another start in 1-1 draw with Ross County, as Rangers fell out of second place. However, the Dallas native and Bournemouth loanee struck for a goal against Hearts midweek. He scored in his second straight match after debuting with a game-winning assist. However, it was the only bright spot for Rangers, as they fell to the Edinburgh side 4-1. Fellow American’s Perry Kitchen and Bjorn Johnsen were on the winning side, with Kitchen controlling the midfield and Johnsen setting up two of Hearts goals. On the weekend, Johnsen played the first half and Kitchen came off the bench in the second half as Hearts won again, 3-0 over Motherwell. The win keeps Hearts in fourth place, but just six points out of second.
After shining for their u19 side, Villarreal called up Mukwelle Akale to Villarreal B for this past weekend’s match against Llagostera-Costa Brava. The 20-year-old winger from Minneapolis didn’t make it off the bench in the 4-1 win, but is expected to see more action in the second half of the season. The win lifted Villarreal’s B team to sixth in the Segunda B, just three points out of the playoff berths.
Ben Lederman returned to the field for Barcelona last Wednesday, playing for the Juvenil A squad in a 2-0 win over Catalonia’s u18 team. Lederman recently returned to La Masia after acquiring a European passport after missing much of the past two years after falling afoul of FIFA regulations.
Meanwhile, Miami native Konrad de la Fuente was recognized by the club for his performance last month with the blaugrana’s Cadete A team, with not one but two goals among the top five scored throughout La Masia.
In some Canadian news, reports out of Vancouver have Liverpool scouting Whitecaps youngster Alphonso Davies. The Canadian striker made his pro debut last year at the age of 15, and is expected to play an even bigger role this season. Davies isn’t the only Caps youngster on the move, as Kianz Froese was transferred to Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany, where he joins Americans Jerome Kiesewetter and Justin vom Steeg.
National team striker Fafa Picault has made the move to MLS, joining the Philadelphia Union after ending his congtract with St. Pauli. Picault joins Oguchi Onyewu on the Union roster.
He’s still awaiting his Jupiler League debut, but national team goalkeeper Ethan Horvath is figuring out the ropes at Club Brugge after three seasons with Molde in Norway. The 21-year-old Coloradoan sat down for an interview about the move. (Don’t worry, it’s in English!)
Just beating the transfer deadline, Rubio Rubin made a move from Utrecht to Denmark’s Silkeborg. The-20-year-old attacker out of Oregon came up through Utrecht’s youth system but found it hard to get minutes on the first team. He joins a side that earned promotion to Denmark’s Superliga last season, but in danger of relegation this year. They get back underway after the winter break in two weeks at home against Horsens, where he will face former Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark, who signed after being released by Columbus.
Romain Gall is fitting in quickly with his new side, Sweden’s Sundsvall. Making his first appearance since his move from Norway’s Nykoping, the 22-year-old Paris-born, Virginia-raised midfielder scored the finale in a 5-1 friendly win over Levanger of the Norwegian First Division.
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.