Americans Overseas: Uncle Sam's Soccer Ambassadors


By Phil Schoen


Reports coming out midweek that former Barcelona youth player Ben Lederman could be rejoining La Masia as soon as January. Lederman wore the number 10 jersey on his team until he and several other international players fell afoul of FIFA’s age requirements. It was a violation that cost Barcelona a two-transfer-window ban. However, Lederman, now 16, is believed to have obtained a Polish passport which would allow him to resume his blaugrana development.

Recently, northern California phenomenon, Joshua Pynadath, was forced to leave Real Madrid’s youth system for similar reasons, but the 14-year-old attacker and his younger brother have now hooked up with Ajax’s famed academy. It’s a move that FIFA allowed because their mother’s job reassigned her to their Amsterdam office. This means the family moved for outside reasons, not footballing ones. And Pynadath is making the most of it, scoring his first goal for Ajax’s under-15s in a 3-1 win over Amsterdamsche FC two weeks ago.


Lederman’s old youth club teammate John Hilton is not so fortunate. His parents say they decided to move the family to Europe two years ago to broaden their children’s education. However, FIFA said it appears the move was made for footballing reasons which violates the rules. Now the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Hilton’s appeal.

After early interest from Manchester City, the 15-year-old right back also known by his nickname Xuxuh, had tried to join the Pynadaths at Ajax. It appears a move back to the U.S. might be the only way for Hilton to play competitively before his 18th birthday.



Former East Kentwood, Michigan high school star Nermin Crnkic helped propel Sarajevo to a 4-0 win over struggling Celik. Crnkic scored twice as Sarajevo climbed up to fourth place in the 12-team Premier Liga. Fellow Bosnian-American Danijal Brkovic started for the losing side. It was Crnic’s second and third goals of the season to go along with three assists.



In the Championship, former Sounder DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle held on for a 2-1 win at Preston North End. It was the third straight start for Yedlin, and the victory keeps the Magpies atop the table after 15 rounds and comes just days after a convincing 6-0 win over Preston in EFL Cup play to advance to the quarterfinals.


National team midfielder Danny Williams led Reading to a 2-0 win over Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest at the Medejski Stadium. The Royals leap over Bristol, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday to fifth in the standings.

One step down, emerging playmaker Duane Holmes found the net himself as Scunthorpe won 4-1 against Swindon Town to hold on to the top rung of the League One ladder. It’s the second goal of the season for the 21-year-old Columbus, Ga. native.

Galaxy loanee Jack McBean continues to impress with Coventry City. While he’s still awaiting a shot with the first team, McBean scored his seventh goal of the season for Coventry’s under-23s in a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace, City’s seventh straight victory.



A red card in a 3-0 loss at Cologne was a poor finish for Hamburg’s Bobby Wood. The loss leaves HSV anchored to the bottom of the Bundesliga table with just two points from nine games. It’s a big let-down after Wood found the net twice for Hamburg in midweek German Cup action.


Resurgent striker Julian Green made history as he became the first American to start an official game for Bayern Munich in a German Cup match against Augsburg midweek. He wasted no time as he also scored his debut goal, joining Thomas Muller as the only other player to score in his Bayern game.


In other German Cup news, Fabian Johnson scored for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 2-0 win over Stuttgart while Andrew Wooten found the net again for Sandhausen in a penalty tiebreaking upset over Bundesliga side Freiburg.

In Germany’s third division, American Shawn Berry teamed up with Anglo-Canadian La’Vere Corbin-Ong in a 3-0 win for FSV Frankfurt over Paderborn. The win puts Frankfurt one point out of the promotion spots after 13 games. The Miramar, Florida native teamed up with the London-born ex-Whitecap for the clean sheet. After going winless their first seven games of the season, FSV have gone unbeaten over the last six, with five wins, allowing just three goals to climb into promotion contention.

Elsewhere, former national team keeper David Yelldell earned his second clean sheet for Sonnenhof Grossaspach in a 0-0 home draw against his old club, table-topping Duisberg. However, the 35-year-old long-time Leverkusen backup was forced out of the match with a hip injury. He had only recently returned from a thigh injury which has limited him to just four games on the season.

Striker Terrence Boyd continues his return from injury, starting and scoring for RB Leipzig’s reserve team in a 2-0 win over Auerbach. A similar return to action from young winger Joe Gyau who suited up for Borussia Dortmund’s reserves after nearly two years on the sidelines following knee surgery.



A sixth clean sheet in seven outings for Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent as he celebrated his 25th birthday with a 5-0 season-ending win over relegated Wexford Youths. The Dedham, Mass. native took over the starting spot late in the season, giving up just two goals and losing just one game in the process. Former Holy Cross midfielder Pat McCann controlled the midfield and set up the finale for the Bit O’Red who finish fifth in the Premier Division.



Tijuana continues to lead Liga MX after a 1-0 road win over Toluca. National team defender Michael Orozco went 90 at right back, while young winger Paul Arriola came off the bench to play the final ten minutes.


U.S. goalkeeper William Yarbrough helped Club Leon earn a point on the road at Puebla in a 2-2 draw. The tie was good enough to keep Leon in the final playoff berth with just two games remaining in the regular season.

A duel of Yanks in Mexico’s Liga Ascenso as Joe Corona and Dorados were held by Oaxaca in a 1-1 draw. Juan Pablo Ocegueda came off the bench for just the third time this season for the visitors, playing the final 19 minutes. Both teams are on track to make the playoffs with two games left.

Meanwhile, former national team defender Jonathan Bornstein played the full 90 as Queretaro beat Toluca in Copa MX play. The match required extra kicks in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw with the Roadrunners finally winning 8-7. It’s the first time Queretaro have advanced to the Copa MX Final where they will host Chivas of Guadalajara on Wednesday.



Mexican midfielder Andres Guardado and PSV Eindhoven got the better of American defender Matt Miazga and Vitesse Arnhem with a 2-0 road win. The victory lifts the defending champions to third in the Eredivisie, while Vitesse drops to seventh.

One division down, an added time own goal gave Shane O’Neill and NAC Breda a thrilling come-from-behind win at FC Oss. NAC had opened with a two-goal lead before surrendering three straight to the home side, and responding with two late goals of their own for the road win. It’s the third straight start for the former Colorado Rapid defender and sees NAC climb to second in the Eerste Divisie.



Oft-injured winger Josh Gatt moved into a central striker role for Molde, and the gamble paid off with an early goal in a 3-0 home victory over Cole Grossman and Stabaek. U.S netminder Ethan Horvath was also in an unusual position, benched for only the second time in Molde’s last 15 matches.

The win comes too late for Molde to salvage any European hopes, while the loss means Stabaek need a home win over Start and a loss by either Tromso or Bodo-Glimt to have a shot at avoiding the drop.



Former Sporting KC standout Erik Palmer-Brown and Porto B blew past Fafe 4-0 in Portugal’s Segunda. It was the second straight start for Palmer-Brown since returning from injury and he turned in a solid performance, even starting the play that led to the opening goal.

Meanwhile, Keaton Parks also earned his third straight start for Varzim, playing the opening 65 minutes in a 1-0 road loss at Penafiel. The loss keeps Varzim in the relegation zone.



Bjorn Johnsen scored again and Perry Kitchen wore the captain’s armband again as Hearts fought back for a 3-3 draw at Inverness CT. The slip allowed Rangers to leap over Hearts into second place in the Premiership.



Two Americans are celebrating promotion to Sweden’s Allsvenskan. Already assured of the climb, ex-DePaul center back Pat Hopkins and Sirius snatched a 1-0 road win at third-placed Halmstad. That meant Josh Wicks and AFC United’s 3-0 win over Atvidaberg means the former DC United keeper will join Hopkins in the Swedish top flight next season.


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 make sure nothing important gets overlooked. So tweet to us @beIN SPORTSUSA, or to me directly @PhilSchoen and use the hashtag #beINOverseas. We’ll pass it on.