by Phil Schoen
The United States’ under-20 national team made history by winning its first CONCACAF title after 23 attempts, edging out Honduras in the penalty tie-breaker after a scoreless 90 minutes.
Even though he was playing out of position as the U.S. defensive midfielder, Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer Brown showed he learned some lessons while on loan at Porto last year. The Ohio-born, Missouri-raised center back earned the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament. Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of the former U.S. coach, won the Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper.
Most of the team was domestic-based, as many of the U.S.’s best u20 players were not part of the qualifying team as their clubs were not required to release them. However, several players with international ties did draw the spotlight. Brooks Lennon was tied for second in scoring with four goals, with the Liverpool youngster recently returning to Real Salt Lake on loan for the new MLS season. The two players from Fulham proved promising in midfielder Luca de la Torre and right back Marlon Fossey. And while Emmanuel Sabbi is still awaiting his international clearance to play for Las Palmas in Spain, he proved dangerous when Ramos put him in the starting lineup later in the tournament, scoring against El Salvador. Lennon, Sabbi and de la Torre all converted from the spot in the tiebreaker as the U.S. went 5-for-5 to walk away with the crown.
The U.S. leads the North American contingent to this summer’s World Cup in South Korea. Honduras, Mexico and Costa Rica will also represent CONCACAF, with the tournament set to kick off in mid-May. In the u20 World Cup tournament, Ramos will be able to call on several internationally-based stars in the quest for another trophy. Young Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic is eligible to play, as are Isaiah Young (Werder Bremen), Josh Perez (Fiorentina), Mukwelle Akale (Villarreal), Gedion Zelalem (VVV Venlo), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham) and many more. The U.S. will find out its path to the final next week, with the draw set for Suwon on March 15.
The U.S. u17’s are up next in World Cup qualifying with the CONCACAF championship set for Panama next month. The U.S. is grouped with Mexico, El Salvador and Jamaica, with the top two teams advancing to the next round. Four teams will represent the region in the u17 World Cup slated for India in October.
In preparation for the regional championship, u17 coach John Hackworth took the team to Honduras for a training camp and a pair of double-headers against the Catrachos, winning three and losing only one. Last Monday, Honduras won the first match 1-0 before falling 3-0 in the second game. Three days later the U.S. swept both games, 5-1 and 3-0. Fresh off his trial tour of Germany, St. Louis striker Josh Sargent scored a hat trick in the first game, while Atletico Madrid striker Nicolas Garcia Morillo netted twice in the second. Garcia is one of two of the U.S. u17’s have been based abroad, the other being former San Jose Earthquakes academy defender J.J. Foe Nuphaus, who had been playing for Hoffenheim’s u17 until recently.
And now a look at some more of what was happening on the field:
At 6-foot-5, Izzy Tandir is hard to miss. The German-born Bosnian-American doesn’t mind the limelight, as he scored on an injury time penalty to win the game for Sloboda Tuzla against Metalleghe-BSI Jajce, 2-1. The 21-year-old center forward came up through the NY Red Bulls academy before heading to Europe, making the move from Serbia to Bosnia in January. It’s his first goal in just two appearances for Tandir, and the win lifts Sloboda up to fifth in the Premier Liga table, ten points off the pace after 20 games have been played. More importantly, it gives them a five point hold on a spot in the Championship Rounds with just two games remaining in the first part of the season.
Geoff Cameron’s return from injury continues as he earned the start for Stoke City in their 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. The win lifts the Potters up to ninth in the Premier League table.
In the Championship, David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town fell against league leaders Newcastle United 3-1. DeAndre Yedlin came off the bench in the second half as the Magpies hold on to the top spot. Huddersfield stands third and in good position of a promotion playoff berth. Newcastle follows up on their late road win at Brighton last Tuesday in their quest for the crown.
National team midfielder Danny Williams shot-turned-pass set up the opening goal in Reading’s 2-1 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The win keeps the Royals in the promotion hunt, standing fifth with 11 games remaining, with a home match against Newcastle up next.
Eric Lichaj captained Nottingham Forest to an impressive 3-0 home win over second placed Brighton & Hove Albion. The victory lifts Forest six points clear of the relegation zone.
In u23 action, Reading’s Andrija Novakovich continued his phenomenal season, scoring two more goals in a 4-1 win at Brighton last Thursday. The 20-year-old 6-foot-4 striker from Muskego, Wisc. has 12 goals in all competitions, even with the Royals in the PL2 relegation zone.
It didn’t take long for Etchu Tabe to make his mark in his return to Ekenas IF, with two late goals in a 3-0 road win against Turun PS in the Finnish Cup. (You can see the goals at 3:15 and 3:59 here.) However, it wasn’t enough to qualify for the quarterfinals, as Ekenas loses out on goal differential. The Cameroonian-born American was at EIF two seasons ago before spending last year at Haka.
Christian Eissele continues his stellar form, with three more goals for FF Jaro in their 6-1 cup win over Jazz. The win lifts Jaro to the quarterfinal stage later this month. The 24-year-old Orlando, Fla. native has been in Finland for the past five seasons, joining Jaro last month and has already found the net seven times in just two games.
Christian Pulisic came off the bench to help Borussia Dortmund put away Bayer Leverkusen in Bundesliga play. The Pennsylvania native scored and set up another goal in BvB’s 6-2 win. Dortmund is third in the standings, holding a two point edge in the race for an automatic Champions League berth.
Just a day after the birth of his son, Fabian Johnson found the net twice as Borussia Moenchengladbach doubled up Schalke 04, 4-2 on Saturday. Johnson now has three goals on the season, and seems fully recovered from his earlier Achilles tendon injury. Gladbach climbs to ninth in the table, just three points out of the European zone.
National team striker Bobby Wood helped set up the only goal of the match as Hamburger SV edged John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin for the 1-0 home win. The win puts Hamburg on the verge of escaping the drop zone, trailing Wolfsburg on goal differential.
In midweek cup play, Gladbach overcame Wood’s fourth goal in the cup to grab the win at Hamburg, 2-1 and Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt edged Arminia Bielefeld, 1-0. That means Chandler and Johnson will be going head to head in the German Cup semifinals next month. Pulisic and Dortmund travel to Sportfreunde Lotte next week, with the winner facing Bayern Munich in the other semifinal.
Sacramento-born striker Marc Heider scored his third goal of the season to give VfL Osnabruck the lead, but it wasn’t enough. The 2-1 loss at Wehen Wiesbaden is the fourth straight loss for the Lily Whites. Three time All America striker Robbie Kristo, out of St. Louis University, came off the bench, but couldn’t find an equalizer. Leading the league earlier in the season, the side managed by fellow American Joe Enochs, is now eighth in the 3.Liga table, three points out of a promotional playoff berth.
The biggest rivalry in Guatemala saw a Yankee derby last Wednesday as former Galaxy youngster Jefrey Payeras started in the Municipal defense while former FC Dallas defender Moises Hernandez was in the Comunicaciones back line. The two defenders both did their job, as the match ended in a scoreless draw. The 23-year-old Payeras has been a regular in the Rojos defense, while it was the second start for Hernandez for las Cremas, just four days before his 24th birthday. The Dallas native spent last year on loan in the NASL with Rayo OKC. Municipal leads the Liga Nacional by three points, while Comunicaciones stands eighth after ten rounds.
A top of the table clash in Liga MX as Pachuca held on for a 3-2 road win over Club Tijuana with Omar Gonzalez in defense for the Tuzos and Michael Orozco and Joe Corona starting for the Xolos in a nasty affair. Corona got an assist on the first goal of the game, but earned a late red, and Orozco was lucky not to be ejected himself for a rough tackle just before the half. Tijuana falls to third in the table, one point back of Pachuca who are tied on points with leaders Chivas.
Better news midweek, as Xolos earned a 2-1 win in the Copa MX over Cimarrones, with Orozco playing the full 90, Carpinteria, Calif. native John Requejo starting at left back and Paul Arriola coming in for the final half-hour.
Elsewhere, Jorge Villafana helped Santos Laguna earn a spot in the quarterfinals with a 2-1 home win over Club America. They travel to Necaxa on Wednesday.
Rodrigo Lopez scored a penalty to give second division side Celaya the lead, but it wasn’t enough as Toluca bounced back with a 3-1 win.
Edgar Castillo played the full match at right back for Monterrey in their 2-1 win over Juarez. They face another Ascenso side in the quarterfinals in Mineros de Zacatecas.
Juarez also advances, as they will face Queretaro in the next round. Jonathan Bornstein and Luis Gil combined to help the Gallos Blancos to a 3-0 win over Oaxaca. Michigan’s Yousuf Zetuna is still waiting for his paperwork to clear and the Iraqi-American did not dress for the losing side.
Matt Miazga and Vitesse Arnhem stumbled over the weekend to a 3-1 loss at PEC Zwolle that drops them out of the Europa League playoff spots after 25 rounds. However, the setback can be forgiven, as Vitesse was still buzzing about advancing to the Dutch Cup final. A midweek 2-1 road win at Sparta Rotterdam gives them their first appearance in the championship game since 1990. They will face AZ at the end of April for the title.
In midweek play, Emerson Hyndman played the hero for Ranger again with an injury time game winner in a 3-2 win over St. Johnstone to snap a two-match losing streak. It’s the third goal in just six games for the Dallas native, on loan from Bournemouth. Rangers are a distant third in the Premiership, but could still catch Aberdeen for second place behind arch-rival Celtic. Hyndman gets his first taste of the Old Firm derby on Sunday as Rangers visits Celtic.
The two Scottish giants are also slated to meet in the Scottish Cup semifinals after Rangers pounded Hamilton Academical 6-0 on the weekend.
Two flights down in League One action, Marcus Robertson earned his first start and netted his second goal for Stenhousemuir in a 3-1 home win over Peterhead. The former University of Washington striker just joined the Warriors last month. While Stenny are still in the basement, the win draws them to within two points of escaping the relegation zone. Former Dartmouth midfielder Kevin Dzierzawski was on the bench for the Blue Toon.
Cut loose by MLS’s New York City FC, it looks like Mix Diskerud could be headed back to Europe. Reports have the national team midfielder in talks with Sweden’s IFK Goteborg on loan.
Two 24-year-old Americans reunited in Armenia, as Nigerian-American Kyrian Nwabueze followed in the footsteps of Laredo, Texas native Bryan de la Fuente in making the jump from Ararat Yerevan to rivals Shirak in time for the new season. Nwabuenze was born in Lagos, but moved to the U.S. when he was eight. Both players got their start with the PDL’s Los Angeles Misioneros before heading to Europe.
Tim Murray is taking his gloves from Ekenas to Honka, as the former Providence Friars keeper moves from one Finnish second division club to another.
More and more American youngsters are taking their skills abroad at the first opportunity, and the prospect of another did not sit well with MLS’s New England Revolution. Recent reports say that after learning that their top academy prospect Justin Rennicks travelled to Germany to try out with some Bundesliga teams, the Revs suspended him for their spring semester.
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.