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Americans Abroad: Holmes stars, Boyd bags stunner

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With club play now earnestly under way after the international break, players are looking to get into a groove before the winter break hits – or, in the case of the Premier League, the winter festive period.

Terrence Boyd scored the only goal of the group – an absolutely breath-taking volley – but others like Duane Holmes and Geoff Cameron stood out, while the likes of Christian Pulisic and Antonee Robinson had forgettable performances.

[ MORE: Last week’s USMNT roundup ]

There are still a host of U.S. internationals struggling with injuries, like Timothy Weah, Tyler Adams, and DeAndre Yedlin. The former pair do not have timetables on what has become somewhat of a lost six months thanks to injuries that have become more troublesome than initially anticipated.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — The U.S. star came back to earth as Chelsea slumped to a 1-0 home loss to West Ham. Pulisic ripped off five shots in the match, but none of them were on target. The shots totaled 1.10 xG, meaning Pulisic likely should have scored. Still, he was electric in the build-up, completing four take-ons down the left wing and creating havoc for Ryan Fredericks on the wing. It was an off night in front of net, and a poor result for the Blues, but nothing major to worry about.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — DeAndre Yedlin missed Newcastle’s uphill battle against Manchester City with a hip injury, and low and behold, the Magpies mustered a 2-2 draw with the defending champions. Javier Manquillo played right wing-back in Yedlin’s place and split the defensive duties on that side of the ball with Federico Fernandez who fit in as part of the back three. Not a great thing for Yedlin, who could see his time decrease once he returns.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The 22-year-old started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan fell 3-1 to Reading at home. He struggled, playing bunch of balls long down the left that didn’t pan out. Robinson has played all but 3 minutes of the Championship season.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Miazga started as part of a back three that was successful in a 3-1 win over Wigan. Miazga actually didn’t have a ton of defensive output in the game, starting as the right center-back. Reading dominated the match.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — Lichaj started at right-back as Hull lost to Barnsley 3-1 at home.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — Cameron played in midfield for QPR who drew 1-1 on the road at Derby County. He actually advanced forward at times and created a chance with a pass into the box, while completing four of five tackles. The goal they conceded came on a free-kick.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream has begun to develop solid chemistry with fellow defenders Alfie Mawson, Joe Bryan, and Denis Odoi as Fulham topped Swansea City 2-1 on the road Friday for their fourth win in a row. He was 55/59 passing and won 4/5 duels in the air. It is truly incredible how much better Ream has looked in the two Championship seasons that have sandwiched his one awful year in the Premier League. Ream has played every minute of this season in league play.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started at right-back and was solid as Stoke lost at home to Blackburn Rovers 2-1. He created a pair of chances moving forward and recovered 9 loose balls, the most on the team. Still, it’s not a good look that of Stoke’s only two wins in their last seven matches, CCV was out of the lineup for both.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes was fabulous as Derby County drew 1-1 with QPR at home. Serving both as defensive cover and an outlet forward, Holmes was 31/38 passing, completed all four of his attempted take-ons, and was 6/8 tackling. It was only down to poor finishing that Derby did not come away with the win, putting just two shots of their 13 on net. It is honestly criminal that the 25-year-old has just two international caps.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch has been injured since late October and missed his fourth league match as Sunderland fell to Burton Albion 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – Brooks started as part of a back 3 and conceded three goals in a 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen. Brooks was solid on the ball and generally defended well as Bremen seemed to have more joy down the opposite flank through Davy Klassen and Milot Rashica.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started and went the full 90 minutes as Schalke topped Union Berlin 2-1 on a late Suat Serdar winner. He took four shots (one on target), completed 35/47 passes, completed 2 of 3 take-ons, committed four fouls, and was successful with 2 of 3 tackles. McKennie was yellow-carded in the dying minutes as well.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffan and Morales both started as Fortuna earned a big road point with a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim. Steffan was quite good, facing 12 shots from Hoffenheim, saving five of the six on target. The lone goal came just six minutes in on a broken play in the box that wasn’t really his fault. Morales struggled moving the ball forward, completing just 19 passes and whiffing on all five of his individual take-ons, but he was good in the air and tackled well to help cover the back line.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent was a 76th minute substitute as Werder Bremen topped Wolfsburg 3-2 on an 83rd minute winner from Milot Rashica.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams remains frustrated with his groin problem, sidelined again for RB Leipzig’s 3-2 win over Paderborn. No new timeline has been set for Adams, who’s missed several deadlines already thanks to this injury.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson was left on the bench for the second straight game as Gladbach beat Freiburg 4-2. Johnson has missed significant time this season with a hamstring problem, and since returning to the squad in mid-November he has not seen the field in league action.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Frankfurt’s league match this weekend is set for play on Monday against Mainz. Chandler has played just 12 minutes in their last six games.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – After five-straight league matches as an unused substitute, Shelton was not part of the squad as Paderborn fell to RB Leipzig 3-2.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – Green missed his second straight game with an MCL strain. He’s out for the foreseeable future.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest played 23 minutes of the blowout 5-2 win over Twente on Sunday morning, playing left-back for a change with mostly defensive work on his plate once seeing the field. It is the fourth straight game he’s been among the substitutes, seeing the field in three of those. 22-year-old Noussair Mazraoui seems to have taken the starting right-back job for the time being.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright started and struggled in a 1-0 loss at AZ Alkmaar. The 21-year-old wasn’t involved much down the left and when he was, struggled in one-on-one duels. VVV has lost a shocking 10 of its 14 games this season, including eight of its last nine.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne is not in the squad for Sunday afternoon’s game against PSV.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah was originally supposed to be back from his hamstring tear around this time, but it sounds like the club is targeting a return to training during the winter break, with Weah coming back to the field competitively when the team restarts game action in 2020.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordan-Siebatcheu came on for the final half-hour of Rennes’ match against St. Etienne with the game 1-1 and was on the field for Damien da Silva’s 93rd minute winner in an eventual 2-1 victory. The 23-year-old put three shots on net in the 30-minute performance, his longest in league play since mid-September.

Honorable Mentions:

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher FC – Terrence Boyd produced the Americans Abroad moment of the week when he delivered an absolute THUMPING volley to see Hallescher top Duisburg in the 3.Bundesliga. It was a spectacular goal.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg in Greece

Arsenal
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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Wolves clobber Espanyol, Neves scores another magnificent volley

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Diogo Jota had a hat trick and Ruben Neves scored a very Ruben Neves goal as Wolves took a 4-0 lead over Espanyol on Thursday after one leg of Europa League Round of 32 action.

Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, and Matt Doherty recorded assists for Wolves, who will visit the Portuguese side on Feb. 27.

Espanyol had 57 percent of the ball and put four shots on target to Wolves’ five.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Wolves came out of the gates with a show of strength, taking six shots to Espanyol’s zero over the first 25 minutes.

The goal came off an Adama Traore-won corner, Raul Jimenez flicking on to Jota.

Neves’ goal came straight from his area of expertise, a beautiful bit of control with his chest before smashing home from distance.

The 23-year-old Jota scored the first, third, and fourth goals of the contest to give him two Europa League hat tricks this season. He has 12 goals and five assists in 33 appearances across all competitions this season.

Solskjaer, Mata react to Man Utd draw: ‘We can play better’

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Manchester United got an away goal in a 1-1 first leg draw with Europa League foes Club Brugge in Belgium on Thursday.

The goals were pretty individual, a big chip of Sergio Romero followed by Anthony Martial’s powerful dribble to equalize for the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

United outshot the hosts 16-10, but fell short in big chances created by a 3-1 margin.

Here’s Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“It was a game with difficult conditions out there. It was almost like an astroturf. The ball was very quick and lively,” Solskjaer said. “We got the away goal. It was a very good individual goal, worked hard to win the ball and finish so we are happy with that but we know we can play better.”

The second leg is Feb. 27 at Old Trafford, four days after a Premier League encounter with Watford in the same building.

United midfielder Juan Mata had a busy day, winning the majority of his tackles and creating one key pass. He expected better from his team but sees the game for what it is.

Here is Mata, from The Manchester Evening News:

“They scored a goal we shouldn’t concede. We scored a goal from their mistake. we wanted to win, obviously, 1-1 is not a very bad result, but we always want to win,” Mata said. “We just couldn’t find spaces, they defended very well with five plus four. We tried to play a few times through the middle, which we didn’t succeed to do that. Then we scored that goal and from then we played a bit better.”

Solskjaer kept Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench to start the match. Fernandes and Fred came on late.

FC Cincinnati adds Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong

Siem de Jong
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FC Cincinnati got a much-needed bit of good news toward the end of a rough week in Southern Ohio.

Longtime Ajax attacker Siem De Jong has joined a talented FCC attack ahead of the club’s second MLS season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

De Jong, 31, came up through Ajax’s vaunted academy before transferring to Newcastle United, where he suffered through a series of miserable injuries including two collapsed lungs in 18 months.

He’s been capped six times with two goals for the Netherlands in his career and will join a revitalized Cincinnati attack with Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo.

“The system they want to play is quite similar to the Dutch system, and yeah, Ajax is probably one of the team’s that perfected it,” de Jong said. “Over the years I played there, I’ve learned a lot about this similar philosophy and trying to build up from the back in the Dutch style of play. That was one of the reasons why FC Cincinnati was a good fit for me. Hopefully I can help with the experience I’ve had over the years playing this style of football.”

De Jong scored three times in nine matches this season for Ajax, all of the goals coming in a cup match against third-tier Spakenburg. His other eight matches combined for just 118 minutes.

He may not be with FCC when the season starts as he waits on visa approval.