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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.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings have landed.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Matchweek 16 followed a similar pattern to recent weeks as players from Liverpool, Leicester City, Spurs and Man United dominated our top 20 with so many games played over the last seven days.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1.  Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – Even
2. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 7
3. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – New entry
4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – New entry
5. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Up 6
6. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle) – New entry
7. Jonny Evans (Leicester) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 4
9. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – New entry
10. Danny Ings (Southampton) – New entry
11. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – New entry
12. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 2
13. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – Even
14. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Down 11
15. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Down 10
16. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 3
17. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Down 1
18. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
19. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – New entry

Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year

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Who else could it be? Christian Pulisic has been named the USMNT player of the year for 2019.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Chelsea star, 21, excelled for club and country over the past 12 months and after taking a few months to settle into life in England, he’s now taking the Premier League by storm on a weekly basis.

Pulisic has now won this award for a second time after first winning it in 2017 and he becomes the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to win the award twice.

His achievements over the last 12 months are numerous, as he dragged a struggling USMNT to the 2019 Gold Cup final and also became the youngest player to reach double figures in goals for the USMNT.

MLS veteran Sacha Kljestan signs with hometown LA Galaxy

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.

Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.

The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Liverpool in talks to activate Minamino’s release clause

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On the face of it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone concerned. Especially Liverpool, who get a bargain.

Multiple reports state that the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks to sign Japanese winger Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Minamino, 24, has a release clause of just $9.5 million and it has been reported that he will move to Liverpool in January with talks going well over a five-year contract.

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirmed talks are ongoing about the transfer, with Bayern Munich and Marseille also said to be interested in signing the tricky winger.

“I can confirm that there are talks with Liverpool at the moment. It is an honor [for us] to see the caliber of clubs who are interested in our players.”

Minamino’s goals, pace and trickery pushed Salzburg to within one game of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and he impressed against Liverpool in both games in the UCL group stage as he scored at Anfield and gave their defense plenty of problems in the return game. His skillset would perfectly suit the way Liverpool play with his direct running, pace and nose for goal seemingly perfect for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

With Klopp and his RB Salzburg counterpart Jesse Marsch hugging on the sidelines after Liverpool’s win in Austria on Tuesday, plus Klopp’s kind words on the job the American coach is doing at Salzburg, it’s safe to say there’s a strong connection between the two teams and their styles of play are very similar.

That’s an even better reason for Minamino to head to Liverpool as the Japanese star would slot in seamlessly and he would become the third former RB Salzburg player at the Reds alongside Naby Keita and Sadio Mane.

From the style of play of both player and the club, to the small transfer fee, this works out very well for everyone involved. Even Salzburg will be happy to become known as a feeder club to Liverpool and Europe’s other big boys as that will help them with their future recruitment.