DeAndre Yedlin

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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.

Watch Live: Newcastle v. Man City

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Newcastle United host Manchester City at St James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Magpies aim for another huge upset win.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Steve Bruce‘s side have already beaten Tottenham and Man United this season and they beat Newcastle in this same fixture last season, as they’ve only just once at home this season.

Man City are limping on as Sergio Aguero is out injured but Pep Guardiola‘s men continue to find a way to win but they’re nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

In team news Newcastle are without USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin who is out with a hip injury. Javier Manquillo comes in for Yedlin, while Andy Carroll isn’t in the squad due to another injury.

Man City start David Silva and Riyad Mahrez, while Gabriel Jesus replaces the injured Aguero. John Stones and Kyle Walker also come into the starting lineup.


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Aston Villa thumps Newcastle 2-0 to go seven clear of the drop

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Aston Villa and Newcastle came into the match at Villa Park just a point apart in the Premier League table, but on the day the gulf in ability was on full display.

A comprehensive 2-0 home victory saw Villa go seven points clear of the relegation zone, with first-half goals from Conor Hourihane and Anwar El Ghazi, both on set-pieces. Needing some form of attacking mentality in the second half, Newcastle offered nothing going forward, and Steve Bruce will have plenty to ponder after a night when nothing went right.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Martin Dubravka was on hand to make sure the scoreline wasn’t worse, but the Magpies were soundly beaten on the road. Jack Grealish pulled the strings for the home side, providing a silky attacking display and delighting the Villa Park fans.


Three things we learned

1) Newcastle’s desire questionable against Villa onslaught

Aston Villa came out firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle to halftime, bringing into question Newcastle’s desire in such a critical match. Sure, Newcastle was playing on the road, but to concede so much attacking pressure to a fellow relegation candidate was problematic. It all came to a head on the half-hour mark when DeAndre Yedlin‘s foul of Jack Grealish on the edge of the penalty area led to a stunning free-kick by Conor Hourihane that delivered the game’s first goal.

It continued after the opening goal, with another set-piece situation doubling the Aston Villa lead. Newcastle had mental lapses all over the penalty area, with Paul Dummett just completely switching off, allowing a free-kick to reach Anwar El-Ghazi.

Seriously, what was the Newcastle defense doing? And goalkeeper Martin Dubravka hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory there either, putting forth a measly effort to stop that ball.

After the home side was 2-0 up and the Steve Bruce absorption plan was shot, they had very little to offer up front. Bruce threw on Andy Carroll – who hasn’t scored since April of last year – with a half-hour to go, but it had little effect on the game despite changing to a 4-4-2 formation. The Magpies had absolutely nothing when it mattered most, and that’s exceptionally worrying for a team fighting for its Premier League lives.

2) Aston Villa’s fight should keep them afloat

What Newcastle doesn’t have, Aston Villa does. Look, this isn’t the best team in the league, not by a long shot. They make mistakes and they have glaring weaknesses. But they have a fight which will earn the Claret & Blue enough points to stay afloat. Dean Smith should be proud of the way he prepares his team to play matches, milking just about as much effort from this squad as he can. It’s hard to see them going down when they play at this level during such important matches.

3) Jack Grealish continues to be Villa’s talisman

It’s been clear from the start of the season who Aston Villa’s best player is, and who will save them from the drop. Jack Grealish was fantastic again, distributing around the penalty area and pulling all the attacking strings. He completed 48 of his 56 pass attempts, including 25-of-31 in the attacking third, picking up four chances created and assisting the opening goal (to be fair, it was the cheapest assist of all time, simply there to tap the free-kick to Hourihane which opened the Newcastle wall). The 24-year-old ran the show at Villa Park and will surely be the one to lead the squad to safety this season, and he embodies the aforementioned fight that possessed the squad tonight. 

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish


Aston Villa was clearly the better side throughout the first half, holding 75% possession through the first half-hour. They went ahead on a pair of set-pieces, with Newcastle committing two fouls right on the edge of the penalty area. DeAndre Yedlin and Federico Fernandez were the guilty parties, and the defending was miserable on both goals.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle had a chance to pull one back, but a Fernandez header was saved by Tom Heaton was up to the task, keeping the effort out. That was by far their best opportunity, and put forth just one other shot on target the rest of the half.

El Ghazi nearly had a second before halftime on the counter but an excellently timed step by Jetro Willems played the Dutch international offside and the flag went up as the ball found the back of the net.

Newcastle came out inspired after the half, but the burst of energy barely lasted 10 minutes as Villa nearly scored a third on 52 minutes, requiring a great Dubravka save on Ezri Ngoyo’s header. Again Dubravka was on point in the 74th minute when Wesley poked on frame from short range with the goal gaping. He picked up a third big save on an 85th minute free-kick by Jack Grealish who was aiming for the far post with an attacker waiting to pounce.

Americans Abroad: Dest assists in Ajax win; Boyd scores

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It was mostly a quiet first weekend back for Americans abroad following the international break, with only two U.S. men’s national team affiliates contributing on the scoresheet.

One of the two was Sergino Dest, who contributed an assist in Ajax’s 4-01win over Heracles on Saturday, despite coming off the bench in the 67th minute.

Over in Germany, Terrence Boyd continues to shine in the country’s third division, scoring his eighth goal of the season for Hallescher FC.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — After a fine run of form, Pulisic went mute in Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City. The 21-year-old started and played 90 minutes, but failed to record any shots and contributed only a single key pass.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin and the Magpies take on Aston Villa on Monday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan dropped to Stoke City 2-1 on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old started and played all 90 minutes in Reading’s 1-0 loss to Brentford.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The captain played the full 90 minutes for the Tigers in their 2-2 draw against Middlesborough.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender didn’t dress for QPR.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 2-1 win over QPR on Friday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers didn’t dress for Stoke City, who are on a surprising two-game winning streak.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 1-0 win over Preston North End on Saturday.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch remains out with an injury. There is no timeline on his return.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie came off the bench and played 17 minutes in Schalke’s 2-0 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen played all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday. Morales also started and played 90 minutes on Saturday. A tough night for both Americans against the defending champions.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent was left on the bench in Werder Bremen’s loss.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s 4-0 thumping of Koln on Saturday. Nursing an injury the majority of the season, the midfielder opened up about his frustrations this season.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson watched Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 2-0 loss to Union berlin from the bench this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler was on the 18 but didn’t play for Frankfurt on Saturday.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s entertaining 3-3 draw with Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder, who is having a positive season in the German second division, is out with a knee injury until December.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest came off the bench and recorded an assist in Ajax’s 4-1 win.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 90 minutes in VVV’s 2-1 victory over FC Twente on Sunday.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordan-Siebatcheu came off the bench and played four minutes in Rennes’ 2-1 loss to Dijon on Saturday.

Honorable Mentions:

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher FC The 28-year-old striker played a mere four minutes on Friday, but he managed to score his eighth goal of the season in stoppage time. With the 3-0 win, Hallescher move third in the 3. Liga table. 

Rating the USMNT’s complete 2019 season

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2019 was supposed to be the year that the USMNT put the disaster in Trinidad & Tobago officially behind them. Instead, they flopped and floundered their way to more questions than answers in a year of change and doubt.

The first game of the year was also the first game of the Gregg Berhalter era, and while there were plenty of positive signs early on, it began to fall apart midway through the summer, and by the end of yesterday’s comprehensive win over troubled Cuba, there is plenty of unknown moving forward.

Berhalter began his tenure with friendly wins over Panama and Costa Rica, outscoring those opponents 5-0 and seeing the emergence of fringe players like Djordje Mihailovic, Daniel Lovitz, and Christian Ramirez who had broken out under interim boss Dave Sarachen but were also afforded some time with the main man in charge. It quickly became clear, however, that those players were not the ones to take the U.S. forward as the regulars returned for the win over Ecuador.

Flaws began to slowly emerge in the Ecuador win and the ensuing Chile draw in March, and as Berhalter dug in for the long spring international layoff, he prepared the plan for the Gold Cup summer. Whatever the plan, it did not emerge as expected. Veterans Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore returned for the summer slog, but they were powerless to stop the train from slowly screeching to a halt. The group stage went well against inferior opponents – including a 6-0 drubbing of Trinidad & Tobago to secure some minor revenge for two years prior – but a 1-0 win over lowly Curacao in the quarterfinals saw bubbles being to rise.

The US managed to get by Jamaica in the semis thanks to Christian Pulisic‘s textbook heroics, but the finals were a different story. A 1-0 loss to Mexico that saw the U.S. thoroughly dominated was the first real coin to drop, followed by a thorough 3-0 butt-whooping by Mexico’s B-side two months later in a friendly on home soil.

It all fell apart from there. They drew 1-1 with Uruguay’s backups a few days later, and then after skating by defection-laden Cuba, the worst result of the slate saw the U.S. stunned in Canada in Nations League play. The result not only proved a humbling reminder of the team’s work to do, but also put their Nations League standing in real jeopardy far earlier than any fan deemed acceptable.

The U.S. rescued its position and secured passage to the next round of the competition, but real problems remain. Berhalter’s coaching and tactical acumen have been questioned on multiple fronts, with many wondering whether his possessional style of play is too ambitious for a country still searching for top talent.

Still, the most pressing issue seems to be the suddenly paper-thin talent pool that currently troubles the nation. Injuries to players like John Brooks, Michael Bradley, and even Pulisic have left the United States forced to deploy players far below World Cup quality in their stead. Formerly promising critical young players such as DeAndre Yedlin and Weston McKennie have seemingly regressed, but with little behind them in terms of depth, Berhalter is forced to toil on hoping they recapture their form of not long ago.

Amid a toilsome year, the capture of Sergino Dest and the true emergence of Jordan Morris are individual success stories that deserve merit. Dest heavily considered his eligibility for the Netherlands but was ultimately swayed by Berhalter’s vision. Morris has returned from a serious knee injury by reinventing himself as an inverted winger, and his style switch has been an unmitigated triumph, transforming from a questionable developmental project to a near-lock in the squad.

In addition, Christian Pulisic’s rise to international stardom must also be considered. Unlike the development of Yedlin and McKennie which have been suddenly put in peril, Pulisic has continued to excel at the club level, moving to Chelsea and bursting onto the Premier League scene after a brief period of uncertainty. He continues to carry the U.S. side as well when given a chance, but as the Gold Cup disappointment shows, he clearly can’t do it on his own.

Still, in a year with few competitive matches against teams of the quality the United States aspires to equal, Berhalter failed the test. The overall body of work was simply not acceptable. He has the full support of U.S. Soccer for now – at least publicly – but there is much to be done as the U.S. moves further into the World Cup cycle and towards a potential return to the big dance. Berhalter must continue to establish his identity, but more importantly he must develop a talent pool that both excels at developing its most important players and finds those who can contribute in positions of its greatest need.

While the small success stories deserve to factor in, the simple fact is Berhalter does not deserve a passing grade, as questions of where the United States fit into the larger world picture suddenly loom large.

OVERALL GRADE: D+

Full 2019 USMNT results

Jan 28 – W 3-0 vs. Panama (friendly)
Feb 2 – W 2-0 vs. Costa Rica (friendly)
Mar 22 – W 1-0 vs. Ecuador (friendly)
Mar 27 – D 1-1 vs. Chile (friendly)
June 6 – L 1-0 vs. Jamaica (friendly)
June 9 – L 3-0 vs. Venezuela (friendly)
June 19 – W 4-0 vs. Guyana (Gold Cup)
June 23 – W 6-0 vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Gold Cup)
July 1 – W 1-0 vs. Curacao (Gold Cup QF)
July 4 – W 3-1 vs. Jamaica (Gold Cup SF)
July 8 – L 1-0 vs. Mexico (Gold Cup Finals)
Sept 7 – L 3-0 vs. Mexico (friendly)
Sept 11 – D 1-1 vs. Uruguay (friendly)
Oct 12 – W 7-0 vs. Cuba (CONCACAF Nations League)
Oct 16 – L 2-0 @ Canada (CONCACAF Nations League)
Nov 16 – W 4-1 vs. Canada (CONCACAF Nations League)
Nov 19 – W 4-0 @ Cuba (CONCACAF Nations League)