Zack Steffen

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Americans Abroad: USMNT trio McKennie, Sargent, Miazga score

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A trio of staple U.S. men’s national team players scored over the weekend, making it one of the most productive weekends for Americans abroad this year.

Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent scored a goal apiece in Bundesliga action on Saturday. The 20-year-old forward scored three minutes into Werder Bremen’s eventual 2-2 draw, while the Schalke midfielder scored his team’s lone goal in the 20th minute.

Over in England, after a few months of instability, Matt Miazga registered his second goal with a Reading shirt.

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

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic, who is recovering from an adductor injury, is getting closer to full recovery. Chelsea boss Frank Lampard mentioned that the American star took part in an  “in-house game” prior to the Blues’ bout against Everton.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin remained in the bench in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes also remains sidelined as he continues to recover from an injury. There’s no timeline on his return either.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old scored and played 90 minutes in Reading’s 3-1 in win over Birmingham City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — Lichaj is out for the season with an ankle injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender was sent off against Preston North End on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 82 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luton Town (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and played 90 minutes in Luton’s 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Just weeks removed from a stellar, two-goal performance, Chandler wasn’t called on the bench in Frankfurt’s 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played all game in Wolfsburg 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is out with an injury, while Morales was left on the bench in Fortuna’s draw with Mainz.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent played 87 minutes and scored a goal in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams was left on the bench.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, too, was left on the bench on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started and played all 90 minutes in Ajax’s 3-1 win over SC Heerenveen.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 77 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 3-0 loss.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah is out for the remainder of the season.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu didn’t feature for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable Mentions

Dillon Powers, Dundee United — Powers played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Dundee’s 1-1 draw with Patrick Thistle on Saturday.

Aron Johannsson, Hammarby — The striekr played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Hammarby’s 4-0 win over Sundsvall on Sunday.

Joel Sonora, Arsenal de Sarandi — Sonora played 12 minutes and scored a goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aldosivi on Friday.

Bravo linked with NYCFC alongside Man City promotion for Steffen

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According to multiple reports, including The Guardian and ESPN FC, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering an offer to join Major League Soccer club NYCFC this summer when his Man City contract expires.

For USMNT fans, the buried lede in these reports is that the move is being considered in part thanks to a possible promotion for 24-year-old American international Zack Steffen, who could reportedly be set for a move to Man City’s backup role after his loan spell at Fortuna Dusseldorf expires this summer, according to ESPN FC journalist Mark Ogden.

Steffen is currently on the shelf with a frustrating knee injury that has seen him return to Manchester for further tests, and Fortuna has struggled defensively in general this season, sitting 16th in the 18-team Bundesliga table having conceded 49 goals in 23 matches. Still, he has clearly done enough to impress Guardiola and could be given a chance to compete for a backup job alongside 21-year-old Ari Mujic who is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest.

That is excellent news for the prospects of Steffen moving forward, although it would be tough for USMNT fans to justify having their first-choice goalkeeper riding the bench for full seasons at a time. Still, the fact that his name is in consideration for a top Premier League side is positive news for sure.

Bravo, now 36 years old, has seen very little game action over the past few seasons. He has served as the domestic Cup goalkeeper for Manchester City but otherwise is squarely in a backup role. Ederson has even been prioritized in the Champions League, with Bravo seeing action in just three European matches the past few seasons. Still, he remains first choice for the Chilean national team having started all four of their late 2019 friendlies after missing out on the summer’s Copa America recovering from an Achilles injury. He also proved his worth recently, starting the League Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday and making two saves including a critical 88th minute stop on a header by Bjorn Engels to maintain the 2-1 lead.

NYCFC would be a natural landing spot for Bravo, who has backed up Ederson the past three seasons and seen just seven Premier League appearances in that span. The MLS club is owned partly by Manchester City and the two have a strong working relationship. Steffen moved from MLS side Columbus Crew to Man City last summer for $7 million.

American’s Abroad: Strong defensive performances and an eye for the future

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It wasn’t exactly a banner week for American attackers abroad, but there were some fine defensive performances and some youngsters making a name for themselves.

Both John Brooks of Wolfsburg and Tim Ream of Fulham played the full 90 in their team’s matches this weekend. Brooks led Wolfsburg to a 4-0 rout of Mainz, while Fulham played Derby County to a 1-1 stalemate. Derby County’s only goal however came off a Wayne Rooney penalty kick, as otherwise Ream and co. kept Derby out through the run of play.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There were some bright notes for the future, however. Both Ajax youngster Alex Mendez and Wolfsburg U-19 star Uly Llanez scored in action for their teams, as did Wisconsin native Andrija Novakovich, who assisted on one goal and scored the second in Frosinone’s 2-0 win over Crotone, lifting Alessandro Nesta’s side to second in Serie B. If the season ended today, Novakovich would be playing in Serie A next year. Former Sporting Kansas City Homegrown talent Erik Palmer-Brown also scored in Austria Wien’s 2-2 draw with Jesse Marsch and RB Salzburg

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

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic is still recovering from his injury and missed Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Tottenham on Saturday.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin made the bench but didn’t see action in Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Indiana Vassilev, Aston Villa — Vassilev didn’t dress in Aston Villa’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  For a third weekend in a row Robinson did not dress for Wigan. Robinson continues to deal with a groin injury that ended the potential loan move to AC Milan.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes did not dress in Derby’s 1-1 draw with Fulham after suffering an ankle injury on February 15 against Huddersfield Town.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is out with a hamstring injury. There is no timeline on his return.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The defender is out for the season after sustaining an injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender started and played 90 minutes in QPR’s 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Derby County on Friday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luton Town (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and played 90 minutes in Luton’s 3-1 defeat to Charlton Athletic.

League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland — The 24-year-old American scored the game-winning-goal in Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Bristol Rovers, which moved Sunderland into fourth place in the table, just three points behind first place Rotherham United. A strong spring could put Gooch on USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s radar.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt play on Monday at home against Union Berlin

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started, played 90 minutes, and helped keep a clean sheet in Wolfsburg’s 4-0 win over Mainz.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started but only played 55 minutes as Schalke was routed, 5-0 by RB Leipzig.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams is out with an injury. There is no timeline on his return.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is out with an injury, while Morales came off the bench and played 23 minutes in Dusseldorf’s 2-0 win at Freiburg on Saturday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench and played seven minutes plus stoppage time in Werder Bremen’s 2-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund Reyna made his sixth Bundesliga appearance this season, coming in for Jadon Sancho and played 13 minutes in a 2-0 win over Werder Bremen

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson did not dress for Monchengladbach’s 1-1 draw with Johnson’s former club, Hoffenheim.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started and played 90 minutes in Ajax’s surprise 1-0 defeat at Heracles.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over FC Groningen.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — After a six-month absence, Weah featured for Lille on February 16, playing the final 10 minutes in Lille’s 2-1 loss to Marseille. Unfortunately, in that game, Weah suffered another muscle injury, this time a torn right hamstring that will leave him out indefinitely.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu did not dress for Rennes in its 2-1 win over Nimes.

Honorable Mentions

Kenny Saief, Lechia Gdansk, on loan from Anderlecht — The American-Israeli made his first appearance on the field in around 10 months, playing 13 minutes off the bench in Gdansk’s 2-0 defeat to Lech Poznan. Saief’s injury problems and a falling out in Cincinnati during his loan there led to it being terminated early. However, he wasn’t in Anderlecht’s plans this fall, meaning he had to wait until the January transfer window to find a new club after he failed to move during the summer.

Ian Harkes, Dillon Powers, Dundee United — I don’t know the last time this has happened, but in the 57th minute Harkes (son of John Harkes) came on for Powers in a rare American for American substitution abroad. It’s safe to say that while rare, we could see this happening again, as both Harkes and Powers play similar positions in midfield.

Duane Holmes out ‘weeks’ with ankle injury

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Add Duane Holmes to the growing list of American internationals out injured.

The Derby County midfielder will miss “several weeks” after suffering an ankle injury in the 29th minute of Saturday’s match against Huddersfield Town. The 25-year-old has been a key part of the Derby County midfield this season with two goals and three assists in 28 Championship appearances, including a run of 21 consecutive league starts through this past weekend.

Derby manager Phillip Cocu lamented the loss of Holmes, who has been excellent this season for the Rams. “Duane Holmes will be out. I think several weeks he will be out,” said Cocu ahead of Friday’s matchup with Fulham. “That is a blow because he was a very important player for us and an important part in our style of football – and he was in great form. To lose a player like that at this stage of the season is something we can’t enjoy. He has shown how important he is, and he can play in different positions.”

Derby sits 13th in the Championship table, but they are in good form having lost just two of their last 10 league games, turning things around from an ugly seven-match winless run through November and December that dropped the club as low as 18th. Holmes was replaced by 28-year-old Scottish international Graeme Shinnie, while 19-year-old Jason Knight could also see an increase in playing time while Holmes recovers.

The loss is also a blow for the U.S. National Team and Gregg Berhalter who would have likely looked to Holmes for a spot in the March squad. The USMNT has friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales in late March, but this injury could see Holmes lose steam in a bid for contention.

Berhalter is sweating the health of a long list of players, including Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Zack Steffen while Paul Arriola, Eric Lichaj, and Michael Bradley have recently gone down with long-term injuries.

USMNT injuries are piling up at a bad time

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It looked like a major piece of the U.S. National Team future was finally back, healthy and ready to go.

And then he wasn’t.

Timothy Weah returned from a six-month absence but lasted just 10 minutes before succumbing to another hamstring injury this past weekend, deepening what is already a troubling situation for the USMNT.

Several key players have missed valuable club time of late, causing worry for fans who want to see their players in good form through the club season before the start of 2022 World Cup qualifying later this summer.

Weah is far from the only young and talented American who has been absent from club matches of late. Christian Pulisic, who had finally begun to hit his stride at Chelsea, has been out since early November with a groin problem and suffered a setback two weeks ago. Tyler Adams was felled by a calf injury after only recently returning from his frustrating groin injury. Michael Bradley is down four months after ankle surgery that suspiciously cropped up two months after the MLS Cup final. Paul Arriola just went down with a serious knee injury, believed to be a torn ACL, the same injury that just saw Eric Lichaj end his season early. Duane Holmes is out “several weeks” with ankle injury, the same problem that has Matt Miazga is out for a “significant amount of time.” Paxton Pomykal went under the knife for the third time in three years this past October and still hasn’t recovered, and his FC Dallas teammate Brandon Servania has also missed time this preseason. Fortuna Dusseldorf sent Zack Steffen back to Manchester last week for further testing on a troublesome knee.

What’s worse is these are not older players who you’d expect to be struggling with injuries, nor are they players like John Brooks who have been previously established as injury prone. These are young players or those contributing well at the club level who have ended up all on the shelf at the same time. Guys Pulisic, Weah, Adams Steffen, and Pomykal who are the cornerstone of the next USMNT generation. Guys like Lichaj and Holmes who are pushing for a spot on the roster with excellent form at the club level. Guys like Bradley who, while 32 years old, has been an iron horse throughout their careers. Guys like Miazga, and Arriola who have been regular contributors for some time now and could use a boost at the club level to push them to the next tier of importance on the international stage.

The USMNT reconvenes in March for friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales, and while the Olympics (if they qualify) aren’t until the summer and CONCACAF doesn’t begin 2022 World Cup qualifying until early September, club form going into those competitions are incredibly important, especially for young players still developing and those looking to break into the squad. It would follow that many of the aforementioned youngsters would be in the mix for the Olympic squad. These injuries only serve to get in the way.