AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Bundesliga state of play with one match day to go

Leave a comment

After a penultimate match day with 28 goals and a single 0-0, the Bundesliga knows what’s on the line for Week 34.

And as for Americans abroad, there’s plenty at stake: Schalke’s Weston McKennie knows he’s headed for the Champions League, but BVB’s Christian Pulisic and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timmy Chandler are still trying to cement their European destination. Hamburg’s Bobby Wood and Wolfsburg’s John Brooks are trying to out-duel each other to stay in the league.

The title has been settled in Munich for some time, and Bayern is going to win the league by between 21-27 points.

[ MORE: Guardiola celebrates trophy ]

Second place is settled, too, as Schalke has delivered on its preseason promise to finish about its Revierderby rivals Borussia Dortmund.

BVB doesn’t have a UEFA Champions League group stage berth sewn up, and a two (or more) goal loss at Hoffenheim on Saturday would put them in danger of dropping out of the Top Four altogether if Bayer Leverkusen blows out Hannover 96.

Still, it seems likely BVB will earn third place, leaving Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen to compete for the final UCL spot.

RB Leipzig is sixth, but could finish out of Europe altogether in certain permutations. As it stands, six teams are going to Europe but it will be seven if Bayern Munich defeats Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Cup Final. Should that not happen, and RBL gets passed by one of three teams on Saturday, it would finish outside the UEL.

Koln has been relegated, and either Hamburg or Wolfsburg will go down without a chance at the relegation/promotion playoff.

Hamburg, side of USMNT striker Bobby Wood, sits two points behind 16th place Wolfsburg and has a far worse goal differential. So they need to win versus Borussia Monchengladbach and hope Wolfsburg loses to last place Koln.

Freiburg could drop into the playoff spot, which takes on the third place 2.Bundesliga team for the top flight’s final 2018-19 berth, should it lose at Augsburg while Wolfsburg beats Koln.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 33 27 3 3 91 24 67 14-2-0 13-1-3 84
 FC Schalke 04 33 17 9 7 52 37 15 9-5-2 8-4-5 60
 Borussia Dortmund 33 15 10 8 63 44 19 9-4-4 6-6-4 55
 1899 Hoffenheim 33 14 10 9 63 47 16 10-4-2 4-6-7 52
 Bayer Leverkusen 33 14 10 9 55 42 13 7-5-4 7-5-5 52
 RB Leipzig 33 14 8 11 51 51 0 9-4-4 5-4-7 50
 Eintracht Frankfurt 33 14 7 12 45 44 1 8-4-5 6-3-7 49
 VfB Stuttgart 33 14 6 13 32 35 -3 10-4-3 4-2-10 48
 Mönchengladbach 33 13 8 12 46 50 -4 9-4-4 4-4-8 47
 Hertha BSC Berlin 33 10 13 10 41 40 1 5-7-4 5-6-6 43
 FC Augsburg 33 10 11 12 43 44 -1 6-4-7 4-7-5 41
 Werder Bremen 33 9 12 12 35 39 -4 6-7-4 3-5-8 39
 Hannover 96 33 10 9 14 42 51 -9 8-3-6 2-6-8 39
 FSV Mainz 05 33 9 9 15 37 50 -13 7-3-6 2-6-9 36
 SC Freiburg 33 7 12 14 30 56 -26 6-6-4 1-6-10 33
 VfL Wolfsburg 33 5 15 13 32 47 -15 2-8-6 3-7-7 30
 Hamburger SV 33 7 7 19 27 52 -25 5-4-7 2-3-12 28
 1. FC Köln 33 5 7 21 34 66 -32 3-5-9 2-2-12 22

Bundesliga: Cologne relegated; Hamburg win again, have life

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Cologne was finally relegated from the Bundesliga on Saturday, and Hamburger SV boosted its chances of an unlikely escape with a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg.

Lucas Hoeler scored in injury time for Freiburg to beat Cologne 3-2 to leave the visitors eight points from safety with two games remaining.

“It was a difficult game, emblematic of the whole season,” Cologne coach Stefan Ruthenbeck said. “The last goal cannot happen so easily in a relegation battle. That’s exactly how you get relegated.”

Cologne had shown signs of life in recent games but it was too little, too late after losing 13 of its opening 16 games. The first of its five wins came at the 17th attempt.

Goalkeeper Timo Horn, who saved a penalty from Freiburg’s Christian Guenter, and captain Jonas Hector both extended their contracts last week, signaling their intent to help the side return to the top flight under new coach Markus Anfang, who is joining from promotion-chasing Holstein Kiel.

Hamburg, the only side to have played every Bundesliga since the league’s formation in 1963, has had several near misses with relegation in recent years.

Known as “der Dino” for its longevity, Hamburg is playing its worst season yet, but its third win in four games closes the gap on Wolfsburg and survival to just two points with two games remaining.

Bobby Wood broke the deadlock from the penalty spot minutes before the break. It was the American striker’s first goal since the second round on Aug. 25.

Tatsuya Ito, who had been fouled for the penalty, then sent in a cross for Lewis Holtby to make it 2-0 in first-half injury time.

Josip Brekalo pulled one back with a harmless-looking free kick, but Luca Waldschmidt smashed home a rebound after Koen Casteels saved Filip Kostic’s penalty in injury time.

It was only Waldschmidt’s second goal for Hamburg. His first was against Wolfsburg on the final day last season to save Hamburg from the relegation playoff.

Report: Bobby Wood unlikely to come to MLS this summer

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.

Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.

Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.

Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.

The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.

Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.

If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.

Report: Bobby Wood interested in MLS; Where would he fit?

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images
1 Comment

At this point, it would be stunning if Hamburg isn’t relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time since 1964.

Die Rothosen are eight points back of the relegation playoff spot in Bundesliga, and even if they took six points from a pair of six-pointers versus Wolfsburg and Freiburg, they’d need one of those clubs or Mainz to go winless and beat either seventh place Eintracht Frankfurt or eighth place Borussia Monchengladbach.

[ REPORTS: Pogba to be sold ]

If and when Hamburg goes down, a number of big name players will likely be looking for new homes. There’s electric young striker Jann-Fiete Arp, Serbian winger Filip Kostic, and 29-times capped Greek center back Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

There’s also relentless American striker Bobby Wood, who at 25 has never played in the United States and apparently has interest in a move to Major League Soccer.

Wood’s contract with Hamburg runs through the 2020-21 season, so he’s not going to come cheap. Transfermarkt puts his value at around $4 million, with the site ranking him both Hamburg and the USMNT’s eighth-most valuable player.

The Washington Post says at least one team has put in a claim for Wood should he want to come to the league. He’s not subject to Allocation Order.

His value in MLS would be very interesting. No doubt would Wood sell a bunch of jerseys and there’s little doubt he’d be productive, but strikers are an area in which clubs invest their resources. Toronto, LAFC, the Galaxy, NYCFC, Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago are among the many sides with stars in place up top.

Seattle would be a very intriguing landing spot for Wood, who could not just replace injured Jordan Morris but potentially serve as a significant upgrade in Rave Green. Sporting KC could use a striker of Wood’s ilk, too.

Three things we learned from USMNT 1-0 Paraguay

Getty Images
2 Comments

CARY, NC — The United States topped Paraguay 1-0 at WakeMed Field in Cary, NC on a goal by Bobby Wood, but that’s not where tonight’s story lies.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

On a night of youthful energy, the United States was far from pretty, but the performance sparked plenty of promise. Here are the three most notable talking points we can take from the victory.

1. Tyler Adams can ball

MLS fans (more specifically, Red Bulls fans) knew this already, but tonight the full national fan-base got to experience it. Tyler Adams was a force in the first 20 minutes, and he threatened throughout with freedom in the middle. When Paraguay began to build he lost influence, but the 19-year-old showed plenty of promise. He scythed up the Paraguay midfield in the opening 15 minutes for the best early US chance, and he popped up all over the field.

[ MORE: Tyler Adams shines the brightest as USA defeats Paraguay ]

Then, just before halftime, he absolutely ROASTED the high Paraguay line. We’re talking a burst of speed that forced all 10,000 at WakeMed Park to audibly gasp. Usain Bolt would be proud. It led to the US goal just before the break as he tried to round the keeper and was taken down.

A smart player who utilized space well, Adams isn’t your true #10 but instead more like a #8 with an intelligence on and off the ball. He played very well next to Marky Delgado, who sat deeper (and also had a quality game himself).

2. Wil Trapp could be a long-term answer at holding midfield

The position that has plagued the United States for the longest, the USMNT may have found a holding midfielder. Wil Trapp played his position perfectly, forcing Paraguay’s attack out wide which resulted in gobs of crosses which Carter-Vickers and Miazga were able to guard effectively. He dropped between the center-back pairing consistently as the opponent pushed forward, and he quieted the press with calm distribution. His tackling was of high-quality as well, poking the ball free numerous times and clattering Nestor Camacho legally to stop a late first-half break. Then, on the hour mark, he guarded Oscar Romero in a dangerous position at the top of the box, muscling him off the ball to guide the Paraguay attack wide, where it fizzled.

[ MORE: Young team’s chemistry surprisingly good in Paraguay win ]

Michael Bradley’s international career has been defined by his inability to find a best position, and often was pidgeonholed in the holding midfield role with no freedom to roam or space to provide his trademark through-ball. Could Wil Trapp be the answer the United States needs at that position? He might only have one World Cup cycle in him – two at best – at 25 years old, but he looked the part tonight.

3. It’s still hard to tell if U.S. Soccer has a clear direction

One of the most puzzling things after the final whistle was Dave Sarachan’s use of substitutes. He had six available to make, and used one until there was 13 minutes to go. He used 3 in regulation, and left 2 of them in his pocket altogether. With so many young players to take a look at, it left many wondering what the point of the game was if the maximum amount of players were not tested in a match setting. The U.S. setup has done many puzzling things with player selection and development over the years, giving opponents of the current regime plenty of fodder. This did nothing to quiet those fears.

Tim Weah, a promising 18-year-old attacker who just earned a call-up to the PSG first-team, got five minutes. Bobby Wood playing 77 minutes until relative unknown Andrija Novakovich was brought on. Erik Palmer-Brown was not tested in defense. Zack Steffan played the whole way in goal. This doesn’t make much sense given the ultimate goal of the game meant to evaluate young talent in a true international match setting, especially with only one friendly scheduled in this window instead of the usual two.

For all U.S. Soccer fed fans before these most recent friendlies about getting a good look at players for the future, this match didn’t do that to the fullest extent.