Zack Steffen

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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.

USMNT keeper Steffen heads back to Man City for tests

Zack Steffen
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Zack Steffen‘s knee problems aren’t going away.

The USMNT’s No. 1 goalkeeper has been out of the Fortuna Dusseldorf lineup since the start of winter break in the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Steffen, 24, is heading back to parent club Manchester City alongside his loan side‘s therapist and “will undergo medical examinations” in England.

Steffen started the first 17 league matches of his tenure in Dusseldorf, keeping two clean sheets for a newly-promoted outfit often under duress.

From Fortuna Dusseldorf’s site, translated:

Fortuna’s physiotherapist Lucas Trittel, who is involved in all processes as part of the medical department, will accompany Steffen to act as a contact person.¬†Both clubs are in constant communication: Fortuna’s sports director Lutz Pfannenstiel and Manchester’s sports director Txiki Begiristain have agreed this procedure in close consultation with the medical departments of both clubs.

This is a significant concern for USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter, as Steffen is as familiar with his system as any starter in the player pool.

The Yanks have the final stage of the CONCACAF Nations League this summer, and European-based friendlies versus Wales and the Netherlands in late March.

Steffen has 17 caps for the United States dating back to January 2018. He’s twice-captained the side under Berhalter.

Bundesliga wrap: Adams, Werner star as Leipzig pads lead

Americans star in Bundesliga play
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The Bundesliga returned Saturday after its winter break, bringing a cavalcade of impactful American stories to the field.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 


RB Leipzig 3-1 Union Berlin

The table leaders got two goals from Timo Werner and a goal and an assist from Marcel Sabitzer to open the second phase of the season with a bang.

Leipzig has a five-point lead on second-place Gladbach, though Bayern Munich can pull within four points with a win at Jurgen Klinsmann’s Hertha Berlin on Sunday morning.

American midfielder Tyler Adams had another strong day in the win, going 86 minutes and gathering over 100 touches while completing 84 percent of his passes. He registered two key passes and a shot on target to go with a clearance, blocked shot, interception, and tackle. Adams was fouled four times.

Augsburg 3-5 Borussia Dortmund

Erling Braut Haaland became the first Borussia Dortmund player to score a hat trick on debut since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as BVB came back from 2-0 and 3-1 holes to move onto 33 points.

Watch Haaland’s incredible day here. Jadon Sancho had a goal and an assist, while Julian Brandt also scored for BVB. Florian Niederlechner scored twice for Augsburg, with Marco Richter also finding the back of the net.

American teenager Giovanni Reyna also made his debut in the win, earning praise from manager Lucien Favre.

Hoffenheim 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

That’s right wing Timmy Chandler to you.

After missing all but one match last season due to injuries and fitness, the 29-year-old former USMNT mainstay has his first Bundesliga goal since Feb. 19, 2018.

Chandler rose above the fray to power home a match-winning header to move Eintracht four points clear of the relegation places, surprising a Hoffenheim side with designs on a return to Europe.

Bas Dost scored Eintracht’s other goal, with Konstantinos Stafylidis equalizing just after halftime.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-1 Werder Bremen

American forward Josh Sargent made his return from injury, playing 86 minutes in a huge win for Bremen. The visitors climbed over the now 17th place hosts via a Florian Kastenmeier goal.

USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales played well over 71 minutes in the loss, while Zack Steffen missed out with a reported knee injury.

Elsewhere

Schalke 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach — Friday| RECAP
Koln 3-1 Wolfsburg
Mainz 1-2 Freiburg
Hertha Berlin v. Bayern Munich — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Paderborn v. Bayer Leverkusen — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 RB Leipzig 18 12 4 2 51 21 30 6-2-1 6-2-1 40
 Mönchengladbach 18 11 2 5 33 20 13 7-1-1 4-1-4 35
 Bayern Munich 17 10 3 4 46 22 24 6-1-2 4-2-2 33
 Borussia Dortmund 18 9 6 3 46 27 19 5-3-0 4-3-3 33
 FC Schalke 04 18 9 6 3 31 21 10 5-4-1 4-2-2 33
 SC Freiburg 18 8 5 5 29 24 5 4-2-2 4-3-3 29
 Bayer Leverkusen 17 8 4 5 23 21 2 3-4-2 5-0-3 28
 1899 Hoffenheim 18 8 3 7 26 30 -4 4-1-5 4-2-2 27
 VfL Wolfsburg 18 6 6 6 19 21 -2 3-4-2 3-2-4 24
 FC Augsburg 18 6 5 7 31 36 -5 4-2-3 2-3-4 23
 Eintracht Frankfurt 18 6 3 9 29 30 -1 4-3-2 2-0-7 21
 1. FC Union Berlin 18 6 2 10 21 27 -6 5-0-4 1-2-6 20
 1. FC Köln 18 6 2 10 22 33 -11 4-1-4 2-1-6 20
 Hertha BSC Berlin 17 5 4 8 22 29 -7 3-1-4 2-3-4 19
 FSV Mainz 05 18 6 0 12 26 41 -15 3-0-6 3-0-6 18
 Werder Bremen 18 4 5 9 24 41 -17 1-2-5 3-3-4 17
¬†Fortuna D√ľsseldorf 18 4 3 11 18 37 -19 3-1-5 1-2-6 15
 SC Paderborn 17 3 3 11 20 36 -16 2-1-6 1-2-5 12

Bundesliga wrap: Tight at the top (again) as Gladbach loses

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Borussia Monchengladbach arrived to the 12th match day of the Bundesliga season with a 4-point table lead and a witty little PR Song about being back on top.

It promptly lost to a newly-promoted team and saw its lead shrink to one.

This is what the Bundesliga does to its top teams this season.

[ MORE: Grading Pulisic’s day at the Etihad ]


Union Berlin 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Anthony Ujah and Sven Andersson delivered the goods, as the hosts rode Ujah’s 15th minute opener deep into stoppage time before his Swedish teammate put the result to bed.

Gladbach had a slim edge in shot attempts and a 63-37 edge in possession, but Union was the more dangerous side and deserved the three points. Freiburg is next for Gladbach before a visit from Bayern on Dec. 7.

Union is now seven points clear of the relegation picture, and five ahead of city rivals Hertha.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-4 Bayern Munich

USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen was under siege at home, with four different Bayern goal scorers dotting the score sheet. Robert Lewandowski had an assist but saw his insane 11-match league scoring streak snapped in Dusseldorf.

Philippe Coutinho, Serge Gnabry, Corentin Tolisso, and Benjamin Pavard scored, with Gnabry also getting an assist for Bayern, who joins RB Leipzig one point back of first.

Steffen did have a possession error (below), which won’t be enjoyed by loan boss Pep Guardiola, but the other goals were not on him.

Werder Bremen 1-2 Schalke

Benito Raman had a goal and an assist, with Amine Harit also scoring as Schalke moved to within three points of the top of the table. USMNT forward Josh Sargent was an unused sub for Bremen, while Weston McKennie came off the bench for an effective and disruptive 17 minutes for Schalke.

Elsewhere
Borussia Dortmund 3-3 Paderborn — Friday | RECAP
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Wolfsburg
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Freiburg
RB Leipzig 4-1 Koln
Augsburg v. Hertha Berlin — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hoffenheim v. Mainz — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 12 8 1 3 24 13 11 4-1-1 4-0-2 25
 RB Leipzig 12 7 3 2 33 13 20 3-2-1 4-1-1 24
 Bayern Munich 12 7 3 2 33 16 17 4-1-1 3-2-1 24
 SC Freiburg 12 6 4 2 21 13 8 3-2-1 3-2-1 22
 FC Schalke 04 12 6 4 2 22 15 7 2-3-1 4-1-1 22
 Borussia Dortmund 12 5 5 2 26 18 8 4-2-0 1-3-2 20
 VfL Wolfsburg 12 5 5 2 13 10 3 2-3-1 3-2-1 20
 1899 Hoffenheim 11 6 2 3 16 14 2 3-0-2 3-2-1 20
 Bayer Leverkusen 12 5 4 3 18 16 2 2-4-1 3-0-2 19
 Eintracht Frankfurt 12 5 2 5 21 18 3 4-2-1 1-0-4 17
 1. FC Union Berlin 12 5 1 6 15 17 -2 4-0-3 1-1-3 16
 Hertha BSC Berlin 11 3 2 6 17 21 -4 2-0-3 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 12 2 5 5 19 26 -7 1-2-3 1-3-2 11
¬†Fortuna D√ľsseldorf 12 3 2 7 15 23 -8 2-1-3 1-1-4 11
 FC Augsburg 11 2 4 5 13 24 -11 1-2-2 1-2-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 11 3 0 8 12 30 -18 2-0-3 1-0-5 9
 1. FC Köln 12 2 1 9 11 27 -16 1-0-4 1-1-5 7
 SC Paderborn 12 1 2 9 14 29 -15 1-0-5 0-2-4 5

Bundesliga wrap: Lewandowski, of course, leads Der Klassiker rout

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The wild and unpredictable Bundesliga season relented to give us another decisive home blowout in Der Klassiker.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

Bayern scored four times to close within a point of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, who hosts Werder Bremen early Sunday.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

Robert Lewandowski scored twice, joining Serge Gnabry and an ironic Mats Hummels own goal as Bayern claimed the first Der Klassiker of the season with a controlling win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern has now beaten Dortmund 4-0, 5-0, and 6-0 in the last three league Der Klassikers in Munich.

Lewandowski — who else? — snuck between two defenders (how?!?) to nail an easy header to the board in the 18th minute.

How good has he been this year? Lewandowski has now scored in all 11 of Bayern’s league matches this season, including three braces and a hat trick. He’s also scored in each of Bayern’s four Champions League matches, and has 23 goals in 18 matches.

Bayern was all over the visitors, and could’ve easily had a second and third before the half-hour mark. Gnabry nabbed his goal just after the break.

Schalke 3-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Rouwen Hennings scored a hat trick as the visitors thrice rallied to take a point at Schalke.

USMNT midfielders Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Alfredo Morales (Fortuna) each saw yellow in the draw. American backstop Zack Steffen had a rough day between the sticks against the highly-favored hosts.

Elsewhere
Koln 1-2 Hoffenheim — Friday
Mainz 2-3 Union Berlin
Hertha Berlin 2-4 RB Leipzig
Paderborn 0-1 Augsburg
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Werder Bremen — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v. Bayer Leverkusen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 10 7 1 2 21 10 11 3-1-1 4-0-1 22
 RB Leipzig 11 6 3 2 29 12 17 2-2-1 4-1-1 21
 Bayern Munich 11 6 3 2 29 16 13 4-1-1 2-2-1 21
 1899 Hoffenheim 11 6 2 3 16 14 2 3-0-2 3-2-1 20
 Borussia Dortmund 11 5 4 2 23 15 8 4-1-0 1-3-2 19
 FC Schalke 04 11 5 4 2 20 14 6 2-3-1 3-1-1 19
 SC Freiburg 10 5 3 2 19 12 7 2-2-1 3-1-1 18
 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 5 2 3 21 15 6 4-2-0 1-0-3 17
 VfL Wolfsburg 10 4 5 1 11 8 3 2-3-0 2-2-1 17
 Bayer Leverkusen 10 4 3 3 15 15 0 2-3-1 2-0-2 15
 1. FC Union Berlin 11 4 1 6 13 17 -4 3-0-3 1-1-3 13
 Hertha BSC Berlin 11 3 2 6 17 21 -4 2-0-3 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 10 2 5 3 17 21 -4 1-2-2 1-3-1 11
¬†Fortuna D√ľsseldorf 11 3 2 6 15 19 -4 2-1-2 1-1-4 11
 FC Augsburg 11 2 4 5 13 24 -11 1-2-2 1-2-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 11 3 0 8 12 30 -18 2-0-3 1-0-5 9
 1. FC Köln 11 2 1 8 10 23 -13 1-0-4 1-1-4 7
 SC Paderborn 11 1 1 9 11 26 -15 1-0-5 0-1-4 4