Fabian Johnson scored a goal, John Brooks helped Hertha Berlin keep a clean sheet, and Eric Lichaj earned a social media shout out from Jurgen Klinsmann in an action-packed weekend for Yanks
March 02, 2015
THIS PAST WEEKEND was a major improvement on the one that preceded it for Americans in Germany, as multiple Yanks played key roles in important wins. Elsewhere, several U.S. national team bubble battlers and outsiders also made strides to get back into Klinsmann’s plans. Here’s what you need to know.
Brooks and Hertha secure a win
If ever a team needed a win, it was Hertha Berlin—which managed to defeat sixth-place Augsburg on Saturday, moving out of the relegation zone. The club had lost four of its last five, tumbling to 16th place in the process. The 1-0 victory over Augsburg now has it in 14th place but just one point clear of safety.
John Brooks put on a strong performance in a 90-minute outing and the U.S. national team defender did his part to keep Augsburg off the scoreboard. As usual, his passing was strong out of the back and defensively Augsburg had no success up the middle of the field. Brooks and Hertha have a winnable road game next weekend against last place Stuttgart.
Eric Lichaj is on a roll
Eric Lichaj is playing terrific soccer for Nottingham Forest. Over the club’s last six games, it has five wins and a draw and Lichaj has done a fantastic job for the club helping it to attack up the right side. The club has scored 19 goals during this six-game unbeaten run.
In Saturday’s impressive 3-0 road win over Reading, Forest focused much of its attack up the right side and Lichaj lead his team with 57 pass attempts—15 more than the next closest Nottingham Forest player.
Promotion might be out of the picture for Forest despite the club’s recent surge but perhaps the national team is not out of the picture for Lichaj.
— Jürgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) March 1, 2015
Fabian Johnson scores for ‘Gladbach
Fabian Johnson is one of the top American players around but this season has been a major struggle for the Frankfurt native. He hasn’t earned as many minutes as expected and the rustiness occasionally shows when he does get on the field. On Sunday against Paderborn Johnson a start for Borussia Monchengladbach and he took advantage of the opportunity with a Man of the Match-type performance.
Johnson opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a deflected shot that sent the keeper in the wrong direction. But in the build-up before the shot he made a nice play to control a poor pass before dribbling around two defenders outside the box to get an open shot with his left foot.
Aside from the goal, he played a clean match in midfield, completing 87% of his passes and creating multiple scoring opportunities. The 1-0 victory and the three points kept the club in third place and in the picture for a Champions League berth next season.
Strong performances in Germany
Timothy Chandler has been among the most consistent Americans in Europe this season and hopefully Jurgen Klinsmann will soon inspire Chandler to play at the same level for the national team as he does in the Bundesliga. On Saturday, Chandler played a full 90 for Eintracht in a 2-1 win over a struggling Hamburg SV—where neither Ashton Gotz nor Julian Green were in the matchday roster.
Chandler was heavily involved and his 75 touches and 57 pass attempts (he completed at a 61.4% rate) were most of any player in the game for either team. Most importantly, the three points kept Eintracht’s hopes for a Europa league berth alive as it trails sixth place Augsburg by just four points.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Andrew Wooten continues to be Sandhausen’s best offensive player as the German-American forced an own-goal in a 2-0 win over relegation fodder Aalen. The three points pulled Sandhausen further away from the relegation zone as it now sits seven points clear.
The most notable blemish for Americans in Germany came on Monday when 2.Bundesliga leaders Inglolstadt drew lowly 1860 Munich 1-1 at home. Ingolstadt are now winless in three and its lead at the top of the table has shrunk to just four points.
Heath Pearce back playing overseas
IFK Goteborg is set to compete for the Swedish title this season and the club is excited to have American Heath Pearce at left back. The Modesto, Calif., native returned to Scandinavia during the offseason and looks to be part of the club’s plans from the start. On Saturday, he started in Goteborg’s Swedish Cup matchup against lower division Myresjö/Vetlanda.
Pearce went a full 90 in a lopsided 6-0 win and was handed a jersey with a typo in it—something the good-natured fullback took in stride.
— Ludvig B (@ludvigberg1) February 28, 2015
Michael Orozco and Puebla Impress
A small team by Liga MX standards, Puebla is having a terrific season and Saturday’s 4-1 win over Queretaro moved the club into fourth place.
Michael Orozco has been a consistent starter for Puebla’s backline—a group that has conceded just seven goals in eight games. Puebla is now even on points with third place America and only two points behind second place Veracruz. Orozco has been a Klinsmann favorite for several years now and his play recently suggests he will continue to stay in the picture for the U.S. national team.
Club Tijuana’s Stunning Comeback Win
Trailing 2-0 at halftime to Pachuca, Liga MX leaders Club Tijuana mounted a stunning second half rally to win the game and remain three points clear of second place Veracruz.
The victory came at a high price for Tijuana and the U.S. national team, however, as left back Greg Garza was forced out of the game in the 41st minute with a knock. Fellow American and U.S. national team midfielder Joe Corona replaced him.
While Corona was not involved in any of the three goals for Tijuana, he worked hard and helped control the midfield after Pachuca was reduced to 10 men after a 57th minute red card. Dayro Moreno won the game for Tijuana with a stoppage-time goal to send the Estadio Caliente crowd home in a frenzied state.
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.