November 22, 2017

Yanks In Deutschland: Comfort Eagle Edition

This series tracks the performances of U.S. players in the German Bundesliga. Currently, a key group of American players ply their trade in the German top flight and on the U.S. Mens National Team. This group of players continues the contemporary trend of Americans playing in the German Bundesliga.

Outside of Major League Soccer (MLS), you will find the most important group of U.S. footballers in the German Bundesliga. The reasons for this phenomenon vary, but historically can be largely attributed to the presence of U.S. citizens – especially military personnel – marrying Germans, having kids, and those kids growing up playing football in Germany. Moreover, German clubs, with their emphasis on youth development, have been quite welcoming to U.S. youngsters.

The Yanks in Deutschland trends continues. So let’s see how the Americans fared these past couple weeks …

Current Americans in the Bundesliga 

Terrence Boyd (forward, SV Darmstadt 98) – Meh. Boyd hasn’t scored since last time I updated this series. Moreover, Boyd is only averaging 0.8 shots per match — paltry for a striker. However, in true Darmstadt style, he leads his side in fouls per match (1.8), but only 0.3 tackles per match. Surely Boyd isn’t this clumsy?

John Brooks (defender, Hertha BSC) – Writing bite-sized kicky things about defenders is hard. Eyeball-wise, I’ve caught Brooks’ matches the last couple weeks now. He still has that imperial centerback bearing and does many smart things during a match. However, I’ve also seen him mistime tackles and challenges in general and getting his tall frame tangled up on precarious situations. Most recently, he was pretty good against Dortmund in his side’s sensational 2-1 win. Moreover, he still hasn’t committed a single “fatal” defensive error leading directly to a goal. Overall, he’s had a great season. Definitely a career year, as Brooks challenges for “Best American Centerback in the World” status.

Timothy Chandler (fullback, Eintracht Frankfurt) – The phenomenon of watching Timmy Chandler route himself along Eintracht’s flank during a five match losing streak has been slightly painful, perhaps even slightly ängstlich. His turkey trot has slowed a step and his timing has been been in another half-dimension. It’s all just been off slightly. Chandler phenomenology never ceases to amaze me, however. For example, he still leads Eintracht in chances created this season (26). Yet the trend line has been sour for about a month now for Chandler. My suspicion was confirmed by the “secret sauce” index scores the likes of Squawka.com gives players every Matchday:

Timmy’s recent adventures have been mixed. Source: Squawka.com.

Aron Jóhannsson (forward, Werder Bremen) – Let’s just forget about this season. Jóhannsson has remained on the bench for four matches in a row now. He’s only played 250′ minutes this season with 1 goal and 1 assist.

Fabian Johnson (midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach) – Fabi J is definitely my “Yank of the Article” runner-up. Finally, Johnson seems to have recovered from his Achilles injury that sidelined him at the Hinrunde‘s end and into die Winterpause. Against Schalke 04 (in the Bundesliga, not Europa League), Johnson netted an emphatic Doppelpack. Here’s the rugged Phil Bonney on the call for the first, a “knee” goal:

Moreover, our American winger is poised to play in the final 8 of the Europa League, as his Foals sit 1-1 with Schalke after netting the crucial away goal.

Alfredo Morales (midfielder, FC Ingolstadt) – Loads of playing time for Morales recently (90′ three times, then 87′, and 72′ last MD). However, as a central midfielder, Morales hasn’t emerged as a major contributor in terms of passing work: only 29 passes per match, 1 Key Pass per match, and 8 chances created. Additionally, he’s been overshadowed by Israeli Almog Cohen, who contributes more to FCI’s build up play. At least Morales is healthy and earning loads of playing time. Hopefully, his fortunes will turn positively with those of his hard-luck club.

Christian Pulisic (midfielder, Borussia Dortmund) – Look here, I solemnly swear promise that I planned on dubbing someone else with the “Yank of Article” award, but damnit, Christian Pulisic happened — again. AGAIN. Let’s just call the teenage our “Comfort Eagle.” Because, until now, I’ve not known the luxurious comfort of having an American play soccer across Europe at this level. “We are building a religion, We are building it bigger, We are widening the corridors, And adding more lanes.” Can you feel it? It still feel so weird as a 33 year old getting excited about an 18 year old, but the transcendent arts, into which I’d group sport, can do this to you. Pulisic’s recent form has been impressive: vs. Leverkusen (1 goal, 1 assist), vs. Benfica (1 goal, 1 assist), at Hertha (subbed in), at Sportfreund Lotte (1 goal). Pulisic continues his dribbling work — he’s 11th in the Bundesliga in dribbbling frequency (2 per match); he’s also averaging just over 1 shot per match and about 1 Key Pass per match. Finally, in 20 Bundesliga matches, Pulisic has created 17 chances.

He continues to spark BVB when on the pitch, and his role has grown in importance with Marco Reus getting knocked out by injury. Together with fellow teen Ousmane Dembélé, Pulisic is the “hot young thing” in Germany. Fast times for the pacy winger, who recently been given more space in the middle to work from — Papa Tuchel always knows best.

I need not say more. Enjoy your Comfort Eagle, friends.

Bobby Wood (forward, Hamburger SV) – Bobby’s been shaking it up, the “Bayern Treatment” 0-8 drubbing aside (Wood was on the bench for this embarrassment), as his side has won 4 of its last 6 matches; however, HSV is still in the relegation playoff spot. Wood is sitting on 9 goals in all competitions (Bundesliga + DFB Pokal) this season. Moreover, he was impressive at Leipzig during HSV’s 3-0 shocking road win, as he scored a goal and created 3 scoring chances; he also won all 6 take-ons, all of which were deep in RBL territory. Positive signs for Wood. However, he needs more shooting opportunities, since he’s only averaging 1.2 shots per match, which stinks for a guy who’s job is to score goals. In fact, Wood almost averages more chances created per match (0.8) than shots (1.2). Will he remain at HSV or even in Germany next season? Premier League money rumors swirl, like the late winter snow.

Americans in the 2. Bundesliga 

Andrew Wooten (forward, SV Sandhausen) – Our “Next Season’s Bobby Wood” candidate. Wooten has been very quiet in recent weeks with no goals or assists since SVS’s 1-4 Pokal loss to Schalke on February 8th. Indeed, he wasn’t even in the squad for SVS’s match against Heidenheim on March 5th.  Last matchday, he came as a sub against Greuther Fürth (0 shots). Meanwhile, his club hasn’t won a match since February 2nd against Aue. However, overall Wooten is still having a great season: 11 goals and 4 assists in 25 appearances. At least Wooten has been averaging a respectable 2 shots per match, but is among the 2. Bundesliga leaders in being caught offside.

Julian Green (forward, VfB Stuttgart) – Green has appeared in 4 of VfB’s last 5 matches, including 3 starts. So at least he’s getting some playing time. However, he was benched for the big match against 4th place Eintracht Braunschweig, as Green’s first-placed big club is riding the soon-to-be-promoted wave. Green is averaging 1.8 shots per match and is completing 84% of his passes per match (he completes an average of 18 passes per match). I don’t know about the direction or quality of these passes, or if the recipient gets mugged off the ball every time. At least Green is mostly settling into the rhythms of regular play. Hopefully, as his club clinches promotion, he’ll get more unfettered playing time.

(Header image source: Christian Pulisic’s Instagram feed.)

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U8s are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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