April 26, 2017

Yanks in Deutschland: Inaugural Edition

This weekly 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 this Matchday in the German Bundesliga …

For this inaugural edition, I’m writing more than I normally will about each player, since this article is the series’ first and, hence, the context-setter. Expect fewer words and simpler updates in future series installments.

Current Americans in the Bundesliga 

John Anthony Brooks (defender, Hertha BSC) – Brooks played the full 90 in Hertha’s 1-1 road draw at Dortmund. The tall centerback was chippy, earning a yellow card at 53′. Much of his time was spent just in front of Hertha’s 18 yard box, as Hertha employed a centrally-oriented defensive block. A couple fouls, a couple tackles. Not his best match, not his worst.

Timothy Chandler (fullback, Eintracht Frankfurt) – Our “Yank of the Week.” Timmy was Eintracht’s best player during the down to 10 ment, twice-come-from-behind 2-2 draw against mighty Bayern. Chandler registered a crucial assist, and obliterated – ahem –  marked superstar David Alaba out of the match along Eintracht’s right flank.

Oh, the American with the most awkwardly endearing running gait also hit the woodwork during Eintracht’s stirring performance. Cowboy hats off for Timmy, folks.

Julian Green (forward, Bayern Munich) – he’s still alive, right? Boy, does that glorious Bayern summer tour of America and Julian Green’s scoring magic seem like years ago. Look, I’m no better than you – I, too, was dead sure that Green was going to be the 2016-17 Bundesliga’s American star. So far, I’m dead wrong. Why do us American always do this to ourselves with our footballers? Of course, Green wasn’t going to break through on this Bayern side, this season.

Aron Jóhannsson (forward, Werder Bremen) – America’s most handsome Icelander sat on the bench during Werder’s fantastic 2-1 over mercurial Bayer Leverkusen. A season ago, Jóhannsson was supposed to be the featured striker on this Werder side; however, injuries had the ramifying effect of robbing Jóhannsson of both playing time and opportunities, as Ousman Manneh, for example, surged into the lead striker role at Werder. Thus, Jóhannsson is struggling for playing time. The 25 year old has started twice and was subbed in once for Werder this season with 1 goal in 168 minutes.

Fabian Johnson (midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach) – On Matchday 7, Johnson was actually Gladbach’s striker, thanks to squad injuries and rotation for the mid-week Champions League clash at Celtic. Somehow, a 10 man HSV held the Fouls scoreless in a frustrating 0-0 draw for the home side. During the match, Johnson drifted toward the center from his slot as forward on the left. Johnson had 3 shots on goal, the most dangerous of which was a right footed shot saved on the ground in the center of goal:

Alfredo Morales (midfielder, FC Ingolstadt) – The 26 year old Berlin native was subbed on for Moritz Hartmann at 75′ in FC Ingolstadt’s 1-2 road loss in Köln. The American did little of note during his 15 minutes, touching the ball less than a dozen times. Thus far, Morales has started 4 matches and appeared in 2 more with 307 total minutes for Ingolstadt this season. Right now, Morales, is a semi-regular starter at best for his club in either a central midfield or left attacking midfield role.

Christian Pulisic (midfielder, Borussia Dortmund) – The boy wonder of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Clearly, the 18 year Pulisic is the cream of the Yanks abroad crop. Through MD 7, the teenager has become a regular starter in Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund, which is remarkable considering Pulisic’s age as well as the loads of other talented players on the BVB roster.

Christian Pulisic's playing in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season through MD 7. (Courtesy of WhoScored.com)
Christian Pulisic’s playing in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season (through MD 7).

In the chart above, I marked Pulisic’s full 90 minute matches with yellow arrows, which, as you can see, sandwich the young season. Although Pulisic has benefited from BVB’s recent rash of injuries, he’s also earned regular playing time even when Tuchel has a full roster to pick from.

On BVB’s left flank, Pulisic has made himself indispensable and frequently indefensible with his speed, dribbling skillset, and dangerous shooting or passing into the box. His tendency is to dribble speedily (“American style”?) through the final 3rd to the goal touchline, where he likes to cross in the ball or play a tightly-angled ground ball into the six yard box. Call it the “Pulisic Hustle.” If the young Pulisic can add a boppin’ Robben-styled cut-in move from the left to the center, he’ll be untouchable. Pulisic seems to recognize this opportunity, as he demonstrated against Hertha on MD 7:

With Pulisic, there’s obviously some rawness (“Fehlpass”), but – damn! – that speed, that inventiveness, that hustle, that menace. He’s a keeper, dear readers.

Bobby Wood (forward, Hamburger SV) – Alas, two goal Bobby Wood. The season’s beginning was so promising with goals in back-to-back matches. But as HSV has gone (dry-boned attack), so has the Flyin’ Hawaiian. By the way, those Bobby Wood goals … well, they’re the only goals HSV has scored all season. No joke. HSV is so fallow, it can only muster 9 shots and 1 shot on goal per match – the worst rate in the Bundesliga. But it’s not as if the attack was supposed to suck. On paper, Wood looked like he’d be leading a quasi-juggernaut of talent in attack. Through MD 7, Wood is averaging a shot a match, a Key Pass a match, and about 18 passes a match. Bobby, we feel you. You deserve better than the personality disorder that is HSV.

Next Year’s Bobby Wood? 

Andrew Wooten (forward, SV Sandhausen) – I’m calling this part of the Yanks in Deutschland series “Next Year’s Bobby Wood?” Basically, I’m looking for a Yank, who can tear it up in the 2.Bundesliga before – theoretically! – transferring to the top flight next season. You know, like Bobby Wood did from Union Berlin to HSV this summer. America, let me introduce you to SV Sandhausen’s Andrew Wooten. You’re welcome. Through 13 matches, Wooten has scored 3 goals with 1 assist in 879 minutes. He’s a finisher:

Wooten has been averaging 2 shots a match, 1 Key Pass a match, and 25 passes a match. He’s a first team regular on a 12th place side, who’ve only scored 11 goals in 9 matches. The 26 year old native of Bamberg is 6’1″ and, thus far, has scored 17 goals in 71 appearance for SVS. Look, he’s a dark horse Bobby Wood candidate, but I like his height, instincts, and build. I’m excited to see what happens with Wooten.

On the Bubble 

Terrence Boyd (forward, RB Leipzig II) – The 25 year old from Bremen joined RBL in 2014. Currently, he’s on the reserve team, who play in the Regionalliga Nordost. With his height (almost 6’2″), Boyd is a dangerous threat in the box and on set pieces. In 4 matches, Boyd has 2 goals in 325 minutes of play.

Devante Parker (midfielder, Mainz 05 II) – Devante, that is “Parker the Younger” as in brother of Shawn, plays on M05’s reserve team in the 3.Liga. Through 8 matches this season, he’s logged 481 minutes with no goals or assists. However, he’s more of a key node in counters or from deep midfield as a playmaker, than goal scorer. Parker is a dribbler and a skilled passer, averaging a couple Key Passes a match. Currently, Devante has made two top flight appearances and 72 appearances in 3.Liga with 8 goals. A fascinating name to track.

Shawn Parker (forward, loan from Mainz 05 II to 1.FC Nürnberg) – “Parker the Elder.” The 23 year old is the older brother of Devante and should be a slightly familiar name to American Bundesliga partisans, thanks to his 8 appearances for FC Augsburg and, more recently, 27 appearances for Mainz 05. In limited playing time as a sub for Der Club, Parker has scored 1 goal and earned 1 yellow card as his only notable pitch events this season. Parker the Elder has always been marked by more promise than fulfillment during his career; for example, as recently as 2012 Jürgen Klinsmann talked him up for the U.S. Mens National Team. Hopefully, as Parker settles into 2.Bundesliga play with a new club, he can pass up Matavz, Salli, or even Möhwald for a starting slot atop Nürnberg’s attack.

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U6s 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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