July 21, 2017

Yanks in Deutschland: Matchday 8 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 …

Current Americans in the Bundesliga 

John Anthony Brooks (defender, Hertha BSC) – Another full 90 for tallboy Brooks in Hertha’s – dare we call it sensational? – 2-1 win over the undefeated Billy Goats of Köln. Along with his centerback partner, Sebastian Langkamp, Brooks earned a yellow card – in added time – when Köln tried to equalize. Brooks had 8 challenges and 66 ball touches (2nd most on his club), along with a club-leading 45 passes (I know, I know, but it’s Hertha, folks).

John Anthony Brooks' passing work (87% complete) against 1.FC Koeln on Matchday 8. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)
John Anthony Brooks’ passing work (87% complete) against 1.FC Koeln on Matchday 8. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)

Don’t be too quick to anoint JAB as the American Pique or Hummels; Brooks mainly completes 90° angles in Hertha’s passive-aggressive square setup. However, I know I’m personally hoping for more of those Jerome Boateng-styled longballs (i.e. the two “red” arrows in the diagram above) from our plucky American.

Timothy Chandler (fullback, Eintracht Frankfurt) – Timmy and his Eagle teammates looked fetching in that mustard yellow at HSV this past Friday. And the scoreline was even more fetching as Eintracht won the away points handily, humiliating HSV 3-0.

Timmy Chandler in fetching mustard yellow on Friday. Yum.
Timmy Chandler in fetching mustard yellow. Yum.

Chandler played well, but not spectacularly well. He did what was required. The fullback’s main action was throw-ins, of which he completed less than 50% (what am I supposed to make of this?). But Timmy created a scoring chance, and played some useful passes in circulating the ball forward in attack. Defensively, he earned another yellow card, but otherwise wasn’t required to do much else as HSV floundered hideously on the pitch.

Julian Green (forward, Bayern Munich) – Didn’t even make the bench for Saturday’s match against Gladbach. But, but … hope abides. Or does it? Besides, try imagining a Bundesliga in which both Christian Pulisic and Julian Green grab headlines. You know we American “saw-kerr” fans can’t have such nice things.

Aron Jóhannsson (forward, Werder Bremen) – Played for 20+ minutes as a 70′ sub for Clemens Fritz in Werder Bremen’s 1-3 road loss to undefeated RB Leipzig. Jóhannsson didn’t impact the match much during his time; he had 13 ball touches with 1 shot (on target from atop the 18 yard box). As the American-Icelander grows into his health, here’s to hoping he continues to gain more playing time.

Fabian Johnson (midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach) – For a half, it looked like Fabi J and the Foals were getting some good old ugly “Bayern Treatment.” Johnson and his teammates were anonymous and seemingly drained from the week Champions League win in Celtic Park. Bayern raced out to a fast 2-0 lead, but the match flattened out. On Saturday, Johnson played the full 90, but looked mostly toothless, except for a decent scoring chance at 8′. Otherwise, Johnson didn’t threaten again and only completed 65% of admittedly pedestrian passes that circulated the ball along safe sideline-bound channels. Get some rest, Fabi.

Alfredo Morales (midfielder, FC Ingolstadt) – The 26 year old Berlin native was subbed on for Lukas Hinterseer at 89′ in what looked like a defensive time-wasting move by Ingolstadt boss Markus Kauczinski to protect FCI’s 3-2 lead. Nope. We all know that Pulisic thunder happened a couple minutes later. Morales wasn’t in the match long enough to impact the result. However, and bad news, Morales injured his knee and will be out at least a month. All for a couple minutes of added time.

Christian Pulisic (midfielder, Borussia Dortmund) – Let’s declare this “Christian Pulisic Week” in America. The hype train rolls on down the line. Can you say “Yank of the Week”? Hell yeah. In Dortmund’s weird, yet thrilling 3-3 draw at Ingolstadt, everybody’s favorite prom king was subbed on at halftime for the feckless Joo-Ho Park. As BVB clawed back from a 2-0 and 3-1 deficit, Pulisic did the things that grab headlines, like scoring this equalizer during added time:

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Cue scenes. SCENES. “Comfort Eagle.” The equalizer wasn’t exactly technically brilliant, or anything like that, but Pulisic opportunistically lurked in the right place and the right time to smash it in from point blank range. As fellow 18 year old Felix Passlack (who whipped in the initial freekick) almost dislocated Pulisic’s shoulder with that wince-worthy body slam, our lil American celebrated with chipmunk speed on the touchline. This equalizer is Pulisic’s 2nd goal this season. But there’s more, like Pulisic’s “assist” (heh heh) on Adrian Ramos’ goal at 69′, making the score 3-2 in favor of Ingolstadt.

Look, I want to downplay the Hershey Wunderkind hype, but it’s undeniable that BVB looked much better in attack after Pulisic came on; suddenly, BVB’s rightflank crackled with final 3rd penetration and scoring menace. In this regard, Pulisic’s heatmap from the match is striking:

Christian Pulisic active heatmap in only one half of play against FC Ingolstadt on MD 8. (Courtesy WhoScored.com)
Christian Pulisic active heatmap in only one half of play against FC Ingolstadt on MD 8. (Courtesy WhoScored.com)

The “hotter” action spot in the diagram above, marks where Pulisic frequently dribbled the ball, as well as marks the general area from which he passed the ball. The American teenager continues to be a revelation. At this point, we can almost dare Tuchel to not start him.

Bobby Wood (forward, Hamburger SV) – Friday night was ugly for Bobby, but mostly for his club, HSV, who were spanked 0-3 at home by Eintracht. Perhaps fortunately, Wood only played in the 2nd half of this embarrassment, subbing on for the woeful Barça special kid, Alen Hallilovic. As the striker in HSV’s 4-2-3-1 shape (err, 3-3-2-1, because HSV were playing with 10 ten after Diekmeier’s 2nd yellow at 59′), Wood drifted from left to right, looking for service. Wood finished with zero shots, 18 passes, 3 dribbling moves, 5 aerial duels, and 1 loss of possession. Meh. But man, does HSV stink to high heaven. Besides, lolz are in order, since Wood is still HSV’s leading scorer with a paltry 2 goals. Yikes.

Next Year’s Bobby Wood? 

Andrew Wooten (forward, SV Sandhausen) – This part of the series tracks 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 at Union Berlin last season. Wooten struck again with a goal (he’s got 4 this season) as his SV Sandhausen walloped FC St. Pauli 3-0. Our American put in 75 minutes. His goal came after SVS had already mounted a 2-0 lead:

A nice goal, oder? Wooten receives a weird aerial flick-on pass, contorts himself to control the ball, beats / rounds two defenders, then beats the keeper for a strong finish to the counter-intuitive near post. Moreover, Wooten had 3 Key Passes, including a lovely should-be-assist at 58′. Promising work from Mr. Wooten this week. Thus far, he’s tallied 4 goals in the 2.Bundesliga for SVS.

On the Bubble 

Terrence Boyd (forward, RB Leipzig II) – A bad week for the tall American. Boyd’s RBL II lost 3-0 at ZFC Meuselwitz in the Regionalliga Nordost on Sunday. Boyd collected a yellow card and was substituted out at 63′. RBL hosts VfL Auerbach this Friday. Better luck to Boyd and die kleinen Bullen this week.

Devante Parker (midfielder, Mainz 05 II) – The younger of the Parker brothers scored 1 goal (on 4 shots) as Mainz 05 II beat Jahn Regensburg 2-0. Parker’s goal was a penalty, taken at 53′. The 20 year old played as a left attacking winger in M05 II’s 4-2-3-1 shape and played all 90 minutes.

Shawn Parker (forward, loan from Mainz 05 II to 1.FC Nürnberg) – Well, Der Club is winning matches in fine style after their awful start to 2016-17; this time, crushing Hannover 96 3-0. However, for the second match in a row, the older of the Parker brothers was not even on the bench for 1.FC Nürnberg.

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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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