Josh Sargent and Matthew Hoppe going head to head is the big game this weekend but this weekend has a lot to it with Tyler Adams facing Leverkusen, Jordan Morris likely making his club debut against an in-form Matthew Olosunde, while Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie take their next steps in Europe. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down.
January 28, 2021
ANOTHER WEEKEND is final here and with that means a full slate of games in Europe. With many new players now also in Europe, there are a lot of compelling storylines that are both well-known and are flying under the radar.
The seasons are still in the middle third but already we know several American players are competing for spots in Europe next year, some are competing for promotion, some are hoping to avoid relegation, some are playing for transfers this year, while a few are playing for silverware and league titles.
With all of this going on, here are the games we are following the closest this weekend- and why:
Werder Bremen – Schalke 04
Saturday, January 30: 9:30am EST
This one should be the most highly anticipated game of the weekend among Americans abroad in that it features young forwards Josh Sargent, 20, going up against Matthew Hoppe, 19. A current U.S. international against another player who is sure to get his first call-up soon in 2021.
Last weekend, Sargent scored his second goal of the season on a wonder strike from 25 yards. That snapped a stretch of 10 Bundesliga games without a goal. Perhaps that goal will mark a shift in confidence for the St. Louis, native as his Werder Bremen pushes towards midtable. Meanwhile Hoppe saw his five goal/three game stretch snapped in a 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich. Schalke are hopelessly in last place but if Hoppe continues his rise, he will most likely find another top-flight club and not go down with his team.
It will be a rare matchup between opposing American strikes in one of Europe’s big leagues. Both players also enter into this game having earned a lot of headlines in January. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds.
RB Leipzig – Bayer Leverkusen
Saturday, January 30: 12:30pm EST
Last weekend was a major disappointment for Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig. Despite Adams scoring the opening goal of the weekend, Leipzig lost a 3-2 decision to a Mainz team that was second-to-last in the Bundesliga.
Despite the loss, Leipzig remained in second place and on Saturday it will host third-place Bayer Leverkusen. It will be a big test for both clubs to enhance their grips on Champions League positions and Leipzig currently has a three-point edge on Leverkusen.
Adams has been playing all over for Leipzig from outside mid, to right back, and occasionally in his preferred central defensive midfield position. Against Mainz, he started for the first time in three games and played wide right in the midfield. But in a game that should be far more difficult, it will be telling to see where Julian Nagelsmann lines him up.
Borussia Dortmund – Augsburg
Saturday, January 30: 9:30am EST
Borussia Dortmund are a bit of a mess at the moment. Last weekend’s 4-2 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach saw the club fall out of the top six and out of any of the spots reserved for European competitions next year. Dortmund will need to get back on track ASAP if it wants to return to Europe, let alone the Champions League – and do under an interim coaching staff.
Like most of the team, Gio Reyna, 18, has had a tough patch the past month – sometimes starting and sometimes not. But 12th place Augsburg is a team that Dortmund should defeat and Reyna should be able to contribute if he’s on the field. Easier said than done, however, and it will be interesting to see the team’s confidence early in this game.
Hartberg – Salzburg
The Austrian Bundesliga
Saturday, January 30: 11am EST
Brenden Aaronson, 20, has hit the ground running with Red Bull Salzburg after joining this month from the Philadelphia Union. Aaronson came off the bench last weekend in a 2-0 win over Altach and was impressive in his first start on Wednesday in a 3-0 win over Ried. In that game, Aaronson played 63 minutes, picked up an assist, and was very aggressive.
There is pressure on Aaronson to be an impact player this season and the expectations are there to win another league title. Jesse Marsch’s club only has a one-point edge on Rapid Vienna and it can’t afford a slip up. Hartberg is an opponent Salzburg should win, but still must find a way to take care of business. Aaronson’s strong performance on Wednesday will likely keep him in the starting lineup.
After winning the Supporters Shield in 2020, Aaronson is looking for another impressive silverware inside of a year.
Sampdoria – Juventus
Saturday, January 30: 12:00pm EST
After a midweek win over SPAL in the Coppa Italia, Weston McKennie and Juventus return to Serie A action on Saturday with a visit to Genoa to take on 10th place Sampdoria.
This has been a fun time for both Weston McKennie and Juventus as the Texan has emerged as a key player for the legendary club and the club’s recent wins along with the bad loss from AC Milan last weekend has seen Juventus close within seven points of the leaders (while also having a game in hand).
If Juventus is going to make a serious push upward, it has to go on a long stretch of winning and it has the ability to do so. The fact that McKennie was on the bench for the midweek cup game likely means Andrea Pirlo is going to ask McKennie to start this one and needs him to continue to play well.
Valencia – Elche
Saturday, January 30: 12:30pm EST
Yunus Musah, 18, is both learning to adjust to his first grueling season as a first team starter while also seeing the games become more and more pressure filled. The teenage midfielder has been a constant presence for Valencia on the right side of the midfield (despite preferring to start centrally) but the club has fallen into a relegation battle and is just two points clear of the drop.
Its opponent on Saturday, Elche, is in the relegation zone but will catchup on points if it pulls off a win.
Musah has been forced into a great deal of growing up this season and he will eventually be better for it. But for now, this is a tough situation that isn’t that much fun.
Rotherham United – Swansea City
Saturday, January 30: 10:00am EST
Jordan Morris could make his Swansea City debut on Saturday when they visit a Rotherham United team that will feature American right back Matthew Olosunde, who is playing very well at the moment.
Morris was on the bench for Swansea City midweek in a 1-1 draw with Brentford. He nearly made his debut but the tactical approach to the game changed in second half after Swansea was reduced to 10 players but found and equalizer in the 79th. At that point, Swansea’s approach became defensive.
A U.S. national team regular, Morris’ loan to a Swansea City team pushing for automatic promotion is highly anticipated among fans to see how he can contribute immediately down the stretch.
For Olosunde, he has been a huge asset to Rotherham the past two months as the club is on the verge of climbing out of the relegation zone. The U-23 eligible right back is shining on the defensive and ball-winning aspects of the game and was named the Championship Team of the Round midweek after a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on Wednesday. In that game, he won a huge percentage of his duels and aerials while also having game high numbers in clearances and interceptions.
The team of the (mid)week! ????#EFL | #SkyBetChampionship pic.twitter.com/qYLK0o1P09
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) January 28, 2021
There is a good that by the end of this game, we could see Morris attacking while Olosunde tries to defend him.
KV Mechelen – Genk
Belgian Pro League
Saturday, January 30: 10:15am EST
Currently sitting second in Belgium, Genk has been easing new American defender Mark McKenzie into the swing of things. Last weekend, McKenzie made his debut when he started in a 3-2 loss to Club Brugge. Then midweek, he was sharp off the bench in 3-2 win over Zlute Waregem where he completed all 11 of his passes and looked far more comfortable in his approach.
McKenzie, 21, is in a good position to continue to earn regular minutes in the weeks ahead as the club seeks to get him adjusted into his new club. Midtable Mexchelen is a tricky opponent but one where McKenzie might have a chance for another start.
Portimonense – Boavista
Saturday, January 30: 3:30pm EST
It has been a really rough season for Boavista. The club is in dead last in Portugal’s Primeira Liga and is apparently struggling to pay its bills and wages to players. There are also rumors that it late in paying FC Dallas the money it owes for the transfer of Reggie Cannon. Thus far it has just one win from 15 games in 2020/2021.
The good news for Boavista is that it is still within striking distance of survival. Theoretically, one win could move it out of the relegation zone. But if it continues to lost games and drop bad results, it could fall deep into the hole.
On Saturday, Boavista will visit a Portimonense team sitting in 13th place but has scored just 12 goals in 15 games. Eventually, Boavista is going to have win games like these if it wants to stay up.
Chambly – SM Caen
Saturday, January 30: 1:00pm EST
Nicholas Gioacchini, 20, and his SM Caen team have drifted back to midtable over the past two months and their promotion hopes have all but died. The good news for Gioacchini is that as one of the team’s young attacking options, he is quite valuable to the club. French clubs are currently in the midst of a cash crunch due to a lack of television money and selling good, young players might be big for survival.
If Gioacchini continues to play well, he could play himself into quite an opportunity to make a move up with his career in 2021. Combined with a potential spot on the U.S. national team, he has enjoyed a meteoric rise after never having played for U.S. youth national teams before at any age level.
Chelsea – Burnley
The Premier League
Sunday, January 31: 7:00am EST
Christian Pulisic made his first appearance under Thomas Tuchel in a Chelsea setting on Wednesday when he came off the bench in the 77th minute of a 0-0 draw with Wolves. It was Tuchel’s first game in charge of the Blues after Frank Lampard was fired earlier in the week.
The move reunited Pulisic with Tuchel after the two worked together at Borussia Dortmund but both have their work cut out for them if they want to help Chelsea right the ship. Now sitting in eighth place, Chelsea has sizable gap to make up just to qualify for Europe next season.
Burnley is in 15th place but has won its last two games – against Aston Villa and Liverpool. Burnley’s form shows this will be a challenge for Tuchel and Chelsea but it will be interesting to see how the German manager begins to set his preferred starting lineups and depth chart. Pulisic has the advantage of having the manager be familiar with him but the Hershey native is going to have make the most of his opportunities because the leash a Chelsea will always be short, no matter who the manager is.
Wolfsburg – Freiburg
Sunday, January 31: 12:00pm EST
While not many predicted before the season, Wolfsburg is in strong contention to qualify for the Champions League next year. Now sitting in fourth on the heels of Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz, Wolfsburg has succeeded on the heels of a defense that has conceded just 19 goals over 18 games.
At the front and center of that defense is U.S. national team central defender John Brooks who has generally been a big part of the club’s improvement in recent season. On Friday, Brooks and Wolfsburg will host ninth-place Freiburg which has three wins, a draw, and a loss over its last five games.
Anderlecht – Gent
Belgian Pro League
Sunday, January 31: 12:15pm EST
Matt Miazga and Anderlecht host Gent on Sunday in need of a win after a pair of very disappointing draws against two bad teams. Last weekend against Waasland-Beveren, Miazga had a outstanding game but his team could not score in a 0-0 draw against the last-place team. Then midweek, Anderlecht needed a stoppage time equalizer for a 1-1 draw against a Royal Excel Mouscron team that was in 16th place in the 18-team league.
While Miazga was at fault for Mouscron’s goal, the club’s major problems have been an inability to finish off its chances. Its offense has been poor and will need to be sharper against a Gent team that is having an slower season in 11th place after selling off top players in 2020, but is still dangerous.
Austria Vienna – Swarovski Tirol
The Austrian Bundesliga
Sunday, January 31: 8:30am EST
U.S. U-23 eligible central defender Erik Palmer-Brown has been in strong form in Austria Vienna’s first two games since the end of the Austrian winter break. With a 1-0 win over Ried and a 4-0 win over Admira, he has been key towards helping Austria Vienna notch consecutive clean sheets.
Swarovski Tirol will be a significantly harder challenge for Palmer-Brown and Austria Vienna as it has won four of five, including its last two to start the second half of its season. Over those two wins, it has scored seven goals.
Maintaining a third-straight clean sheet would certain raise eyebrows for Palmer-Brown and Austria Vienna as a team.
West Brom – Fulham
The Premier League
Saturday, January 30: 10:00am EST
United States national team left back Antonee Robinson will return from his red card suspension on Saturday for Fulham and not much has changed since he last played. The club sit still sits in 18th place and needs to climb one more spot to get out of the relegation zone. It currently is five points deep in the hole but has played one fewer game than other teams around it in the standings.
It’s way too early to call this a must win game for Fulham, but this is a big opportunity as West Brom is one of two below it in the standings. West Brom is playing terrible soccer right now with four losses in its last five games and its -33 goal differential is the worst in the Premier League by a margin of 12.
Robinson’s return is welcome news for Fulham and Tim Ream will likely be on the bench for Fulham in this one. A win in this one certainly will give some hope to the Cottagers that survival is possible. Things could get ugly with a loss.
Elsewhere around the globe
In the Premier League on Saturday, DeAndre Yedlin probably won’t play for Newcastle when it visits Everton. The Seattle native is apparently nearing a move to Galatasary. Owen Otasowie, 20, and Wolves visit Crystal Palace with Otasowie looking for minutes likely off the bench. Zack Steffen will likely be on the bench for Manchester City when it hosts last-place Sheffield United.
In the Championship on Friday, Cameron Carter Vickers and AFC Bournemouth will visit Reading. Then on Saturday, Duane Holmes might make his Huddersfield town re-debut on Saturday when they host Stoke City. On Monday, Geoff Cameron, Charlie Kelman and Queens Park Rangers visit Watford.
In League One on Saturday, Lynden Gooch and Sunderland host Gillingham.
In the Bundesliga: American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo and VfB Stuttgart host an improving Mainz on Friday. Stuttgart has lost two in a row while Mainz defeated Leipzig last weekend. Chris Richards will hope to make the bench for Bayern Munich on Saturday when it hosts Hoffenheim. If not he could be part of Bayern Munich II’s team when it visits Dynamo Dresden on Friday in the 3.Liga Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfrurt host Hertha BSC. Chandler is still looking for his first start of the season.
In the 2.Bundesliga on Friday , red hot Julian Green and Greuther Furth host Erzgebirge Aue while Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Dusseldorf visit Wuersburger Kickers. On Saturday, Bobby Wood and Hamburg host Paderborn while Jan George and Jahn Regensburg host Darmstadt. Then on Sunday, Kevin Lankford, Leon Flach and St. Paul visit FC Heidenheim.
In Spain’s La Liga, Sergino Dest continues to battle thigh problems and probably won’t player for Barcelona on Sunday when they host Athletic Bilbao. Konrad de la Fuente will hope to make the bench.
In France’s Ligue 1, Tim Weah will probably be on the bench for Lille when they host Dijon on Sunday afternoon.
In the Eredivisie, in-form Luca de la Torre and Heracles will host FC Groningen on Saturday. On Sunday, Uly Llanez will hope to make the bench for SC Heerenveen when they visit FC Twente.
In Belgium’s Pro League, Joe Efford and last-place Waasland Beveren visit Roya Antwerp on Friday. Brenden Hines-Ike and Kortrijk host Sporting Charleroi on Saturday. Backup goalkeeper Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge host Standard Liege on Sunday. Chris Durkin and St. Truiden host Cercle Brugge on Sunday with the Richmond native having been playing very well over the past month.
In Scotland’s Premiership on Saturday, Ian Harkes, Dillon Powers and Dundee United host Hibernian. Scott Pittman and Livingston host Aberdeen.
In Serie B on Saturday, Andrija Novakovich will likely start for Frosinone when they visit Empoli. Giuseppe Barone and Salernitana visit Reggina on Monday. Barone has frequently been an unused sub but for Salernitana but is still looking for his pro debut.
In the Austrian Bundesliga, Andrew Wooten and last-place FC Admira visit Ried in a matchup between two relegation-threatened teams.
Fresh off his club debut midweek, Seattle native and former Sounder Henry Wingo will hope to make his first start for Hungarian leaders Ferencvaros when they host Varda SE on Saturday.
In Poland, Kenny Saief and Lechia Gdansk host on Jagiellonia Bialystok
In Turkey’s Super Lig on Sunday, Mix Diskerud and last-place Denizilspor host Goztepe. Diskerud scored in his club debut last weekend. Tyler Boyd will hope to make the bench for Besiktas when it hosts Trabzonspor.
In Spain’s Segunda, Shaq Moore and Tenerife host Fuenlabrada on Sunday.
In Greece’s Super League, Gboly Ariyibi and Panetolikos visit PAOK FC on Sunday.
In the Swiss Super League, Jordan Siebatcheu and league leaders Young Boys BSC host Sion on Sunday.
In Chile’s Primera, New Jersey-born defender Mattias Fracchia and O’Higgins host league leaders Universidad Catolica on Saturday. Fracchia has been a regular starter for the club lately.
In Brazil’s Serie A, U.S. national team defensive midfielder Johnny Cardoso will likely be on the bench for Internacional when they host Bragantino on Sunday. Internacional are currently on top of the Serie A standings with less than a month remaining in the season.