I am still playing catch up on the soccer world as work decided to kick me as soon as I got back into the office after the mini vacation. Enough babbling.
In case you missed what happened on the field over the past weekend, Roderick has you covered. I was finally able to go back to update the goal tracker from the few goals over the last week, including links to goals by Moises Orozco, Cesar Romero, Björn Maars Johnsen, Harrison Hanley and Jonathan Bornstein.
Also earlier this week, we unveiled the sixth edition of the legendary OT XI. Plus we picked our MVP of the season as well as goal and performance of the year. So go check that out.
The US U-23 team opened up the Toulon Tournament with a disappointing 3-1 loss to France yesterday. Here are some highlights. Sounds like Jordan Morris was the only player who did somewhat well for the US. Also, if you missed the roster of the team (since it came out while I was gone), here that is. Luis Gil was apparently on the initial roster, but Real Salt Lake was able to keep him after a little talk with US Soccer.
One player on that roster, Cody Cropper, is searching for a new club after parting ways with Southampton. While he is likely to stay in England, Ives Galarcep is hearing that Cropper is on the discovery list of at least three MLS teams.
Holy smokes. Can you believe that this is the sixth edition of the legendary OT XI? When we started this thing there were actually a ton of American players in Europe. Of the original OT XI, only two (Alejandro Bedoya and Jonathan Spector) are still playing abroad, and five (Ryan Guy, Landon Donovan, Brad Friedel, Eddie Johnson, and Carlos Bocanegra) are retired. Crazy times.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Aston Villa (England) [2nd appearance]
If you want to talk about the decline of American players abroad, look no further than goalkeeper (and talk to our friend Will, who wrote this pick.) Even though he didn’t have the greatest of finishes, it was Brad Guzan who carried Aston Villa through the first half of the season, when they couldn’t buy a goal. Guzan carried his team out of the relegation zone so that when it came to the meaningless games in the season, his poor performance didn’t matter. Admittedly, it’s a weak pick without glamour but of all the overseas goalkeepers, Guzan helped his team the most.
Greg Garza, Tijuana (Mexico) [1st]
Tim Ream, Bolton Wanderers (England) [2nd]
Ventura Alvarado, Club America (Mexico) [1st]
Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest (England) [2nd]
Two from Liga MX and two from the Football League Championship make up the backline. Garza basically made Edgar Castillo, the 2013 honoree at leftback, expendable at Tijuana as he also established himself as the likely national team heir apparent to the internationally-retired Edgar Castillo. Ream played a little of everywhere defensively for Bolton and earned his second consecutive team MVP. After time on loan, Alvarado blossomed with the CONCACAF Champions League winners and broke into the national team. Meanwhile, back in England, Lichaj had his healthiest season and made 42 appearances, more than the previous two seasons combined (since they play like 800 games in the lower divisions of England).
Guys, guys! We had a guy qualify to the Champions League out of a top five league! Johnson stepped up his team quality and managed to break in and do his usual thing of being a solid contributor at multiple spots on the flank. His former teammate at Hoffenheim, Williams, makes his second consecutive appearance as he continues to play well for Reading. Morales, who looked somewhat out of his element in early caps with the Nats, has blossomed into an legit prospect and helped Ingolstadt earn promotion, meaning he’ll join Johnson in the Bundesliga next year. Bedoya, meanwhile, continued his strong form in Nantes. With Bedoya’s 4th OT XI appearance, he ties Sacha Kljestan and Clint Dempsey for the all-time lead and is a solid favorite to hold the title by his lonesome sooner rather than later.
Matt Taylor, 1. FC Saarbrücken (Germany) [3rd]
Cesar Romero, FC Pyunik (Armenia) [2nd]
Taylor is basically one of our favorite OT players ever. He is a mortal lock to bang in double digit goals in any season that ends in an odd-numbered year (2011- 17; 2013- 16; 2015- 13) and takes advantage of the lengthy injury absences to Terrence Boyd and Aron Jóhannsson, two of last year’s forward honorees. Meanwhile, another OT favorite completely dominated Armenia, scoring 20 goals as Pyunik won their first league title since 2010. He also inspired us to make a ton of The Joker references, although we probably should have made more, because that’s an awesome nickname.
Tim Ream, D, Bolton Wanderers
Ream has gone from MLS breakout prospect to national team disaster to Premier League overmatched to extremely useful Championship player. He has really excelled the last two years with Bolton, and he’s mostly a classic example of how a players can take a while to adjust to a new country.
Goal of the Year
Aron Jóhannsson really wanted to make this post despite missing so much time injured, so he won this late-season match against NAC Breda in the waning moments with this ridiculous strike from distance.
Performance of the Year
Seriously, Jóhannsson got healthy and just wanted OT honors. Plus he has a desire to spend his Thursdays traveling across Eastern Europe in Europa League. So Gunner Stahl (time to resurrect that nickname) decided to dump two goals and an assist on Excelsior (fantastic club name, I’m glad they managed to stay in the Eredivisie) in a match to clinch Europa League for AZ. Highlights!
One player who could see some more playing time with the US without Jozy in the upcoming friendlies is Aron Johannsson. He was named Eredivisie Player of the Week after his two goal/one assist performance over the weekend. Here is also a little video on ArJo.
Alfredo Morales helped Ingolstadt win promotion to the Bundesliga this past season. Kyle McCarthy wrote some words on Morales and his move to Ingolstadt. And according to Greg Seltzer, the club is currently working on a contract extension for Morales.
While Spector is staying at Birmingham City, Will Packwood is no longer with the club and was last seen training with the New England Revolution. But it doesn’t look like the Revs will be signing Packwood.
Grant Wahl is hearing that Rubio Rubin is drawing interest from other teams in Europe but he is staying at Utrecht.
Alfredo Morales got the start, played 53 minutes and had his PK attempt saved by Fortuna Düsseldorf’s goalie in a Ingolstadt’s 3-2 win. Here are some highlights with his PK attempt the first highlight.
Bobby Wood left the USMNT camp so he could sign with FC Erzgebirge Aue. There seems to be some confusion among the American folk (thanks to trying to translate German reports) on whether he signed a permanent deal or if it is a loan deal (I think it is a permanent deal). I think the confusion comes from most articles talking about Erzgebirge Aue bringing in two players, Wood and Román Golobart, with Golobart coming on loan while Wood signed a contract through 2016-17.
We had some goals this weekend. Aron Johannsson scored his first goal of 2015 in AZ’s 3-1 win over Heracles (highlights). In Scottish League One action, Kevin Dzierzawski scored a goal in Peterhead’s 2-0 win over Stenhousemuir (highlights). And while it wasn’t a goal, Tim Ream was credited with an assist in Bolton’s 2-2 draw to Wolves on Saturday (highlights).
And we had a few goals in friendly action this weekend. Alfredo Morales scored a goal in Ingolstadt’s 2-0 win over Shawn Barry and LASK Linz. As for Shawn Barry, he scored a goal in LASK Linz’s 2-1 win over Trnava. Babajide Ogunbiyi scored a goal in Viborg’s 4-2 win over OB. And Paul Arriola scored a goal in Tijuana U-20’s 4-1 win over Morelia on Friday. Jon Arnold was there and got some quotes from Arriola.
Staying at Tijuana, Greg Garza had to be subbed out of Tijuana’s senior team’s win over Morelia after taking on a hard tackle. He tried to play through it, but it was bothering him too much.
Alex De John is now with IK Start in Norway’s Tippeligaen. De John has made a nice jump from Ekenäs IF (Finnish third division) to TPS (Finnish first division) to IK Start (Norway first division) in three seasons.
Speaking of the US U-20 team, in case you missed it, here are highlights of their 2-0 win over El Salvador to qualify for New Zealand. Romain Gall shared the Golden Boot with Mexico’s Hirving Lozano with each scoring five goals throughout the tournament.
A bunch of stuff from this week and other stuff from last week that I meant to post but didn’t, so let’s get after it.
Yesterday was a good day for Americans in Europe. John Brooks continued his recent strong play by scoring his first goal since THAT goal against Ghana (highlights from yesterday). Over in Belgium, Sacha Kljestan came off the bench and scored a goal in Anderlecht’s 3-0 win in the Belgian Cup (highlights). Also in the Belgian Cup, Kenny Saief scored for Gent in their 4-1 win (no highlights found yet). And back in Germany, Alfredo Morales was credited with an assist in Ingolstadt’s 2-1 win, but his teammate did most of the dirty work (highlights).
Howie posted some links about Brek Shea heading back to the US and Orlando City, but Greg Seltzer is hearing that some other Championship teams might be still interested in his services.
Herculez Gomez is headed back to Puebla. This will be his seventh different stint with a Liga MX team in the last five seasons, but he would be returning to his original stint/team where he won his scoring title in 2010.
Ventura Alvarado and Club America won the Apertura title this past fall so here are two interviews for you, one in English and one in Spanish.
Dom Dwyer signed a new contract with Sporting Kansas City which will keep him in the US for a while longer. Since he received his green card in 2012, he would be eligible to apply for citizenship in 2017.
Alfredo Morales went the full 90 minutes in Ingolstadt’s 2-1 win on Wednesday. Morales was also credited with an assist on Ingolstadt’s first goal (although his teammate did basically all the work on the goal). Here are some highlights.