ASN: Americans abroad: Balogun scores, Matarazzo survives, Leeds on the brink as a tough season nears end

ASN: Americans abroad: Balogun scores, Matarazzo survives, Leeds on the brink as a tough season nears end

Yes, it’s been a tough season. But there have been some good points including Lenard Maloney and Ethan Horvath fighting for promotion, Folarin Balogun netting his 20th, and Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Hoffeneheim success. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta offers up his thoughts & analysis on both the bad and the good in his weekly piece. 


Brian Sciaretta


May 22, 2023

8:05 AM


WITH THIS PAST WEEKEND concluding, the season is nearly over for most of the Americans in Europe. For many, that is welcome news. This season has been very difficult for American players with very few exceptions. What it has done, however, is set the stage for a summer transfer window that should exceptionally busy for Americans.

For the most part, the success stories for Americans inside of the top five European leagues can be limited to Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and maybe Kevin Paredes since he is only taking his first steps at this level. There have been a few mixed stories, such as Luca de la Torre or Joe Scally at Borussia Monchengladbach where it would be hard to say it has been a bad season – although the last few weeks for both have not gone well. You have John Brooks, also, who has had a good past month to mask an overall tough season.

Outside of the top five leagues in Europe, the limited success stories cover up a mostly negative season for Yanks. Mark McKenzie has scored a wave of goals lately for Genk off set pieces, but his team has squandered a double-digit lead atop Belgium and will likely not win the title. Cameron Carter-Vickers had a strong season for Celtic, but it ended in injury. Marlon Fossey finally stayed healthy for a season and performed well at Standard Liege. Bryan Reynolds also did well enough to boost his career. Lennard Maloney at Heidenheim and Ethan Horvath in Luton Town are still vying for promotion. The same could be said for Venezia but only Tanner Tessmann of their Yank contingent has had a good season.

The addition of Folarin Balogun to the USMNT player pool, however, has been a boost – not only for the national team but also in the presence of just having positive news to follow in Europe.

This past weekend was a solid representation of why it will be a relief this season is over. Yes, there was some good news. But for the most part, it was a dud.


Leeds United on the brink


Needing a win on the road vs. West Ham, Leeds United came up empty in a 3-1 loss. The club actually took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Rodrigo that was assisted off a throw-in from Weston McKennie.  

But as has been the story all season, Leeds United fell apart. West Ham equalized in the 34th. Took the lead in the 72nd minute and then hit the dagger in stoppage time.

McKennie played fairly well in his 84 minutes. Brenden Aaronson was likewise active coming into the game in the 64th minute. But it was not meant to be. The team has looked worse since firing Jesse Marsch and now they are almost certain to be relegated.

Survival now requires a very unlikely series of events. The team’s three Americans will now need to figure out their futures this offseason. McKennie has an out since he’s only there on loan from Juventus (but then he will likely need to find another landing spot). Tyler Adams seems likely to have suitors. Brenden Aaronson was an expensive purchase from Leeds. That might be tricky for him to leave.

Another collapse. Survival is very remote. Leeds United must defeat Tottenham next week in the finale while hoping Everton lose at home to Bournemouth (or Everton draw and Leeds blowout Spurs).

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 21, 2023


Elsewhere in England


Fulham is playing out the stretch of a good season and was let down on Saturday in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. Antonee Robinson went the distance and was at the center of both Palace goals. On the first, he was beaten on an exceptional pass from Eberechi Eze to Odsonne Édouard. On the second, a late equalizer, a ball unluckily deflected off Robinson to set up the Palace shot. On the balance of the 90 minutes, Robinson was decent but it wasn’t one of his better games of what has been a very good season for him.

Chris Richards did not get off the bench for Palace in the loss.

Matt Turner watched Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Christian Pulisic played the final five minutes for Chelsea in a 1-0 loss to Manchester City and came close to finding an equalizer. San Jose native Ethan Wady, 21, made the bench for Chelsea as the backup goalkeeper.


Hoffenheim to survive


Hoffenheim defeated Union Berlin 4-2 to essentially guarantee survival in the Bundesliga. It is yet another accomplishment for New Jersey-manager Pellegrino Matarazzo who took over when the club was in a tailspin and fell into last place. Now, with this win, Hoffenheim are three points clear of the relegation playoff with a nearly 20-goal edge in goal difference. For the second straight year, Matarazzo will have successfully navigated the Bundesliga relegation battle (last year with Stuttgart).

Another collapse. Survival is very remote. Leeds United must defeat Tottenham next week in the finale while hoping Everton lose at home to Bournemouth (or Everton draw and Leeds blowout Spurs).

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 21, 2023


John Brooks went 90 minutes in the win and he has had a good month as Hoffenheim found a way to elevate their level. It remains to be seen if Brooks is in Matarazzo’s long-term plans, however, as Brooks was there at the time of Matarazzo’s arrival.

Brooks was named to the Bundesliga team of the week for his performance by Kicker. 

Definitiv verdient, Jungs ????

John Anthony #Brooks und Andrej #Kramaric stehen in der Elf des Tages des @kicker_BL.
Andrej hat zudem den Sprung die Auswahl der @sportschau geschafft ????

— TSG Hoffenheim (@tsghoffenheim) May 22, 2023

Jordan Pefok played the last 10 minutes for Union Berlin and he as scored just one goal since September. Union Berlin was once threatening to take first place in January. Now the club is holding onto fourth place (the last Champions League spot) by goal differential with just one game remaining.


Reyna & BVB to play for title


With Bayern Munich falling to RB Leipzig at home by a 3-1 score (Paxten Aaronson and Timothy Chandler were unused substitutes for Leipzig), BVB was able to move atop the table after a 3-0 win over Augsburg.

It is good news for Gio Reyna, obviously, as he will have a chance to win a Bundesliga medal. But his role within the team has sharply declined in recent months. And he and the club will have to have an honest discussion about what his future at the club will be. Reyna has had two seasons of very limited minutes. While Reyna has been very productive in his time on the field (six goals) this season, there needs to be an understanding of whether he is viewed as a starter next season.

Those are thoughts for another day. For now, Borussia Dortmund has a two-point lead atop the table (but an inferior goal differential). A win over Mainz on its final day will secure the title. Anything less could be problematic pending Bayern Munich’s result at Cologne.


Maloney nears promotion


One of the better and more underreported stories among Americans in Europe is with Lennard Maloney and Heidenheim in the 2.Bundesliga. After a 1-0 win on Saturday over Sandhausen, Heidenheim can clinch promotion to the Bundesliga next week with a win over Jahn Regensburg. They have a one point lead on Hamburg for second place. If they slip to third place, they will go to the promotion/relegation playoff against the 16th place team from the Bundesliga.

Maloney, 23, has been a regular starter (32 appearances, 2585 minutes) in defensive midfield this season despite spending all his time as a central defender in his youth days. First team minutes had been a struggle for him but now he has found it and the stakes are now enormous.

Will Maloney continue to be a starter for Heidenheim should they go up? That is very much a question mark. But he will give the club something to think about. Maloney’s problem with going to the Bundesliga are his athleticism and speed. Heidenheim could look for an upgrade in that area should they go up.

Standing in his way this weekend is Jahn Regensburg who are now coached by American Joe Enochs who was hired two weeks ago. The club was unlikely to stay up at the time of his hire and sealed its relegation over the weekend despite a 2-1 win over Eintrach Braunschweig. Enochs will now look to guide Jahn Regensburg to a quick return to the 2.Bundesliga next season.


Yanks elsewhere in Germany


In the Bundesliga, Joe Scally’s minutes continue to decline quickly as he was an unused substitute for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 2-2 away draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

On Friday, Kevin Paredes played the final eight minutes for Wolfsburg in a 2-0 loss on the road to Freiburg.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Fabian Hurzeler won’t make the playoffs but has had a great half-season as manager of St. Pauli an they defeated Holstein Kiel 4-3 on the road on Saturday.

Auswärtssieg-Sammelalbum-Material. ????#fcsp #ksvfcsp

— FC St. Pauli (@fcstpauli) May 20, 2023


Greuther Furth could have clinched promotion for Heidenheim on Saturday if they defeated Hamburg. But they couldn’t do it in a 2-1 loss. Julian Green started in the loss and played 90 minutes. Maximillian Dietz was an unused sub for Greuther Furth.

Nurnberg and Hansa Rostock played to a 0-0 draw on Sunday. Ryan Malone started for Hansa Rostock but was subbed out injured in the 39th minute. The 30 year old defender has had a great month to lead his club out of relegation and well into safety.

Terrence Boyd struggled over his 62 minutes for Kaiserslautern in a 2-0 loss away to Karlsruhe.

George Bello was an unused substitute for Arminia Bielefeld in a 2-2 draw with Paderborn. It is looking like Arminia Bielefeld is headed for the playoff to avoid relegation. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bello return stateside, however.


Balogun scores his 20th


Folarin Balogun, 21, played his first game since having his change of association approved to play for the United States national team. Against relegation fodder Angers, Balogun scored in the 54th minute to give Stade de Reims a 2-1 lead, but it was not enough for a win as Angers rallied for a 2-2 draw.

His goal was his 20th of the season and it puts him fourth in the Ligue 1 scoring race, two goals behind fellow New York-born Jonathan David – who represents Canada.

In a season where Americans have been struggling to score in the top European Leagues, Balogun as been a huge boost. Now will he be able to carry that over to the full national team?


Yanks elsewhere in France


Lille defeated Marseille 2-1 in a matchup between two top five teams in Ligue 1. Tim Weah was strong over 90 minutes at right back. He had seven passes into the final third and had four interceptions on defense. Lille is now sitting in fifth place heading into the final two games. A Champions League spot is not , but Lille needs to hang onto fifth place to qualify for the Europa League and their cushion is just one point.

As for Weah’s season, it depends on what he wants to do. If he is happy play as a fullback or wingback, staying would be beneficial. If he wants to play as a forward or winger, he needs to have discussions about his future with the club.

Also in France, Erik Palmer-Brown played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card for Troyes in a 1-1 draw with Strasbourg. Troyes has already been relegated and Palmer-Brown seems likely to move on in the summer.


Yanks in Spain


It was a tough weekend in Spain for Americans and everyone else, on a lot of levels.

For Americans, Luca de la Torre didn’t have a great game for Celta Vigo on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao. With the team having lost three in a row, the U.S. midfielder was on the bench to start this one. But he came into the game in the 24th minute due to injury with his team trailing 1-0. Celta Vigo ended up losing 2-1 and it was Celta’ fourth straight loss. De la Torre wasn’t the team’s only problem, or even their biggest problem, but he is having a tough end to the season like last year.

Valencia clinched survival in La Liga with a 1-0 win over Real Madrid. Yunus Musah played just stoppage time, which wasn’t insignificant given that it was nearly 15 minutes long. He helped oversee the critical victory. But the problem is that the club has been playing better without him lately and, coincidentally, Musah is suspended the next game after he picked up a yellow card.

Of course, Valencia fans racially taunted Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. and have disgraced themselves. But what will the relevant governing bodies do?


Yanks in Belgium: McKenzie scores


It was a bittersweet day for Mark McKenzie who scored again for Genk. It was his fourth goal of the season and third of the Championship playoffs. But Genk only drew Union SG and missed a critical opportunity to move within striking distance of the top of the table. They’re now three points off the top of the table (but are chasing both Union SG and Royal Antwerp).

Mark increasing his air miles. ????#mijnploeg

— KRC Genk (@KRCGenkofficial) May 22, 2023

It’s quite a collapse for Genk, who were ahead atop the table by 12 points at one point. But the club never had a plan once they sold Paul Onuachu in January. From there, the team’s offense fell apart and it left McKenzie, a central defender to pick up the slack.

McKenzie has still had a great season and these numbers are good for him, but they highlight what a tough year it has been for Americans.

Typing up my weekend notes for Americans abroad, and here is a nugget for everyone:

Mark McKenzie has more league goals this season than Musah, LDLT, Adams, McKennie, Pulisic, Aaronson, & Weah combined

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) May 22, 2023


In the playoff for a Conference League spot, both Westerlo and Standard Liege have been eliminated as Gent has secured the spot. But the teams met on Saturday and Westerlo defeated Standard Liege 3-0. Bryan Reynolds played just the final seven minutes and Griffin Yow came into the game in the 89th minute for Westerlo. Marlon Fossey did not play for Standard.

With so many players at Westerlo on loan, Yow is playing for his minutes next season and is hoping to convince the club they do not need to look elsewhere for another winger.


Venezia into the playoffs


Despite losing to Parama 2-1 on Saturday, Venezia is through to Serie B promotional playoffs after a series of fortuitous results broke their way. Still, after spending most of the season in the relegation playoff zones, the club’s rise over the past two months was impressive and now they will have a chance to compete for promotion – where they are a significant underdog.

The big takeaway from this weekend is that Venezia was extremely lucky. Otherwise, it wasn’t their day. Tanner Tessmann played 84 minutes and was eventually replaced by fellow American Andrija Novakovich. Gianluca Busio came into the game in the 62nd minute.

It is shaping up to be an interesting offseason for the club’s three first-team players. Tessmann is having the best season and is setting himself up for a move up. He will be checking a lot of boxes for scouts and it will be exciting to watch him take a role with the Olympic team this year and next year.

It’s less certain for the other players. Busio remains an expensive investment for Venezia but he’s been a bench player most of this season. Will they continue to invest in him or look to cut their losses. Novakovich has yet to score this season but he still plays regularly.


Carodoso scores in Derby loss


It was the big Porto Alegre derby in Brazil’s Serie A as Gremio hosted Internacional on Sunday night. Gremio ended up winning 3-1 and was in complete control the entire game. Gremio had a 3-0 lead into the 88th minute when U.S. international Johnny Cardoso pulled one back for Internacional with a delightful header off a corner kick.

Cardoso went a full 90 in the loss and played well enough. It has been a bad season for Internacional who have lost four games in a row. The club has just seven points from seven games with a -6 goal differential. Cardoso has only recently returned from injury, and this was his only appearance in the four game skid. His last two Serie A games were wins.

He still seems likely to get called up to the Nations League as Tyler Adams has been injured since March and interim head coach Anthony Hudson will likely need a plethora of options including Johnny, Kellyn Acosta, and maybe even other options too.


Yanks Elsewhere


In Scotland, some of the luster was lost with Malik Tillman for Rangers and Cameron Carter-Vickers both injured.

Ian Harkes started and scored for Dundee United but his team could not prevail and eventually fell to Livingston 2-1. It was the third loss in a row for DUFC and they are two points deep in the relegation zone with two games to go. It is going to take a massive turnaround.

Scott Pittmann played the final 20 minutes for Livingston.

Hibernian lost to Rangers 3-1 at home with Matthew Hoppe playing the final seven minutes plus stoppage time. He is another player who has serious question marks heading into next season after an unsuccessful loan preceded by a tough introduction at Middlesbrough.

In Portugal, Reggie Cannon scored an own goal but played a full 90 for Boavista. Despite the own goal, it was an impressive 1-1 draw with Sporting Braga was otherwise. Alex Mendez played the final 15 minutes for Vizela in a 1-0 away loss to Maritimo. Alejandro Alvarado did not suit up for Vizela.

In Turkey, Haji Wright played 81 uneventful minutes Antalyaspor in a 0-0 draw with Istanbul Basaksehir. Wright is almost certain to be sold by Antalyaspor this summer.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Sebastian Soto started and played 65 minutes for Austria Klagenfurt in a 0-0 draw with Austria Vienna. He left the game when the score was 0-0.

In Croatia, Hajduk Split posted a 1-0 away win over Slaven Koprivnica. Rokas Pukstas and fellow American Agustin Anello each went 90 minutes vs. the HNL’s 8th place team. Hajduk Split is locked into the HNL’s second place. Their main priority is the Croatian Cup final this Wednesday. Following that game, Pukstas will quickly head to Argentina to play in the U-20 World Cup. Anello, meanwhile, is trying to build his case for Hajduk Split to exercise the option to buy on its loan from Lommel in Belgium.

In Denmark, Christian Cappis was an unused sub for Brondby in a 1-1 away draw with Viborg. Rumors have surfaced Cappis might return to the United States this summer. Meanwhile in the relegation half of the tournament, Emmanuel Sabbi played 81 minutes for OB Odense in a 4-0 away win over last-place Lyngby. OB Odense is free of any threat of relegation and is simply playing out the string.

In Mexico, Alejandro Zendejas’ season is done after Club America crashed out of the Liga MX playoffs after a 3-1 loss at home at the Azteca to Chivas. Zendejas played 78 minutes in the loss. It was stunning reversal after Club America won the first leg away 1-0.