USMNT in Bundesliga: How Americans performed

As La Liga, Major League Soccer and other sports leagues like the NBA explore plans to return to action following coronavirus suspensions, the Bundesliga played its second round of games since coming back online.

This weekend’s slate didn’t generate quite as much mainstream attention now that the novelty has slightly worn off. That’s understandable. But Germany’s top domestic competition still remains a rare source of high-stakes live sports in an otherwise barren landscape. And soccer fans in the United States have even more reason to keep watching intently.

A starting lineup’s worth of U.S. men’s national team members dot Bundesliga rosters. No less than eight of those players saw the field for their clubs over the weekend. With another full round of matches scheduled for the middle of this week, here’s a look at how those Americans fared.

F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen

In a must-win match for his relegation-threatened side, Sargent was in Werder’s lineup away to Freiburg — just his second start in the club’s last seven league games.

It was a tremendous vote of confidence from manager Florian Kohfeldt, who clearly liked what he saw from the 20-year-old striker in training in the run-up to Saturday’s match. And while Sargent didn’t repay his coach with a goal (or even a shot), he did win a pair of free kicks during a scrappy 63-minute performance that low-key contributed the visitors’ crucial 1-0 victory.

And it might just be enough to keep Sargent in Kohfeldt’s plans for Bremen’s next must-win game, at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday.

M Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

The 17-year-old returned from the undisclosed injury that cost him his first Dortmund start last weekend in time to train Friday in advance of BVB’s trip to Wolfsburg. Still, Reyna was on the bench as winger Thorgan Hazard kept his place in manager Lucien Favre’s lineup.

Reyna did replace Hazard — who wasn’t as effective as he was in the Revierderby win over Schalke — for the final 11 minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 victory. The question now is whether Favre will start Reyna in Tuesday’s massive game against Dortmund’s other chief rival, Bundesliga-leading Bayern Munich.

Second-place BVB trails Bayern by four points, so the pressure to win will be immense. But if Favre was willing to start Reyna against Schalke, it means he trusts the youngster. The three-day turnaround should also help Reyna, who will be fresher than most of his teammates.

M Weston McKennie, Schalke

McKennie was his team’s best player in last week’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to Dortmund, and that was probably the case again in Sunday’s 3-0 shellacking by Augsburg. As those scores suggest, through, that isn’t saying a lot.

But the value provided by the hard-tackling, all-action McKennie to David Wagner’s side should’ve been apparent Sunday after Schalke immediately conceded the back-breaking goal (and another one later on) after the Texan was substituted.

It’s true that the 21-year-old can be careless with the ball at times. But McKennie’s ability to get back and cover for his teammates when they lose possession, which was a lot over the last two weeks — Wagner actually positioned McKennie between his two central defenders for part of Sunday’s contest — cannot be ignored. Without him on the field, Schalke’s two losses since the restart would have been even uglier.

D/M Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig

It was already 4-0 when Adams, also 21, came on at the hour mark of Sunday’s eventual 5-0 win over Mainz. Despite the outcome having been decided by that point, the New Yorker put in a solid shift in his more natural central defensive midfield role after starting last weekend’s 1-1 tie with Freiburg at right wingback.

Not only did Adams help preserve the clean sheet, he drew the foul before the quick restart that ended with Timo Werner completing his hat trick with 15 minutes to go. Whether it will be enough to earn Adams back his place in coach Julian Nagelsmann’s lineup for Wednesday’s match against Hertha Berlin remains to be seen.

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg

The rangy center back more than held his own Saturday against emerging Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland. But Brooks still had a day to forget in the 2-0 loss.

A week after the 27-year-old’s botched clearance nearly cost his team a win, Brooks drifted out of position and left his fellow defenders outmanned on both goals his team conceded. The Berlin native was beaten on the dribble near the touchline on the play that led to Raphael Guerreiro’s opener. On Dortmund’s second, his missed tackle deep in the visitors’ half sprung the counterattack that sealed his team’s defeat:

Some rust was to be expected after a two-month layoff. Brooks sure wasn’t alone. Still, manager Oliver Glasner was so unhappy with Brooks’ defending in January that he benched the veteran for three games. If Brooks keeps his place in Glasner’s 11 for Tuesday’s match at Bayern Leverkusen, he’ll have to perform.

M Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 30-year-old vet was summoned from the bench at halftime Saturday with Frankfurt trailing Bayern 2-0. Things only got worse for the visitors after he entered the game.

Chandler was slow to pick up winger Kingsley Coman before Coman set up Robert Lewandowski strike less than a minute after play resumed. He was also involved in the defensive mix-up than ended with Alphonso Davies restoring the hosts’ two-goal lead after Eintracht had clawed to within one with a pair of second-half strikes.

D/M Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach

A muscle injury prevented the 32-year-old Johnson — who could be MLS-bound later this year — from suiting up for the second time in as many weeks.

Too bad for him; in missing Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Leverkusen, the 2014 World Cup standout was also denied the chance to play in front of thousands of cardboard Gladbach fans.

M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf

Morales made his first league start in five games Sunday against Cologne, but it turned out to be nothing to celebrate in the end.

The 30-year-old played well enough. And with Fortuna leading 2-0 by the 88th minute, it looked like the visitors would win for just the second time in 10 games. Instead, they conceded twice before the final whistle and settled for a single point — a collapse that could come back to haunt them before the season is over.

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf

The Manchester City loanee and U.S. No. 1 continues to sit out after injuring his knee in training last month. At this rate, a return to the field this season is looking less likely for Steffen with each passing week.

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