By Daniel Rubens
Like it has for much of the summer, the focus for most big-name American players in Europe remains on the national team. After struggling throughout the group stage of the Gold Cup, the USMNT exploded for a 6-0 win over Cuba on Saturday, which we already discussed here. The European-based standouts in that one were striker Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), who scored a stunning chip for the U.S.’s third goal, and starting outside backs Fabian
Aside from that, though, it was an unusually busy summer weekend for Americans players around the globe. In addition to a handful of Nordic-based players impressing, others returned to their European clubs to make impacts in preseason friendlies.
We’ll start in Norway, where one American passed a major milestone in his career. Last Tuesday, 20-year-old goalkeeper Ethan Horvath became just the second American to man the nets in a Champions League fixture when his Molde side went up against FC Pyunik of Armenia. What’s more, Horvath helped ensure it won’t be this won’t be his last UCL tie this season, posting a shutout in a 5-0 first leg win. The Colorado native — who took over the starting goalkeeper role when incumbent Orjan Nyland departed for Ingolstadt on the first day of the transfer window — looks like Molde’s starter for now, which means he could be playing in UCL or Europa League group stage matches come September.
However, Horvath’s side needs to maintain focus in the league, as the defending champions dropped their second straight home match this week to slip into sixth place. Pennsylvania-born defender Zarek Valentin started the scoring for visitors Bodo/Glimt, beating Horvath in the 21st minute of an eventual 2-1 win over Molde. Midfielder Danny Cruz also made an appearance for Bodo/Glimt, coming on as a substitute in the 80th minute.
That was the only game in the Tippeligaen this weekend, but, fortunately, three Americans were busy playing in Finland. First and foremost, Brian Span put his fourth-place Mariehamn team up 3-0 with a goal in the 12th minute of an eventual 4-3 win over FF Jaro. Center back Stephen McCarthy made his sixth start of the season for KuPS, going 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with FC Inter. Lastly, defender Jordan Seabrook helped last-place VPS hold second-place RoPS to a 1-1 draw.
Elsewhere, multiple higher-profile yanks not in the Gold Cup side made impacts for their clubs in the preseason. There were numerous standouts over the past week, but we’ll begin in Singapore, where three Premier League teams — each with an American player in tow — competed for the Barclays Asia Trophy. In the opening game of the tournament on Wednesday, both Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and Everton’s Tim Howard starred, with each having a legitimate claim as his team’s best player in a scoreless draw that Everton won on penalties. Cameron, a stalwart for Stoke last term at right back, had a pair of crucial clearances to thwart dangerous Everton attacks, while Howard made an important save in the second half and stopped a final penalty from Marco van Ginkel to seal the victory. Later that night, Gedion Zelalem came on as a second-half substitute for Arsenal and played the final 35-plus minutes in a 4-0 Gunners win over a Singapore XI. None of the Americans played on the final day of the competition, which saw Arsenal lift the trophy, but each made his presence known on Wednesday.
We’ll head back to Europe now and first check in on a pair of USMNT U-20 World Cup players getting back to football with their club teams this weekend. Striker Rubio Rubin started for Utrecht on Friday and helped his side to a 4-0 win over Dundee United. A day later in England, his World Cup teammate, Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman, played the second half as his squad defeated Crawley Town. Both are trying to lock down spots in their club team’s sides early in the season, and impressive performances in friendlies always helps.
We’ll lastly take a look at a few of the Americans playing in Germany, as multiple saw action over the past week. New FC Union Berlin striker Bobby Wood had a successful debut with his new squad, playing 35 minutes in a 2-0 win Saturday over Crystal Palace. The 22-year-old Hawaii native’s status for next weekend’s 2. Bundesliga season opener remains in doubt as Wood tries to regain fitness.
Moving up a division, Alfredo Morales and Ingolstadt continued their preseason Saturday with a 1-0 win over Udinese. Morales played the second half for
Perhaps the most talented American player currently playing abroad did something he hadn’t done in months last weekend: actually played for his club side. With a 4-1 lead over Valencia in Beijing, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola sent young winger Julian Green on for a 10-minute cameo, his first for Bayern since last preseason. However, it still remains unclear whether Green will remain with Bayern this season and try to earn a place in the team, as he says he wants to, or go out on loan, as the team seems to prefer. This will be a situation to watch as the transfer window slowly closes.
Finally, Jerome Kiesewetter made his first inroads into Stuttgart’s first team a year ago and has continued that progress this preseason. The 22-year-old Berlin born striker has been handed an opportunity in the preseason, and he has run with it. Kiesewetter added two late goals in a 13-0 romp over lower-league side TSV Ilshofen, which may not say much, given the scoreline and level of competition. Still, it’s another good start to the season for a young American trying to make a difference for his club this campaign.