Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Easily the biggest news on the USMNT front in all of world football this week was Adams’ return. After no signs of him in the midweek, the 20-year-old made a surprising season debut in Leipzig’s final game of 2019, a 3-1 home win over Augsburg. Playing his first game since May’s DfB-Pokal Final, Adams slotted straight into the XI at right back, going about 75 minutes in that spot before shifting into the midfield for the final 10 minutes of his outing (he eventually came off in the 86th). Perhaps as a result of playing in that position, Adams wasn’t as active in the match as he normally is, but he was his usual self: steady in defense, calm in possession, aggressive when possible (three interceptions), and able to have an effect on the game in a myriad of ways. He also had an assist
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Brooks went the distance in each of Wolfsburg’s final two games of the Bundesliga first half, a 1-1 home draw with Schalke and a 2-0 away defeat to Bayern Munich. The big center back did not have anywhere close to his best week, however, as he was at least partially responsible on all three goals the Wolves conceded. Against Schalke, it was his man, Ozan Kabak, who wriggled free early in the second half and eluded Brooks for an unmarked header from a corner, which was saved but rebounded back for the opening goal. Brooks did have five interceptions in the contest, in which he wasn’t asked to do a ton of defending as Wolfsburg put Schalke under pressure all game (Brooks even had two shots, one on target). That normalized on the weekend as Bayern put Wolfsburg under plenty of pressure throughout the 90 minutes, and Brooks and his colleagues stood up to the challenge for the first 85. But the 26-year-old was sucked out of position twice in the final five minutes as Joshua Zirkzee and Serge Gnabry punished Wolfsburg with two late goals. Neither is completely Brooks’ fault, but he could perhaps have prevented both if he had been a bit quicker to close the space that Bayern were attacking. At the midway point, Wolfsburg are in ninth place, but the back line has actually been very solid, conceding a joint-league-low 18 goals in 17 games, so the problems generally don’t seem to lie at Brooks’ end of the pitch.
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
McKennie is expected to be out until February after suffering a dislocated shoulder in Schalke’s win over Eintracht Frankfurt on December 15. It’s a tough blow, but the Bundesliga winter break hopefully means the 21-year-old won’t miss too many games. He did watch from afar this week as Schalke ended the first half with two draws, 1-1 against Wolfsburg (as discussed above) and 2-2 against Freiburg. Schalke sit in fifth at the halfway mark, trailing their hated rivals Borussia Dortmund on goal difference for the final Champions League position.
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
After missing out last week, Morales was back in Fortuna’s starting squad twice this week as they lost 3-0 to Augsburg and beat Union Berlin 2-1. The midweek defeat to Augsburg was ugly, and Morales was one of many who had a poor performance in that one. He was particularly guilty on the second Augsburg goal as the player he was marking on a corner broke free and headed home. Morales also picked up a yellow card and passed at just 61 percent in the match. Despite that performance, the midfielder retained his place and was significantly better on the weekend (as were his teammates, to be fair). He stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with three shots (one on target), three successful dribbles, three aerial wins, two tackles, and two clearances, although he didn’t pass well again at just 69 percent. However, Morales was again among the responsible for losing a marker as Fortuna conceded from a corner. It’s something he and his side will need to improve upon, but the weekend win was a huge one for morale as it puts Dusseldorf out of the automatic relegation places that they had occupied previously.
Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Manchester City)
Like Morales, Steffen had a tough evening against Augsburg but was much improved against Berlin as he too went the distance in Fortuna’s final two matches of 2019. Against Augsburg, Steffen probably will feel as though he could have perhaps prevented the first and second goals he conceded — he made a good save before the first but pushed the rebound to Augsburg’s charging winger and was beaten by a near-post header on the second — but will be utterly embarrassed by the third. That came in the 72nd minute via a long-range free kick that skidded off the turf and through the arms of Steffen, not the first error of the season for the 24-year-old. He did make four saves in the defeat, the same number he had on the weekend. Against Union, he couldn’t have done much differently on the goal the opponent scored and actually played a role in Fortuna’s opener with a long goal kick, while two of his four stops came on a fantastic double save in a level match on the hour mark (at 1:45 in this video). It hasn’t been an easy season for Steffen behind one of the league’s leakiest defensive units, but the young keeper is growing as he navigates the rough waters of a relegation race.
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Sargent is sidelined with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Bremen’s last four games of 2019, all of which were losses. In the four games since Sargent’s injury, Bremen have been outscored 13-1. Werder took over Dusseldorf’s handle on 17th place and a relegation spot this week, losing 5-0 to Mainz and 1-0 to Koln.
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
For the first time since September, Pulisic did not appear in Chelsea’s Premier League match this weekend, going as an unused substitute in the Blues’ impressive and important 2-0 win at Tottenham. That’s no reason to worry, of course; the 21-year-old has been a vital piece for Frank Lampard’s side of late, and he was in need of a rest. Additionally, Lampard opted for a 3-4-3 formation against Spurs, in which Pulisic hasn’t started this season. That decision proved a masterstroke from Lampard, and he may be tempted to do it again; still, there’s every reason to believe Pulisic will continue to play a major role as the busy Christmas period commences.
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
Yedlin made his return from injury for the final few moments of Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, coming in deep into stoppage time to primarily waste time. He did not have a touch of the ball. After entering the season clouded in uncertainty and tension, Newcastle have surprisingly emerged better from the tribulations as the Magpies sit in ninth one game before England’s halfway point.
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Weah is training, but there’s still no set date to him to return to action. Lille will hope he is ready to play in January following the Ligue 1 winter break. LOSC completed their 2019 with a 3-0 Coupe de la Ligue win over Monaco before losing 5-1 in the league to the same opponent.
Turkish Super Lig
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Boyd got a start for Besiktas in a terribly disappointing 2-0 loss to fourth-tier side 24 Erzincanspor in the Turkish Cup. The only bright spot was that after winning the first leg 3-0, Besiktas still advanced. He was unsurprisingly left on the bench against Fenerbache on the weekend. Besiktas also lost that contest, 3-1.
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Dest bounced back in a massive way this week, scoring a brace in a 4-3 cup win over Telstar. Dest was shifted to left back and made well on that side of the field: first, he snuck forward and executed a nifty, one-time finish high to the near post; then, he scored Ajax’s fourth with a deadly curler from the top of the area. They were his first two goals for Ajax, and despite the lower-tier opposition, it still shows how capable the 19-year-old fullback is in the attacking
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
Unsurprisingly, Horvath sat twice this week. Brugge beat Anderlecht in the Belgian Cup quarter final and drew Gent in the league.
Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
Wood was an unused sub this week as Hamburg drew 2-2 with Darmstadt.
Duane Holmes (Derby County)
Holmes went the distance for Derby in a 3-0 loss at the hands of Reading. He did have three dribbles and win three aerials in the contest but did little else of note aside from picking up a yellow card. His side’s chances were severely hurt by a fourth-minute red card and subsequent penalty conversion which saw the Rams down a man and a goal before they could even get into the contest.
Matt Miazga (Reading, on loan from Chelsea)
Miazga was sidelined with a hamstring injury for the Royals’ aforementioned win over Holmes’ Derby County. He could be back for Reading’s match Thursday with QPR, but that is far from a guarantee.
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Ream was decent this week for Fulham in a 2-1 win over Leeds United. He did little of note in the contest but was partially responsible for Leeds’ tally when his mark was slipped in, and though the initial shot was saved by the keeper, it was parried right to Patrick Bamford for a tap in. Ream failed to mark tightly enough, and his side was punished. Still, Fulham kept Leeds from doing further damage and picked up the three points, moving into fourth place in the Championship table.
Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic)
Robinson went the distance for Wigan, who played to a goalless draw on Monday with Blackburn. Robinson had five dribbles in the contest, and his 7.9 whoscored.com match rating was best on his team and only behind opposing keeper Christian Walton. Wigan still sit in the relegation zone, but Robinson has been one of their best players this season. The defense has conceded the sixth most goals in the division, while the offense is dead last in scoring; issues exist at both ends of the pitch, but Robinson and the backline are keeping the Latics in the race for safety at the moment.
Chandler has made a surprising return to Frankfurt’s starting XI in the last three Bundesliga games, as he followed up last week’s start with two more this week. However, it hasn’t coincided with a good run for Eintracht, who have lost all three matches and are now winless in seven. Chandler went 180 minutes in a 4-2 defeat to Koln and a 2-1 loss to bottom side Paderborn, which dropped Frankfurt into 13th place at the winter break.
Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach, Bundesliga)
After almost four months out, Johnson returned to the Gladbach side this week, playing the final few minutes of their 2-0 midweek win over Paderborn before missing the 18-man squad that played Hertha to a scoreless draw. He looks set to ride the line on the cusp of the 18-man squad over the second half of the season with Gladbach currently sitting in second and hoping to sustain their title challenge into the spring.
Geoff Cameron (QPR, Championship)
Cameron played 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Charlton. His match started on a high with his second QPR goal as he blasted home a bouncing ball following an early free kick, but it ended on a low when he miserably failed to clear a header that instead bounced right to a Charlton player for the equalizing goal deep into stoppage time. Two-minute highlights can be seen here.
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Stoke City, Championship, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Luca de la Torre (Fulham, Championship)
A week after making the bench twice, de la Torre was back out of the Fulham squad this week for their win over Leeds.
Eric Lichaj (Hull City, Championship)
Lichaj took up his usual spot as Hull’s right back and captain and contributed with an assist, sweeping a left-footed pass forward for Keane Lewis-Potter to put the finishing touches on a 3-0 win over Birmingham (clip at 7:25 in this video). Hull have moved into 11th place in the Championship and are just four points out of sixth.
Jann-Christopher George (Jahn Regensburg, 2. Bundesliga)
George played 88 minutes and also tallied an assist on Regensburg’s third goal, which made their game against Bochum 3-1 in the 64th minute (Regensburg won 3-2). The winger collected a flicked-on goal kick and found teammate Sebastian Stolze with a neat through ball that gave Regensburg the cushion they needed to eventually go on and win the game. In less than 1,000 minutes so far this season, George has put up four goals and two assists for a Regensburg side that sits seventh in the division.
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth, 2. Bundesliga)
Green is sidelined with a knee ligament injury and is expected to be out into February. Fuerth sit in eighth place at the winter break.
Kevin Lankford (St. Pauli, 2. Bundesliga)
Lankford was an unused substitute as St. Pauli ended their first half with a 3-0 win over the league leaders Arminia Bielefeld. St. Pauli sit in 11th place at the interval.
Sebastian Soto (Hannover, 2. Bundesliga)
Soto was again an unused sub for Hannover, who drew Stuttgart 2-2. Hannover sit in 13th place at the winter break. There’s a decent chance that Soto has left the club by the time it plays next on January 28.
Andrija Novakovich (Frosinone, Serie B)
Novakovich played 90 minutes as Frosinone lost 1-0 to league leaders Benevento. Frosinone sit third in Serie B with two more games this week before a short break from league play.
Niko Gioacchini (Caen, Ligue 2)
Gioacchini went the distance in Caen’s scoreless draw with Clermont Foot. He very nearly scored but had his flicked header from a corner hit the frame of the goal in the second half. On Monday, Gioacchini was rewarded for his breakthrough into first-team football with his first professional contract, which ties him to the French second-tier side through 2022-23.
Haji Wright (VVV-Venlo, Eredivisie)
Wright came on at the hour mark, but with Venlo trailing Vitesse 2-0 in a game they’d lose 3-0, he wasn’t able to make much of an impact. VVV are in 16th place, a relegation playoff position, at the Dutch winter break.
Brendan Hines-Ike (Kortrijk, Jupiler League)
Hines-Ike was a stoppage-time substitute in Kortrijk’s 1-0 midweek cup win over Union Saint-Gilloise before going as an unused sub in a 2-1 league win over Eupen.
Kenny Saief (Anderlecht, Jupiler League)
Saief was not on the Anderlecht matchday roster this week. There was a rumor that he may go on loan this winter, with Israel a reported destination, according to this Belgian source. He’ll hope for a move that can produce more playing time, wherever it is.
Phillipe Sandler (Anderlecht, Jupiler League, on loan from Manchester City)
Sandler is out after undergoing knee surgery in mid-December. The defender is expected to be out until mid-February.
Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien, Austrian Bundesliga, on loan from Manchester City)
The Austrian Bundesliga is now on winter break until February. Austria Wien sit in seventh place.
Shaq Moore (Tenerife, Segunda Division)
Moore played 90 minutes and had an assist in a 3-0 cup win for Tenerife against Mensajero. He was then an unused substitute on the weekend as Tenerife lost 2-1 to Deportivo.
Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland, Danish Super League)
The Danish Super League is on its winter break. Nordsjaelland sit seventh in the league.
Christian Cappis (Hobro, Danish Super League)
The Danish Super League is on its winter break. Hobro are in 12th place in the league.
Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro, Danish Super League)
The Danish Super League is on its winter break. Hobro are in 12th place in the league. Sabbi is expected to leave the club in the winter, so we’ll monitor the situation as the window opens.
Yosef Samuel (Hobro, Danish Super League)
The Danish Super League is on its winter break. Hobro are in 12th place in the league.
Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock, Scottish Premiership, on loan from QPR)
Hamalainen went 90 minutes for Kilmarnock at left back in a 1-0 defeat at home against Motherwell.
Matt Polster (Rangers, Scottish Premiership)
Polster was an unused substitute as Rangers beat Hibs 3-0 in Scottish Premiership action. There are some rumors that Polster may be on his way out of the club in January, but it’s unclear as to whether a move will materialize.
Gboly Ariyibi (Panetolikos, Greek Super League)
Ariyibi played 74 minutes, coming off in a scoreless game with OFI. His replacement scored four minutes later, and Panetolikos went on to win 2-0.
Romain Gall (Malmo, Allsvenskan)
The Allsvenskan season is over. Malmo finished second. They will face Wolfsburg in the Round of 32.
Aron Johannsson (Hammarby, Allsvenskan)
Hammarby’s season is over. The side finished in third and qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round next year.
Jonathan Klinsmann (St. Gallen, Swiss Super League)
The Swiss Super League is on winter break until January 25. St. Gallen are in third place in the league.
Lynden Gooch (Sunderland, League 1)
Sunderland did not play this week as they had been scheduled to face Bury, who were liquidated due to financial problems before the season. The Black Cats sit in 13th in League 1.
Charlie Kelman (Southend United, League 1)
Kelman made his return this week, scoring for Southend’s U-23s last Monday, but he wasn’t quite ready to be in the senior 18-man squad for the weekend as the Shrimpers lost 3-2 to Bolton.
Matthew Olosunde (Rotherham United, League 1)
Olosunde played 90 minutes in Rotherham’s 2-2 draw with Fleetwood and assisted on the Millers’ opening goal with a perfect cross in the 61st minute (clip can be seen starting at 56 seconds in this video).
Giles Phillips (Wycombe Wanderers, League 1, on loan from QPR)
Phillips was once more an unused substitute for Wycombe in their 1-0 loss to Oxford United.
Ian Harkes (Dundee United, Scottish Championship)
Harkes played 90 minutes and put the final cherry on top of Dundee United’s 4-0 win over Ayr with the side’s final goal, finishing precisely from 25 yards in the 87th minute.
Taylor Booth (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga)
Chris Richards (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga)
Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga)
Timothy Tillman (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga)
Quincy Butler (Hoffenheim, Bundesliga)
Maxi Dietz (Freiburg, Bundesliga)
Niklas Dossmann (Mainz, Bundesliga)
Michael Edwards (Wolfsburg, Bundesliga)
Uly Llanez (Wolfsburg, Bundesliga)
Sidney Friede (Hertha Berlin, Bundesliga)
Mike Grimm (Augsburg, Bundesliga)
Maurice Malone (Augsburg, Bundesliga)
Matthew Hoppe (Schalke, Bundesliga)
Nick Taitague (Schalke, Bundesliga)
Noah Jones (RB Leipzig, Bundesliga)
Mason Judge (Eintracht Frankfurt, Bundesliga)
Tom Kanowski (Werder Bremen, Bundesliga)
Lennard Maloney (Union Berlin, Bundesliga)
Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga)
Brady Scott (Koln, Bundesliga)
Pablo Soares (Borussia Monchengladbach, Bundesliga)
Blaine Ferri (Greuther Fuerth, 2. Bundesliga)
Stuart Ritchie (Hannover, 2. Bundesliga)
Roberto Hategan (Nurnberg, 2. Bundesliga)
Tyler Taber (Nurnberg, 2. Bundesliga)
Ian Hoffmann (Karlsruher, 2. Bundesliga)
Giona Leibold (Wehen Wiesbaden, 2. Bundesliga)
Travian Sousa (Hamburg, 2. Bundesliga)
Justin Butler (Ingolstadt, 3. Liga)
Jalen Hawkins (Ingolstadt, 3. Liga)
Brandon Austin (Tottenham, Premier League)
Folarin Balogun (Arsenal, Premier League)
Ivan Jara (Crystal Palace, Premier League)
Chituru Odunze (Leicester City, Premier League)
Owen Otasowie (Wolves, Premier League)
Matteo Ritaccio (Liverpool, Premier League)
Kyle Scott (Newcastle, Premier League)
Peter Stroud (West Ham, Premier League)
Jonathan Tomkinson (Norwich, Premier League)
Iffy Udanoh (Aston Villa, Premier League)
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa, Premier League)
Ethan Wady (Chelsea, Premier League)
Marlon Fossey (Fulham, Championship)
Damian Las (Fulham, Championship)
Augustus McGiff (Reading, Championship)
Vaughn Covil (Forest Green Rovers, League 2)
Michael Harding (Northampton Town, League 2)
Mukwelle Akale (Villarreal, La Liga)
Jack Imperato (Villarreal, La Liga)
Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona, La Liga)
Kosuke Ide (Leganes, La Liga)
Rayshaun McGann (Getafe, La Liga)
Andre Costa (Rayo Vallecano, Segunda Division)
Cade Hagan (Sporting Gijon, Segunda Division)
Sam Shashoua (Tenerife, Segunda Division)
Leo Sepuvleda (Salamanca, Segunda Division B)
Kevin Bright (AC Milan, Serie A)
Matteo Carbone (Fiorentina, Serie A)
Luca Lewis (Torino, Serie A)
Gennaro Nigro (Roma, Serie A)
Kaile Auvray (Lille, Ligue 1)
CJ Dos Santos (Benfica, Primeira Liga)
Johan Gomez (Porto, Primeira Liga)
Patrick Leal (Sporting, Primeira Liga)
Jamie Dunning (Sparta Rotterdam, Eredivisie)
Chris Gloster (PSV, Eredivisie)
Richie Ledezma (PSV, Eredivisie)
Alex Mendez (Ajax, Eredivisie)
Joshua Pynadath (Ajax, Eredivisie)
Coby Sultan (VVV-Venlo, Eredivisie)
Julian Anderson (Rangers, Scottish Premiership)
Cameron Harper (Celtic, Scottish Premiership)
Kevin Silva (Hearts, Scottish Premiership)
Nebiyou Perry (Ostersund FK, Sweden)
Jacob Samnik (Hobro, Danish Super League)
Aydan Bowers (FC Helsingor, Danish Second Division)
Jeremy Rafanello (FC Helsingor, Danish Second Division)
Chris Durkin (Sint-Truidense V.V., Jupiler League, on loan from D.C. United)
Isaiah Young (Union St. Gilloise, Belgian First Division B, on loan from Werder Bremen)
Raphael Iacovelli (FC Lugano, Swiss Super League)