From injury setbacks, timely scoring appearances and frustration at managerial tactical tweaks — it was another weekend of wild contrasts for the United States men’s players plying their trade around Europe.
Gregg Berhalter is preparing to name a squad for this month’s friendlies with Germany and Ghana, so he will have been paying particular attention to how the expat U.S. contingent performed from Serie A to the Eredivisie.
With a Copa America to host and compete in next year and the 2026 World Cup on home soil looming ever larger on the horizon, we’re keeping tabs on how they perform each week — welcome to our player tracker.
Issue of the weekend
That’s the forlorn total Tyler Adams managed after all the sweat, tears and toil to recover from his hamstring injury paid off and allowed him to make his debut for new club Bournemouth. The midfielder had been sidelined for 200 days with the problem, which has plagued him since last season at Leeds United.
But, finally, it appeared there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Adams played 20 minutes from the bench in Bournemouth’s Carabao Cup third-round win over Championship side Stoke City last Wednesday and hoped to feature again when the south-coast club hosted Arsenal three days later. But his absence from the squad prompted concern and, following the 4-0 defeat, manager Andoni Iraola duly confirmed everyone’s worst fears.
“I don’t know what to call it… a setback, but he is not feeling well,” Iraola said. “It is true that he is going to be out for some time, for sure. It’s his hamstring.”
The injury is a crushing setback for Adams, who tweeted that it was “good to be back” following his cup-tie cameo at the Vitality Stadium.
Been a minute. Good to be back 🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/YbT0g578bD
— Tyler Adams (@tyler_adams14) September 27, 2023
The development will also represent a headache for Berhalter. He had perhaps dared to hope that one of his best players might be able to play some part in this month’s friendlies in East Hartford, Connecticut and Nashville, Tennessee — an aspiration that has now been conclusively dashed.
Adams still has plenty of time to recover before next summer’s Copa America, but his absence will remain a frustration for everyone who wants to see the U.S. midfield firing on all cylinders.
Player of the weekend
On-fire Christian Pulisic is getting the fans off their seats in San Siro this season with his electrifying form. Well, most of them anyway…
After topping off another excellent display with a goal for AC Milan against Lazio on Saturday, his watching father, Mark, seemed pleased enough if not moved to jump to his feet in celebration. But even if Pulisic senior’s celebration seemed a touch on the subdued side, his wholesome smile when more excited family members prompted him betrayed paternal pride.
🤗 Wholesome content alert! Pulisic’s dad reacts to the No.11’s goal last night ❤🖤
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) October 1, 2023
Milan’s win briefly sent them top of Serie A and it was fuelled by the impressive link-up of the USMNT captain and fellow star man Rafael Leao, who each provided plenty of chances.
“I’m having fun and things are improving from game to game,” said Pulisic. “I don’t have a target in terms of goals, but I will try to score many important ones like today’s. We have a good chance of winning the Scudetto (the Serie A title), but we have to think game by game starting from the match against Genoa (on Saturday).”
Pulisic has three league goals to date this season — more than any of the forwards at his former club, Chelsea, have managed.
Quote of the weekend
Malik Tillman did not sleep (sorry) on his mission to make amends with PSV Eindhoven and their no-nonsense manager Peter Bosz.
The USMNT striker learned a hard lesson when he was left out of the squad for last weekend’s win over Almere City after he overslept and turned up late for a pre-game meeting. He was back on the bench for the midweek victory over Go Ahead Eagles, which saw PSV go top of the Eredevisie, and enjoyed 28 minutes on the pitch in a comfortable 3-0 success.
The 21-year-old clearly did enough in that cameo to win over Bosz, who handed him a first league start of term on Saturday. The Bayern Munich loanee scored in added time at the end to secure PSV’s 3-1 success over FC Volendam, having also created the previous goal for team-mate Guus Til.
“I thought Malik was crazy tonight,” said Bosz afterwards. “His assist, his goal and the amount of passes he made were fantastic. We were dominant because of him. This is what I expect from him with and without the ball. We all saw his potential out there. The fans have been able to see what he is capable of and that is a lot.”
Tillman was all smiles too. “I’m thrilled I could help the team,” he added. “We created a host of chances against a well-organised team.”
How did other U.S. players get on?
Name: Weston McKennie
League appearances: 7
Continuing the paternal theme, there was some fatherly advice of sorts for Juventus manager Max Allegri on Sunday.
Following an underwhelming 0-0 draw at Atalanta, plenty of frustration and criticism was flung in Allegri’s direction — some of it from an irate dad of USMNT star Weston McKennie, who had started the game at wing-back. The player, more at home in midfield, remains a relative novice in that role but is becoming increasingly used to having to fill in there.
As has often been the case, McKennie was withdrawn after 84 minutes, with fellow American Timothy Weah taking his place in Allegri’s defensive line-up.
It prompted the former’s father, John, to take to social media and vent his frustration. “Put McKennie in the midfield! Weah on the wing!” he wrote.
Put Mckennie in the midfield! Weah on the wing! They have proven they play well together in their perspective positions! https://t.co/ia8AtWJXRh
— john mckennie (@airborne69) October 2, 2023
McKennie senior returned to social media around 12 hours later just to acknowledge that he was not calling for Allegri to lose his job — “I have my own opinions, but would never wish anyone to be fired!” — even if he did disagree with the manager’s tactical plan and its implications for his son.
I have my own opinions, but would never wish anyone to be fired! At the end of the day the coach has a plan. We don’t have to like it! I am also a fan, but he’s the COACH! Lets not take my words out of context!
— john mckennie (@airborne69) October 2, 2023
Name: Luca de la Torre
Club: Celta Vigo
League appearances: 7
It really was a case of fluctuating fortunes for our USMNT players in Europe in this week’s tracker.
After his first assist of the season for Celta Vigo against Barcelona last weekend, Luca de la Torre came back down to earth with a bump.
The midfielder was sent off during his side’s 1-1 draw with Alaves on Thursday after being the recipient of two yellow cards. First he pulled down an opponent. Then came a mistimed tackle in the second half, just before Alaves drew level.
It means he will be suspended for the La Liga match tonight (Monday) against Las Palmas, who are level on points with Rafa Benitez’s side.
Name: Giovanni Reyna
Club: Borussia Dortmund
League appearances: 0
Another week, another bagel in the appearances column for the USMNT midfielder at Borussia Dortmund this season.
The 20-year-old had to kick his heels on the bench again as Dortmund beat Hoffenheim — for whom John Brooks started and was booked — 3-1 on Friday. Reyna missed the start of the season through injury but, having now regained fitness, can add Edin Terzic to Berhalter’s name on the list of managers he seemingly needs to win over.
Name: Folarin Balogun
League appearances: 4
Following on Tillman’s redemptive theme, Folarin Balogun was back in the good books this weekend.
The striker, who missed two penalties against Nice in Monaco’s previous Ligue 1 fixture, rewarded coach Adi Hutter’s faith in some style. The former Arsenal man provided a goal and an assist to help Monaco come from behind to beat Marseille in a lively encounter on Saturday, thrusting them back to the top of the French top flight.
It was a display of mental resilience by the 22-year-old, and the perfect way to bury any lingering demons after his Nice misses.
Name: Matt Turner
Club: Nottingham Forest
League appearances: 7
Conceded in the league: 10
It was a tough Sunday for Matt Turner, who was at fault for Brentford’s goal against Nottingham Forest and was fortunate not to give away a penalty — and escape a sending-off — for a kick on the visitors’ Yoanne Wissa.
Turner’s humility shone through, though, after the entertaining 1-1 draw on Sunday, when contentious VAR decisions (or non-decisions) dominated the Premier League narrative.
“It was a terrible start for me in the second half in general,” he told CBS Sports after the match. “The ball was slow. I wasn’t getting it out of my feet and (Wissa) was pressing me really hard. I was a little bit worried, but I tried to hold back as much as I could because I knew he was going to win it.
“I’m glad VAR didn’t intervene because that would have made things go from bad to worse for me.”
What’s coming up?
Pulisic and Yunus Musah, who also impressed against Lazio, will be in Champions League action against Dortmund in Germany on Wednesday (3pm EST, Paramount+). Keep an eye on PSV, too, where Tillman, Ricardo Pepi and Sergino Dest could all figure for the high-flying Dutch team against Sevilla on Tuesday in the same competition (3pm EST, Paramount+).
Could Tom Brady really have generated ’17bn positive media impressions’ for Birmingham City?
(Top photos: Getty Images)