A quiet weekend in Germany was still notable for a few reasons as it relates to the U.S. men's national team.
Giovanni Reyna returned to action for Borussia Dortmund following an unexpected snag prior to what was supposed to be a landmark start for the teenage rising talent, while Josh Sargent returned to Werder Bremen's starting lineup in time for a key victory in the fight against relegation. Wolfsburg's John Brooks held his own in a difficult matchup–with another one on the way–while Tyler Adams made the most of his minutes off the bench for RB Leipzig.
Nothing from Americans over the weekend will stack up against their dynamic Canadian counterpart, Alphonso Davies, who starred for Bayern Munich with a goal and an assist from his role as a surging left back vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, but here's a closer look at the output for U.S. internationals abroad in Germany's top flight, with a quick turnaround before their next matches (all statistics via WhoScored):
Reyna returns as Der Klassiker looms
U.S. national team and Borussia Dortmund fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief at the site of Reyna returning to the field, just a week after a snag in pregame warmups kept him out of action in Dortmund's first game back–and prevented him from making his first league start for the club. He came on right after Achraf Hakimi sealed Dortmund's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg and saw out the last 10-plus minutes, making just nine touches in that time.
In the bigger picture, Reyna is fit, and that could bode well for Tuesday's clash vs. Bayern Munich. With clubs sure to rotate squads due to the quick turnaround and the light training period in the run-up to the restart, the 17-year-old could find himself playing a bigger role in the match that could wind up determining the league title. For what it's worth, Dortmund's own website pegs Reyna as a substitute in its lineup guess for the game.
Brooks holds his own vs. Haaland; Havertz up next
John Brooks's Wolfsburg might have fallen to Dortmund, but he at least did his part in keeping Erling Haaland off the board, which is no easy feat. It was Haaland's accidental dummy that resulted in Raphael Guerreiro's opener, but otherwise, the Norwegian star was held without a shot, this after scoring 13 goals in his first 13 games in all competitions with the club.
Brooks also passed at over a 92% clip (including connecting on four of six long balls), which is a stat that will sit well with U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter, and he also made a pair of interceptions and a pair of clearances in defeat. Another test–on short rest–beckons on Tuesday, as Wolfsburg heads to Bayer Leverkusen. Kai Havertz has arguably been the most effective player in the league since the restart, and Leverkusen has clicked in the attack, scoring seven goals in its last two games.
Wolfsburg's other first-team American, 19-year-old Ulysses Llanez, remained a no-show on the field or on the bench, which should not be a surprise after the club's manager indicated that he would be brought along slowly instead of being thrown into immediate playing time. Those first minutes could be imminent, though, if this announcement from the club is any indication:
Sargent starts in key victory
Saturday brought a double dose of good news for Josh Sargent, who started as Werder Bremen snapped its winless stretch for a vital three-point haul and 1-0 win at Freiburg. He had come off the bench in the club's first match back, so to start again represented a step forward for the 20-year-old forward.
He made a modest 23 touches in his 63 minutes on the field, winning a team-high five aerial balls and drawing a pair of fouls, and he'll hope to get the chance to build on it in another crucial game vs. Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday. Werder Bremen enters three points back with a game in hand on the club in the relegation playoff place, Fortuna Dusseldorf, though with an inferior goal differential, it'll take more than just a win to feel better about its hopes of staying up. There's also the fact that Werder Bremen hasn't won back-to-back league games since September.
“We are aware of the difficult situation we’re in and are ready to fight," Sargent said after Saturday's match. "Every game is a battle now. That was an important win, not just for the team or for the coach, but for the entire club.”
Adams perfect in passing off the bench
RB Leipzig won after three straight Bundesliga draws, but Tyler Adams was largely a spectator for it, coming off the bench for the final 30 minutes of a 5-0 rout of Mainz. By the time he had come on, it was 4-0, and in that time he didn't misplace any of his 28 passes.
Seeing Adams on the bench after he started RB Leipzig's first game following the restart shouldn't have been a big surprise. With training limited for clubs in the build-up and Adams's fitness particularly in focus given how much time he's had to miss over the last year, he's one player whose minutes will certainly be managed with the schedule tightened. RBL returns to action Wednesday vs. Hertha Berlin, and depending on how Dortmund-Bayern goes on Tuesday, Leipzig could find itself either alone in second place or in the mix for the title again with another win.
McKennie's Schalke routed again
Schalke out-possessed Augsburg 71%-29% but was routed 3-0 on the heels of a 4-0 defeat to Dortmund in the first game back. That doesn't leave a lot of room for a glass-half-full perspective, but it wasn't all bad for U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie. He at least passed well (91%, 3-for-4 on long balls, one key pass) and led his team in tackles (five) and clearances (three) in his 74 minutes on the field, and it was after he exited that Augsburg scored its final two goals.
As long as the team performance droops, though, McKennie is going to get swallowed up in that, but the club has a golden get-right opportunity on Wednesday at relegation-threatened Paderborn. The 16th-placed side is actually unbeaten in its last five league matches dating back to before the shutdown, but it's only won once in that time (1-0-4) and has drawn both of its games since returning.
Alfredo Morales (30), Timmy Chandler (30) and Fabian Johnson (32) don't represent the future of the national team, but they're still on the radar for Berhalter, even if it's on the outer circles of it.
Johnson's continued hamstring injury kept him out of Monchengladbach's loss, while Morales started and Chandler came off the bench in their respective games.
Morales completed 18 of his 24 passes and had a couple of tackles and clearances in a 90-minute stint in the midfield for Fortuna Dusseldorf (teammate and U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen remained out with a knee injury), while Chandler came on at halftime for the wildness of Eintracht Frankfurt's 5-2 loss to Bayern Munich. It was 2-0 after the opening 45 minutes, and Chandler was an active part of the second half, completing nine of 12 passes (including one key pass) in defeat.