Americans Abroad: Sargent's Werder Bremen in Relegation Peril; George Floyd Tributes Increase

The U.S. striker is facing the prospects of a season in the second tier barring a late surge in the Bundesliga, where the anti-racism message has spread even more.
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Another Bundesliga weekend is in the books, Bayern Munich is another step closer to an eighth straight title, Americans in the league endured another mixed bag of performances and there has been another set of activism across the league after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Such was life in the German top flight over the weekend, where Bayern's lead over Borussia Dortmund remained seven points with just four games to play. That puts Bayern six points away from the title and provided Dortmund keeps pace, that could mean Bayern clinches against Werder Bremen, the relegation-threatened club of U.S. men's national team striker Josh Sargent.

Werder Bremen is in a perilous spot, sitting three points behind the relegation playoff place with a significantly worse goal differential (-6) than Fortuna Dusseldorf. That means the margin for error down the stretch is effectively gone and the pressure significantly ramped up if Werder Bremen is to avoid the drop and Sargent is to avoid at least one season in a second-tier league.

The beginning of the Bundesliga's restart went rather well for the club, with Werder Bremen going 2-0-1 before consecutive losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg undid that good work. Aside from the Bayern game on June 16, the remaining schedule is favorable, with matches against Paderborn (last place), Mainz (15th place) and Cologne (12th), so there's a glimmer of hope, but it's must-win-or-bust for Werder Bremen and its American striker for those three if it wants to stay up.

Prior to its 1-0 defeat to Wolfsburg, though, Werder Bremen did take part in a greater moment, kneeling in unison with its opponent around the center circle to pay homage to George Floyd in a show of a growing anti-racism message that is being spread around the league and Europe.

Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg players kneel

It started a week ago with Weston McKennie's armband, snowballed with on-field acts from Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram and Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi and drew a groundswell of support from there. FIFA indicated that leagues should interpret the Laws of the Game with context and common sense, indicating that what otherwise may be deemed punishable offenses for shows of "political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images" be left alone. 

The German federation obliged, and what followed was a sight to behold. Bayern Munich made a statement with its T-shirts in warmups, and its players and Bayer Leverkusen's donned black armbands. McKennie's Schalke and Hertha Berlin all kneeled pregame, as did Union Berlin and Sancho and Hakmi's Dortmund, with the latter also wearing special T-shirts to speak out. U.S. and Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder Alfredo Morales took a knee of his own prior to his appearance off the bench vs. Hoffenheim.

The movement made its way to Austria, where American coach Jesse Marsch wore a "Black Lives Matter" armband on the bench, as his RB Salzburg took another step toward a cup-league double in his first season as club manager.

In these extraordinary times, it's clear there are more important messages to be addressed that go beyond stats, form, titles and relegation battles.

As it relates to the on-field product, though, here's how Americans abroad fared over the weekend:

Brooks helps silence Sargent, Werder Bremen

As stated above, Werder Bremen is in trouble. Sargent couldn't create much despite being given another start, firing one off-target shot in 76 minutes, though he continued to give his team chances by drawing a Werder Bremen-high four fouls. At a certain point, the hold-up play needs to be complemented with more dangerous moments going at goal, and for Werder Bremen, that time is now.

Preventing Werder Bremen from scoring was John Brooks, who continued his steady level of play in the back for Wolfsburg in the 1-0 win, though his passing (33-for-46, 6-for-13 on long balls) was below his usual standard.

Ulysses Llanez did not dress for the match for Wolfsburg.

McKennie misses out as Schalke finally earns a point

After four straight losses since the restart, Schalke is on the board with a point, coming from behind after conceding early to draw Union Berlin, 1-1. 

McKennie sat out due to yellow card accumulation, but he figures to be back in the lineup Sunday against Bayer Leverkusen.

Adams, 10-man Leipzig earn a draw

Tyler Adams was a key figure on Saturday in the midfield and down the right side for RB Leipzig, which went down a man after Dayot Upamecano's red card in the 43rd minute and had to settle for a draw vs. woeful Paderborn, which scored in second-half stoppage time to secure the point.

Adams had a team-high 81 touches and a team-high five tackles. He completed 43 of his 58 pass attempts, though he misfired on all four of his long balls. He remains an always-active connector and a steady element no matter where he's stationed on the field.

Reyna comes off the bench again

Giovanni Reyna remains a regular off Lucien Favre's bench for Borussia Dortmund, coming on for the final 22 minutes of the club's 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin. He's been a tidy substitute for Dortmund, showing that again as he completed all of his nine pass attempts and drawing a foul after replacing Julian Brandt.

Perhaps that elusive first start will come Saturday vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Chandler eyes silverware with Eintracht Frankfurt

Timmy Chandler was a halftime substitute as Eintracht Frankfurt succumbed to Mainz, 2-0. All eyes are on the domestic cup prize for the mid-table club at this point. After losing to Bayern 5-2 a few weeks ago, the rematch is set in the DFB Pokal semifinals for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in Denmark...

Hobro teammates and U.S. U-23 midfielders Christian Cappis and Emmanuel Sabbi both started Sunday, with Sabbi earning a penalty and having a shot cleared off the line in a 2-2 draw vs. Lyngby.

Winger Jonathan Amon, meanwhile, sat out again for Nordsjaelland's loss to Midtjylland. He has just two appearances on the season and hasn't featured since September.