If you’re going on form alone, it’s hard to pick out an American doing better than Emerson Hyndman.
Hyndman bagged his fourth goal in eight league games for Rangers FC in a 4-0 victory over Hamilton Academical in Scottish Premiership action. That’s a fine return for a striker, but Hyndman is a midfielder.
“Joining a massive club (with) high expectations, you have to go out every week and perform - there are no exceptions,” Hyndman told Rangers' official website after the match. “I’m enjoying that challenge and I just hope to carry it on.”
The quality of Scotland’s top division is up for debate. Celtic is certainly a good side, but where the rest of the league stands is questionable, which is likely why U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena left Hyndman off his squad for this round of World Cup qualifiers.
One can certainly argue that while Scotland isn’t a top league in Europe, it’s comparable to MLS, making Hyndman a legitimate snub. With that said, there isn’t much the 20-year-old can do but keep at it. If he maintains his form, there almost certainly will be a spot for him in the summer, whether it’s for World Cup qualifying or the Gold Cup.
And perhaps more importantly long-term, the on-loan midfielder may well force himself into Eddie Howe’s 2017-18 plans at Bournemouth. If Hyndman can establish himself as a Premier League regular, then he probably won’t have to worry about national team snubs for a while.
WOOD JOINS THE RANKS OF INJURED AMERICANS
It’s been a rough few weeks for potential U.S. national team starters abroad.
Bobby Wood was the latest to go down. He nearly went the distance against Eintracht Frankfurt but was subbed off in stoppage time with a back injury. There’s no current timetable on his return beside that he withdrew from the U.S. squad to remain in Hamburg for treatment.
With the international break, Wood will have a few weeks to recuperate for his club while the national team will have to wait until June to get one of its most in-form players back.
Wood joined Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Lichaj as players coming down with the injury bug over the past few weeks. Johnson went out last week with a pulled thigh, knocking him out of qualifiers. Lichaj may have been in contention for a recall given the issues at right back for the U.S., but he was hurt in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 loss to Burton on March 11.
Wood, Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, who is also out until April with a thigh problem, were near-locks to start against Honduras on March 24 and Lichaj may have robbed Arena with the best available replacement. Beside the injury, Wood, Johnson and Yedlin had been in good form with their club teams. Coupled with the suspensions of Jermaine Jones and Timmy Chandler, the U.S. is going to find its depth tested in a potentially dangerous game against Honduras.
BROOKS' BITTERSWEET MOMENT
John Brooks did something Saturday that he hadn’t done in over a year in Germany - score a goal.
While he did score for the U.S. in a pre-Copa America friendly this past summer, Brooks’ last goal in a competitive match came Dec. 16, 2015 in the DFB-Pokal against Nuremberg. His last Bundesliga goal came a few weeks before that, on Dec. 5, 2015 against Bayer Leverkusen.
As a center back, Brooks banging home goals isn’t expected, but it’s still nice to see.
Unfortunately, it was a high point in a fairly miserable day otherwise, as Hertha fell 4-2 to Koln. Brooks also picked up a minor knee injury in the contest but is fit to travel for World Cup qualifying.
BOYD FALLS INTO 'HOLE'
When Terrence Boyd moved to Bundesliga struggler Darmstadt, he was hoping for a chance. He certainly got one, starting his first four games for the side. But while he did score a goal in an upset of Borussia Dortmund, Boyd had not put in consistently good performances and lost his starting job to Antonio Colak. Things got even worse this past weekend when he didn’t make the 18 in a 1-0 loss to Wolfsburg, despite an injury to Colak that left him only available as a substitute.
Given his time away from the game due to injuries, it probably should not be a surprise to see Boyd struggle. His manager, Torsten Frings, said as much.
"You have to imagine: He was injured for very, very long, then only played in the regional league, was allowed to co-operate with Leipzig," Frings said in a press conference, "that a small hole comes is completely normal. "
While Boyd deals with bumps in his road back, a striker who likely is very sympathetic to his plight, Aron Johannsson, finally saw some action again this past weekend in Werder Bremen’s 3-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Johannsson entered the match in the 73rd minute with his side up 2-0. He didn’t contribute to the third goal, but it was his first game action since Feb. 11.
VILLAFANA MAKES FIRST CLAUSURA START
Bruce Arena has spoken highly of Jorge Villafana, so it wasn’t a big surprise to see him called in for the March qualifiers, despite lacking playing time at Santos Laguna.
However, that may finally be changing for the left back. He went 90 minutes in his side’s 3-1 Copa MX loss to Cruz Azul a week and a half ago. Then, with Liga MX returning after a missed week due to a referee strike, Villafana started again and went 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Tijuana.
While it may not seem like much, it was Villafana’s first action, let alone start, in the Clausura.
We’ll see if he can use that as a springboard for his play with the national team.