Of all the Americans in Liga MX this season, Joe Corona looks like the player who has done the most to help his career, both at the club level and with the national team.
Having made himself into a fixture in Miguel Herrera's lineup each week, Corona’s strong season continued Sunday night in the Liga MX playoffs. After Corona and Tijuana fell in the first leg 1-0 to Morelia, a victory in the home leg was required to advance.
In the 42nd minute, Corona got his head to a Tijuana corner. His attempt was redirected into the back of the net by Henry Martin to put the hosts up 1-0, and level 1-1 on aggregate in the tie.
#PorSiNoLoViste GL de Henry Martin @Xolos 1-0 @FuerzaMonarca
VUELTA #4tosDeFinal #Clausura2017 #LIGABancomerMX
#SienteTuLiga pic.twitter.com/kjFNN1jY3c — LIGA Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMX) May 15, 2017
Substitute Juan Lucero would snatch the winner 10 minutes before time to give Tijuana the victory and a place in the Liguilla semifinals. Corona will get to continue to state his case for why he deserves a U.S. national team recall when his side faces defending champion Tigres.
Of Tijuana’s three Americans, Corona was the only one to play in the contest. Michael Orozco remains sidelined with an injury while Paul Arriola was in the 18 but did not see the field.
Elsewhere in Liga MX, another American’s dream of a title came to an end. Jorge Villafana and Santos Laguna had a mountain to climb against Toluca after dropping the first leg at home 4-1. While Santos launched an impressive comeback in the second leg, it fell just short as the away side won 3-1. Neither Villafana nor Ventura Alvarado were in the squad for the second leg, though Villafana did get the start in the first leg.
That leaves Tijuana as the only remaining side in the Liga MX playoffs with Americans who may contribute to a title. Midfielder Jose Torres is on Tigres, but has not played since a brief 10-minute cameo April 8 against Necaxa.
ALL SQUARE IN ENGLISH PROMOTION PLAYOFFS
We know DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle will be in the Premier League in 2017-18. But will any American join the right back in earning promotion to England’s top division?
The two players who have the opportunity squared off in the promotion playoff semifinal first leg Saturday as Tim Ream and Fulham hosted Danny Williams and Reading. Both started and went the distance as the sides played out a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.
On Tuesday the sides will meet in the second leg at Madejski Stadium. The winner will head to Wembley to meet the winner of the other semifinal between Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday. In the first leg between those two sides, David Wagner’s Huddersfield was held to a scoreless draw at home. The second leg to decide the winner of that tie will take place Wednesday.
MORALES AND INGOLSTADT RELEGATED
A disappointing season in the Bundesliga isn’t officially over yet for Alfredo Morales and Ingolstadt, but their hopes of at least sneaking into the relegation playoff to save their top-flight status came to an end Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Freiburg.
With four points separating Ingolstadt and Hamburg with just one game remaining, the drop to the second division is assured. It is a rough end to a season that showed promise for Morales, who had a solid run of starts and form over the winter. But his form, and Ingolstadt’s, dipped in the spring, leaving plenty of questions as to what the future holds for the midfielder. While a call-up seemed quite possible in February, things look a lot less certain now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Wood and Hamburg didn’t save themselves against Schalke this weekend, but did enough to ensure they will do no worse than the relegation playoff thanks to a 1-1 draw. Wood, who has been battling through a knee injury, played 90 minutes in the contest.
Despite a dire run of form, Hamburg actually has its Bundesliga status in its own hands. Facing Wolfsburg at home on the final matchday of the season, a victory will ensure Hamburg finishes above Wolfsburg and avoids the relegation playoff. Anything less than a win guarantees a spot in the playoff for HSV.
Other Americans who will be plying their trade in the second division next year thanks to relegation include Terrence Boyd and Darmstadt, and Lynden Gooch with Sunderland in England. Brad Guzan and Middlesbrough were also relegated, but Guzan will join Atlanta United this summer.
On the flip side, Julian Green and Stuttgart will be headed up to the Bundesliga barring a total collapse, as they are three points up on third-placed Eintracht Braunschweig with a vastly superior goal difference. Braunschweig will be the opponent for Wood and Hamburg should they not earn victory against Wolfsburg.
HYNDMAN DONE FOR SEASON
Emerson Hyndman’s impressive short season is over.
The midfielder had not dressed in Rangers' recent matches due to a foot injury, which has ended his season with the Scottish Premiership club. The 21-year-old was named the club's young player of the year, and Hyndman will now return to his parent club Bournemouth.
There does not appear to be any chance of a permanent switch to Rangers as Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has insisted Hyndman is part of the club’s Premier League plans for next season.
“You don’t invest in young players to then move them on very quickly. That defeats the object of our model,” Howe told the Daily Echo in quotes published May 3.
“We look to bring in young and talented players and develop them and make them better. That is a long-term process.
“We are delighted with the progress Emerson and Lewis (Cook) are making.
“It is great to see Emerson doing so well on loan with Rangers and Lewis has performed excellently since being given his opportunity.
“They are outstanding young players and that hasn’t changed from the day we brought them in.”
When asked about Hyndman’s injury late last week, Howe believed it is a problem that can be resolved with rest, and that the midfielder will be ready for the preseason.
However, what isn’t clear is whether Hyndman would be ready if he were in Bruce Arena’s plans this summer for World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup. It is unlikely Bournemouth will want the 21-year-old midfielder to depart on international duty, even if he is healthy enough to play. That doesn’t leave Hyndman out of the mix, but it does lessen the chance he gets a call-up that seemed quite possible in late April.
HORVATH SAVES CLUB BRUGGE WITH PENALTY STOP
Ethan Horvath had to wait a while to make his debut between the sticks for Club Brugge, but the 21-year-old goalkeeper appears to have made the most of his opportunity.
After getting his debut last week, Horvath started again for Brugge in a big match against Belgian First Division leader Anderlecht. Horvath was beaten early on a free kick, but came up huge with a penalty save to preserve a 1-1 draw for the hosts.
“We created plenty of chances, but 1-1 is not enough,” Brugge midfielder Ruud Vormer said to the club’s website after the game. “They had two chances, that free kick and that penalty. Horvath saved our skins there, they would have claimed the title otherwise. We did our best, and brought some good football to the table, but it just wouldn't go in.”
It will be interesting to see if this late run of games is enough to get Horvath a look this summer. While Tim Howard is the likely No.1, Nick Rimando has been hurt and Guzan has struggled with Middlesbrough. He has competition from the local MLS options, but Horvath can make an argument as to why he deserves a place with a good close to the season with Brugge.