A few minutes into Der Klassiker, Christian Pulisic offered Borussia Dortmund a ray of hope.
Pulisic worked hard on a longball down the right flank, hustling to put pressure on Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, and then getting inside position on him to win the ball. Getting further down the right, he delivered a near-post cross that found the head of Michy Batshuayi — only for the forward to nod the chance wide.
Not long after, Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for Bayern Munich. James Rodriguez scored less than 10 minutes later and the rout was on with Bayern netting five times in the first half en route to a 6-0 victory over Dortmund.
It was an ugly result that was entirely deserved based on the balance of play. Pulisic was one of the better players on the day for his side, but that is not saying much in such a heavy defeat.
Restored to the starting lineup with Marco Reus injured — the Germany international was again sidelined for Der Klassiker — Pulisic has not really done appreciably better than when he was dropped last month. But the form of his competition has fallen off as both Andre Schurrle and Mario Gotze have struggled of late. Combine that with Reus’ injury and Pulisic has started in three of the last four matches, with his one absence due to illness.
These days, an American with a regular starting spot in the Bundesliga has become a rarity. The only other American beside Pulisic to start this weekend in the league was Timothy Chandler, who only went 65 minutes in a 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt defeat to Werder Bremen. Aron Johannsson checked in for the final 15 minutes for Bremen.
The rest of the American Bundesliga players did not even see the bench. Bobby Wood’s fall at Hamburg continued as he failed to make the 18 in a 1-1 draw with Stuttgart. Caleb Stanko was not present on the bench for Freiburg as the club fell 2-0 to Schalke. Weston McKennie also missed out on that one, though his absence was down to injury.
Fabian Johnson’s comeback from injury before the international break did not result in long return. The midfielder/fullback missed out on Borussia Monchengladbach's scoreless draw with Mainz as he struggles to recover from his long-standing back issues. Likewise, John Brooks continues to work his way back from knee problems for Wolfsburg.
Donovan receives first Liga MX start
Landon Donovan’s comeback from retirement with Club Leon has seen him make multiple appearances in Liga MX and the Copa MX as a substitute. However, Donovan got his first start of the Liga MX season this weekend as his club squared off against Tigres.
It could have gone better for Donovan and his teammates, however, as they conceded four first-half goals in a 4-1 loss. Donovan went 61 minutes for Leon, and was out of the contest by the time the club scored a stoppage time consolation goal.
The only good news for any American for Leon was that goalkeeper William Yarbrough wasn’t between the sticks for the contest. The bad news was that he wasn’t in the 18 at all.
Elsewhere in Liga MX, three other Americans got the start. Jorge Villafana has worked his way back into the Santos Laguna XI consistently in the Clausura, and went the distance in a 3-2 loss to Atlas. Despite the setback, which snapped a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, Villafana and his teammates will still be pleased to be second in the Clausura.
Ventura Alvarado picked up his sixth start of the Clausura with 10th place Necaxa, playing the full 90 in a 1-1 draw against Pumas. Since his move from Santos Laguna, he has featured in just under half of Necaxa’s Liga MX contests, while starting three Copa MX matches.
Alejandro Guido was the other American to start in Liga MX this week, though he lasted just 41 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Veracruz. The midfielder felt dizziness after a head injury and had to be removed from the contest.
Gooch gets chance in surprise Sunderland win
Lynden Gooch got his first opportunity with the Sunderland first team in a long time last Friday against Derby County in the Championship and he made the most of it.
Gooch didn’t tally a goal or assist in the contest, but he directly contributed to one of the Black Cats scores by winning a penalty in the 51st minute, which was converted. He would come off in stoppage time with Sunderland leading 4-1 in the contest. That is how it finished, allowing the club to snap a 10-game winless streak, and doing so against opposition that is aiming for promotion to the Premier League.
It was Gooch’s first start since Jan. 13, when he didn’t fare well in a 4-0 defeat to Cardiff. Since, Gooch has barely played, seeing just nine minutes of action in nearly two months, while featuring for the Sunderland U-23 side.
The victory still leaves Sunderland second from the bottom in the Championship, five points from safety. Gooch received another chance in the XI in Monday’s match against Sheffield Wednesday as manager Chris Coleman declared to reporters he wants his players to make themselves undroppable. The attacker did pick up an assist in the contest, but Sunderland fell 3-1.
It will be on Gooch to continue to state his case on the field.
Wooten makes return
In the 2. Bundesliga this weekend, Andrew Wooten came on for a 25-minute second half appearance for Sandhausen in a 1-1 draw with St. Pauli.
That is notable because it was only Wooten’s second appearance of the season. Injuries have limited him to just 55 minutes all campaign, with his last outing coming Aug. 4, when he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Ingolstadt.
"Of course it was a very nice feeling to be back on the pitch,” Wooten told the club’s website after the draw. “I am also pain free after the game. It would have been even nicer with a goal, unfortunately that did not work out.”
Next up for Wooten and Sandhausen is a matchup against Julian Green and Greuther Furth, who will come in as one of the hottest clubs of the German second division. Green has maintained a regular spot in the lineup for the club as they have won four of their last six to escape the relegation places for now.
However, the 2.Bundesliga remains tight. Only four points separate fourth place Ingolstadt and 15th placed Erzgebirge Aue, with Greuther Furth in 14th on 36 points and Sandhausen in seventh on 37 points.