There was good news for the U.S. national team’s backline this weekend in London as Geoff Cameron made his return from injury. He didn’t start in Stoke’s match against Tottenham, but Cameron was able to make a nine-minute cameo for the Potters. He wasn’t able to impact much, as Spurs scored four times in the first half en route to a 4-0 drubbing of Stoke.
But that Cameron was able to get on, his first action since October, is big. Provided he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, it would seem as though Cameron should be fit and ready to go in three weeks' time for the U.S. showdown against Honduras. That will be welcome news for Bruce Arena, given how much the U.S. backline struggled in Costa Rica without him.
And given how rough of a game it was for Stoke, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Cameron back in the Potters' XI sooner rather than later.
AMERICANS FIGHTING FOR SPOTS IN BUNDESLIGA
A few weeks ago we cataloged how Americans started every game on a Saturday in the Bundesliga. There have been a few changes since then. As of right now, the Americans who appear to be locked into every-week spots in the Bundesliga are:
John Brooks at Hertha BSC
Fabian Johnson at Borussia Monchengladbach
Alfredo Morales at Ingolstadt
Timmy Chandler at Eintracht Frankfurt
Bobby Wood at Hamburg
Three other Americans in the Bundesliga appear to be in a battle for playing time that they may not be winning right now - Christian Pulisic, Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson.
The big one, for U.S. fans, is that Pulisic has failed to start in Borussia Dortmund’s last three games. He has come off the bench in all three, but it certainly looks as though he’s fallen behind in the pecking order a bit. However, Dortmund has four games over the next two weeks, so there should be opportunity for Pulisic to once again make a case for his inclusion in the XI.
Boyd started his first four games at Darmstadt, and picked up a goal, but had a poor outing against Hoffenheim a week ago. Meanwhile fellow striker Antonio Colak has been in better form. With last-placed Darmstadt looking for points and fast, that led to Colak taking Boyd’s spot in the lineup against Augsburg this past weekend.
The good news for Boyd is that when he got on, he was active. His attempt to get to the end of a cross disrupted the defense enough for Marcel Heller to have an easy, unmarked finish Saturday. He also controlled another cross well, though his shot was right at the keeper and Augsburg went the other way to score the winner minutes later. Games like that will help Boyd get plenty of minutes, even if he isn't always in the XI.
Johannsson is in the toughest spot for minutes. After returning from injury, he got off the bench for Werder Bremen in a pair of games. While he has made the 18 in the last two contests, he has not seen any game time.
Given all the injury issues Johannsson’s had since his move to Bremen last year, you can’t help but hope he gets a chance soon. But with Bremen just two points out of a relegation playoff spot, the club isn’t in a position to do anyone any favors. Hopefully Johannsson’s form in training merits opportunities on the field once again, and he can take advantage of those chances when they come.
WOOD MAKES BENCH FOR HAMBURG
After becoming a late scratch from Hamburg’s starting XI last week with a thigh injury, there was concern Bobby Wood might miss an extended period of time. The good news for Wood is that he was healthy enough to make the bench for Hamburg’s match with Bayern Munich.
The bad news for Wood and Hamburg is that Bayern did what it normally does against Hamburg at the Allianz Arena - run riot. Bayern walked away with an 8-0 win. Wood did not get into the contest, which wasn’t a surprise given the scoreline.
It certainly looks like Wood has dodged serious injury and should be in contention to start again for Hamburg soon. Keep an eye on what happens for the side’s Wednesday DFB Pokal match against Monchengladbach.
MIAZGA, PAYNE LOOK FOR EREDIVISIE MINUTES
Matt Miazga started his second straight Eredivisie match this weekend - the first time he’s done that since the beginning of November. In fact, while Miazga has started seven games in total for Vitesse this season, the last two were his first since December.
Miazga being sent on loan from Chelsea is no sin - it often seems to be a right of passage for a good number of young players in Europe. But for it to be successful, Miazga needs to play. He was doing that early on, then lost his place, so it's good to see him potentially working his way back into the XI.
With a strong finish to the campaign, perhaps Miazga can work his way into consideration for this summer’s Gold Cup.
Another 21-year-old in Holland, right back Desevio Payne, had started three straight matches from FC Groningen but dropped to the bench this weekend and did not play. Payne has only started four games in total this season, but looked to be in position for a starting gig after Hans Hateboer moved to Serie A side Atalanta.
That he ended up on the bench this weekend could be a warning sign Payne has not impressed in the month since getting the gig. Given how in flux the fullback position has been at times for the U.S. national team, Payne’s situation is one that is worth watching.