Aron Johannsson has not had the best of times at Werder Bremen.
Injuries limited him severely last season, and he has spent most of this campaign out of the first team. There had been some signs of progress lately, as he had made benches in January, and grabbed a couple of cameo appearances.
While not much, it was a step in the right direction from not being in the 18. And a bigger opportunity finally knocked for Johannsson on Saturday as he was called upon as a substitute in the 54th minute against Schalke for what looked set to be his longest outing in the Bundesliga this season — not difficult to top given he had not gone more than seven minutes in any league outing.
While United States fans are likely used to Johannsson centrally, he came in on the right side, though he was allowed to float and ended up all across the forward line. While a bit rusty at times, Johannsson was lively, drawing a pair of free kicks early on.
But his big impact came later in the second half with his side down 1-0. Once Matija Nastasic was sent off for Schalke for his second yellow card, Johannsson pounced after Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann spilled the free kick. Fahrmann managed to block Johannsson’s rebound attempt, but Max Kruse buried that rebound to level the score.
Johannsson’s highlight moment, however, came in stoppage time with the scoreline still 1-1. He delivered a beautiful chip to play in Maximilian Eggestein on goal. While Eggestein was stopped, Zlatko Junuzovic slid the ball home to give Bremen the win and take the club out of the relegation zone.
Though it was not an assist for Johannsson, it was an influential moment in the buildup to a crucial goal for Bremen’s fight to remain in the Bundesliga.
"Aron has made good use of his time," coach Florian Kohfeldt said postgame.
That’s the type of time usage and impact Johannsson will need to work himself back into the conversation at the club.
Schalke on the wrong end of stoppage time dramatics this time around as Bremen cap a massive comeback win to leave the relegation zone. https://t.co/1rvNfkfqvB — FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 3, 2018
Assists for Pulisic and Robinson
It was an opportunity for quick redemption for Christian Pulisic.
He had just given the ball away in the attacking half of the field, leading to a Cologne counterattack and equalizer against Borussia Dortmund. While Pulisic was not the only one at fault — goalkeeper Roman Burki should have done much better — the move does not happen without the turnover.
Just over a minute later, however, Pulisic took his chance to make amends. Off a Burki goal kick, Pulisic went up to flick on a header. While it fell to a defender, new Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi created a turnover that fell to Pulisic. The American then slotted a pass into Batshuayi, who finished the chance to give Dortmund the 2-1 lead.
The assist was the high point in an up and down match for Pulisic. He had his moments, but the giveaway leading to an opposition goal was a low point. And manager Peter Stoger felt he was the better winger to remove over Andre Schurrle — a decision that paid dividends for Dortmund when Schurrle banged home the winner in the 3-2 victory.
But it was still more good than bad for Pulisic, who likely will need to be a key player for Dortmund going forward if they are to ensure qualification for next year’s Champions League. And their attack looked lively again with the addition of Batshuayi, who bagged a brace and added an assist on the winner.
Pulisic wasn’t the only American to add a helper this weekend. Bolton fullback Antonee Robinson also provided a helper Friday. His was on Sammy Ameobi’s 71st-minute goal — the only one in a 1-0 Bolton win over Bristol City.
That was the third assist of the season for 20-year-old Robinson, who is on loan from Everton. He has played in 20 league games, starting 17 for the club this season. Bolton sits 20th in the Championship, three points above the relegation spots.
Miazga, Morales find back of the net
Matt Miazga didn’t take long to find the back of the net this week.
Miazga went up to meet a Lassana Faye cross just six minutes into Vitesse’s home match against Groningen and nodded the header home to give his side a 1-0 lead. He helped contribute to the clean sheet for Vitesse as they came away with a 2-0 win, which moved them into sixth place in the league.
It was the center back’s second goal of the season after he failed to find the net in the 2016-17 Eredivisie campaign.
Miazga’s goal was the first of the weekend for an American in Europe but it was not the last. Alfredo Morales bagged his second goal in as many weeks for Ingolstadt, who waltzed to a 3-0 victory over Julian Green and Greuther Fuerth.
Morales’ effort was an impressive run and shot from distance for his side’s second as they battle for a return to the Bundesliga. Ingolstadt is on 32 points, four off a promotion playoff spot.
Meanwhile, things could be going better for Green and Greuther Fuerth. He went 90 in the contest and did contribute four shots along with two key passes, but he remains stuck on just one goal on the season. The club is on 20 points and in a relegation position — three points off safety.
Palmer-Brown gets loan move, Hyndman does not
When Erik Palmer-Brown moved to Manchester City it was no mystery that a loan and not the first team would be in his immediate future.
That loan materialized at the January transfer deadline as the center back headed to Belgium to join Pro League side KV Kortrijk. The club is eighth in the country’s top division, and just outside the league’s championship round places.
Asked by the team's website what his goals for the loan move are, Palmer-Brown responded with: “To win. To be a team player and do whatever the team needs from me. That’s my ambition.”
Palmer-Brown joins the team on a half-season loan and has the opportunity to get his feet wet in Europe. He did not get his debut this weekend, as he was not in the 18 in a 2-0 win over Sint-Truidense.
Rumors of a loan away from Bournemouth for Emerson Hyndman existed all January, but the deadline came and went as he remained with the Cherries. That did not translate into a change in his status this weekend, as he was not in the 18 for Bournemouth’s 2-1 win over Stoke City.
The European window has closed until the summer, so Hyndman will not be making a move there this season. The MLS window remains open, of course, so a move back to the United States is a possibility. Whether it’s something Bournemouth and Hyndman would be interested in remains to be seen.
Cameron stays at Stoke, returns to XI
When healthy, Geoff Cameron had been a regular starter for Mark Hughes at Stoke City. Since the coaching change to Paul Lambert, however, he had seen a drop in his playing time.
Cameron had not started a Premier League contest since New Year’s Day, relegated to the bench for the Potters' following three league contests. Fresh off the heels of his comments about the U.S. national team and Bruce Arena, he returned to the Stoke lineup to go 90 minutes in the midfield in a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth. The loss leaves Stoke 18th in the Premier League and in a relegation place.
Other Premier League teams had noticed Cameron's drop to the bench as the Stoke Sentinal reports he was the subject of multiple late transfer offers. But Stoke decided not to sell to rival clubs who are also in the relegation dogfight. Perhaps not coincidentally, Cameron then returned to the XI.
Meanwhile in the Bundesliga, Bobby Wood went 90 minutes in Hamburg’s 1-1 home draw with Hoffenheim. While he did not contribute on the score sheet, it is notable that Wood went the distance in this one. That is something he had not done since Oct. 21.
Whether this translates into more production remains to be seen, but Wood certainly is receiving a chance to find his form under new Hamburg boss Bernd Hollerbach.