England’s second division finished up its regular season Sunday and an American figured prominently in how the final Championship table shook out.
DeAndre Yedlin, back from injury, started at right back in Newcastle’s 3-0 win over Barnsley and delivered an assist on his side’s opener, with his low cross flicked in by Ayoze Perez.
The win actually sees Newcastle sneak past Brighton to win the Championship by a point. Both sides will be heading up to the Premier League anyway, but it adds credence to the thought Yedlin made the right call in joining the Magpies in the Championship rather than fight to remain with their now-relegated rival Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Danny Williams and Reading will face off against Tim Ream and Fulham in the two-legged semifinals of the promotion playoffs. Fulham will host the first leg on Saturday, while Reading is home for the second leg on Tuesday, May 16.
The final is a winner-take-all event, and happens at Wembley Stadium on May 29.
At the other end of the table, Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest faced a difficult situation Sunday as they essentially needed to equal whatever result Blackburn Rovers managed, including scoreline, to avoid relegation to League One. Blackburn did notch a 3-1 victory, but Forest won 3-0 over Ipswich to maintain its Championship status another season.
Whether that means Lichaj will be staying with the club is another question entirely. After Lichaj previously talked about a desire to stay, relegation likely would have ended those thoughts. But in being saved from relegation, Lichaj doesn’t have to move on to stay in the national team picture.
Still, it’s a situation that is worth watching this summer.
BROOKS MAKES RETURN FROM INJURY
After missing a few weeks with a hip problem, John Brooks made his return for Hertha BSC on Saturday, starting in a 4-1 loss to RB Leipzig. It wasn’t a particularly good day for Brooks in terms of his play, but he did go the full 90 minutes in the loss.
Brooks and Hertha remain in a Europa League place for now, but they have a slim one-point lead on a pair of teams and a two-point edge on Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach. Brooks will miss his side's next contest due to yellow-card accumulation, but it does come against already-relegated Darmstadt.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Timmy Chandler was named captain for Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, though the result did not go the way he and his teammates wanted in a 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg. Frankfurt is safely in a mid-table spot and while their hopes to qualify for Europe by table position took a hit with the loss, their big game remaining is the DFB Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund.
"Of course it's a great thing to be a captain of a Bundesliga team. But today I would have preferred (winning) the game," Chandler told the media after the game.
"We lost the game miserably, so I'm disappointed."
Even though Chandler and Brooks didn't excel, their weekends were still better than their compatriots in the Bundesliga. Bobby Wood was the only other American who played — going the full 90 in a 0-0 Hamburg draw against Mainz. The match was at home and Mainz is level on points with Hamburg, so it was a missed opportunity for the hosts. Wood and Hamburg remain in 16th and in the relegation playoff spot.
Four teams are within three points of HSV, but in poor form with only two games left and a terrible goal differential, it is looking as if that playoff is going to decide HSV’s Bundesliga fate.
Elsewhere, Alfredo Morales was suspended for Ingolstadt, which picked up a draw against Leverkusen. That keeps Ingolstadt’s slim hopes of escaping relegation alive — they are four off HSV and Mainz. It also kept Bayer Leverkusen and Mexican international Javier Hernandez perilously close to the drop, just three points up on Hamburg.
But in a league which has at times seen a bunch of Americans playing, those numbers have dropped off considerably in recent weeks. Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Dortmund in the club's win over Hoffenheim. Aron Johannsson wasn't in the 18 for Werder Bremen as his side chases a Europa League place, and neither was Terrence Boyd as Darmstadt’s relegation was confirmed.
XOLOS GET TOP SEED IN LIGA MX PLAYOFFS
It was a somewhat short weekend for the Americans playing for Club Tijuana. Both Joe Corona and Paul Arriola departed their side’s match against Veracruz fairly early – with Arriola being subbed off at the half and Corona coming off in the 66th minute. Tijuana went on to win 1-0.
Their short nights may have been more a desire for rest than anything else – Tijuana ended up finishing at the top of the Clausura table and will be the top seed for the Liga MX playoffs. They’ll face Morelia, which made the playoffs on a dramatic last-gasp winner that not only got the club into the Liguilla but also saved it from relegation.
Corona, Arriola and Michael Orozco (provided he can return from injury) aren’t the only Americans chasing silverware. Jorge Villafana, who has locked himself into a starting spot, will be in the Liguilla with Santos Laguna, along with Ventura Alvarado, though Alvarado’s playing time is sparse.
Also making the Liguilla, though they may not see much, if any, time on the field, are Edgar Castillo (Monterrey) and Jose Torres (Tigres).
Meanwhile, though Omar Gonzalez did add to his trophy case when Pachuca won the CONCACAF Champions League in April, he and his teammates missed the playoffs after not getting the required result against Club America.
Likewise, William Yarbrough (Leon) and Jonathan Bornstein (Queretaro) did not make the Liguilla.
DISKERUD KEEPS UP STRONG FORM
Perhaps all Mix Diskerud needed was a change in scenery.
The NYCFC loanee had another strong day in the Swedish Allsvenskan, picking up an assist in IFK Gothenburg’s 3-0 win over Kalmar FF. Diskerud also hit the woodwork in the contest.
In seven appearances in the league, all starts, Diskerud has now notched a goal and an assist and has arguably impressed more in his short time in Sweden than he did for the entirety of his time with NYCFC.
Will it be enough to push Diskerud back into the national team picture? Maybe, maybe not. But at 26 years of age, he has a little bit of time. Even if strong play in the Allsvenskan isn’t enough for U.S. national team boss Bruce Arena, it might be for another team in a higher-tier league to take a chance on Diskerud going forward.
HORVATH MAKES CLUB BRUGGE DEBUT
The finally changed Friday, when Horvath got the start for Club Brugge against Charleroi, making some history as the first American to ever play for the club.
Horvath did make a costly mental error — placing the ball down thinking he had a free kick, when in fact, no whistle had blown. The result was a goal for Charleroi.
But though the goal cost Horvath his clean sheet, he still walked away with the victory as Brugge answered with a pair of goals and picked up the 3-1 win. Horvath contributed to one of the goals, as his long kick up the field was not dealt with well by Charleroi and resulted in a goal for Brugge.
His boss, Michel Preud’homme, was impressed with by Horvath’s resilience, saying after the game: “Horvath produced some fine saves, which wasn't all that easy after that ‘free kick.’"
What’s interesting is that the game was an important one for Club Brugge, as it attempts to hunt down Anderlecht for the title. We’ll see if Horvath gets another chance when Brugge faces Anderlecht on May 15.