Christian Pulisic didn’t mean to score his brilliantly placed shot Sunday, but he won’t have any complaints.
The teenager opened the scoring for Borussia Dortmund in his side’s 3-0 victory over Stuttgart when he struck a ball from the right hand side that evaded the reach of goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler and just snuck under the bar.
After the game, Pulisic admitted to Bundesliga.com that he had a bit of fortune on his side with that goal.
"I was looking for the back post, just for a cross," Pulisic said. "It came off my foot a little wrong, but it wasn't so wrong in the end. It was a bit lucky, but I'm happy it went in!"
It may have been an accidental finish, but it was the goal that got Dortmund going after a lackluster first half. Spurred forward, goals from Michy Batshuayi and Maximilian Philipp gave BVB the three points.
Pulisic didn’t pick up an assist on Philipp’s goal, but he was instrumental in it, nodding down a cross to the back post and into the path of the forward. While the first shot was saved, Philipp put home the rebound.
The game was Pulisic’s third straight start for Dortmund, with the winger regaining his place after falling out of the XI in March. It was also just the second time he's gone the full 90 minutes since December.
Pulisic been solid of late, while the form of Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle has dropped off. But with Marco Reus back from his latest injury and Philipp playing his way back into form, scoring is as good a way as any to make certain Pulisic remains in the XI going forward.
Shot? Cross? Doesn't matter, it's in the back of the net!
Watch @cpulisic_10 hit home his fourth of the @Bundesliga_EN season to give @BVB a 1-0 halftime lead vs. @VfB Stuttgart!
pic.twitter.com/ulPn55Fqra — U.S. Soccer MNT (@ussoccer_mnt) April 8, 2018
Elsewhere in Bundesliga action, Weston McKennie returned from injury, getting the second half in Schalke’s shock 3-2 defeat to Hamburg. Bobby Wood was not in the 18 for Hamburg.
In fact, Pulisic and McKennie were the only Americans to play in the Bundesliga this weekend. John Brooks and Fabian Johnson remain sidelined with injuries. They were also joined on the sidelines this week by Aron Johannsson, who suffered an ankle injury in training midweek.
Fullbacks in flux
For a while, there was no American in Europe playing better than Timothy Chandler.
Switched from his familiar right side over to the left, Chandler excelled in his new position, tallying two goals and two assists as a left wing back. He managed to make the position his despite the presence of Netherlands international Jetro Willems.
But a drop in form of late saw Chandler replaced after 65 minutes last week. This week he landed on the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim as Willems was restored to the XI.
Chandler isn’t the only American fullback to see his spot come under threat over the last month.
Eric Lichaj started Nottingham Forest’s season on the pine. He had forced his way back into the lineup for the majority of the fall and winter, however, and netted a memorable FA Cup double in an upset of Arsenal.
But Lichaj picked up a straight red card after 28 minutes against Burton on Feb. 11. He has not played since, despite serving his suspension. Lichaj did make the bench for the 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough this weekend, so it is possible he could find is way back into the team once more.
On the positive front, while Antonee Robinson did not make the XI in either of Bolton’s first games back from the international break, he was back in the lineup for this past weekend’s 3-0 loss to Derby County.
Yedlin hails progression
While his fellow American fullbacks fight for playing time, DeAndre Yedlin has remained an every week starter for the majority of the season for Newcastle United. And that doesn’t just make Yedlin a standout among Americans at his position, but Americans in Europe overall.
The only consistent American starter in the Premier League this season, Yedlin was in the lineup again this weekend as Newcastle earned a 2-1 win over Leicester City. The win moved the Magpies up to 10th in the table on 38 points, 10 above the relegation zone.
Last week, Yedlin posted photo of himself and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez with the caption "progression." Yedlin on Thursday explained his comments to nufcTV, saying they were about both him and the team, which has only lost twice in 2018.
"That is a big reason I posted that. I don’t know if other people can see it but I can see it," Yedlin said.
"Not just myself but the team is making huge strides and it has been really important for our momentum recently. Everything is starting to click. We know we are never satisfied. We want to keep pushing.”
The 24-year-old has already surpassed his league games played in England this season, having appeared 28 times (26 starts). He fended off competition for his spot this year and successfully made the jump from Championship player to Premier League player. As long as disaster does not strike in the final month of the season, it will have been a successful club campaign for Yedlin.
Gonzalez makes first league appearance in three months
Omar Gonzalez has gone from regular Pachuca starter to bench player over the past few months.
Gonzalez started 31 games for the Liga MX side last season. While he got action during the Apertura, injuries and an inability to reclaim his spot in the side left him with just one appearance in 2018 in the league — back on Jan. 6.
He had made some starts in the Copa MX, alongside fellow U.S. international Kekuta Manneh, who has also struggled for action in the league. But Gonzalez finally came on as a substitute this weekend in Pachuca’s 6-2 win over Puebla, snapping that three-month Liga MX drought.
Playing time hasn't been easy to come by for many Americans south of the border. Jorge Villafana has been a regular starter, again going 90 in Santos Laguna's 3-0 win over Queretaro on Sunday night, but he's been rather lonely in that regard.
Goalkeeper William Yarbrough seems to have been dropped from the XI for Leon while teammate Landon Donovan wasn’t in the 18 this weekend. Ventura Alvarado has been in and out of the Necaxa side, but got a red card late Saturday in a 1-1 draw with Club America. Rubio Rubin has seen some appearances off the bench for Tijuana, but Michael Orozco has been relegated to the bench for the club's last three Liga MX contests.
Joe Corona has settled into a substitute role with Club America and come on for a brief cameo this weekend. But he will likely see action this week as America tries to battle back from a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.