Nordic Wall Restored
Ethan Horvath may have had a fine experience this summer at Copa America. Being named as the USMNT's third keeper for the tournament was a significant step in his young career. Both his club, Molde FK, and Horvath had enjoyed strong starts to the 2016 Tippeligaen season before the June break. By the time he returned to club action, however, the form of both had suffered as Molde struggled through a six-game winless skid.
The month of August has seen a rapid turn for the better. On Saturday, Horvath turned away a whopping 8 shots in a 2-0 win at Stromsgodset. Molde has suddenly won four straight, with Horvath posting clean sheets in two of the last three. The club finds itself back in the thick of the race for Europa League positions, currently in 5th place, yet only 1 point behind 2nd place Odd BK. Horvath now has 4 clean sheets in 17 starts this season. Jurgen Klinsmann noticed, and has rewarded him with yet another call-up for the September World Cup Qualifiers.
One could be forgiven for wondering if Aron Johannsson might ever return to the field. His latest injury setback was a frustrating one, dealing with chronic hip issues and associated nerve pain for the better part of a year. In recent weeks, things were finally looking up for Johannsson, returning to full training and seeing some limited preseason minutes.
On Friday, Johannsson was, somewhat surprisingly, in the starting lineup for Werder Bremen on opening day in the Bundesliga. After 11 months on the shelf, reclaiming his starting striker role was certainly a moment of great personal satisfaction. Unfortunately, the opposition for the day was mighty Bayern Munich, who were in no mood to be gracious hosts. Bayern would roll 6-0 behind a Robert Lewandowski hat trick. Johannsson would put in a full 90 minutes in a losing effort.
But Aron's back, finally, to full health, and that's the best news of all.
Wooten Back on the Scoresheet
Remember Andrew Wooten? We last saw him with the USMNT in the fall of 2015, earning a call to Jurgen Klinsmann's squad after a blistering start to the 2.Bundesliga season. Scoring 5 goals in his club's first 4 games, and 6 goals overall, Wooten was in sizzling form. Yet mysteriously, after returning from international duty, the well went dry, and he didn't score again the rest of the season.
On Friday, that goal-scoring drought would come to an end:
After nearly an entire calendar year, Wooten, with the help of some sloppy defending, found the back of the net. His 76th minute strike was his first goal for SV Sandhausen since September 11, 2015. The goal trimmed SVS's deficit to 2-1 vs. VfB Stuttgart, but that's how it would end.
Wooten's club has its work cut out with a slow start, earning just 1 point in three games, and sits 17th on the 18-team 2.Bundesliga table.
Yedlin's a Magpie
DeAndre Yedlin is now a former Tottenham Hotspur player. He's also a former Sunderland player. Last week we finally learned where Yedlin will play his club minutes this season, and it's on the other side of the Tyne-Wear Derby. On Wednesday came the announcement of a permanent transfer to Newcastle United, now of The English Championship, for a reported fee of about £5 million.
While taking a step down from the Premier League has to be viewed as a modest disappointment, it's a move that can play out well for Yedlin in the long run. Firstly, the Magpies will clearly be a favorite to earn promotion back to the EPL. There's also the opportunity for starting minutes under the watchful eye of managerial legend Rafa Benitez.
Yedlin didn't have opportunity to train much, if at all, prior to Newcastle's Saturday clash vs. Brighton Hove & Albion. He did make the bench and made a 3-minute cameo appearance in front of his new home fans. Meawhile, Newcastle showed its excitement over their new acquisition by placing him on the cover of the game day program:
Welcome to the Bundesliga, Bobby Wood!
If you were wondering if Wood's goal-scoring prowess in Germany's second division would translate to the top flight, you found out in a hurry. Just over 30 minutes into his Bundesliga debut with Hamburger SV, Wood treated us all to yet another highlight goal:
That's a goalkeeper assist, and a stellar individual effort from Bobby Wood to do the rest. After bringing the long ball down and fighting his way through two defenders, Wood unleashed a rocket with his second touch to give HSV the early lead. A crowd favorite in the making? To be determined, but it's certainly an ideal way to make your introduction.
A late defensive error would cost Hamburg a chance at three points on opening day. It ended in a 1-1 draw against Alfredo Morales' FC Ingolstadt. Up next: USMNT duty. With Clint Dempsey out, it's as sure a lock as any that Bobby Wood will be in the XI on Friday vs. St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Right now that's a scary proposition for any opposing defense.