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USMNT Jan 25-27 viewing guide and open thread

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The sneakily important edition

Borussia Dortmund v Benfica - International Champions Cup 2018 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

There will be several games this weekend including two potential head-to-head match-ups, with one that could give us some insight to Christian Pulisic’s usage for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

Friday

Hertha Berlin v Schalke 04 - 2:30p on FS2

The weekend starts off right with some Schalke action Friday afternoon as Weston McKennie and company take the field against Hertha Berlin. McKennie, who has been a regular presence, albeit all over the field, for Schalke this season started, played 90 minutes, and assisted on the game winning goal against Wolfsburg last weekend. The win was Schalke’s second straight and the club now sits in 12th place in the Bundesliga, seven points behind Wolfsburg for 6th place, the final spot in the Bundesliga that would qualify the club for European competition next season. Haji Wright also made an appearance last weekend coming in as a late substitute, unfortunately he missed what should have been an easy opportunity to put the game away, hopefully that won’t have a lingering impact on his mentality moving forward.

Hertha Berlin are currently in 7th place in the Bundesliga and are coming off a win over Nurnberg. With the exception of Jonathan Klinsmann who has made the bench just once for Hertha this season, there are no American representatives on this side of the ball.

*** Update: Weston McKennie picked up a yellow card last weekend and is suspended for this afternoon’s game due to yellow card accumulation. Which means the weekend will not be starting off right... or Wright either, since Haji is on the bench...***

Other Notes:

  • Atlas and Lobos BUAP play at 10p on Univision Deportes with Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco likely to represent their clubs.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 - 9:30a on FS1

Christian Pulisic played roughly 15 minutes last weekend in a substitute appearance for Borussia Dortmund in his first game since finalizing his transfer to Chelsea and immediate loan back to Borussia Dortmund. This Saturday’s game may give us some insight into whether Manager Lucien Favre plans to continue using Pulisic in a rotational role or if he’ll see his playing time reduced over the next several months. For all the hand-wringing about Pulisic’s play time in the Fall he essentially started every other match for the club, with most of those appearances coming in Champions League play. One possibility is that Pulisic will continue in regular rotation, getting the start this week. A second possibility is that Favre will only rotate on weeks where the club is playing more than once a week, such as when the club has Cup or Champions League play. Of course a third distinct possibility, which USMNT fans may not like to hear, is that Pulisic will be reduced to a substitute role for the remainder of the season regardless of injury. This weekend could give us some clues, particularly if Pulisic gets the start, though we may have to wait until next weekend when Dortmund start a stretch of four games in less than two weeks to fully understand what role he might play.

As for the action on the field, last weekend Dortmund defeated RB Leipzig 1-0 to maintain a 6 point lead atop the Bundesliga standings. This weekend they’ll be facing Bobby Wood and 17th place Hannover. Wood has been starting pretty regularly for Hannover though he has failed to produce many results with just 3 goals on the season. He was pulled in the 63rd minute last weekend in a 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen. Hannover have 11 points on the season which pouts them 5 points back of safety.

Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt - 12:30p on FS2

Josh Sargent has appeared as a substitute in four of five games since joining the first team squad and has nearly matched Wood’s goal scoring total already with two goals in just 55 minutes. One would suspect that he will continue to make appearances from the bench on a regular basis with that production until he is able to break into the starting eleven. Werder Bremens win last weekend brings them to 9th place in the Bundesliga, just three points back of Wolfsburg for that 6th position.

Timothy Chandler continues in recovery for fifth place Eintracht Frankfurt and will not be available for the club this weekend. Frankfurt are coming off a 3-1 win over Frieburg in their return from the winter break.

Other Notes:

  • Fabian Johnson was left out of the matchday squad for 3rd place Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. The team plays Augsburg at 9:30a on FS2.
  • Joe Corona has been seeing substitute appearances for Tijuana so far this winter, they face Cruz Azul at 6p on ESPN Deportes.
  • Captain Ventura Alvarado leads Necaxa against Morelia Saturday at 10p on Univision Deportes. Necaxa have won their first two of the Winter season.

Sunday

A second chance for Tyler Adams to take the field in a head to head matchup against a fellow American this weekend as his RB Leipzig team will take on Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Dusseldorf. Last weekend Adams made the matchday squad but failed to see playing time in Leipzig’s loss to Borussia Dortmund, though given how long he’s been with the team it should be no surprise and in fact it should probably be considered an encouraging sign that he was able to make the eighteen so quickly. RB Leipzig are in fourth place in the Bundesliga, just a point ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt for that final Champions League spot.

Alfredo Morales and Fortuna Dusseldorf have won four straight league games, though Morales only appeared in the most recent victory. The run has the team in 14th place with 21 points, over half their points coming in that four game stretch. Morales played well last weekend and had a lovely assist that included a nice tackle and a long pas that perfectly hit his man in stride for the game winning goal in the 89th minute.

Other Notes:

  • Neither Jonathan Suarez nor William Yarbrough appear likely to appear for their teams as Queretaro and Leon face off at 5p on Univision Deportes.
  • The USMNT will face Panama at 8p on ESPN2, Stars and Stripes FC will have full coverage up to and following the match.