Let’s be frank: 2020 was not exactly a great year. Though if you’re a USMNT fan it actually kind of was? There were major disruptions to the international calendar that gave us very few opportunities to watch the men wearing the US jerseys but turning our attention to the club scene it was quite the positive year:
- Tyler Adams returned from injury in January and stepped right into a prominent role with RB Leipzig.
- Giovanni Reyna got his first start with Borussia Dortmund in their first match of 2020 and appeared in nearly every match for the remainder of the season, by the start of the new season in the Fall he was entrenched as a regular starter.
- 2020 didn’t start as smoothly for Christian Pulisic as he was dealing with an injury but when the club returned from their COVID-19 hiatus he was a man on fire, scoring four goals and assisting four more in nine games to close out the season. He was given the number 10 jersey for the new season and while injuries continue to be a concern he is widely recognized as a difference maker when he takes the field for Chelsea.
- Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie had shock transfers to European giants Barcelona and Juventus respectively and have both worked their way into regular roles alongside Messi and Ronaldo.
- Nearly as shocking Valencia’s Yunus Musah was called (and accepted) to the November camp for the USMNT and took part in their matches against Wales and Panama. While a final decision is yet to be made, it was an encouraging sign.
All that and we haven’t even mentioned the first namers (Konrad and Jonny), the 20-year-old striker starting weekly in the Bundesliga, the 20-year-old CB breaking into a treble winning Bayern Munich team, the slew of young guns getting ready to head to Europe, or many other positive call ups from the December camp (we see you Efrain Alvarez).
So here’s hoping that at least some trajectories from 2020 continue. Let’s see where it all starts this weekend with our first matches of 2021 including a triple header of EPL action on Sunday.
Stuttgart v RB Leipzig - 2:30p on ESPN+
All that buildup and actually there’s not much to watch on Friday (unless Duane Holmes makes an appearance for Derby County on ESPN+?) so let’s skip to Saturday and check out Tyler Adams and company making their return from a brief Winter break to take on Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Stuttgart. Leipzig drew with FC Cologne in their final Bundesliga match before the break and currently sit in 3rd place, two points back of league leading Bayern Munich. Adams has appeared in seven straight league games, getting the start in the majority. Meanwhile, Matarazzo and Stuttgart might be the most quietly successful story in American soccer right now. Matarazzo has his newly promoted side in 7th place a little over a third of the way through the campaign, just outside of Europa League qualifying position. It would be a major coup for the club so it’s something we’ll try to keep a better eye on as the season moves forward.
Looking through the paywall:
- Josh Sargent picked up a goal against second tier Hannover 96 in the dfb Pokal just before the break. Hopefully the goal will be a springboard for more in 2021.
- They’re practically a relegated team already but Matthew Hoppe has seen some minutes for a Schalke side that will be happy to see a winless 2020 come to a close and hope for better things in the New Year.
Chelsea v Manchester City - 11:30a on NBCSN
Christian Pulisic and the struggling Chelsea side will need to get the ship corrected quickly but have their work cut out for them this weekend when they face Manchester City. Currently Chelsea are in 6th place and coming off a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Christian Pulisic has started four straight matches and was one of the few highlights for Chelsea in Monday’s draw. He’ll need another strong performance and more support from his team if they’re to walk away with a victory against Manchester City on Sunday. The club is coming off a 2-0 win over Newcastle and currently appear in the table at eighth place but it is deceptive due to the unbalanced schedule and their match against Everton which was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. With a pair of wins in those two games in hand Man City could vault to second place, just a point behind league leading Liverpool. While they are coming off the COVID scare it appears that the virus concerns have been dealt with and reports are that the match for this weekend is set to be played.
- Antonee Robinson and Fulham start the tripleheader on Sunday morning at 7a with their matchup against Burnley on NBCSN. Fulham have drawn four straight and a positive result against 16th place Burnley would be a big boost in their hopes to avoid relegation.
- Out of nowhere DeAndre Yedlin has started three straight matches for Newcastle, including their scoreless draw with Liverpool on Wednesday. The team faces Leiceseter City at 9:15a on NBCSN.
Looking through the paywall:
- Bayern Munich face Mainz at Noon on ESPN+ Sunday. Chris Richards has just 6 minutes in league play since early October but continues to make the bench for the German giants.
- Weston McKennie and Juventus face Udinese at 2:45p on ESPN+. The club is coming off a 3-0 loss to Fiorentina and currently sit 10 points back of 1st place AC Milan.
- Sergino Dest and Barcelona are also a disappointing sixth place in the table but will look to get things back on track against last placed Huesca.
So there it is, the grand start to 2021. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments section below.