The men’s club season in Europe’s highest echelon will officially come to an end with the final of the Champions League on Saturday, but for the vast majority of players, and all but two Americans in those leagues and in those clubs, the final business is done.
The weekend put an end to Europe’s top national leagues, with titles assured, Champions League spots assured, some promotions and demotions assured, and others still in the balance with playoff finals to be played. With a growing American presence in those leagues (see this season’s unprecedented trophy below), there was a growing impact on a number of US internationals with respect to each of those facets, with five key developments. in particular that stood out in the last couple of days:
McKennie and Pulisic receive help they need to return to the Champions League
Clubs like Juventus and Chelsea do not pride themselves on needing outside impulse to achieve their basic goals, but they will gladly accept the gifts presented to them on Sunday.
Juventus needed a result against Bologna and some help to avoid the ignominy of not qualifying for the Champions League. He got both, with a 4-1 win (with Cristiano Ronaldo notoriously absent) and Hellas Verona’s 1-1 draw with Napoli returning Juve to the top four of Serie A. For Weston McKennie, who overall enjoyed a successful first season in Turin means more great European stages to come. He is a player who scored at the San Siro and at the Camp Nou this season and will not have to worry about the step backwards that Thursday nights would have meant in the Europa League. Juve’s reign at the top of Serie A may be over, and there are some big questions facing the club this summer, but at least it remains a Champions League club (if not a Superclub).
Chelsea still had a way out if they had finished fifth in the Premier League, with the Champions League winner guaranteed a spot in next season’s competition, but luckily for the Blues, that element of Saturday’s final is out of the question. table. That’s thanks to Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, who helped deliver Tottenham a win over Leicester that kept Chelsea in the top four just after their final day’s loss to Aston Villa. Christian Pulisic started and assisted on Chelsea’s only goal that day, but the club’s form heading into the European final, as the loser of three of its last four in all competitions, has to be worrying. At least he knows he will be in the competition again next season, regardless of how the final against Man City turns out.
Lille de Weah wins Ligue 1
Tim Weah was nothing more than a spectator on Sunday as Lille put the finishing touches on a remarkable title race in France by holding off Weah’s former team, PSG, with a victory in the season finale. It’s the club’s first title in 10 years, and it brought some necessary intrigue and competition to a league that has been so obviously dominated by PSG and their deep pockets. Except for the 2016-17 Monaco title with a fledgling Kylian Mbappé at the center of a remarkable pool of talents, PSG had won every title since 2012-13.
Lille’s attack was actually led by Turkish veteran Burak Yilmaz and Canadian rising star Jonathan David, but going through the season unscathed was a blessing for Weah, who had lost most of last season to injury. He has scored three goals in his 28 appearances (seven as a starter), totaling just 867 league minutes – he’s also scored twice in six Europa League games – but will have a platform to do much more with Lille guaranteed a spot in the group of the Champions League. Weah, 21, is under contract until 2024.
Werder Bremen de Sargent relegated
Werder Bremen had flown close to the sun last season, and their latest slump went unpunished following Germany’s promotion and relegation playoff success. However, it flew too close this season. A total and absolute collapse in the last 10 games of the season (0-9-1) sent Werder Bremen to the 2. Bundesliga, with automatic relegation assured on the final day.
It is terribly disappointing for the club and their 21-year-old American forward Josh Sargent, although he may not suffer along with most of his teammates. ESPN reported last week that the club is open to selling him, given that he is a player with significant market value, and now that the relegation is a reality, the club will need to be even more financially aware. Regardless of whether he’s failing upwards, and surely Sargent won’t feel that way immediately after, relegation, as the impetus to send Sargent to a more prolific club could end up being a net positive for the individual, who scored seven goals. in 37 appearances (35 as a starter) this season.
Greuther Furth de Green ascended
It’s the circle of life: one US international club falls, another rises. In Greuther Furth’s case, Julian Green played a significant part in the latter part of the equation, scoring the goal that ultimately secured the club’s automatic ticket to the top flight. He arrived with his team a goal behind and 10 men against Fortuna Dusseldorf, and the simultaneous defeat of Holstein Kiel meant that Furth only needed a draw to avoid the promotion playoff and claim one of the top two places in the second tier. He ended up winning, 3-2, to be completely sure, but Green’s goal came at a decisive moment. It is not the first time that he has done something like this for the club. Three years ago, he scored from long distance to move the club away from automatic relegation to the German third division.
It is the culmination of a long journey back to the German top flight for the 25-year-old former Bayern Munich player, who saw the fruits of his hard work this season paying off with his first call-up in the United States with Gregg Berhalter. He will be part of the squad that will face Switzerland on Sunday in a final set-up for the Final Four of the Concacaf Nations League. Whether he’s on the final squad for that competition will be known later Monday, but either way, he’s back on the radar in more ways than one.
Dike, Carter-Vickers clubs fall short of promotion
Both Daryl Dike and Cameron Carter-Vickers were on loan, so the pain of not getting a promotion shouldn’t necessarily be that hard. After all, there is no guarantee that they would have joined Barnsley and Bournemouth respectively in the Premier League next season anyway. But they definitely won’t be after their two clubs fail to reach the promotion final. Carter-Vickers, the 23-year-old central defender, started and was generously credited with assisting a goal in the second leg of the semi-finals as Bournemouth built a 2-0 aggregate lead only to see him slip away in a 3. –2 loss to Brentford. What follows remains to be seen, although it is highly unlikely that there will be a future at Tottenham. Has been linked to Newcastle, Anderlecht and a permanent return to Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, Dike came off the bench at halftime of the second leg, but couldn’t find his scoring touch in Barnsley’s 2-1 aggregate loss to Swansea. He ended his time with the club with nine goals in 21 appearances, drawing attention along the way with his variety of finishes. Orlando City has been adamant that Dike, 20, is a $ 20 million player, but the fundamental question is whether a club in England or elsewhere will live up to that assessment. At the very least, not playing in the promotional playoff final over the weekend frees Dike, along with Sargent and Green, to team up with the United States and face the 13th-ranked Swiss.
USMNT ABROAD: 2020-21 TROPHY WINNERS
UEFA Champions League: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) or Zack Steffen (Man City)
English Premier League: Steffen
English league cup: Steffen
League 1: Tim Weah (Lille)
Copa del Rey: Sergiño Dest (Barcelona)
Italian Cup: Weston McKennie (Juventus)
Italian Super Cup: McKennie
DFB Cup: Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Belgian Cup: Mark McKenzie (Genk)
Belgian League: Ethan Horvath (Witches Club)
Austrian Cup: Brenden Aaronson (Salzburg)
Austrian Bundesliga: Aaronson
Swiss League: Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys)
More soccer coverage:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.