USMNT REWIND: Aaronson, Pefok on Target Again; Adams and Sargent Pick Up Assists; Dest Earns High Praise from Xavi
Across two competitions last week, U.S. Men's National Team winger Brenden Aaronson reminded foes how creative and lethal he can be.
Against Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich on Feb. 16, Aaronson set up the first goal in Red Bull Salzburg's 1-1 home draw in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Salzburg caught the German giants out in transition, with Karim Adeyemi centering a pass that the 21-year-old American then flicked into the path of Chukwubuike Adamu, who lifted his side to a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
It was Aaronson’s first assist in UCL play and made him just the fourth U.S. international to provide a helper in the competition’s knockout round, joining Christian Pulisic (three assists), Gio Reyna and Kenny Saief.
Aaronson almost got on the scoresheet himself four minutes later, controlling a pass from the right before cutting inside and firing a left-footed effort that forced a diving stop out of Bayern ‘keeper Sven Ulreich.
Just as it looked like the Austrian club would take a 1-0 advantage to Munich, Bayern equalized through Kingsley Coman in the 90th minute.
On Sunday, Feb. 20, Aaronson played the full 90 minutes for the second successive match while saving his best for last in Salzburg’s 2-0 win against Wolfsberger. The Medford, N.J. product was active throughout and scored an insurance goal five minutes to put an exclamation point on the victory.
Aaronson started the sequence with a long pass out of midfield. Maurits Kjaergaard eventually sent a low feed from the left side to the far post to the midfielder, who connected from just outside the six-yard box past goalkeeper Alexander Kofler.
Aaronson, who scored for the second-straight week, tallied his third league goal this season. Meanwhile, the win over second-place Wolfsberger (10-6-4; 34 pts.) extended Salzburg’s (16-1-3; 51 pts.) lead to 17 points atop the Austrian Bundesliga.
PEFOK ON THE MARK AGAIN
For the second consecutive week, USMNT forward Jordan Pefok scored one goal and set up another for Young Boys. Visiting Grasshoppers on Sunday, the forward boosted his Swiss Super League side into a 1-0 lead by converting a 53rd-minute penalty kick.
After the hosts equalized, Pefok registered his assist, nodding on Miralem Sulejmani’s free kick from the left before Felix Mambimbi poked home the go-ahead goal in the 77th minute. Despite taking the lead twice, Young Boys couldn’t take the three points, with Bendegúz Bolla equalizing for Grasshopper in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time.
Pefok has accrued a personal-best 20 goals and four assists in 34 matches across all competitions this season. He leads all scorers in Swiss Super League play with 15 goals. Young Boys (11-4-7; 40 pts.) sit second in the league, 10 points behind FC Zürich (15-2-5; 50 pts.).
DEST EARNS HIGH PRAISE
USMNT full back Sergiño Dest put in one of his strongest performances of the season, going the full 90 minutes in Barcelona’s 4-1 win at Valencia on Sunday. While he didn’t register an official assist, the USMNT full back literally had a hand in three of the visitors’ four goals, with each of them beginning with his throw-in.
In the 23rd minute, Dest started the play in Barca’s defensive end that led to Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s opener. Nine minutes later, Dest’s throw-in led to a lovely combination in which he also took part, playing the second pass in a six-touch sequence that saw Frenkie de Jong finish in the 32nd minute.
After Valencia pulled one back on the other side of halftime, Dest helped restore the three-goal lead. The right back threw the ball in to Ferran Torres, whose charged towards goal before the ball was turned back by a Valencia defender. It popped out to Aubameyang, who rocketed home a long-range effort in the 63rd minute.
Following the strong performance, Xavi praised Dest’s improvement since his arrival as Barcelona manager in November.
NOW, THAT WAS QUICK
Tyler Adams certainly didn't waste any time to make an impact in RB Leipzig's 6-1 triumph over Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Sunday, Feb. 20. Only a minute after replacing Benjamin Henrichs in the 80th minute, the midfielder assisted on Amadou Haidara's goal as Leipzig extended its lead to 5-1.
Forward Josh Sargent set up Norwich’s lone goal in its 3-1 loss to Liverpool on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Three minutes into the second half, Sargent, who turned 22 on Sunday, ran into the box and found Milot Rashica for the latter's first English Premier League goal and a 1-0 lead.
Though they took the lead, Liverpool roared back to earn a 3-1 victory.
DUTCH DEBUT FOR BASSETT
Midfielder Cole Bassett made his first-team debut with Feyenoord on Sunday, coming on in the 88th minute to help close out 3-1 home win over Cambuur in the Dutch Eredivisie.
The 20-year-old midfielder memorably scored in his USMNT debut, scoring in the 89th minute of the 1-0 victory the Bosnia and Herzegovina on Dec. 18. Bassett was part of the USMNT’s January camp before departing to join the Dutch side on loan from the Colorado Rapids.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson started his season on the right foot, backstopping New York City FC’s 2-0 victory over Santos de Guapiles in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
The team captain will face his first busy week of the season as the defending MLS Cup champions host Santos in the second leg in Los Angeles, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 23 before facing the LA Galaxy for its league season opener on Sunday, Feb. 27.
REYNA INJURY SCARE
Gio Reyna’s first start since suffering a right hamstring injury while on USMNT duty in September ended early as the winger exited in the 30th minute of Borussia Dortmund’s 6-0 win against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday.
Concerns that he suffered the same fate rose when he appeared bothered in the 24th minute and tried to play through it before leaving the match in tears six minutes later.
Fortunately, an update from Dortmund’s official club website said that Reyna was expected out for only two weeks.
-- Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg; Austrian Bundesliga) - 90 minutes and a GOAL in 2-0 win vs. Wolfsberger AC (Feb. 20); 90 minutes and an ASSIST in 1-1 draw vs. Bayern Munich in UCL (Feb. 16)
-- Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig; German Bundesliga) – 10 minutes as a substitute and an ASSIST in 6-1 win at Hertha Berlin (Feb. 20); 45 minutes in 2-2 draw vs. Real Sociedad in Europa League (Feb. 17)
-- Cole Bassett (Feyenoord; Dutch Eredivisie) – 2 minutes as a substitute in 3-1 win vs. Cambuur (Feb. 20)
-- George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld; Bundesliga) - In 18, DNP in 1-0 win vs. Union Berlin (Feb. 19)
-- John Brooks (Wolfsburg; Germany Bundesliga) - 90 minutes in 2-1 loss vs. Hoffenheim (Feb. 19)
-- Gianluca Busio (Venezia; Italy Serie A) - In 18, DNP in 1-1 draw vs. Genoa (Feb. 20)
-- Reggie Cannon (Boavista; Portuguese Primeira) - 90 minutes in 2-2 draw vs. Benfica (Feb. 18)
-- Johnny Cardoso (Internacional; Brazilian Serie A) – at Sao Jose in Gaucho (Monday, 6 p.m. ET); 90 minutes in 1-1 draw vs. Brazil de Pelotas in Gaucho (Feb. 16)
-- Cameron Carter-Vickers; (Celtic; Scottish Premiership) - 90 minutes in 3-2 win vs. Dundee (Feb. 20); 90 minutes in 3-1 loss to Bodo Glimt in UEFA Conference League (Feb. 17)
-- Justin Che (Hoffenheim; Bundesliga) - In 18, DNP in 2-1 win at Wolfsburg (Feb. 19)
-- Konrad de la Fuente (Marseille; French Ligue 1) - Not in 18, DNP in 2-0 loss vs. Clermont (Feb. 20); 69 minutes in 3-1 win vs. Qarabag in UEFA Conference League (Feb. 17)
-- Luca de la Torre (Heracles; Dutch Eredivisie) – Not in 18, DNP in 2-1 loss at AZ (Feb. 19)
-- Sergiño Dest (Barcelona; Spain La Liga) - 90 minutes in 4-1 win at Valencia (Feb. 20); 9 minutes as a substitute in 1-1 draw vs. Napoli in Europa League (Feb. 17)
-- Nicholas Gioacchini (Montpellier; French Ligue 1) - In 18, DNP in 1-0 win at Lorient (Feb. 20)
-- Julian Green (Greuther Fürth; German Bundesliga) - 21 minutes as a substitute in 4-1 loss at Bayern Munich (Feb. 20)
-- Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca; Spanish Primera) - In 18, DNP in 2-1 loss at Real Betis (Feb. 20); In 18, DNP in 3-2 win vs. Athletic Bilboa (Feb. 14)
-- Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest; English Championship) - at Bournemouth, ppd. (Feb. 18)
-- Sean Johnson (New York City FC; MLS) - 90 minutes and a SHUTOUT in 2-0 win at Santos de Guapiles in CCL (Feb. 15)
-- Richy Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven; Dutch Eredivisie) - Injured, DNP in 3-1 win vs. Heerenveen (Feb. 20); Injured, DNP in 1-0 win vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv in UEFA Conference League (Feb. 17)
-- Weston McKennie (Juventus; Italy Serie A) - 37 minutes as a substitute in 1-1 draw vs. Torino (Feb. 18)
-- Mark McKenzie (Genk; Belgian Pro League) – 45 minutes in 2-0 loss at Anderlecht (Feb. 20); In 18, DNP in 4-1 win vs. Mechelen (Feb. 16)
-- Matt Miazga (Alaves; Spain La Liga) - 90 minutes in 3-0 loss at Real Madrid (Feb. 19)
-- Shaq Moore (Tenerife; Spain Segunda Division) - In 18, DNP in 2-0 win vs. Ibiza (Feb. 19)
-- Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; MLS) - 89 minutes in 0-0 draw at FC Motagua in CCL (Feb. 17)
-- Yunus Musah (Valencia; Spain La Liga) - In 18, DNP in 4-1 loss vs. Barcelona (Feb. 20)
-- Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes; French Ligue 1) - 82 minutes in 4-1 loss at Rennes (Feb. 20)
-- Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg; Bundesliga) - In 18, DNP in 2-1 loss vs. Hoffenheim (Feb. 19)
-- Jordan Pefok (Young Boys; Swiss Super League) - 90 minutes, GOAL and ASSIST in 2-2 draw at Grasshopper (Feb. 20)
-- Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg; Bundesliga) - 9 minutes as a substitute in 2-1 loss vs. Freiburg (Feb. 19)
-- Christian Pulisic (Chelsea; English Premier League) - 90 minutes in 1-0 win at Crystal Palace (Feb. 19)
-- Tim Ream (Fulham; English Championship) - 90 minutes in 2-1 loss vs. Huddersfield Town (Feb. 19)
-- Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund; Bundesliga) – 30 minutes in 6-0 win vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Feb. 20)
-- Bryan Reynolds (Kortrijk; Belgian Pro League) - 90 minutes in 5-0 win vs. Zulte Waregem (Feb. 19)
-- Antonee Robinson (Fulham; English Championship) - 90 minutes in 2-1 loss vs. Huddersfield Town (Feb. 19)
-- Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; MLS) - 90 minutes in 0-0 draw at FC Motagua in CCL (Feb. 17)
-- James Sands (Rangers, Scottish Premiership) -- In 18, DNP in 1-1 draw at Dundee United (Feb. 20); 24 minutes as a substitute in 4-2 win at Borussia Dortmund in Europa League (Feb. 17)
-- Josh Sargent (Norwich City; English Premier League) - 76 minutes and an ASSIST in 3-1 loss at Liverpool (Feb. 19)
-- Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach; Bundesliga) - 23 minutes as a substitute in 6-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund (Feb. 20)
-- Zack Steffen (Manchester City; English Premier League) - Injured, DNP in 3-2 loss vs. Tottenham (Feb. 19); Injured, DNP in 5-0 win at Sporting Lisbon in UCL (Feb. 15)
-- Tanner Tessmann (Venezia; Italy Serie A) - 15 minutes as a substitute in 1-1 draw vs. Genoa (Feb. 20)
-- Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp; Belgian Pro League) - 5 minutes as a substitute in 2-1 loss to Mechelen (Feb. 20)
-- Tim Weah (Lille; French Ligue 1) - 63 minutes as a substitute in 0-0 draw vs. Metz (Feb. 18)