Two teams with American players going in two very different directions met Sunday in Gelsenkirchen.
Werder Bremen beat Schalke 1-0 via a wonderful Leonardo Bittencourt goal to give it plenty of hope of avoiding its first relegation in nearly 40 years.
[ Bundesliga: Fixtures, box scores ]
The win also gave plenty of misery to Schalke, who looks absolutely rudderless. David Wagner’s men are winless in 11 league outings with five draws and a total of three goals scored. Three of those losses have come to teams currently ranked 13th and lower on the table.
Schalke has produced nine shots on target in its four matches back from the break, with Weston McKennie’s diving header its only goal in 430 minutes. Next on the docket is a trip to Union Berlin before finishing with Bayer, Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, and Freiburg.
[ MORE: USMNT mid McKennie wears black armband ]
Bremen, on the other hand, can move level on points with 15th place Mainz by beating Eintracht on Wednesday.
There are still tough matches on the docket including Wolfsburg and Bayern -- the latter of whom may have already won the league by that June 16 home match -- but Eintracht, Paderborn, Mainz, and Koln... there are points to be had there.
Also encouraging: American forward Josh Sargent has started all three matches of Bremen’s unbeaten run. He’s getting valuable experience and mettle for a 20-year-old, even if the direction has been, “Run around like a maniac and make lives miserable.”
Sargent is covering the entire field from his striker position, and he’s being noticed by defenders. He drew five fouls in 70 minutes, won 10-of-17 duels, and posted two tackles, an interception, and a clearance (Sofascore).
Player of the Week: There’s little question here. Jadon Sancho’s return to the Starting XI was an unqualified success as the English winger collected his first hat trick in a 6-1 win over Paderborn.
It was 0-0 before Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring, but Sancho had shown signs of life even while kicking off first half rust.
Sancho went 90 minutes in getting his three goals (57', 74', 90'+1), completing three of his four take-ons while passing at an absurd 92 percent given he plays much of his match in the final third.
[ MORE: Sancho honors George Floyd after scoring ]
Additionally, Sancho registered five key passes, two of which were classified as big chances by Sofascore.
He’s one of four players in Europe’s top five leagues to have double digit goals and assists (Alassane Plea, Serge Gnabry, and Lionel Messi). His price tag, rightfully, is going to be absolutely nuts, pandemic or not.
Hakimi (Dortmund) — Torunarigha (Hertha) — Bender (Bayer) — Angelino (Leipzig)
Sancho (Dortmund) — Bittencourt (Bremen) — Thuram (Gladbach)
Plea (Gladbach) -- Lewandowski (Bayern)
- Klaasen joined Hoffenheim loanee Kevin Vogt in locking down the midfield against Schalke. Yes, we exhaustively covered Schalke’s offensive ineptitude but their steely performances won the day.
- Thuram and Plea are a dynamic duo with power and skill. Plea is now one of the referenced four players with double-digit goal and assist seasons this year, while Thuram is likely to meet him there.
- Twenty-two year old German youth international Jordan Torunarigha was very strong, making nine clearances, two blocks, an interception, and two tackles while passing at 85 percent.
Freiburg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen -- RECAP
Mainz 0-1 Hoffenheim -- RECAP
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Augsburg -- RECAP
Schalke 0-1 Werder Bremen -- RECAP
Wolfsburg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt -- RECAP
Bayern Munich 5-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf -- RECAP
Borussia Monchengladbach 4-1 Union Berlin -- RECAP
Paderborn 1-6 Borussia Dortmund -- RECAP
Koln 2-4 RB Leipzig -- RECAP
UPCOMING FIXTURES (Full season schedule here)
Week 24 reschedule
Werder Bremen v. Eintracht Frankfurt -- 2:30 p.m. ET Wednesday
Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach -- 2:30 p.m. ET Friday
Bayer Leverkusen v. Bayern Munich -- 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday
RB Leipzig v. Paderborn -- 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Mainz -- 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Hoffenheim -- 9:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin -- 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Werder Bremen v. Wolfsburg -- 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Union Berlin v. Schalke -- 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Augsburg v. Koln -- Noon ET Sunday
|FC Schalke 04||28||9||10||9||34||45||-11||5-6-3||4-4-6||37|
|Hertha BSC Berlin||28||9||8||11||41||50||-9||4-3-7||5-5-4||35|
|1. FC Köln||28||10||4||14||44||52||-8||6-3-5||4-1-9||34|
|1. FC Union Berlin||28||9||4||15||33||48||-15||6-2-6||3-2-9||31|
|FSV Mainz 05||28||8||4||16||37||61||-24||4-2-8||4-2-8||28|