Americans Abroad: Julian Green saves Greuther Furth from relegation

Julian Green Greuther Furth 2Bundesliga
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The on-loan attacker scored the goal that saved the 2.Bundesliga club from relegation on Sunday

Once considered to among the long list of "saviors" of American soccer, Julian Green finally got to play that role this weekend. 

Green wasn't the savior for the U.S. though, but for Greuther Furth instead. The attacker scored the only goal for the 2.Bundesliga side in their 1-1 draw against FC Heidenheim on Sunday, making the difference in keeping the club up in the 2.Bundesliga for next season and turning the 22-year-old from simple loanee to club hero, at least for a day. 

It was a quality finish as well. Green picked up the ball in the attacking half and lashed a curling shot from outside the area that left the goalkeeper rooted to the spot, giving Furth a 1-0 advantage in the 51st minute. 

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The goal ultimately did not hold up as the winner, as FC Heidenheim equalized in the 90th minute, but a point was all that Furth needed. 

Furth ultimately finished in 15th place, on 40 points and above Erzgebirge Aue – who will take part in a promotion/relegation playoff – on goal difference. Without that point, Greuther Furth would have been on 39 points and finished in an automatic relegation spot. The margins were that thin, meaning Green’s goal is all that stood between the club and a drop to the third division.

“It was an exhausting few days and we are all really happy,” Green said after the game. “I had a really good feeling all day long and we did very well at the beginning and then we got one, two good opportunities for goal.

“I had two shots in front of the goal, also in the games before that went just off, and today it went in. And I think there is no better time than today. We are all happy.”

The strike left Green with three goals on the season. He also added one assist, playing in both forward and attacking midfield roles in 24 games for the second division side. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they do represent the most amount of game time Green has got at the senior club level. It also came for a side that had trouble scoring goals – nobody on the side scored more than six and Green’s three goals tied him for fourth on the team.

What the future holds for the 22-year-old Green is anyone’s guess, even his own as he admitted he didn’t know where he’d be next season. Stuttgart, who finished seventh in the Bundesliga, are his parent club. Given his numbers, it would not be surprising to see Green end up elsewhere next season.

Regardless of how it turns out, Green will always have this moment where he was able to turn savior for a club that at times seemed destined for the drop this season.

Wood’s awful season ends with red, relegation

Bobby Wood Hamburg Bundesliga

A year ago around this time, Bobby Wood was part of joyous celebrations as he gutted through a lingering knee issue to help Hamburg in a campaign that saw them escape relegation with a dramatic win on the last day of the Bundesliga season.

Things did not go nearly as well this season.

On the final matchday of the 2017-18 Bundesliga season, Wood got the start for Hamburg against Borussia Monchengladbach. He did not get on the scoresheet and was given an early trip to the showers after being sent off with a second yellow card in the 71st minute of the contest with Hamburg up 2-1.

Ultimately, the red card proved inconsequential – Hamburg held on to win 2-1 but ended up being relegated anyway after Wolfsburg managed a 4-1 win over last-place Cologne. Meanwhile, HSV fans threw flares and smoke bombs on the field in stoppage time.

But the red card certainly feels symbolic of the rough season Wood endured in his second campaign in the German top flight. He scored just two goals in the league with one coming from the spot, lost his starting spot multiple times and ultimately was part of the lowest-scoring attack in the league.

It compounds international disappointment as well, as Wood was part of the United States squad that failed to qualify for Russia.

Wood showed two years ago that he can score at the 2.Bundesliga level. Whether that’s where he ends up next season, or if he can get an opportunity at a first-division level elsewhere will be something to watch this summer.

Horvath makes return to Brugge XI

Ethan Horvath’s long exile from the starting XI finally came to an end this past week. The goalkeeper was given the start in Club Brugge’s midweek match against Sporting Charleroi and picked up a 3-1 win in the process. It was his first outing since October 25.

Horvath got another chance Sunday in a 1-1 draw against Standard Liege – a result that secured Brugge the Belgian league title with one game to spare.

It ultimately was a trying season for Horvath, though he certainly was not alone as Brugge went through a host of goalkeepers while still emerging champions of Belgium.

But Brugge is not a charity, so his return to the starting XI for these past two games indicates improvement enough to earn another chance. With a win and a draw now under his belt, he could potentially finish out the season on a high note when Brugge play Gent next Sunday.

Also of note to Horvath – first place in Belgium this year means a trip to the Champions League next season. If Horvath remains with the club and keeps hold of the starting spot, it would be a big opportunity for him to play against some of Europe's top teams. 

Robinson gearing up for “biggest” season of his life

Antonee Robinson Bolton

Antonee Robinson’s season on loan at Bolton ended with the Wanderers avoiding relegation from the English Championship. And the Everton left-back is already looking forward toward next season.

“Next season will be the biggest of my life, whatever happens,” Robinson told The Bolton News. “Whether I break through at Everton or go on loan again to get more experience before my time comes.

“But I do believe if I work hard enough there is a chance for me to get in the first team at Everton. However they want me to do that, I am willing to give it my all.”

Robinson started 26 of Bolton’s 46 league games this season and entered as a substitute and additional four times. In the interview, he admitted struggling at the beginning of the season with playing time and confidence and credited older players for seeing him through.

Overall, Robinson deemed his loan stint to be successful, but is not satisfied, believing he can reach even higher levels as a player.

“I did well and feel like I have developed as a player and established a minimum level I can play at. I would definitely say I am a much better player than I was at the start of the season.

“I have all that experience under my belt and have learned a lot more about the game. Now I want to improve and kick on.”

Free Kicks

Christian Pulisic Borussa Dortmund Hoffenheim

– Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will both be in the Champions League next season. McKennie’s Schalke had secured a spot a week before, and closed out their season with a victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, with the midfielder going the distance.

Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund did not end the year on a high note, losing 3-1 to Hoffenheim, but still finished fourth in the table. Pulisic went 90 minutes in the loss, which was Peter Stoger's last game as Dortmund manager.

– One American will have the chance for silverware in Liga MX in the Clausura. Jorge Villafana and Santos Laguna got past Club America 6-3 on aggregate to make the final. Villafana did not play the opening leg and came on as a substitute in the second on Sunday, which finished a 2-2 draw. Joe Corona did not play for America in either leg. 

A pair of red cards proved the undoing of Tijuana against Toluca as they lost the second leg 4-1 and the tie 5-3. That means the trio of Alejandro Guido, Rubio Rubin and Michael Orozco will miss out on the final, though only Guido saw any action in this tie, and that was as a substitute in the first leg.

– Andrija Novakovich closed out his season as Telstar was eliminated from the promotion playoffs in the Netherlands, falling 6-5 on aggregate to De Graafschap. Novakovich did his part in the tie, scoring in both legs, but ultimately his side fell short. With 19 goals in 35 games in the Dutch second division this year, it will be interesting to see what Novakovich’s club, Reading of the Championship, decides to do with him next year. He has proven himself an able scorer at the lower levels in Holland – could a loan to an Eredivisie side or a chance to stick with Reading follow?

– John Brooks returned to the starting XI for Wolfsburg and lasted the full 90 minutes in a huge 4-1 win over Cologne. Wolfsburg is not safe – it must contest a two-leg promotion/relegation playoff with Holstein Kiel, but it is better than the alternative of automatic relegation.

– Timothy Chandler’s injury suffered last week against Hamburg only turned out to be a knee bruise. He did not make the 18 for Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss to Schalke as a result, but he should be in contention for the DFB-Pokal final against Bayern Munich on Saturday, where a victory will see Chandler and his club make the Europa League.

– It took two seasons but Emerson Hyndman has finally made his Premier League debut. The midfielder received a start for Bournemouth in Sunday's match against Burnley, and went 56 minutes in a 2-1 win.

– Romain Gall did not score this week, but he did pick up an assist in Sundsvall’s 3-0 win over Brommapojkarna.

– Tim Ream and Fulham will need to overcome a 1-0 deficit against Derby County to advance to the promotion playoff final at Wembley. The second leg takes place at Craven Cottage at 2:45 p.m. ET on Monday.

– Matt Miazga and Vitesse easily advanced past ADO Den Haag 7-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Eredivisie Europa League playoff, with Miazga starting both legs. They will face Utrecht in the two-leg final, Tuesday and Saturday.