Americans Abroad in the English Football League: Week 1 Recap
The English Championship and League One seasons have started with teams looking to be promoted to the next division. There are several Americans playing in these two divisions, including Jay DeMerit, Zak Whitbread, Jemal Johnson, and Mike Grella.
Here’s a recap of this past weekend’s action.
Jay DeMerit (CB) – Watford – English Championship – 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers
DeMerit proved he can be a top defender with his performance at the Confederations Cup and he is captain of Championship side Watford again for this season. The American started and played the full match against Doncaster as they drew 1-1 after both sides scored 1st half goals. Watford struggled last season and will be looking to earn one of the promotion playoff spots.
Zak Whitbread (CB) – Millwall – English Championship – drew 1-1 with Southampton
Whitbread has been injured during the preseason and missed the first match of the season against Southampton. Millwall has been in talks with clubs about a transfer but the only one interested so far is Peterborough. Speculation is that Whitbread’s history or injuries has scared off interest from several clubs, although when he is healthy he’s a solid centerback.
Whitbread should be available soon as he was almost ready for this past weekend’s match.
Jemal Johnson (MF) – Milton Keynes Dons – English League One – 0-0 draw with Hartlepool
Johnson was released from the Dons at the end of last season but both sides reached an agreement later in the summer to have him re-join the team. He played the full match as they earned a scoreless draw with Hartlepool. The American was the captain for MK Dons as regular captain Dean Lewington was injured.
There’s an interview with Jemal on the MK Dons website here. Last season Johnson was a solid contributor to the team but fell out of favor later in the season but its a good sign he was in the starting lineup for the full 90. In the match he had a few shots including 2 on goal.
Mike Grella (ST) – Leeds United – English League One – beat Exeter City 2-1
Grella continues to be on the bench for Leeds and he didn’t play at all in their opening match against Exeter City. He transferred to the club last winter and should gradually get more playing time as he gets adjusted to the Championship.