U.S. Hot List: Terrence Boyd storming back to top form
In what has been a tough season so far for Americans in Europe, the past few days have been a welcome reprieve -- especially on the heels of the national team's 4-1 drubbing in Ireland last Tuesday. There's no shortage of players to highlight; several whose performances normally would have made them Hot List locks were squeezed out by more-deserving international teammates this time around. And the good news wasn't limited just to foreign leagues. World Cup star Jermaine Jones continues to shine in MLS, to the point where U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann might just have to reconsider his position switch at the international level, at least in the short term.
Not everything is rosy, though. Back in the Bundesliga, two of Jones' fellow German-Americans -- both important contributors to the Yanks' World Cup effort earlier this year -- continue to face an uphill struggle for minutes.
Here's who is trending one way or the other this week.
Terrence Boyd, F, RB Leipzig (Germany)
Why he's here: Boyd scored his first two goals of his 2. Bundesliga career Sunday in a 4-1 win over St. Pauli.
What this means: The 23-year-old target man wasn't called in by Klinsmann this month, having just returned from the knee injury he suffered in preseason. But the hardworking Boyd could play a significant role in 2015, especially if Jozy Altidore is settling in at a new club.
John Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Why he's here: Brooks shook off the ankle injury that kept him out of the national team's midweek loss in Ireland to make his first Bundesliga start since Oct. 10, putting in a dominant performance in a 2-1 win at Cologne.
What this means: The challenge as always for the 21-year-old is consistency. But this was a positive step after his beast of a showing in the Yanks' Nov. 14 loss to Colombia. If he can build on both games, a starting job with the U.S. is there for the taking.
Geoff Cameron, D, Stoke City (England)
Why he's here: Four days after his rough outing in Dublin, the 29-year-old got a rare start at center-back for his club against Burnley on Saturday.
What this means: Stoke lost at home but Cameron performed well enough. And he could get a few more reps in the middle before the injured Robert Huth and Marc Wilson return. If a January transfer is in the cards, that audition could be valuable.
Aron Johannsson, F, AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)
Why he's here: Three weeks after returning from the injuries that had sidelined him since the World Cup, Johannsson scored his first goal of the season -- the eventual game-winner in AZ's 1-0 victory over Vitesse.
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What this means: With the Americans having scored just five goals in five games since Brazil 2014, Johannsson's return to the U.S. lineup can't come soon enough. That won't happen until at least March, but Johannsson could be in peak form and ready to compete for a bigger role by then.
Jermaine Jones, M, New England Revolution (MLS)
Why he's here: Jones was absolutely everywhere in the Revs' thrilling playoff triumph at New York, scoring the late winner in the 86th minute.
What this means: Jones turned 33 earlier this month, and his age is one of the reasons Klinsmann sees him as a center-back this cycle. But after Sunday's performance, you have to wonder if Jones -- a true athletic freak -- might actually have the legs to man the middle all the way through Russia 2018.
Julian Green, M, Hamburg (Germany)
Why he's here: After seeing just five minutes of action in the Yanks' two November friendlies, the Klinsmann favorite failed to make Hamburg's bench for Sunday's 2-0 win over Werder Bremen.
What this means: Green has been slowed by some bothersome injures this season, and Hamburg's early-season coaching switch also didn't help. Still, his struggles for playing time at HSV -- he was loaned there from Bayern Munich specifically to get minutes -- have been a major disappointment so far.
Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)
Why he's here: Following his worst two games in a U.S. uniform, Johnson was left out of Gladbach's squad for Saturday's 3-1 home loss to Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt.
What this means: For all the talk about Matt Besler's post-Cup struggles, Johnson's form since Brazil has taken the biggest dip of any American.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.