Yanks Abroad heads to the Eurasian boundary, and takes a look at how the trio of Yanks playing in Turkey’s top-flight SüperLig have fared so far through the first half of the 2021-22 season.

Unlike most of the European countries, the Turkish SüperLig played on Christmas Day, which was great for those of us who cannot get enough of the beautiful game. The Christmas weekend was the end of the Turkish year as well, ending with week 19, which means that the season is at the half-way point. 

Three Yanks are currently playing in the land which gave us our favorite lunch doner kebab, outstanding coffee to keep us writing late into the night, and of course, Turkish delight. So let’s jump right into it.

One of the most successful teams in the Republic, Galatasaray SK has the record for the most league titles and the most Turkish Cup triumphs with 22 and 18 respectively. Watching them play this year, you wouldn’t think so though as they now sit in tenth place. 

DeAndre Yedlin joined up with the Istanbul-based team at the beginning of 2021 from Newcastle United where he played for them 112 times. The former Seattle Sounder has appeared 14 times so far this season, all of them in the starting line-up.  He never got off the bench for the last two league games however.

With Trabzonspor leading the pack, seven points ahead of second-place Konyaspor and 19 ahead of Yedlin’s gang, telling themselves that they have a shot at claiming their 23rd title would be very optimistic. What they should be aiming for, which would be a realistic goal, would be claiming a European spot. 

Second place, 12 points away, and a Champions League birth may even be stretching it; but reaching third or fourth, which brings a Conference League spot, is still very realistic. Winning is vital but they’ll also need help from the football gods to get back into Europe.

As for Yedlin, he has to get himself back into the starting line-up when the team gets back into action on January 8 when they host Giresunspor. 

If you thought Galatasaray was far down the league table, then I can’t image what you think about the next Yank’s club. Haji Wright headed down to Turkey from Denmark this past summer and not on the best terms with his parent club, SønderjyskE. The 23-year-old did force the loan move, which comes with an option to buy. But so far, it seems as if he has a lot more work to do if he plans to convince 15th-place Antalyaspor to make the move permanent.

Fair enough, Wright has found the back of the net on four occasions in his eight starts and six games off the bench. He has also missed a few weeks a few weeks due to a back injury, so this could have taken away a few goals from the striker who was in double digits for his Danish team. Then again, the season is almost half over, so hopefully he will force more opposing goalkeepers to fetch the ball from the back of their nets, in order to motivate the team to keep him around for the long-term.

As for the team, well, I think their main goal should be to string together some back to back wins; something that they haven’t done for a while.  In fact they have only won six games so far this entire season, so an ambitious, if not a bit unrealistic goal would be to climb to the top half of the table, but most important is to not keep dropping points and end up in one of the four relegation spots.

From bad, to very bad to even worse is Tyler Boyd’s predicament. The ten-times capped USMNT winger is currently on loan with Caykur Rizespor from his Turkish parent club, Besiktas, and he probably wishes that he was still back in Istanbul. 

The team that plays on the Black Sea and not very far from the Georgian border currently finds itself in 17th place, with the second-worst goal differential of the division. Whoever finishes in the bottom four of the 20-team league in May will be relegated to the TFF First League next season. Perhaps this isn’t a big concern to Boyd, being on loan but honestly, who wants to be a player on a team that gets relegated?

As with Wright & company, the best that Boyd and Rizespor can hope for is not to be relegated. Also, Boyd has to play out of his socks and let Besiktas know that he is ready to come home and take up his rightful place at their Vodafone Park stadium.

The way things are going now, with 12 starts and two appearances off the bench where he hasn’t scored a single goal, are far from impressive for a striker, so Boyd has a lot of work to do in the back half of the season, which begins for Rize on January 9.

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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