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Forgettable week gets worse for John Brooks after Champions League red card


John Brooks waited his entire career for the chance to play in the UEFA Champions League, but he will probably not want to remember his first experience in the competition.

The Wolfsburg defender was sent off in the 62nd minute of Wolfsburg’s 0-0 Champions League draw with French champions Lille on Tuesday, drawing a second yellow card for what was deemed an intentional handball.

Brooks’ ejection came just six days after his poor showing for the U.S. men’s national team in last week’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win against Honduras. He was replaced at halftime of that match by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter after struggling badly in the first half, a change that helped the Americans overturn a 1-0 halftime deficit on the way to a blowout victory.

The 28-year-old defender’s sudden September struggles have been a surprise for a player who enjoyed an outstanding 2020/2021 season for Wolfsburg, playing a key role in the team’s securing of a top-four Bundesliga finish and Champions League place, as well as an important role in the team’s perfect 4-0 start to the Bundesliga season.

His poor form for the USMNT in its recent qualifiers was even more surprising, as he failed to reach his usual level in the team’s 1-1 draw with Canada before his nightmare 45-minute outing against Honduras.

Brooks will now miss Wolfsburg’s next Champions League group-stage match, on September 29 at home against Sevilla, which settled for a group-opening 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday.

Brooks could return to action for Wolfsburg on Sunday against Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt.


  1. He flew from Germany to Nashville to El Salvador to Nashville to honduras to Germany to wherever this last game was in about 2 weeks. Chill.

      • ez pz. because when you came off the bench that day and are known for a one-off offensive play, you never had to be a reliable starting defender on the biggest stages.

    • Imparative Voice, I recall Brooks being arguably best player on the US squad in the semifinal run during the Copa America in 2016. That was arguably the biggest stage the US has played on since the 2014 World Cup.

    • I didn’t think Brooks played poorly against Canada. The whole team played badly (IMO) in the first half against Honduras, and the changes made by GB in personnel and formation made the difference.

      Brooks was very good in the Gold Cup – or whatever it is called this summer. I also thought he played well for the first few fixtures in the Bundesliga.

      This dip is severe and worrisome. Hopefully his confidence comes back quickly as I think the USMNT and Wolfsburg need him to play to his capabilities.

      • Its funny how people forget how good he was in Nations League and that included a great game against Mexico. My opinion I think he is out of form. He didn’t look in Champions league either

      • he was not very good against honduras. he got abused by elis who just didn’t finish. he did have a nice assist but overall tbat’s about a “wash.” he was abused by the swiss the game before that. his fans basically sweep under the rug the goals allowed every 2-3 games because of passing aesthetics or him helping us score a goal about every 10th cap. i then think we underrate the value of a clean sheet and overrate how much better any particular back is at offense. when is the last time turner lost a game? trick question, he hasn’t. exactly.

  2. John Brooks has always been a better Bundesliga player than USMNT player. It’s funny how some players are that way while others are the exact opposite. Berhalter needs to remember this and prioritize competition over reputation when fielding the team. I hope Brooks regains his mojo but I also hope that it motivates other centerbacks to up their game in the hopes of cracking the team and that Berhalter gives them the opportunity to do so.

    • people conflate “scouting” with “NT performance.” club form suggests how NT performance MIGHT be. there are plenty of wondo/ twellman examples where a club star is less than a NT peformer.

      to be blunt i feel like stuff like this is basically relearning international coaching 101. this should be an accepted truism and we move on to “does he translate.” which side of the fence does he end up on. i get crap for beefing about “snobs” but yet this constant drumbeat of “UCL means he must be good [no matter how his last cap went” continues, despite what we all know the mixed bag history is. the way this has been handled historically is a good club was a leg up on scouting and getting a friendly cap to show what you have. nothing more.

  3. He really looked undisciplined and reckless the USA games and in this Champions League game. At times, he runs forward acting like he’s a defensive midfielder and doesn’t hold his line. I understand if there are sometimes chances for that, but he all to often doesn’t keep track of where he is or where his opponents are. Berhalter has some serious thinking to do regarding who will start in the next window. Robinson definitely, and possibly Mckenzie. I hope he calls in Richards too.

    • i do agree that he can be pulled out of position, and that is bad, but my bigger beef is to me what he is good at is the easy part of the job. passing balls around the back uncontested, and marking air and clearing aimless balls in a zone. the part of the job he can’t hack as well is marking a mobile striker. to me that contest is where you earn your paycheck and the clearing balls uncontested or passing around is the easy part.

      i also think that part of his problem would be unlike dest i cannot reboot him as an attacking player. his job is defending and we don’t have many immobile peter crouch target types in concacaf, where he can hide his foot speed problem by just jumping with the forward all day.


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