FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The past four years took Juan Toja to the heights of the UEFA Champions League and the unknown lands of Greece and Romania.
As he explored foreign countries and tested his professional limits, Toja kept an eye on the competition he left behind in MLS. He caught a few games and monitored the comings and goings. It wasn't in his job description with recent employers Aris or Steaua Bucureşti, but he did it anyways.
It’s still early days, but Olivier Occean’s move to a new club in Germany is looking to be a good one.
Occean has yet to find the back of the net for Eintracht Frankfurt this season, but he’s seen plenty of action as his side leads the German Bundesliga. Occean played the full 90 minutes on Saturday as Frankfurt beat Hoffenheim 4-0 to pick up a share of the top spot alongside Bayern Munich after two games.
The draw is done, and three American players learned their fates in the UEFA Champions League on Thursday morning. While Jermaine Jones, Michael Parkhurst and Sacha Kljestan and their teams will face tough odds to get out of their groups, they can draw inspiration from the fact that many American players have blazed unlikely trails before them helping pull off some improbable results.
AMSTERDAM – While most American young adults have designs on their first legal bar crawl when they turn 21, Molde FK winger Josh Gatt will have a very different wish when he blows out the candles on Wednesday: a Europa League group-stage pass.
The flank terror and his teammates have brought a 2-0 first-leg lead to the Netherlands for Thursday night's playoff-round decider at Heerenveen.
AMSTERDAM – Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu is on his way to Stoke City to complete a transfer move, MLSsoccer.com has learned.
Sources indicated to MLSsoccer.com that Edu had been monitored by Stoke for several weeks, moving up their shopping list after a loan deal for Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone fell apart. The Premier League club has made an offer of £300,000 (about $475,000), meeting a release-fee clause negotiated when the the 26-year-old California native accepted a large pay cut before Rangers was dissolved and reformed this past spring.
AMSTERDAM – Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht had a tough Wednesday night, dropping the first leg of their Champions League playoff-round tie 2-1 at Cypriot side AEL Limassol.
The US international went the distance in midfield, drawing a save from distance moments before Dosa Júnior opened the scoring in the 34th minute.
A terrific individual effort from Dieumerci Mbokani knotted the game just past the hour, but Rui Miguel hit the AEL winner only 10 minutes later. The scene switches to Brussels for the deciding match on Aug. 29.
AMSTERDAM – The mainstream seasons are kicking off left and right in Europe, which means there's no better time to air a stack of bold (or perhaps crazy) predictions involving American exports.
We'll dispense with the ceremony and get straight to the show, ranked countdown style from least daring to most.
5) Repeat Offenders
AMSTERDAM – Recovering Molde FK winger Josh Gatt has resumed training with the Norwegian champs, but the club have not yet set a date for his return to action.
The 20-year-old injured his left hamstring shortly after scoring off the bench in a July 21 win over Tippeligaen visitors Viking.
"He'll be ready when he's ready," Molde physio Leif Arne Lystad told MLSsoccer.com. "It's a tricky [injury]. He's started training, so it's not too far away."
AMSTERDAM – It was a rather successful Sunday for Americans playing in Europe, highlighted by a two-goal performance from Jozy Altidore as AZ Alkmaar drew 2-2 in their opening day matchup away to Eredivisie champions Ajax.
AMSTERDAM – It's that time of year again when the kids head back to school and the weekend schedule for Americans in Europe starts gaining weight.
Like the returning tide, we're back to help set your weekend pub raids. All times in ET.
Ajax vs. AZ Alkmaar (Sunday, 10:30 am on ESPN3)