AMSTERDAM – A hat trick of American exports rang the midweek bell in Europe on Wednesday, with Fabian Johnson scoring for the second straight match to cap Hoffenheim's 3-0 derby triumph at Stuttgart.
Near the hour mark, the left back (above, right) closed the scoring after being released to start a lightning counterattack down the flank. Johnson centered after darting 40 yards on the ball, but eventually stabbed home after two of his teammates had shots saved by the home netminder.
AMSTERDAM – If anyone ever needs a poster boy for the "steady as she goes" attitude to races, please look no further than the unofficial mayor of Hannover, US defender Steve Cherundolo.
While some stateside observers began politely presuming the right back would fade from view during the 2014 World Cup cycle, the 33-year-old still holds down right back for the national team more than halfway down the path to Brazil.
AMSTERDAM – A handful of Americans suited up for some Monday night football overseas, with Alejandro Bedoya's Helsingborg seeing victory snatched away late in a 1-1 home draw with Malmö FF.
The US midfielder (above, right) went the distance at right midfield, drawing two saves from the away 'keeper. The result leaves the defending champs eight points shy of a Europa League slot with seven matches to play.
AMSTERDAM – An extremely close offside flag kept Clint Dempsey from playing the Thursday night goal hero in his first start for Tottenham Hotspur, a 0-0 draw against Europa League group phase opening-night guests Lazio.
Midway through the opening frame, the US star nodded home a Gareth Bale cross, only to have the linesman controversially wave off the goal. Dempsey departed after working a strong 75-minute shift as Spurs moved into a second-place tie in Group J.
A little rest did Olivier Occean a whole lot of good.
The Québécois striker was left out of Canada’s recent 2-0 loss to Panama due to injury, but he was back in action last weekend as his club Eintracht Frankfurt kept pace with Bayern Munich atop the German Bundesliga.
On Sunday, Occean scored the club’s second goal – his first career goal in Germany’s top flight – as Frankfurt maintained their perfect start to the new season with a 3-2 win over Hamburger SV.
TORONTO – Toronto FC signed center back Darren O’Dea last month for his leadership on the pitch and he has shown it in abundance.
The 25-year-old Irish international’s leadership also extends into the dressing room. He gave a glimpse of that after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire at BMO Field, a result that officially put the Reds out of the playoff picture for a record sixth consecutive season.
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.