Americans Exports: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan search for big wins as Euro seasons wind down
AMSTERDAM – The weekend brings another exciting European card of big bouts involving Americans, with Everton's Tim Howard aiming to snap a five-game win drought against local nemesis Liverpool. All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj – Aston Villa at Norwich City (Saturday, 10 am on Fox Soccer)
The Villans are finishing the season strong, with four wins and a draw in their last seven games. A victory over the Canaries could put the visitors eight points clear of the trap door and on the verge of winning their relegation fight. Villa have not traditionally fared well at Norwich, but they've managed an even split (2-2-2) on the last six visits. Unlike compatriot Guzan, Lichaj is likely to work from the sub's bench.
Tim Howard – Everton at Liverpool (Sunday, 8:30 am on Fox Soccer)
The US star has never won a Merseyside derby at Anfield, with his lone victory there coming with Manchester United nearly 10 years ago. Howard, who hasn't beaten the Reds anywhere since 2010, has posted four draws in eight tries at Liverpool across all competitions for the Toffees. This time, he won't need to worry about suspended winger Luis Suárez, who's hit him for three goals and two assist in four derby meetings. With three games left, Everton stand three points shy of a Europa League berth and five short of a Champions League place.
Stuart Holden, Tim Ream – Bolton vs. Blackpool (Saturday, 7:45 am)
Holden seems more likely to play a part as Wanderers enter closing day with a goal differential edge over Nottingham Forest in the race for the last promotion playoff spot, but Ream is battling for a start with loan defender Craig Dawson now out the door. Bolton have won eight straight at the Reebok and haven't lost at home to their regional rivals since 1959, a span of five games. However, Blackpool have just a single 1963 loss to show for the last eight meetings.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Michael Bradley – AS Roma at Fiorentina (Saturday, 2:45 pm on RAI)
Both the midfielder and his team have been warming in form lately to set up a crucial showdown in Italy's Champions League chase. Bradley & Co. must also catch AC Milan, but first they need to halve their six-point deficit on fourth place Fiorentina. The US midfielder has won all four times out against La Viola, who have won just three of the last 11 Florence meetings between the two. Daniele De Rossi should be back in midfield for Roma, who must start Bogdan Lobont for injured netminder Maarten Stekelenburg.
BELGIAN JUPILER LEAGUE
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht vs. Standard Liège (Sunday, 8:30 am)
Unless the champs wish to claim Europe's sudden swoon award this spring, they will need to pull out of nose-dive mode against the arch rivals. A goal from Kljestan would be a great omen for Anderlecht, who have one but one of their six championship hexagonal matches to date; the Mauves are a perfect 11-0-0 when the American bags a goal. He's never hit against Standard, who have yet to lose in three playoff games between these contentious rivals the past two postseasons.
Alejandro Bedoya – Helsingborg at Syrianska (Sunday, 11:30 am)
Aside from Jozy Altidore, there may be no hotter American export than the HIF playmaker. Since shifting into the No. 10 role, Bedoya has notched four goals and three assists in eight games. A point off the top through six league tilts, Helsingborg come in with three straight wins. They've also taken all five meetings with their weekend hosts, including three at Syrianska. The American has only faced the Mites once, hitting a lone goal winner for Örebro in April of 2011.
BEST OF THE REST
Clint Dempsey, Brad Friedel – Tottenham vs. Southampton, Sat. 10 am on ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Timothy Chandler – FC Nürnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen, Sat. 9:30 am on GolTV
Steve Cherundolo – Hannover 96 vs. Mainz 05, Sat. 9:30 am
Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams – Hoffenheim at Werder Bremen, Sat. 9:30 am
Jozy Altidore – AZ Alkmaar vs. FC Zwolle, Sun. 6:30 am
Maurice Edu – Bursaspor at Orduspor, Sun. 1 pm
Charlie Davies – Randers FC vs. AGF Aarhus, Sun. 11 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna at Sturm Graz, Sun. 10 am
Steve Clark – Hønefoss vs. Tromsø, Sun. noon
Mikkel Diskerud – Rosenborg at Aalesund FK, Sat. noon