American Exports: Brad Guzan earns 6th shutout in Aston Villa win over Jozy Altidore's Sunderland
AMSTERDAM – Several Americans working in England clocked in on New Year's Day, with Aston Villa netminder Brad Guzan posting his sixth shutout of the Premier League season in a 1-0 road victory over Jozy Altidore's Sunderland.
The former Chivas USA star required just one save to notch his fourth win and third clean sheet in five career unbeaten starts against Sunderland. Guzan denied Ki Sung-Yueng on the half hour, with much of the remainder spent watching Sunderland fail to create chances despite a massive possession advantage.
Altidore entered the contest in the 67th minute to work a decent shift without ever getting a good look at goal for himself. The result snapped a five-game drought for Guzan and his 11th place Villans, while basement dwellers Sunderland saw their unbeaten run end at four.
In another EPL duel between US teammates, Geoff Cameron's Stoke City were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Tim Howard and visiting Everton. The Potters right back put on a solid all-around display, while Howard's best stop out of three rejected a long James McCarthy drive in the 21st minute. The US 'keeper is now undefeated in his last six starts away from home, but the draw allowed arch nemesis Liverpool to jump ahead of the Toffees for fourth place. Despite running the home unbeaten streak in league play to seven games, Stoke slipped a spot to 12th.
Although eligible now that the transfer window is open, on-loan Fulham forward Clint Dempsey was not included in the squad in the Cottagers' 2-1 win over West Ham.
One league below in the Championship, newly acquired loanee Brek Shea made an encouraging debut start for Barnsley in a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City. The US international departed after 75 minutes having shown some menace. Barnsley remain at the bottom of the table, but inched to within five points of the safety zone.
Elsewhere, Eric Lichaj's Nottingham Forest were pegged back by a stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw away to Danny Williams and Reading. Playing at left back, Lichaj enjoyed a strong defensive outing, while Williams played a no-frills match in defensive midfield for the Royals. The share pushed fifth place Forest's unbeaten run to seven, while also keeping ninth place Reading winless in four.
A late leveler also rescued Tim Ream and Bolton in a 2-2 draw with guests Middlesbrough. The former Red Bulls man gave another solid left back performance as Wanderers held still in 18th place.
Duane Holmes came on for the final 38 minutes to no avail as Huddersfield Town dropped a 3-2 decision at Burnley. With the spark-plug sub largely kept quiet, the 13th place Terriers suffered their first loss in five.
Finally, Zak Whitbread watched from the home dugout as fourth place Derby County fell 1-0 at home to Wigan.