American Exports preview: Howard, Friedel eye FA Cup final
Another crucial weekend looms for Americans in Europe, with American netminders Tim Howard (Everton) and Brad Friedel (Tottenham) just 90 minutes away from a meeting in the FA Cup final. All times listed in ET.
Liverpool vs. Everton (Saturday, 7:30 am on Fox Soccer Channel)
Americans: Tim Howard (EVE) – This is about as big as it gets in the Merseyside Derby, as the Liverpool giants meet at Wembley with more than just bragging rights on the line.
The winner earns a trip to the FA Cup final while the loser must shift their focus to the Premier League, where the two teams sit one-point apart in seventh and eighth. Though Howard and Toffees are a point ahead in the league, a victory here would go a long way toward healing the inevitable hurt from two defeats (5-0 aggregate) to Liverpool in EPL play this season.
Tottenham vs. Chelsea (Sunday, 1 pm on Fox Soccer Channel)
Americans: Brad Friedel (TOT) – Amid rumors that Chelsea may not field a full-strength side -- instead focusing their efforts on the Premier League and earning a Champions League place they hope to wrest from, ironically, Tottenham -- Friedel certainly won't be lured into taking this one lightly.
Tottenham last won the competition in 2008, and they'll have to beat their London rivals at Wembley for another shot at the cup. So far neither side had the upper hand on the other this season, with draws at both White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge in the league.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester United vs. Aston Villa (Sunday, 10 am on Fox Soccer Channel)
Americans: Eric Lichaj, Brad Guzan (AST) – Manchester United's high-profile stumble against Wigan in mid-week has to have the Villans eyeing their own opportunity to spoil the Red Devil's title chances.
Phil Jones made the difference at Villa Park in early December as Man U snuck away with a 1-0 victory, and it won't be any easier for recent lineup addition Eric Lichaj and his teammates on Sunday. Lichaj has found his way into the lineup recently, starting Villa's last three league matches and scoring his first EPL goal against Chelsea.
Hamburg SV vs. Hannover 96 (Sunday, 9:30 am on My Sports Germany)
American: Steve Cherundolo (H96) – Hannover may have crashed out of the Europa League recently, but their hopes of returning to the competition next season are still squarely on the line against relegation-threatened Hamburg.
Cherundolo will sport the Hannover armband at right back as Hannover look to maintain their pace and keep up with Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart in the race for Europe, while Hamburg try to recover from a spanking against Hoffenheim
ITALIAN SERIE A
Atalanta vs. Chievo (Sunday, 9 am)
American: Michael Bradley (CV) – Last weekend's loss to league leaders AC Milan broke a four-game unbeaten streak for the Flying Donkeys, but they've got a prime opportunity to redeem themselves on Sunday against the team directly below them in the standings.
After drawing 0-0 at home against Atalanta in early December, Bradley and his teammates will be looking to maintain their solid, if unspectacular, away form as they attempt to chase down a Europa League place. Despite being eight points back with six to play, meaning the spot is just about out of reach, Chievo won't want to leave points on the table as they shoot for a top-10 finish.
BEST OF THE REST
Norwich City (Zak Whitbread) vs. Manchester City – Sat. 7:45 am on ESPN2
AC Nordsjælland (Michael Parkhurst) vs. Silkeborg IF – Sun. 8 am
AC Horsens vs. Brøndby IF (Clarence Goodson) – Sun. noon
Kaiserslautern (Andrew Wooten) vs. FC Nürnberg (Timothy Chandler) – Sat. 9:30 am on My Sports Germany
Schalke (Jermaine Jones) vs. Borussia Dortmund – Sat. 9:30 am on GolTV
SC Freiburg vs. Hoffenheim (Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams) – Sun. 11:30 am on My Sports Germany
PSV vs. AZ (Jozy Altidore) – Sat. 12:45 pm on ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com
Anderlecht (Sacha Kljestan) vs. Racing Genk – Sat. 2 pm
Club Brugge vs. AA Gent (Mix Diskerud) – Sun. noon