American Exports preview: Start for Lichaj as EPL kicks?
AMSTERDAM – The slate for Americans in Europe expands again this weekend, with action starting in England and Germany. The American contingent in England will jump straight into league play, while in Germany there will be a round of cup action before the Bundesliga kicks off on Aug. 24.
Elsewhere across the continent, leagues in the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria are getting into full swing, with Americans impressing early on and looking to continue to make their mark. All times in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
West Ham United vs. Aston Villa (Saturday, 10 am on FoxSoccer2Go)
Americans: Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj (AV) – While the US netminder will begin another season chasing starter Shay Given, Lichaj (above) is expected to get the nod at one of the wingback slots. If he goes from the opening whistle, it will be his 10th start in a row in EPL play.
The Villans have traditionally struggled at West Ham, but did post two wins and two draws from their last five visits. While the Hammers spent last term in the Championship, they still have the matter of a nine-game EPL winless streak to correct.
Fulham vs. Norwich City (Saturday, 10 am on FoxSoccer2Go)
American: Clint Dempsey (Fulham) – As the American star's transfer saga drags on, Fulham head coach Martin Jol has confirmed that Dempsey will not be part of the matchday squad for the team's EPL opener.
Newcastle vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 12:30 pm on Fox Soccer)
American: Brad Friedel (Spurs) – Even with the club linked to several keepers this week, the burly netminder should extend his league record for consecutive starts to 315.
Spurs, who look set to go without Gareth Bale and Scott Parker, have just one win in their last 10 EPL road games. What's more, they have only one against five losses in the last eight at St. James' Park.
AZ Alkmaar vs. Heracles Almelo (Sunday, 8:30 am)
American: Jozy Altidore (AZ) – Joint Eredivisie top scorer after a road double in Round 1, the striker has scored three times in his last three matches at AFAS Stadion. Altidore also bagged the winner in a 3-1 home victory over Sunday's guests last season.
Though AZ were stunned at home by Heracles in the KNVB Cup semifinals in March, they have beaten the easterners seven straight times by a 19-4 count in league play Alkmaar. Hobbled captain Niklas Moisander is likely to be missing in the Kaasboeren central defense.
FC Copenhagen vs. Brøndby (Saturday, 1 pm)
American: Clarence Goodson (BIF) – The Brøndby skipper returns from suspension to face the biggest club in the land away. Having lost four of the first five games this term, they'll need points to get away from the danger zone.
The Lads from the Western Outskirts have not won in Copenhagen since 2004, a span of 13 games with eight losses. The hosts, meanwhile, have gone 13 straight matches without a loss at Parken.
AGF Aarhus vs. FC Nordsjaelland (Sunday, 11 am)
American: Michael Parkhurst (FCN) – The US defender should again feature at right back. Last week , he starred as the Wild Tigers snapped a three-game drought by smashing Silkeborg at home.
This weekend, the champs will hit the road, but Aarhus is among their favorite places to visit; FCN have five wins and two draws from their last nine at Farum Park.
Elfsborg vs. Helsingborg (Saturday, 10 am)
American: Alejandro Bedoya (HIF) – The US international's debut with the title-holders should be one to remember. Not only are Helsingborg visiting the current league leaders, they will use Bedoya at striker in the aftermath of Alfreð Finnbogason's transfer to Heerenveen.
Helsingborg will show up unbeaten in five road matches across all competitions, but they've won just once in their last 10 at Elfsborg.
NORWEGIAN NM CUPEN
Molde FK vs. Sandefjord (Saturday, 11 am)
American: Josh Gatt (Molde) – The league champs are hoping to have their wing speedster back in gear for this cup quarterfinal.
Believe it or not, two-time NM Cupen winners Molde have never beaten second division Sandefjord in six meetings. The visitors will arrive with four straight road wins and a seven-game unbeaten streak under their belts.
BEST OF THE REST
Birmingham City (Will Packwood) vs. Charlton – Sat. 10 am
Burnley vs. Bolton (Tim Ream) – Sat. 10 am
Nottingham Forest (Robbie Findley) vs. Bristol City – Sat. 10 am
Berlin Ankaraspor vs. Hoffenheim (Joseph Gyau, Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams) – Sat. 9:30 am
Nöttingen vs. Hannover 96 (Steve Cherundolo) – Sun. 8:30 am
TSV Havelse vs. FC Nürnberg (Timothy Chandler) – Sun. 8:30 am
Wormatia Worms vs. Hertha BSC (John Anthony Brooks) – Sun. 8:30 am
Anderlecht (Sacha Kljestan) vs. Mons-Bergen – Sat. 2 pm
Silkeborg vs. Randers FC (Charlie Davies) – Sat. 11 am
Rapid Vienna (Terrence Boyd) vs. Sturm Graz – Sat. 12:30 pm
Scotland (Third Division)
Rangers (Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu) vs. East Stirling – Sat. 10 am