Postcard from Europe: US records made for breaking

Postcard From Europe: Tim Howard

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AMSTERDAM – There's no doubt about it: American sports fans are a nation of stat nerds.

And we love our history too: who played the longest, who scored the most goals, who won the most titles.

So indulge your inner geek for a second while we run the latest numbers on our boys overseas and see – statistically speaking, of course – what’s worth counting abroad.

The Chase is (Somewhat) on

It’s a little premature for setting all targets, but the end of Brad Friedel's EPL record for consecutive starts and his ensuing retirement talk means we can get an idea how far Tim Howard has to go in chasing the Tottenham Hotspur star's statistical milestones.

The streak mentioned above offers the clearest sight. Friedel (right) was stopped at 310 straight league starts, while Howard will hit 191 in Sunday's Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park.

Signed with the Toffees through 2016, Howard can reach his countryman in the 14th match of the final season on his contract.

Whether the length of that deal will allow him to catch Friedel's American-best marks for EPL wins and shutouts, however, remains to be seen.

The 41-year-old Friedel is now subject to rotation (or worse) at White Hart Lane, but counts 180 victories and 131 clean sheets already in his Premier League account.

Howard has 129 career EPL wins and has averaged roughly 16 per season with Everton. He has 93 shutouts, with nearly 13 per year as the Toffees goalkeeper. Those rates mean he could catch Friedel's numbers by 2016, provided Everton remain a consistent top-seven side with Howard in the lineup every time out.

The Chase is on – Part Deux

There has been plenty of deserved attention given to the scoring exploits of AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore and Tottenham attacker Clint Dempsey since the start of last season.

With all the goals come milestones. Deuce has already set standards, becoming both Fulham's top EPL hit man and the highest-scoring American in England. Altidore, meanwhile, is on a single-season record pace with eight goals in his first eight Eredivisie games this term and contending to be the first US international to win a European top flight's Golden Boot award.

And here’s another, slightly more obscure mark that both Dempsey and Altidore are chasing: Current AZ technical director Earnie Stewart leads all Americans with 11 multiple-goal games in honor-division play, but Altidore and Dempsey have been gaining fast.

Dempsey has scored two or more goals in a league game six times in the last two seasons, bringing his total to nine. Since Stewart acquired Altidore 15 months ago, the youngster has pulled off the feat seven times.

Expect both men to challenge the record, but who will get there first?

The Big-Dancers

There are many variables that go into how many times a player laces up for continental cup action, so the credentials can be a bit misleading. Still, there is much to be said for level of performance on the big stage when the chance arrives.

One imperfect way of measuring the cumulative amount of success enjoyed by American players in Europe is to simply count the number of times they played a part in qualifying or tourney wins.

Howard sits on the top of the chart with 14 wins in Europe dating back to his Manchester United days, but Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan (right) is only three back with 11, and is one of several US players busy with group-stage play.

Two back with nine stand Altidore and Hannover 96 skipper Steve Cherundolo, who can hit 10 against Europa League hosts Helsingborg on Thursday.

The next four on the chart are also active in Euro-tourneys. Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones (who also won six UEFA matches as a Germany international) have played in eight victories, with a fair chance for many more to come before summer.

DaMarcus Beasley boasts 10 wins all-time after his Champions League days of years past, but it’s unlikely he’ll get any more big wins in Europe while he suits up for Puebla in Mexico

The Giving Trend

We talked last season about the unprecedented number of goals scored by Americans in Europe. This term, that story may be about assists.

Michael Parkhurst is threatening the Danish Superliga lead with five assists from his fullback spot. Altidore and SønderjyskE's Conor O'Brien co-lead their clubs with three on the young season, while Josh Gatt is second on Molde FK with four. In all, 13 Americans have already accounted for 27 assists in top-flight European play this season.