American Exports preview: Yanks set for EPL clashes
AMSTERDAM – The weekend brings another buffet of European action involving Americans, including a pair of EPL showdowns that will put US teammates on opposing sides. All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu (Stoke), Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj (AV) – Aston Villa vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 10 am on Fox Soccer Plus)
Cameron should retain a place in defense when the suddenly streaking Potters make the half-hour trip south to face in-form Villa netminder Guzan. The US backstop has pitched shutouts in his last two home starts. The clubs have drawn in four of their last five meetings, but Stoke have not won at Villa Park since 1965. They have, however, won four of five and posted shutouts in six of 10.
Clint Dempsey, Brad Friedel (Spurs), Tim Howard (EVE) – Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 10 am on Fox Soccer Plus)
With Hugo Lloris holding down the No. 1 spot for Spurs, it appears unlikely that we'll be treated to the 19th English duel between Friedel and Howard, who will be extending his EPL record for consecutive starts with one club to 199.
The Everton netminder will need to contend with Dempsey, who has three assists in his last four games but only one goal against the US No. 1 in 11 tries. The teams will effectively be fighting over fourth place (otherwise known as the last Champions League pass). Spurs will arrive on a three-game win streak, but haven't bested Howard at Goodison since 2007.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Michael Bradley – AS Roma vs. Fiorentina (Saturday, 2:45 pm on RAI)
Bradley will look to continue his fine form for the Giallorossi, who've suddenly remembered how to win at home. Their hot hand is Mattia Destro, who has four goals in as many games after starting the season at a turtle's pace. Though resurgent Fiorentina are unbeaten in nine league games and won at Roma last season, Stadio Olimpico is historically one of their least favorite road trips.
Steve Cherundolo – Hannover 96 vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Sunday, 11:30 am on GolTV)
Having sewn up first place in their Europa League group on Thursday, the Reds and their skipper must now sort out the league status against the hottest club in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen have won four straight and lost just once since mid-September. As it so happens, they've also notched three victories and eight draws from their last 12 visits to Hannover. Making matters worse for the home side, Karim Haggui and Lars Stindl have been added to shelf with injuries this week.
Jozy Altidore – AZ Alkmaar vs. Willem II (Saturday 1:45 pm)
There may be no better time than now for Willem II to visit AFAS Stadion; the Cheese Farmers have dropped three straight at home, while Altidore (who has never faced the Tricolors) is facing the prospect of his first four-game Eredivisie goal drought in nearly a year. Enter the current bottom feeders, who have lost seven consecutive games at AZ by a 20-4 combined margin. However, Maarten Martens remains out for the hosts, who have also lost Dirk Marcellis to suspension.
Michael Parkhurst – FC Nordsjælland at FC Copenhagen (Sunday, 1 pm)
The injuries are piling up a bit for the Wild Tigers, meaning Parkhurst should again slide into central defense as the champs head into the extended winter break by visiting the current leaders. The outcome of this match will tell a lot about FCN's goal when play resumes in March; a win pulls them to within six points of the top, while defeat would push them 12 adrift. The teams have evenly split their previous four clashes, as well as the last two at Parken.
BEST OF THE REST
Oguchi Onyewu – Málaga vs. Granada, Sat. noon
Timothy Chandler – FC Nürnberg vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf, Sat. 9:30 am
Jermaine Jones – Schalke at Stuttgart, Sat. 9:30 am
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht at Mons, Sat. noon
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna vs. FC Wacker Tirol, Sun. 10 am