American Exports: Tasty matchup potentially on tap as Juan Agudelo awaits recovering Aron Johannsson
AMSTERDAM – A slim but solid weekend slate of European tilts involving Americans could include the first Eredivisie clash of US internationals in over 15 years if AZ Alkmaar hitman Aron Jóhannsson proves fit enough to face Juan Agudelo and FC Utrecht.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH FA CUP
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. Southampton (Saturday, 7:45 am on Fox Sports 2/Fox Soccer 2Go)
The US striker has yet lose in three tries against the Saints, and he set up both goals in Sunderland's League Cup victory back in November. With Sunderland's midweek postponement easing the schedule grind a bit, Altidore seems likely to receive his fifth start in a row, which would establish his longest-ever run in England. The Black Cats, who are aiming to make the FA Cup quarters for the second year running, hold a 5-2-2 lifetime edge over Southampton in this tournament. However, Saturday's visitors won the last such meeting in 1985 and have dropped just one of their last seven at the Stadium of Light.
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim vs. Stuttgart (Saturday, 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+)
Johnson could make his first start since January at left back as Hoffenheim try to keep the defensive woes of earlier this season from creeping back. The US World Cup hopeful has a goal and an assist in four career southern derbies against Stuttgart, but his side lost three of them. Saturday's hosts have never beaten the Schwabians at home and came out on top of just one of their 11 Bundesliga clashes to date. It could help their cause that former ace-turned-deadly nemesis Vedad Ibisevic is suspended.
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes at Nice (Saturday, 2 pm on Univision Deportes/beIN Sports Play)
There are a few too many US internationals awaiting injury returns, but Bedoya is hoping to take himself off that list when his team invades the Riviera. It would also be his first game against the Eagles, who've won five straight at home. The Canaries have suddenly lost altitude, losing three of a winless four to fall to 11th place. They have also gone six games without a win at Nice, but managed a draw four times in that span.
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar vs. Juan Agudelo – FC Utrecht (Saturday, 2:45 pm)
The AZ top scorer is in the provisional squad after missing one game with a groin complaint. Jóhannsson has a goal in two meetings with Utrecht and six from his last seven overall outings. Agudelo will obviously be getting his first crack at the Cheese Farmers, but his focus will be on helping the injury-hit visitors score their first league win since early December. Now just three points above the trap door, Utrecht have traditionally hated the short trip north to Alkmaar. Last season, AZ got a Jozy Altidore hat trick and a capping goal from Jóhannsson in a 6-0 rout that pushed their AFAS-Stadion record in the series to a perfect 6-0.
BELGIAN JUPILER LEAGUE
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht vs. Mons (Sunday, noon)
With the Mauves struggling in 2014, Kljestan could make his first start since going down with a calf injury in mid-December. The defending champs have slipped 12 points adrift of leaders Standard Liège. The USMNT midfielder has yet to taste defeat in four career Mons meetings and Anderlecht have won five of his last six league starts. Sunday's guests have never won at the Constant Vanden Stock, earning just one point in eight previous tries.
BEST OF THE REST
England (FA Cup)
Tim Howard – Everton vs. Swansea City | Sun. 8:30 am on Fox Sports 1/Fox Soccer 2Go
Eric Lichaj (questionable) – Nottingham Forest at Sheffield United | Sun. 10 am on Fox Soccer Plus/Fox Soccer 2Go
John Brooks – Hertha Berlin vs. Wolfsburg | Sun. 11:30 am
Jermaine Jones – (doubtful) Beşiktaş vs Bursaspor | Sun. 7 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Wien at Admira Wacker Mödling | Sun. 11 am