American Exports: Bob Bradley, Michael Stephens set for Stabæk debut as Tippeligaen gets underway
AMSTERDAM – The weekend slate for Americans stationed in Europe expands with the start of league play in Norway, where coach Bob Bradley and Michael Stephens are hoping for a happy Stabæk debut against visiting Sogndal.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. West Ham United (Monday, 3 pm on NBCSN)
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has already stated that young attacker Connor Wickham will start this contest, so it remains to be seen if Altidore keeps the place next to him with Fabio Borini returning to the fold after being ineligble to play against parent owners Liverpool. Despite traditionally faring well at the Stadium of Light, West Ham's arrival gives the Black Cats plenty of hope for snapping a five-game win drought. Not only have the Hammers scored just once in going 0-4-1 from the last five meetings, but they are 4-18-7 in their last 29 EPL road games.
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa at Manchester United (saturday, 8:45 am on NBCSN)
Having lost all three of his career starts against the Red Devils, Guzan is also after his first away since New Year's Day. It could be the right time to catch United at Old Trafford, where they are oddly winless in three league games and have failed to take full points in six of nine. They also will be without Robin van Persie, who fired a hat trick against the American in this fixture last season. Villa have lost three straight in Manchester since Guzan watched Brad Friedel backstop an upset in 2009.
Tim Howard – Everton at Fulham (Sunday, 8:30 am on NBCSN)
Since joining the Toffees, Howard is 11-3-2 against Fulham with six shutouts. The Cottagers have not beaten him since August 2009, a span of nine games. Just six points out of a Champions League slot with a game in hand, Everton come in with four straight wins, one away from their longest EPL streak in nearly 12 years. Though they have struggled at Craven Cottage through the years, Howard & Co. have dropped just one of the last four there.
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim at Bayern Munich (Saturday, 10:30 am on GolTV)
The last thing Johnson and friends needed with a two-game win streak that has given them a sniff of the Europa League chase is a visit to FC Hollywood, but here we are. The only two previous appearances against Bayern for the American handyman, who has three assists in the last six games, came in losses last season. The already-crowned champs are unbeaten in 52 Bundesliga outings, with 19 straight wins by a 64-10 combined tally. They've also yet to lose to Hoffenheim in 11 meetings, going a perfect 5-0 at home.
BELGIAN JUPILER LEAGUE
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlcht at Standard Liège(Sunday, 1 pm)
Despite being 12 points off the title pace or arch rivals Standard a few weeks back, the holders can cut that deficit down to as low as two by winning the opening bout of Belgium's peculiar championship hexagonal. Kljestan has a goal in eight career clashes (3-1-4) with Les Rouches. Three-peat hunters Anderlecht are winless in their last six road games, but have lost just one of their last five in Liège. The Mauves will want to keep a close eye on Jupiler League top gun Michy Batshuayi, who has five goals in his last five games at Sclessin.
Coach Bob Bradley, Michael Stephens – Stabaek vs. Sogndal (Sunday, 11 am)
Not only will Bradley become the first American to manage a top-flight tilt in Europe, but new midfield ace Stephens is also set for his competitive overseas debut. The former LA Galaxy man, who scored three times in the preseason, is expected to start in central midfield for the hosts. Stabaek, who lost just one second-flight game at Nadderud Stadion last season, have won seven of their nine league games at home to Sogndal.
BEST OF THE REST
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City vs. Hull City, Sat. 11 am on Premier League ExtraTime
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes vs. Bordeaux, Sat. 3 pm
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar at Cambuur, Sun. 8:30 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna vs. Sturm Graz, Sat. 11:30 am
Mikkel Diskerud – Rosenborg vs. Viking, Sat. 1 pm
Zarek Valentin – Bodø/Glimt vs. Aalesund FK, Sun. 10 am