American Exports: Tim Howard, Everton look to close on Arsenal's UEFA Champions League spot
AMSTERDAM – Several Americans will take part in key European contests over the weekend, with Tim Howard and Everton hoping to close on visiting Arsenal in the race for England's last Champions League berth.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Tim Howard – Everton vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 8:30 am on NBCSN)
It is fair to say that the Gunners are one of Howard's least favorite opponents, but he has posted three series draws in a row and has conceded no more than one goal to them in five straight. Still, the US No. 1 has not beaten them since his first match hosting them as a Toffee in 2007 (a span of 13 EPL games). If he and his teammates can pull the feat this weekend, they will creep to within a point of fourth-place Arsenal still holding a game in hand. A win would also give Howard star his first six-game league win streak since the Manchester United days, as well as three consecutive road wins for the first time since December 2008.
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City at Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30 pm on NBC)
The ever-steady Potters right back will start for the visitors as they wager a three-game win streak against the title chasers. Chelsea have suddenly lost two of three, but facing them at home is another matter altogether. The Blues have four straight wins and five consecutive shutouts at Stamford Bridge, where they have not lost in 25 Premier League games. Stoke have not won at Chelsea in 40 years, but a victory on Saturday would give them their first season sweep since.
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland at Tottenham (Monday, 3 pm on NBCSN)
The US striker will hope to get back in the game when the Black Cats travel to White Hart Lane eager to snap an 0-5-1 EPL run. It may the right time to do so as Spurs have lost two of three and dropped points in eight of the last 15 there. Though Altidore & Co. won a preseason friendly in this building, the club is winless with but one goal to speak of from their last four league visits. Games between these two are almost always tight; the last multiple-goal victory margin in the series was also Sunderland's last win over Tottenham, which came more than four years ago.
John Brooks – Hertha Berlin vs. Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim (Sunday, 11:30 am on GolTV)
Factors such as injuries, transfers and retirement have seen the number of American vs. American clashes drop in Germany this season. However, we'll enjoy our first such tilt since January when Johnson and warming Hoffenheim head to the northeast. He will likely continue at right back, while US teammate Brooks seems a fair bet to regain a starting place in the heart of the Hertha defense. The home side is currently going through their worst stretch of the season, with only two goals and two points in six league games. However, The Old Lady in unbeaten in the previous three series meetings and in all three at home.
BELGIAN JUPILER LEAGUE
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht vs. Club Brugge (Sunday, 2 pm)
Fresh from one derby disappointment in the title chase, the champs will hope to avoid another. The championship hex-opening loss to Standard was a game to forget for Kljestan, but he's enjoyed plenty of success against Club. The US midfielder has suffered just two defeats in 12 rivalry clashes against the weekend visitors, with a goal and assist in last regular season's 6-1 home victory. The boys from Brugge come in six points ahead of Anderlecht for the second Champions League invite and having won seven of eight, but they have not taken full points at Constant Vanden Stock in 19 years.
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna at Austria Vienna (Sunday, 9 am)
As funny as it may seem, Boyd's five-game goal drought has coincided with his team's best run of the season. Sunday would be a great time to snap his slump with a derby goal, like the one he scored to win the October clash at Austria Vienna. Rapid are two points up on their city rivals for second place with six games to play, but both spots are good for the same level of Europa League pass. While the Green-Whites are unbeaten at home since Spetember, the visitors have just one win in their last seven on the road.
BEST OF THE REST
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa vs. Fulham, Sat. 10 am on Premier League Extra Time
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes at Monaco, Sun. 3 pm on Univision Deportes/beIN Sports Play
Juan Agudelo – FC Utrecht at ADO Den Haag, Sun. 6:30 am
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar at Roda JC, Sun. 10:30 am
Jermaine Jones – Besiktas vs. Kayserispor, Sat. noon
Mix Diskerud – Rosenborg at Aalesund FK, Sat. noon
Michael Stephens, coach Bob Bradley – Stabæk at Brann, Sun. 1 pm