American Exports: Tim Howard, Everton look to take Champions League spot vs. Jozy Altidore & Co.
AMSTERDAM – Another weekend full of European action involving Americans has arrived, with Everton netminder Tim Howard unsure if he will face US teammate Jozy Altidore when he wagers a six-game Premier League win streak at Sunderland.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. Tim Howard – Everton (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
It remains to be seen if Altidore will be back in uniform for the home side, but the Toffees goalkeeper is among the hottest in the EPL at the moment. Howard has six straight wins; if he gets to seven or posts a draw, Everton will have pulled into the final Champions League slot with five rounds to go. After going 9-0-3 in his first 12 against Sunderland, he's lost his last two in the series, with a red card in his lone home defeat of the season on Boxing Day. The desperate Black Cats, meanwhile, are in the basement and winless in eight overall.
John Brooks – Hertha Berlin at Bayer Leverkusen (Sunday, 9:30 am)
Brooks is expected to start for the visitors, who enter winless in seven. However, Hertha have gone 3-1-3 in their last seven trips to BayArena. Anything but a win on Sunday reduces the capital crew's hopes of fighting for the last Europa League slot from slim to almost none. The US international will not be seeing injured Mexico winger Andrés Guardado, but his side has the biggest absence of the match in Bundesliga Golden Boot chaser Adrián Ramos.
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg (Sunday, 11:30 am)
Like Hertha, Hoffenheim need wins now if they are to rally in the Europa League race. Augsburg, who are directly ahead of them in the table, are also one of Johnson's least favorite opponents of his career. The right back transplant is 1-2-2 lifetime against Sunday's visitors in Bundesliga play, but has celebrated just three victories against 10 defeats when counting cups, second-flight and reserve-team play. Hoffenheim have won four of their last five at home, but have settled for draws the last two times Augsburg came to town.
Aron Jóhannsson – AZ Alkmaar vs. NEC Nijmegen (Sunday, 8:30 am)
Struggling a bit lately, the AZ top scorer has all sorts of ways to fight back this weekend. Not only does Jóhannsson have but one goal in his last seven games across all competition, but he has yet to enjoy either a goal or a win in two games against the boys from Nijmegen. A win for the hosts would give them six in the last seven at AFAS-Stadion and ensure a place in the postseason Europa League playoff. Relegation fighters NEC will arrive with just one win and 22 goals conceded in their last eight on the road.
Michael Stephens, Coach Bob Bradley – Stabæk vs. Molde FK (Sunday, 9:30 am)
Instant toast of the town Bradley will call the shots and Stephens will likely engineer them from midfield as the Blue Ones try to go perfect through three top flight games for the first time in club history. The league leaders traditionally have nearly as much trouble with Molde at home as they do away. Stabæk has won only one of the previous four series matches at Nadderud Stadion, including a harsh 5-0 defeat the last time these teams met there.
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Mikkel Diskerud – Rosenborg vs. Odd Ballklubb, Sun. 1 pm