American Exports: Tim Howard, Everton aim to get Champions League dream back on track vs. Man Utd
AMSTERDAM – Several Americans will be chasing either a place in Europe next season or simple survival this weekend, with Everton netminder Tim Howard hoping to get back on the winning track when former employers Manchester United invade Goodison Park.
All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland at Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30 pm on NBC)
After returning to the Black Cats bench in midweek, Altidore will hope to get another crack at title chasers Chelsea. The US striker has a goal and an assist in two outings against the Blues on the campaign. Of course, the first Sunderland concern is the six points they need to reach survival territory and the five games they have left to do it. The visitors (who will arrive without Phil Bardsley, Steven Fletcher and perhaps also Ki Sung-Yeung) have lost eight of their last nine at Stamford Bridge.
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa vs. Southampton (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
Four straight losses have cut Villa's safety cushion to four points as the Saints head to town. Guzan beat them away earlier this season, but did lose this home meeting last year. Christian Benteke tops a lengthy Villans injury list, but both sides will be without their top scorer with 15-goal man Jay Rodriguez also out for the visitors. Eighth-place Southampton have dropped three of four on the road, but have evenly split their last seven (3-3-1) at Villa Park.
Tim Howard – Everton vs. Manchester United (Sunday, 11 am on NBCSN)
The US star should be overflowing with motivation against his old club, what with his seven-game win streak crashing to an end this week and a one-point deficit in the race for England's last Champions League slot. Howard is 2-1-2 lifetime when the Red Devils pay a visit, and he has two 1-0 victories from the last three overall meetings. The American will not be facing the injured star duo of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, who have combined for seven career goals against him.
Joe Gyau & Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim at Werder Bremen (Saturday, 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+)
It remains to be seen if Gyau keeps a bench place, but Johnson will likely continue at right back, where he's notched three assists in 10 games since moving over from the left side. In that span, Hoffenheim have scored 26 times to go 5-2-3, keeping slim Europa League hopes alive in the process. However, the US international has never made the score sheet or tasted victory against Werder, with his teams managing but four draws in seven tries. Hoffenheim have also never won in Bremen, where they have dropped four of six.
TURKISH SUPER LIG
Jermaine Jones – Beşiktaş vs. Fenerbahçe (Sunday, noon)
The US midfielder will get his first derby experience against league leaders Fenerbahçe, sure to be a wild one he will never forget. A win by the local visitors all but clinches the title for them, but with Fener banned from Europe next season, Beşiktaş will be more focused on holding off Galatasaray for Turkey's sole golden ticket to the Champions League group phase. The Black Eagles are a point up in that race with an inferior goal differential, so they will want nothing less than a third straight home win over Fenerbahçe.
ISRAELI LIGAT HA'AL
Bryan Gerzicich – Hapoel Tel Aviv at Ironi Kiryat Shmona (Saturday, 11 am)
Gerzicich & Co. did not close the regular season well, but have made a fast start to Israel's championship hexagonal playoff. Hapoel have allowed just one goal on this 2-0-2 run that has suddenly revived their hopes of reaching Europa League qualification. Now, his old employers stand directly in the way, but a win by the visitors this weekend would pull them to within four points of third place Kiryat Shmona. A good omen: The home team has not won this clash since Gerzicich was starring for Hapoel IKS back in 2011, a span of nine games.
BEST OF THE REST
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City at Cardiff City, Sat. 10 am on NBCSN
John Brooks – Hertha Berlin at Augsburg, Sat. 9:30 am on MyGermanTV+
Alejandro Bedoya – Nantes at Valenciennes, Sun. 11 am
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna at SV Grödig, Sun. 10:30 am