AMSTERDAM — With a collision course with Manchester City looming, white-hot Fulham striker Clint Dempsey takes top billing as we head into a weekend loaded with key contest involving American exports. All times listed in ET.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City vs. Fulham (Saturday, 12:30 pm on FOX Soccer)
American: Clint Dempsey (FUL) – The US star could probably run for office in west London these days, and not just because he's been busy creating jobs for official scorers all winter. Surely feeling lucky, Dempsey has scored in seven of Fulham's last 13 matches and bagged seven in just the last five games.
Not unlike Landon Donovan and Tim Howard with Everton, Deuce & Co. have also enjoyed a fair amount of success against the Citizens. Although he hasn't rung the bell in the last four meetings, Dempsey does have three career goals versus Citeh.
Meanwhile, the Cottagers have suddenly become a major irritant at City of Manchester Stadium, where they've logged two wins and two draws in the last four visits. In fact, Man. City have beaten Fulham in EPL play at home just once since 2003.
Wigan vs. Everton (Saturday, 10 am on FOX Soccer)
Americans: Landon Donovan, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard (EVE) – The Toffees are unbeaten in four as they make the short trip to tackle nearby rivals Wigan. During that span, Donovan has four assists and Howard has conceded only two run-of-play goals.
Neither the US goalkeeper nor Everton have ever lost at Wigan, and they posted a 1-0 win there with Donovan just over two years ago. The Latics come in having dropped five straight matches to remain winless since mid-December.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Chievo vs. Parma (Sunday, 9 am)
American: Michael Bradley (CV) – Fresh off a midweek road victory, the Flying Donkeys will try re-sort things back at home against nearby rivals Parma. After posting six straight shutouts at the Bentegodi, they've now lost two straight there, including a Coppa Italia ouster to strugglers Siena.
Speaking of stingy streaks, Chievo will enter this tilt carrying a 468-minute shutout run at home to Parma, who have won just one of the last seven clashes overall.
Hertha Berlin vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 9:30 am)
Americans: Steve Cherundolo (H96), Alfredo Morales (HB) – Seemingly entrenched again at right back, the Reds skipper is expected to have a compatriot on the other side of the field. Out of first-team action since mid-October, Morales is slated for his first Bundesliga start for the hosts at the same position.
Hannover, again threatening for the Europa League slots, have conceded just once in their last four league contests and are unbeaten in six. Hertha are winless in eight, but have also recorded four consecutive clean sheet wins on Die Roten visits.
Rangers vs. Dundee United (Sunday, 7 am)
Americans: Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu ('Gers) – The Light Blues will try to reach the quarters of a tourney they haven't won the last two years. It's the one Scottish trophy midfield starter Edu has never raised, while back line marshal Bocanegra and possible starter Bedoya remain in search of their first piece of European silver.
Rangers have not dropped a home game since the Champions League loss to Malmö in July, and have beaten the Terrors there in six of the last seven. Over all domestic cup competitions, the Ibrox crew have taken 19 of 29 matches against just four victories to Dundee United.
BEST OF THE REST
Norwich City (Zak Whitbread) vs. Bolton (Tim Ream will not dress) – Sat. 10 am on FoxSoccer.tv
Birmingham City (Jonathan Spector) vs. Southampton – Sat. 12:20 pm on FoxSoccer.tv
Bristol City vs. Leeds United (Robbie Rogers) – Sat. 10 am
Hoffenheim (Joseph Gyau, Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams) vs. Augsburg – Sat. 9:30 am
ADO Den Haag vs. AZ Alkmaar (Jozy Altidore) – Sat. 12:45 pm on Eredivisie.tv
Anderlecht (Sacha Kljestan) vs. Genk – Sun. 8:30 am
Sporting CP (Oguchi Onyewu) vs. Gil Vicente – Sat. 3:30 pm