AMSTERDAM – Several Americans will tackle difficult European tasks this weekend, with Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore aiming to play a part in the Capital One Cup final against mighty Manchester City.
All times listed in ET
ENGLISH CAPITAL ONE CUP
Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. Manchester City (Sunday, 9 am on beIN Sports/beIN Sports Play)
Having starred in a cup final upset with AZ last season, Altidore is in a fight to keep his place in the lineup for this one. During the current Capital One Cup campaign, the US striker has a goal and four assists (tied for tops with Man. City's James Milner). He has also never lost to Citeh, with a goal in three meetings. The Black Cats have a 3-1-1 record in the last five against the Citizens and are unbeaten in two prior League Cup clashes. However, Sunderland have not raised a domestic cup in triumph since 1973, losing their two final appearances since. Liam Bridcutt (cup-tied) will miss out for the underdogs, while Blues strike star Sergio Agüero looks likely to make his first appearance in a month despite being less than fully fit.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Tim Howard – Everton vs. West Ham United (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
The US netminder loves facing the Hammers anywhere in any competition – he's beaten them three straight and his only career loss (9-1-4) came nearly seven years ago – but could definitely use some home cooking these days. Howard and his field crew are going through their first real struggle of the campaign, dropping three of four EPL games. Nevertheless, the Toffees remain nearly unbeatable at Goodison Park, where they have five straight overall wins and one league loss since the start of 2013. As if the hosts needed any other good omens, top scorer Romelu Lukaku is back from injury.
Geoff Cameron – Stoke City vs. Arsenal (Saturday, 10 am on Premier League Extra Time)
The Potters are again flirting with a relegation fight, having won just one of 10 league games. Per usual, Cameron will take up right back for Stoke. He scored his first EPL goal against the Gunners earlier this season, but remains winless against the title contenders in three tries. The American did help earn a scoreless draw the last time they hosted this fixture, and Stoke incredibly hold a 6-1-2 record in the last nine Britannia meetings. The hosts might be able to get defender Robert Huth back in the game, but Arsenal look set for returns from Mesut Özil, Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen.
Juan Agudelo – FC Utrecht vs. FC Twente (Sunday, 6:30 am)
Fresh off their first league win in nine, Agudelo and his loan employers return home for a visit from one of their least favorite guests. The US call-up should start as Utrecht shoot for their first home win over the Tukkers since 2008, having gone 0-2-4 in that span. Twente have also been particularly stingy to American stars in Eredivisie play since Earnie Stewart left NAC Breda for D.C. United over a decade ago. Since then, the combined series line for Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley and Aron Jóhannsson in 13 total appearances: two goals, one assist and a 2-8-3 results record.
BELGIAN JUPILER LEAGUE
Sacha Kljestan – Anderlecht vs. Genk (Sunday, noon)
The mustachioed midfielder is back for a visit from a team he's never lost to in regular-season play. Kljestan has celebrated five wins and a double-rally draw against Genk, with two goals in the last three clashes. With but three games remaining before Belgium converts to its peculiar championship hexagonal, Anderlecht would like to reduce their 12-point title deficit before it gets cut in half for the postseason. The Mauves have won six consecutive Jupiler League matches at home, the last four with a clean sheet.
Terrence Boyd – Rapid Vienna at Red Bull Salzburg (Sunday, 10:30 am)
The young forward will try to snap out of the worst league funk of his pro career (one goal in nine games) against a visitor waltzing away with the title. And while the other Red Bulls have a 19-point tabletop cushion and 14 straight overall victories by an obnoxious 53-4 combined tally, they have not enjoyed most of their recent dates with either Boyd or Rapid. The American has three goals in six games against the Salzburg boys, with his team posting a proud 3-1-2 record. It would be a fine time for all in Green-White if something gives, as Rapid have but one win in their last seven.
BEST OF THE REST
Brad Guzan – Aston Villa vs. Norwich City, Sun. 11:30 am
Fabian Johnson – Hoffenheim vs. Wolfsburg, Sun. 9:30 am
Aron Johannsson – AZ Alkmaar vs. RKC Waalwijk, Sun. 10:30 am