Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron all face matches against top English Premier League teams in this weekend's marquee games featuring Americans Abroad.The persistent grip of relegation doesn’t give up easily, and for Jozy Altidore and Sunderland, the fight to avoid the drop has seen the Black Cats go from last place, to safe, to back in the fire yet again.
Sunderland currently sits in 18th place in the English Premier League, and even though the team has a game in hand on the other teams fighting relegation, that game in hand is against mighty Manchester City, so it carries little consolation.
On Saturday, Altidore and the Black Cats take on second-place Arsenal in a match at the Emirates that Sunderland won’t be given much of a chance to win. That would be ignoring the fact that Sunderland had an eight-match unbeaten streak rolling before a stumble against Hull City a week ago. It would also ignore the reality that Arsenal is coming off a pair of difficult matches that could leave the Gunners a bit vulnerable.
The rest of English Premier League-based contingent of Americans face some extremely tough challenges this weekend. Tim Howard and Everton will look to revive fading UEFA Champions League hopes against first-place Chelsea, while Geoff Cameron and Stoke City will try to halt a recent slump by upsetting Manchester City at the Emirates.
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In the League Championship, Brek Shea will look to make his return from a stomach illness that had sidelined him for Barnsley’s recent matches when a visit from Millwall comes on Saturday. A win against Millwall would pull Barnsley within two points of escaping the relegation zone, while a loss would leave the club floating a minimum of seven points away from safety.
Tim Ream and Bolton will look to snap a five match winless streak against a Watford side currently riding a five-match unbeaten run. The Trotters have stumbled to within six points of the relegation zone and a loss could leave Bolton in jeopardy.
Will Packwood and Birmingham City are also on the fringes of relegation danger, and a win against Blackpool on Saturday could ease some of the pressure off a Birmingham side with just one win in five matches.
Danny Williams and Reading have won three of four matches, with Williams scoring in two of the Royals’ past three matches, and a win against Blackburn could help close the gap on Nottingham Forest for fifth place.
In the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar take on first-place Ajax on Sunday. Johannsson is sitting on 24 goals in all competitions and he has had success against Ajax before. Juan Agudelo and FC Utrecht meet Groningen on Sunday needing a result to avoid slipping into the relegation zone.
In Belgium, Sacha Kljestan will try to build off of his one goal and one assist outing last weekend by helping Anderlecht beat Lokeren on Friday.
In Mexico, the American contingent at Club Tijuana will look to maintain their team’s unbeaten home record against Chiapas on Friday night. Edgar Castillo was the only American to start in the last match for the Xolos, but manager Cesar Farias could recall Herculez Gomez and Paul Arriola for Friday’s clash.
Michael Orozco and DaMarcus Beasley will try to halt Puebla’s two-match losing streak by beating Atlante on Sunday.