Americans Abroad Preview: Altidore still in search of first league goal

Jozy Altidore's quest for his first Premier League goal for Sunderland, Jermaine Jones' chance to topple mighty Bayern Munich, and more in Goal's Americans Abroad Preview.
Jozy Altidore came oh so close to scoring his first English Premier League goal for Sunderland last week against Arsenal, and now the U.S. national team forward will look to find that elusive first goal when he and the Black Cats take on West Bromwich Albion in a battle of the bottom two teams in the Premier League standings.

Altidore looked to have his first goal of the Premier League campaign vs. Arsenal when he outmuscled Bacary Sagna to a ball before finishing the chance, but when the referee determined that Altidore was fouled beforehand, and chose to stop play, it denied Altidore an impressive finish.

Now Altidore goes up against a West Brom side that has allowed just four goals in four matches despite managing just two points from those matches.

Jermaine Jones faces the toughest opponents of all Americans Abroad this weekend, when he and Schalke take on Bayern Munich on Saturday. Jones sat out Schalke's UEFA Champions League victory vs. Steaua Bucharest on Wednesdy due to a red card suspension, but he should be a key member in Schalke's attempt to hand Bayern their first loss of the Bundesliga season.

Timmy Chandler doesn't have much easier a challenge. He and Nuremberg face Bundesliga-leading Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Not all the match-ups for Americans Abroad in Germany are difficult ones. John Brooks and Hertha Berlin can push closer to the top third of the Bundesliga table with a win against winless Freiburg.

For Geoff Cameron, things don't get any easier. A week after helping Stoke City shut out Manchester City in a scoreless draw, Cameron and the Potters face red-hot Arsenal on Sunday.

Tim Howard had a very tough, but successful week last week in shutting out Mexico and Chelsea, but he faces a slightly easier task when he and Everton travel to London to face West Ham United in a battle of mid-table clubs.

On Friday night, Club Tijuana takes on Cruz Azul in a clash that should feature plenty of attacking soccer. Edgar Castillo is the only American earning regular starts for the Xolos, but youngster Paul Arriola has become a regular option off the bench, while Joe Corona looks to snap his recent streak of matches without an appearance.

In England's League Championship, Tim Ream will look to continue his recent steady play in central midfield when Bolton faces Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. The Trotters are winless in their first seven matches, and sitting at the bottom of the League Championship table, but Ream has been one of the few bright spots for the squad.

On the other side of the table, Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest face Doncaster Rovers, while Danny Williams and Reading take on Derby County.

On Sunday, Sacha Kljestan and Belgian League leaders Anderlecht take on second-place Club Brugge in a clash that could see Anderlecht open up a seven-point lead atop the Jupiler League standings.

In the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar have a chance to jump into a top four spot in the Eredivisie with a win against struggling NEC Breda, while in France, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes face Lyon in a Ligue 1 clash between teams with identical 2-2-1 records.

Michael Bradley's Roma is set to face Lazio in the latest installment of the Rome Derby, but the U.S. national team star is likely to miss the match as he recovers from the ankle injury suffered while on recent national team duty.