Americans Abroad Preview: Altidore's opportunity

The congested fixture schedule in the English Premier League means Jozy Altidore stands a good chance to start on Saturday for Sunderland in a crucial match against Cardiff City.
Sunderland's shocking 1-0 upset of Everton on Boxing Day not only signaled a vital three points for a team in desperate need of a win, it also set up Jozy Altidore with a great chance to make a statement.

With Sunderland back in action just two days after that big win at Goodison Park,  Altidore is in line to start for the Black Cats against struggling Cardiff City. Altidore made a five-minute cameo late in the win against Everton, and should be the lead striker when his team travels to Wales.

One American who won't be in action this weekend is Tim Howard, who will be serving the suspension for his first English Premier League red card, issued in Thursday's 1-0 loss to Sunderland.

Brad Guzan turned in another strong showing on Boxing Day, only to see a stoppage-time winner beat him from distance in a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace. The defeat, Aston Villa's fourth straight, dropped the Villans to 13th place. Up next is a home game against a Swansea City side that is also winless in its last four matches.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City will try very hard to forget the nightmare that was Thursday's 5-1 mauling by Newcastle United when the Potters travel to London to take on Tottenham. Stoke was issued two red cards in the loss to Newcastle, which forced the Potters to move Cameron to center back in a futile attempt to stop Newcastle from running wild with a two-man advantage.

In the League Championship, Danny Williams and Reading will look to snap their two-match losing streak with a win against Middlesbrough on Sunday. The Royals sit just one point out of a playoff spot and can catapult right back into the mix with a victory.

Eric Lichaj made his return to the starting lineup for Nottingham Forest in Thursday's 2-0 win against Queens Park Rangers. That victory moved Forest into fifth place in the League Championship standings. Nottingham Forest takes on sixth-place Leeds United on Sunday

Teenage American midfielder Duane Holmes was one of the few bright spots for the Americans Abroad contingent on Thursday, coming off the bench to set up the equalizing goal for Huddersfield Town in a 1-1 tie against Derby County. Holmes, 18, has featured mostly as a substitute for a Huddersfield side that takes on struggling Yeovil Town on Sunday.

Tim Ream and Bolton will look to build on a 1-0 Boxing Day victory against Barnsley by taking on League Championship-leading Leicester City on Sunday.

The rest of the Americans Abroad contingent is off for the rest of 2013 as all top leagues outside of England take the holiday period off.