Oguchi Onyewu and Tim Ream have enjoyed solid 2014 stretches for their League Championship teams, but it remains unclear at the moment whether either central defender has done enough to earn a call-up for the pending U.S. national team pre-World Cup training camp.
They will have a chance to show U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann how they stack up against each other when they face off this weekend as Shieffield Wednesday plays host to Bolton. The two clubs are separated by two points in the standings, and Onyewu and Ream surely know that Klinsmann and his staff will have tabs on this one to see if either or both merit call-ups for the May camp.
Another defender who might have a chance to impress Klinsmann this weekend is Timmy Chandler, who is set to return from the knee injury that has sidelined him since February. His club team, Bundesliga side Nurnberg, is mired in a four-match losing streak and in danger of being relegated. That makes all three remaining Bundesliga matches vitally important, and means Chandler could be stepping into some intense matchups as he tries to make a late push for the World Cup.
Fellow Bundesliga defender John Brooks will look to build some momentum heading toward the May U.S. camp as he and Hertha Berlin face last-place Eintracht Braunschweiger. Brooks helped Hertha post a shutout last week, and he has three matches left to secure a place in camp and round into form as he looks to push for one of the final World Cup roster places.
Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim are in action on Saturday when they take on Eintracht Frankfurt.
In England, Tim Howard and Everton face Southampton on Saturday, knowing that anything short of a win could knock them out of the race for fourth place in the Premier League. Southampton is winless in four matches, but playing away should make the challenge tougher for the Toffees.
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland haven’t given up hope of escaping relegation, and Sunday’s match against Cardiff City is a a must-win for the Black Cats, who are three points from safety and currently two points behind the Bluebirds. Altidore earned himself a shot at some more minutes after drawing the match-winning penalty against Chelsea, but he will likely take on a substitute’s role again on Sunday.
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City continue to push for a top-10 finish in the Premier League and face a stiff test from Tottenham on Saturday. Geoff Cameron is on a good run of form heading toward the World Cup, but he will have his hands full when matched up against tricky Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen.
For Brad Guzan and Aston Villa, Saturday’s match against Swansea City offers a chance at catapulting past a handful of teams in the bottom half of the standings. Currently five points clear of relegation, Aston Villa can secure its place in the Premier League with a victory.
In the League Championship, Danny Williams and Reading earned an important mid-week win against Middlesbrough to jump back into sixth place and regain hold of a place in the promotion playoffs. A win against struggling Doncaster Rovers on Saturday would push the Royals to the brink of the playoffs, and give Williams more opportunities to try and impress Klinsmann enough to earn a pre-World Cup camp invitation.
In the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson and AZ have a solid hold on a UEFA Europa League playoff qualification spot, but they will be looking to snap a streak of three straight draws when they face ADO Den Haag on Sunday. Johannsson’s scoring output has slowed over the past month, but he has had success against ADO Den Haag before and will look to add to his goal tally.
Juan Agudelo will also be in action in the Dutch League, with FC Utrecht facing Heerenveen on Sunday. Agudelo is running out of time to impress Klinsmann enough to earn a training camp invite, but a goal or two in the final weeks of the Eredivisie season could do the trick.
In Turkey, Jermaine Jones and Besiktas take on Sivasspor on Sunday looking to maintain their hold on second place in the Turkish League, which means a place in the UEFA Champions League.
In Austria, Terrence Boyd will try to carry over the momentum from his two-goal effort last week when he and Rapid Vienna take on league leader Red Bull Salzburg on Saturday.
In Norway, Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg face SK Brann, while Bob Bradley’s club, Stabaek, faces Bodo Glimt, with Michael Stephens expected to start for Stabaek.
In Mexico, the American contingent at Club Tijuana face an important match against on Friday night against Club Leon. A win or draw against Leon will put the Xolos into the Clausura playoffs.
Puebla secured its place in Liga MX last week with a big upset win against Pachuca, leaving the remaining question heading into the final match of the Clausura whether either DaMarcus Beasley or Michael Orozco are healthy enough to feature in Sunday’s match against Morelia. Beasley suffered a knock against Pachuca, but it is believed not to be too serious.