Americans Abroad Preview: Howard leads unbeaten Everton into tough test

Tim Howard and unbeaten Everton take on Manchester City in one of the marquee matchups featuring American players in foreign leagues this weekend.
For a team that is more known for slow starts to the season, Tim Howard and Everton could not have asked for a much better start than their current unbeaten beginning to the 2013-2014 English Premier League campaign.

The Toffees are in fourth place in the EPL, but Howard and Everton face their toughest test of the season with a trip to the City of Manchester Stadium to take on a Manchester City side reeling from a mid-week Champions League humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Everton is currently ahead of Manchester City in the standings, but City is 3-0 at home, outscoring opponents 10-1. Howard will look to make it two straight American goalkeepers with wins vs. the Citizens after Brad Guzan helped lead Aston Villa to a win  vs. Manchester City.

Howard isn’t the only American set to face a struggling Manchester club. Jozy Altidore’s quest to score his first Premier League goal for Sunderland will take him into Saturday’s clash vs. Manchester United. Altidore showed some promising signs in the Black Cats’ loss to Liverpool last week, but he will face what could be an even tougher challenge against a Manchester United side that will be desperate to improve a start that has been the worst by Manchester United in more than 20 years.

Another team featuring Americans that is struggling is Club Tijuana, which is mired in a four-match winless skid in Liga MX play. The Xolos offense has been especially stagnant, having been shut out in three straight matches. Herculez Gomez’s return to full healthy should help against Queretaro on Friday night, but it will be interesting to see whether manager Jorge Almiron will give Joe Corona more than 45 minutes, which is all the U.S. midfielder has been given in the past two matches after going five matches without making a Liga MX appearance.

Fellow Mexican side Puebla will look to build off of its own win vs. Club Tijuana with a win against second-place Leon. DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco are starting for a Puebla side that still has playoff aspirations in Liga MX.

Aron Johannsson will look to continue his outstanding form with AZ Alkmaar on Sunday against Groningen. The match will be the team’s first since parting ways with manager Gertjan Verbeek.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes are in sixth place in Ligue 1, enjoying a good start, and a match against Evian Thonon will give the club a chance to potentially climb into the top four. Bedoya has locked down a starting job since transferring to the club and will be looking to turn in a strong performance before his expected call-up for the upcoming U.S. national team camp.

In Norway, Mix Diskerud will look to post a strong match before his own likely call-up to the national team, and he will face fellow American Steve Clark when Diskerud’s Rosenborg takes on Clark’s Honefoss.
Injuries will keep several Americans from competing this weekend, with MIchael Bradley set to miss Roma’s important Serie A clash vs. Inter Milan. John Brooks is still recovering from his elbow injury and will miss Hertha Berlin’s match vs. Hannover 96. Steve Cherundolo has resumed training with Hannover, but he is also expected to miss the match.