Americans Abroad Preview: Johannsson battles injury with Europa League spot looming

Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar are one step from playing from a Europa League place next season, but Johannsson will have to shake off an ankle injury to play on Sunday.
Aron Johannsson is facing the biggest match of his season in the Netherlands, but he may not be able to even take the field.

The U.S. national team striker is battling an ankle injury that forced him out of AZ Alkmaar’s Europa League playoff semifinal first-leg match against Heerenveen last Wednesday. AZ posted a 3-0 victory without Johannsson, but will want to have him back when the Cheese Farmers play the return leg in Heerenveen, where their opponents have been especially tough this year.

Timmy Chandler won’t feature in Nuremberg’s regular-season finale on Saturday against Schalke 04 due to yellow-card accumulation, but he will be hoping his team can secure the victory needed to escape automatic relegation from the Bundesliga. Nuremberg need a win and a Hamburg loss or tie against Mainz 05 to earn a place in the relegation playoff, which puts the 16th-place team in the Bundesliga against the third-place team in Bundesliga 2.

John Brooks and Hertha Berlin don’t have much to play for besides pride, as well as a chance to finish in the top half of the Bundesliga table with a win against powerful Borussia Dortmund. Brooks has enjoyed a good run of form since regaining his starting job, and he will want to end his first Bundesliga season on a high note heading into what is expected to be a call-up for him to the U.S. national team pre-World Cup training camp.

Also in the Bundesliga, Joe Gyau will look to make it three straight appearances to end the season as he and Fabian Johnson lead Hoffenheim against Eintracht Braunschweiger on Saturday.

In England, the American contingent won’t have much to play for, with Tim Howard and Everton playing out the string against Hull City on Sunday. Howard will be looking for his 15th shutout of the season, just one short of his career best. Jozy Altidore will look to end the season on a positive note as Sunderland takes on Swansea City with safety from relegation already assured. Altidore will look to end his goal drought before heading to the U.S. for international duty. Brad Guzan and Aston Villa will look to rebound from their 4-0 thrashing against Manchester City when they meet Tottenham.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes will look to finish off a respectable mid-table finish in the club’s return to Ligue 1 by beating fourth-place Saint Etienne on Friday. Bedoya has established himself as a regular starter for the French club as he prepares to battle for starting role on the U.S. World Cup team.

In Turkey, Jermaine Jones and Besiktas will look to keep the pressure on Galatasaray for second place in the Super Lig with a win against Elazigspor on Sunday. Galatasaray currently holds a one-point lead on Besiktas with two matches remaining.

In Austria, Terrence Boyd will be looking for his 15th league goal of the season, and a career-best 20th goal in all competitions when he and Rapid Vienna meet SV Ried on Sunday. Boyd has scored five goals in three matches and will be looking to stay hot heading into U.S. training camp.