Americans Abroad Rewind: Fringe defenders shine

Timmy Chandler and Oguchi Onyewu both boosted their U.S. national team stock with strong performances in Europe this weekend.
The clock is ticking on the players outside of the race for U.S. national team World Cup roster spots. Four months from now Jurgen Klinsmann will settle on his 23-man World Cup roster, which doesn’t leave those on the fringes much time left to impress, but two players did just that last weekend with big goals in Europe.

Oguchi Onyewu scored in just his second appearance for Sheffield Wednesday, grabbing a goal in his new team’s 2-1 FA Cup victory against Rochdale on Saturday. The win pushes Sheffield Wednesday into a round of 16 clash against fellow League Championship side Charlton.

Onyewu isn’t as far off the U.S. radar at central defender as you might think. With John Brooks rooted to the bench at Hertha Berlin, and the rest of the competition at the position in the current U.S. training camp, Onyewu can boost his stock by continuing to impress.

Timmy Chandler might have edged a step closer to a U.S. national team return after scoring in Nurnberg’s 4-0 romp over Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim. The win, Nurnberg’s first of the Bundesliga season, helped the club climb out of last place in Germany. Johnson was pulled from the match at halftime with a broken hand, and he could be out for a few matches.

With Steve Cherundolo having suffered a setback in recovering from a knee injury, and with left back still a position lacking options, the versatile Chandler is still very much a possibility for the World Cup if he keeps playing well.

Onyewu wasn’t the only American to advance to the FA Cup round of 16, as Jozy Altidore and Sunderland posted an underwhelming 1-0 victory against Kidderminster. Altidore was unable to find the net against the fifth-tier opponent, but he will have another chance at FA Cup glory against Southampton.

Tim Howard’s Everton also advanced in FA Cup play, even though the USA goalkeeper has been rested in the competition, while Clint Dempsey and Fulham earned a replay of their match against Sheffield United, with the winner taking on the winner of Nottingham Forest/Preston North End.

Geoff Cameron saw his FA Cup ended at the hands of Chelsea, which beat Stoke City 1-0 on Saturday. Duane Holmes played 26 minutes off the bench for Huddersfield Town in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Charlton. Will Packwood returned to the starting lineup for Birmingham City, going the full 90 minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Swansea City.

In the Netherlands, Juan Agudelo played his first professional match in Europe on Saturday, debuting for FC Utrecht in a 1-0 loss to Roda JC. Agudelo came off the bench and played 32 minutes, earning positive reviews for his play in his first club match outside MLS.

Aron Johannsson and AZ fell back into the losing column, dropping a 1-0 decision to PSV Eindhoven on Saturday. Johannsson drew a yellow card in a setback that dropped AZ back into eighth place in the Eredivisie.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya returned to the starting lineup for Nantes, but couldn’t keep his team from settling for a 0-0 tie against Reims on Saturday. Bedoya played 76 minutes in the game.

In Mexico, Herculez Gomez and Edgar Castillo both started in Club Tijuana’s 1-0 win against Morelia on Friday. Gomez went 67 minutes while Castillo played the full 90. Michael Orozco and DaMarcus Beasley both started for Puebla in a 3-2 loss to Jaguares de Chiapas on Sunday.