After an offseason filled with World Cup qualifiers, Gold Cup action, and big time transfers, let’s take an overall look at this year’s top Americans abroadJozy Altidore, Sunderland
Coming off a hugely successful season in which he notched 31 goals and captured the Dutch Cup, Altidore was transferred from AZ to Sunderland and signed a four-year deal. The goal-scoring dynamo last played in England during the 2009-10 campaign, scoring twice for Hull, but really blossomed in Holland over the last two years. Altidore had a productive summer, scoring four times for the U.S. national team. Expected to take on a significant scoring load for the Black Cats, the striker has been solid in preseason thus far. The club opens up against Fulham on Aug. 17 and will hope to improve on last year’s 17th-place finish.
Tim Howard, Everton
The Everton stalwart will begin his eighth season with the club next week. Coming off a sixth place finish in the Premier League in which Howard kept 10 clean sheets, the Toffees have a new manager in the form of Roberto Martinez after David Moyes left for Manchester United. The Toffees have brought in competition for Howard in the form of Joel Robles, whom Martinez worked with last season at Wigan. With expectations to return to Europe, the 34-year-old will have to be in top form to help propel the Merseyside outfit to a top four finish.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa
The Aston Villa Player of the Season signed a four-year extension with the club over the summer and is clearly viewed as one of its franchise players. Last season, Guzan had six clean sheets and was huge for the Villains as he helped to compensate for a poor back four. He helped guide the Birmingham outfit to a 15th-place finish after spending time in the relegation zone. Hopes are higher this season after Villa signed a few defenders and attacker Christian Benteke signed a new deal amid plenty of interest from around Europe. Guzan should once again be the centerpiece of the Villa defense as the club hopes to crack into the top 10.
Brad Friedel, Tottenham
At 42-years-old, Friedel is still plugging away in the top flight. While Friedel will play behind Hugo Lloris, the keeper should get plenty of run in cup competitions and could jump Lloris if he stumbles in Premier League play. Friedel made 11 top-flight starts last season and kept two clean sheets in all competitions.
Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea, and Maurice Edu, Stoke City
All three of these Stoke players have positive outlooks. Cameron will look to reprise his role in the back four after starting 32 games for the club last season. He was an important part of Stoke’s 13th-place finish and continued to improve while playing for the U.S. national team over the summer.
Shea scored the only goal in the USA’s victory over Panama in the Gold Cup final, and scored for Stoke last week as the Potters defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0. However, he suffered a knee injury after a reckless challenge from Matt Kassel and will be out for a few weeks. Still, Shea’s progress thus far has been impressive and he’ll likely earn a chance to get some minutes after his return.
Finally, Edu, who spent the majority of last season on loan at Bursaspor, is hoping to get a fresh start at Stoke under new coach Mark Hughes. The midfielder has yet to make an impact in the preseason, and it seems as if he will not be competing for a starting position.
Terrence Boyd, Rapid Vienna
Boyd had a breakout campaign for Rapid Vienna last season, scoring 17 goals in all competitions, with 13 coming in league play. His domestic goal total was the sixth-highest tally in the entire league. The 22-year-old has already started the campaign strong, bagging two goals in his team's Austrian Bundesliga home opener against Wiener Neustadt. He also netted a penalty goal on Thursday against Asteras Tripoli as Rapid Vienna drew 1-1 on the road in Europa League action.
Michael Bradley, AS Roma
Michael Bradley made 35 appearances for the Italian club last season, scoring just once in a rather disappointing campaign in which Roma finished sixth. The team certainly went through some shake-ups as it let go of manager Zdenek Zeman midseason, appointed Aurelio Andreazzoli as manager, and then hired Rudi Garcia to man the club this offseason. After an active summer with the U.S. national team, Bradley will look to get acclimated to his coach. So far, things are looking positive. The midfielder started and played the entire contest as Roma bested the MLS All-Stars 3-1 last week. Roma’s season kicks off on Aug. 25 against Livorno.
Jermaine Jones. Schalke 04
Jones, who just recently returned to Schalke after an extended holiday due to international commitments, has stated that his sights are on the Bundesliga title this season. Last year, Jones had a productive campaign, helping Schalke to a fourth-place finish and another Champions League spot. The midfielder finished with two goals and six assists and will most likely have to build on those numbers if he hopes to capture a trophy. The 31-year-old played the full match as Schalke defeated FC Nottingen 2-0 in German Cup action on Monday.
Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96
Cherundolo is hoping to return in the next few weeks after undergoing knee surgery in June. The captain had a record setting season in 2012-13, making his 299th Bundesliga appearance which broke Jurgen Bandura’s Hannover mark that stood for nearly 40 years. The defender signed a one-year extension that will keep him with the club through 2014 and is hoping to make the 2014 World Cup squad. Hannover opens the Bundesliga campaign against Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Fabian Johnson, TSG Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim was able to overcome the odds and defeat Kaiserslautern in a relegation playoff which gave the team another year in the Bundesliga. Johnson will have a role under new manager Markus Gisdol but the extent is unknown. The defender returned from an ankle injury last week and scored as Hoffenheim defeated Greek champs Olympiakos 4-1. Hoffenheim annihilated SG Aumund-Vegesack 9-0 on Saturday in German Cup action but Johnson was not involved. The club opens up league play on Saturday against Nurnberg.
Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht
Kljestan, coming off a quality campaign in which he won a Belgian title, is already on the pitch for Anderlecht. He went the distance in a 4-0 win over Cercle Brugge last weekend, the club’s first victory of the season. Last year, the midfielder scored three goals along with eight assists and will surely continue to patrol the center this year as Anderlecht hopes to win its third straight title.
* Clint Dempsey was transferred to the Seattle Sounders for a reported $9 million last week. The 30-year-old presumably ends his European career with over 220 appearances and 70 plus goals in all competitions.
* United States Under-20 forward Mario Rodriguez has signed a contract with Borussia Monchengladbach through 2015. The Bundesliga club announced that the California native will be playing with the Borussia U-23 squad next season.
* Former Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj will be playing with Championship side Nottingham Forest while former Hoffenheim midfielder Danny Williams will be joining him in the league as he signed with Reading.