Americans Abroad: Goalkeepers take the spotlight

U.S. national team goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan square off in English Premier League action in one of the best match ups featuring Americans Abroad.
Brad Guzan’s outstanding form as Aston Villa’s starting goalkeeper has helped not only push him into the rumor mill as a transfer target for bigger clubs, it has pushed him into a growing debate about whether he is ready to take over for Tim Howard as the U.S. national team’s starting goalkeeper.

Howard is still very much the U.S. No. 1, and his form for the national team and Everton continues to keep him there. That still won’t stop Howard’s first match up of the season against Guzan and Aston Villa from being seen as a showcase to see just which of the two is in better form.

Both have started their current English Premier League seasons well, with Howard’s Everton off to a strong start that has the Toffees standing in seventh place in the league. Guzan’s Aston Villa hasn’t enjoyed quite as good a start, but Guzan has been a key reason why the Villans are in 13th place and not near the bottom of the table.

Another foreign league clash featuring American players on both sides takes place on Friday night in Mexico, where the contingent at Club Tijuana will take on Jose Torres and UANL Tigres. Edgar Castillo and Herculez Gomez figure to feature for the Xolos, while Paul Arriola stands a good chance of getting minutes. Joe Corona’s status continues to be in limbo with the Xolos, while Greg Garza continues to find minutes for the club.

Another potential clash of U.S. national team players could take place in Germany, where Steve Cherundolo is close to returning to action for Hannover 96. The veteran fullback has battled through a series of knee operations to deal with a persistent injury issue, but is back now and close to returning to action. Cherundolo’s Hannover 96 takes on Fabian Johnson’s Hoffenheim, with Johnson also close to returning from his own recent minor injury.

Jozy Altidore will look to regain his place in the starting lineup for Sunderland, as he and the Black Cats prepare for Sunday’s Tyne-Wear Derby against arch-rival Newcastle United. Altidore took a seat last week as new Sunderland manager Gus Poyet started Steven Fletcher in his place, but Altidore could make his return to the lineup for a match winless Sunderland will be desperate to win in order to try and take a step toward leaving the English Premier League basement.

Altidore isn’t the only U.S. forward ready for a derby battle this weekend. Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna take on Austria Vienna in a key clash in the Austrian League on Sunday. Boyd has continued to find the net for Rapid, and is currently second only to Aron Johannsson in goals scored by an American in a foreign league.

Michael Bradley is another key U.S. player who will be hoping to earn some club playing time this weekend as he and unbeaten AS Roma take on Udinese on Sunday. Bradley recently made his return from a serious ankle injury, but will face a stiff challenge from Kevin Strootman and Daniele DeRossi for playing time.

Jermaine Jones and Schalke face a daunting task on Saturday when they face Borussia Dortmund. Jones and his club suffered a blowout loss mid-week to Chelsea in the Champions League, and find themselves facing an equally tough task against a Dortmund side coming in off a road Champions League win against Arsenal.

Sacha Kljestan and Belgian champion Anderlecht will also be looking to lick their wounds after a Champions League battering with a tough tussle with current Jupiler League leader Standard Liege on Sunday. Anderlecht current sits in fifth place in the Belgian League, but could close to within three points of Standard Liege with a victory.

Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes will look to try and climb at least one more place in the Ligue 1 standings when they take on third-place Lille on Sunday. Nantes is riding a four-match winning streak and could push itself closer to league-leading Paris St. Germain with a win.

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