Danny Williams has been a forgotten man in the U.S. national team pecking order, but his first goal for Reading provided a reminder that he's still a midfielder worth watching
It has been almost a full year since Danny Williams took the field for the U.S. national team, a stretch of time that has seen him tumble down Jurgen Klinsmann's midfield depth chart.
A move from the German Bundesliga to the English League Championship was seen as a step back, but Williams has begun making the most of his transfer, starting regularly for Reading FC and helping the Royals make a strong push toward a promotion playoff place.
Williams opened his scoring account for Reading on Saturday, netting a 76th-minute insurance goal in his team's 3-0 victory against Milwall. The win, Reading's fourth in five matches, helped keep the Royals four points ahead of the trailing pack for sixth place, and the final promotion playoff spot in the Championship.
Williams has started 24 of Reading's 29 matches on the season since making the move from Hoffenheim. His steady playing time, and the positive reviews of his form, suggest he could be in for a look from Jurgen Klinsmann when the U.S. national team plays Ukraine on March 5.
Juan Agudelo will be hoping for a call-up for that match as well, and early signs are that his move to Dutch side FC Utrecht just might help that happen. Agudelo earned his first start for the Eredivisie club on Sunday and wasted no time making an impact, as his flicked header assisted an equalizer by Steve DeRidder in a 1-1 draw against league leader Ajax. Agudelo played the full 90 minutes in a draw that snapped FC Utrecht's four-match losing streak.
Jozy Altidore's Sunderland side continued its recent red-hot form with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Newcastle in their derby showdown. Altidore posted his second straight strong outing, helping set up Sunderland's second goal and bullying Newcastle defenders. He has rebounded well in the two matches since his forgettable FA Cup showing against Kidderminster, and is positioning himself to be Gus Poyet's preferred option to start in the League Cup final against Manchester City on March 2.
Elsewhere in England, Tim Howard won the battle of American goalkeepers as Everton topped Brad Guzan and Aston Villa. Howard didn't have to make a save in the 2-1 victory, while Guzan made three stops.
In the League Championship, Oguchi Onyewu turned in another good showing in Sheffield Wednesday's central defense, helping his squad earn a 1-0 victory against Brek Shea and Barnsley on Saturday. Sheffield Wednesday is unbeaten since Onyewu's arrival, and now sits in 17th place, six points clear of the relegation zone.
Back in the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson started in AZ Alkmaar's 2-0 victory against Groningen, which helped the Cheese Farmers climb into sixth place in the Eredivisie.
In Germany, Timothy Chandler and Nurnberg continued their recent outstanding form, beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 to push the team's unbeaten streak to five matches and climb out of the relegation zone. John Brooks remained sidelined with a knee injury for Hertha, while Nuremberg moved a point clear of the bottom two spots in the Bundesliga standings.
Fabian Johnson recovered well enough from his recently-suffered broken hand to make the substitute's bench for Hoffenheim, but he did not make an appearance in his team's 3-0 win against Hamburg on Saturday. The victory helped give Hoffenheim some breathing room in the bottom half of the table after sliding close to the relegation zone.
In Mexico, the large American contingent at Club Tijuana suffered through the team's worst loss of the season in a 3-0 defeat to UNAM Pumas. Paul Arriola was handed his first start of the Clausura, starting in the attack alongside Herculez Gomez, but neither could get going against Pumas. Edgar Castillo also started the match, while Greg Garza came on as a 79th minute substitute.
U.S. national team defenders DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco partnered in Puebla's defense again, helping post a 1-0 shutout of Veracruz for Puebla's first win of the Clausura.