Americans Abroad Preview: Kljestan features in clash of Belgian League leaders

Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht have high hopes of defending their Belgian League title, and they can move to within a point of first place with a victory against Standard Liege.
Sacha Kljestan has enjoyed a dream season for Anderlecht, setting a new career record for goals in a season less than halfway through the team’s current campaign. Anderlecht will need him to work his magic this weekend against Belgium League leader Standard Liege as the two battle in a clash of the top teams in the Jupiler League.

Anderlecht has won three straight matches to close the gap on Standard Liege to four points atop the standings, and a win on the road on Sunday at Liege could lower that once-sizable lead to one point.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes have slipped to fifth place in Ligue 1, and need to avoid defeat against surging Saint Etienne to avoid sliding any further. Bedoya has returned to the starting lineup for the overachieving Nantes side that has flirted with the top four since gaining promotion to the first division.

In Germany, Jurgen Klinsmann will be paying special attention to the clash between struggling Nuremberg and Schalke 04. Timmy Chandler is working hard to return to the U.S. national team fold, as well as help keep Nuremberg out of the Bundesliga relegation zone. His club faces a Schalke side featuring Jermaine Jones and in need of a win to make a move back toward the top four in the standings.

Also in Germany, the wait to see Steve Cherundolo gain minutes for Hannover 96 will continue on Saturday when Hannover faces Freiburg. Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim are also in action on Saturday, taking on Eintracht Braunschweig. John Brooks could face a very stiff test on Saturday when Hertha Berlin meets Borussia Dortmund, though given the fact he was pulled early from Hertha’s last match, Brooks might not be in the lineup for this crucial showdown.

In Italy, Michael Bradley will look to earn another start for AS Roma on Sunday against Catania. Roma has slipped to five points behind Serie A-leading Juventus after managing just one win and four draws in the past five matches, but facing last-place Catania should offer Roma a chance to turn things around.

In the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson is fresh off a two-goal performance in a mid-week Dutch Cup victory against Heerenveen, and he will face that same team again on Saturday. AZ is winless in five matches in league play, and has slipped all the way to seventh place, but a win on Saturday could help the Cheese Farmers jump past Heerenveen in the standings.

One of the marquee match-ups of the weekend featuring Americans Abroad will take place on Saturday in England, when Brad Guzan and Aston Villa take on Geoff Cameron and Stoke City. Villa currently sits one point ahead of Stoke in the standings, and will head to the Britannia looking to score a mild upset against a Potters side that is usually tough to beat at home.

Also n England, Tim Howard and Everton will put their nine-match unbeaten streak on the line on Sunday against Swansea City. The Toffees are just four points behind league-leading Arsenal, and two points behind second-place Liverpool, but they will be on the road in Wales taking on a Swansea side that should provide a good challenge to Roberto Martinez’s side.

Jozy Altidore will look to keep his recent run of starts going when Sunderland takes on Norwich City on Saturday. The Black Cats are four points clear of relegation safety and will be looking to build some momentum from their mid-week Capital One Cup upset of Chelsea.

In the English League Championship, Danny Williams and Reading will look to continue their march toward a top six place on Saturday with a win against Wigan Athletic. Tim Ream and Bolton are also in action on Saturday, taking on Charlton Athletic. Teenage American Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town will be playing Brighton & Hove Albion as well.

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