Saturday’s games just started in the Premier League, so there’s still time for one or two U.S. internationals to have an impact on the day’s festivities. But with three big names failing to make their team’s starting XIs, it stands to be a quiet Saturday for England’s Americans Abroad.
Let’s go from least to most surprising.
Brek Shea made Stoke City’s 18. That’s good news. The 22-year-old had a foot problem this offseason. And in the grand scheme of things, he’s still very raw. That he’s been able to immediately make Stoke’s match day 18s is a big accomplishment.
With first choice left winger Matthew Etherington out, there was hope he’d make his first start today, but the former FC Dallas star was on the bench as West Ham visited the Britannia. To me, that’s still great progress.
More concerning is the absence of Geoff Cameron, a regular throughout the season for Tony Pulis.Young Ryan Shotton got the call at right back while Steve N’Zonzi and Glenn Whelan got the call in midfield. For the first time this season, we’re given reason to wonder if the U.S.’s first choice center half is part of Pulis’s ideal XI.
That could be very bad new for the U.S. It was already a problem that Cameron was seeing zero time at center back, his playing time at right back and in midfield keeping him from getting the valuable experience he needs to avoid mistakes like the one that contributed to the game-losing goal in Honduras. If Cameron’s not playing at all, a precarious center half situation for Jurgen Klinsmann gets even worse.
But let’s not draw too many conclusions from one game. Just put this on your watch list and hope things improve ahead of this month’s qualifiers.
And finally (and sadly), Tim Howard isn’t in the team for Everton. Two short of Everton’s record for consecutive appearances, Howard was left out of the team with what manager David Moyes described as a “knock” midweek.
The 34-year-old’s consecutive games streak ends at 210, two short of the club record held by legendary keeper Neville Southall.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday