Americans Abroad: Cameron’s Stoke win again, Boyd on the scoresheet

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It has been a busy week for Americans playing across the globe so here, in our new series “Americans Abroad,” we break down the top performances by American players across the planet.

Across many countries from Eastern Europe to Central America, US soccer players are stamping their authority on the beautiful game.

(MORE: American Abroad Archive)

So it’s time to check on how they’ve been doing, with Liga MX, CCL action and the European leagues in full flow before the international break.

Let’s get to it.

ENGLAND

On Saturday it was a largely successful day for the American Abroad as Geoff Cameron’s Stoke City grabbed another victory.

Cameron was steady as a rock at right back and despite picking up a late yellow card, the Potters held on for a 1-0 win away to West Ham.

Tim Howard was barely tested as Everton drew 0-0 away at Cardiff City. The USMNT ‘keeper was called into action early on to deal with some vicious inswinging corners from the Bluebirds but only had one save of note the entire game as he posted his second-straight shutout.

source: Reuters
Two shutouts in a row for Tim Howard and Everton.

In the Championship Danny Williams came on a sub for Reading in their 1-0 away win down in Somerset against Yeovil Town. Arriving in the 37th minute, Williams helped to stem the home sides lively attack as the Royals grabbed all three points to move into the top 10.

Elsewhere in England’s second-tier, Nottingham Forest right back Eric Lichaj was cautioned as his side lost 2-1 to Wigan Atheltic despite going ahead early on. The Midlands club threatened throughout and Lichaj put in some great deliveries from the right flank.

Also tasting defeat was US central defender Zak Whitbread, as Leicester City lost 2-1 at Charlton. It was the Foxes’ first defeat of the season. Rounding up the action in England, Jonahan Spector’s Birmingham City drew 1-1 as the American played in central midfield against Ipswich Town but the Blues are still languishing towards the foot of the table in 19th spot.

EUROPE

Over the weekend plenty of Americans were in action on the European continent before they prepare to join up with Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team squad for their crucial World Cup qualifiers.

John Brooks is one of those but it wasn’t a happy outing for the young defender as Hertha Berlin lost their unbeaten record in the Bundesliga after falling 2-0 at Wolfsburg. Brooks didn’t have the best of games, giving the ball way cheaply in the first half and being involved in the penalty kick that led to the opener against the Capital club.

Elsewhere in Germany, USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones only played the final 12 minutes as the Gelsenkirchen side beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0. Jones helped create the second goal as he set up Jefferson Farfan to win a penalty. It was Schalke’s first league win of the season, they must be hoping for a better start to Champions League play later this month.

On Sunday the USA’s left sided star Fabian Johnson was involved in an ugly loss as Hoffenheim were turned over by Stuttgart 6-2 in the South West derby. It was Hoffenheim’s first defeat of the campaign as Johnson failed to mark his man at the back post for one of the goals against his side at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

source: Getty Images
Three goals in four games so far for Sacha Kljestan in Belgium.

US midfielder Mix Diskerud played 82 minutes of Rosnborg’s 2-1 home win over Aalesund in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, the victory gave Mix’s team some breathing space at the top of the standings.

Another USMNT midfielder, Alejandro Bedoya, was in action across the border in France but his Nantes side drew 0-0 with Reims. As usual Bedoya put in a tireless display and whipped in some great deliveries that his Canaries teammates just couldn’t get on the end of.

On Sunday in Belgium Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored the opener but the Brussels club lost an incredible match 4-3 to Zulte-Waregem. The goal was the former Chivas USA attackers third in four league games as he’s certainly found his shooting boots this season. However his side now drop to fourth following the defeat.

A short skip across the border to Holland, Aron Johannsson came on as a second half sub for AZ Alkmaar in their 1-1 home draw with Vitesse. Johannsson was powerless to help stop a late equalizer.

Moving South and across the Alps to Austria, Johannsson’s fellow USMNT striker Terrence Boyd remained in good form as he scored again for Rapid Vienna in their 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg. He stuck just before the hour as Europa League qualifiers Rapid haven’t won in four.

Further South to Italy and the heartbeat of the US national team, Michael Bradley, was only a late sub for As Roma who beat Hellas Verona 3-0. Two wins from two for the Capital club who are second in Serie A.

Finally on Sunday, there were several US players in action up in Scandinavia. Babajide Ogunbiyi’s Viborg side lost 4-1 to reigning Danish champions FC Copenhagen. In Norway goalkeeper Steve Clark made six saves Hønefoss equalized late to draw 1-1 at Tromsø and US youngster Ben Spencer made his debut for Molde who beat Vålerenga 4-0.

MEXICO, SOUTH AMERICA

Last Wednesday Freddy Adu finally started his first game in Brazil as Bahia drew 0-0 with Portuguesa to go through to the last 16 of the Copa Sudamericana. Adu was subbed out in the 70th minute after impressing Bahia’s supporters with a tireless midfield display however Adu didn’t feature in the league game between the two sides this weekend.

In CONCACAF Champions League action, Club Tijuana defeated El Salvador’s Firpo 1-0 as they moved close to securing a place in next years quarterfinals. American Greg Garza played the entire game at left wingback. The 21-year-old missed a great chance in the second half after being played in by fellow American Paul Arriola who had beat three players.

Another American was in action for Xolos as Joe Corona played the first hour in central midfield and looked tidy as usual.

source: Getty Images
Freddy Adu made his first start for Bahia in Brazil.

On Sunday Jose Torres put in a solid 84 minute shift and left the game as Tigres were beating in-form Veracruz 1-0. But in the second minute of stoppage time U.A.N.L let three points slip as the USMNT midfielder was left disappointed.

Elsewhere in Mexico last weekend, Club Tijuana’s America contingent lost 3-1 to Chiapas despite taking the lead. USMNT defender Edgar Castillo and American Arriola started the game for Xolos, with Castillo have two shots on goal from right back. American Garza came off the bench and Gold Cup winner Corona was left in the bench as Xolos tasted defeat.

On Sunday USMNT duo DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco Fiscal started for Puebla in their 1-0 home win against Atlante. The bottom feeders outshout Puebla 14-9 but Beasley and Orozco Fiscal held the backline firm to record a shutout at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc. 

REST OF THE WORLD

Over in Israel Bryan Gerzicich played the full 90 minutes as Hapoel Tel Aviv lost 2-0 against early season frontrunners Hapoel Be’er Sheva. The Californian was booked in the 31st minute as the Capital club lost for the first time this season.

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

[ PREVIEW: Tuesday’s Premier League action ]

“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Louis van Gaal calls Mourinho’s United “far more boring”

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Louis Van Gaal has picked just the right time to pipe up.

The former Manchester United manager, who took flak while in charge for his side being hideous to watch, has now taken shots of his own at his successor Jose Mourinho, kicking Manchester United while they’re down after a 2-1 derby defeat at home.

The Dutchman told Fox Sports Netherlands, “If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under. We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England. And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it’s far more boring football.”

[ PREVIEW: Premier League Tuesday matches, including Chelsea vs. Huddersfield ]

Van Gaal was blasted consistently for playing a boring style, especially in front of the home crowd, and now Mourinho is being criticized for the same concept. Mourinho was denounced for similar reasons while in charge of Chelsea, but with the club winning multiple titles under his leadership, the noise was always less while the team was winning. With Manchester United still unable to crack the top 4, Mourinho is feeling the heat.

“What United produce now is defensive football,” van Gaal said. “I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus. They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”

To van Gaal’s point, Manchester United is seventh in the Premier League in possession, holding 51% possession this season. They were out-possessed by Manchester City 65-35 at Old Trafford over the weekend. Meanwhile, van Gaal’s last full season with Manchester United, the 2015/16 season, saw the Red Devils hold 54%, which ranked third in the Premier League, just a percentage point behind leaders Arsenal. However, van Gaal’s United ranked 15th in the Premier League in total shots, while Mourinho’s United this season ranks sixth at this point.

Van Gaal made sure to point out he prefers their cross-town rivals.

“I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.”

Conte blames fatigue for dip in Chelsea form

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Antonio Conte has figured out what is plaguing his Chelsea side as they sit 14 points back of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I think when you play every three days, it is impossible to have a training session and to work on the physical aspects,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference as the Blues get set to play Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. “It’s impossible. It’s impossible because you have to prepare with the players for a game every three days.”

Chelsea has yet to find itself eliminated from a single competition, drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League while navigating fixtures across all four competitions.

And yet, this is nothing new for Conte. The Blues boss is more than familiar with fixture congestion, having taken charge of Juventus and regularly competing at a high level on multiple fronts. In 2012/13, he won the Serie A title, won the Supercoppa Italia, and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

However, this is new for Conte at Chelsea. Last season, the Blues did not take part in a European competition thanks to their disastrous season the previous year. While they reached the FA Cup final, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the 4th round.

“We have to try to do our best,” Conte said. “For sure, some players can be tired, that’s normal because some players are playing from this summer and our tours in China and Singapore. It’s normal. But I repeat we have to find the best solution. We have to find more rotations. I’m doing this, we will try and do our best with hunger and desire. We will fight.”

As an example, Conte said Alvaro Morata will miss the match on Tuesday against Huddersfield Town due to fatigue, with the Spaniard battling a slight back injury. “Morata is out. He is a bit tired and he has a problem in his back.