Stoke City v Everton - Premier League

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.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Big boys to turn up

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Week 26 of the Premier League season is here. This will be a lot of fun with massive games at both ends of the table.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Arsenal 3-2 Leicester City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Norwich City 0-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, USA) –  [STREAM]

Man City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United – (Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Everton 2-1 West Brom  – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Swansea 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) –  [STREAM]

Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) –  [STREAM]

Ranieri on Leicester City’s dream season: “Nobody wake us up please!”

during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.
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There’s plenty to like about Leicester City’s run to the top of the Premier League, but perhaps nothing is more enjoyable that its manager’s musings.

Claudio Ranieri, the Tinkerman himself, has provided some of the best quips of the season.

[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]

From “I want to be the crazy man in the Premier League” to “It’s like nobody wants to win the league“, the 64-year-old Italian has offered plenty of beauties.

Make way for some more gems, from LCFC.com:

“I think we work so hard to achieve this level. We want to stay at this level. It’s no pressure for us. The pressure was at the beginning to start well, to carry on and maintain the standard of our performance.
“Now we are safe and we want to fight with respect with all our opponents. Face to face, we play with our strength and they play with theirs. If we win, fantastic. If we lose, next match.
“I think the pressure is on the other teams. We have pressure for our little gap. We continue to dream with our fans and we want to continue to dream. Nobody wake us up please!”
We love this man. To go from a short-lived run in Euro qualifying with Greece to this remarkable roll with Leicester has to be a bit dream-like. We get it. And we love that he’s going with it.