Americans Abroad: Tim Howard stays unbeaten, Aron Johannsson scores again

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The Americans Abroad have had a busy time since we last caught up with them, as league play and cup competitions are coming thick and fast after the international break.

From Tel Aviv to Tijuana, Norway to Italy, let’s take a gander across the globe at American soccer players making a name for themselves… and their country.

(MORE: Americans Abroad – Full Archive)

Plenty of US stars shone brightly over the last week, as you’re about to find out.

Let’s get to it.

ENGLAND

On Saturday Tim Howard secured yet another shutout for Everton, as the Toffees beat Chelsea 1-0. The USMNT goalkeeper made six saves, and despite a couple of shaky moments early on, Howard’s side held on for their first win of the season and remain unbeaten.

Up in Sunderland, it wasn’t such a happy afternoon for Jozy Altidore, as the U.S. forward was involved in the pivotal moment during a 3-1 loss to Arsenal. In the second half Altidore shrugged off Bacary Sagna and slotted the ball home to score what he thought was his first PL goal as a Mackem… not so fast Jozy.

Referee Martin Atkinson robbed Jozy of a 70th minute goal, by instead awarding a free kick when he should have played advantage, much to the annoyance of the former AZ Alkmaar forward.

Sunderland are without a win this campaign and sit bottom of the PL standings.

Staying in England’s top-flight, Geoff Cameron played superbly at right back as the Potters held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke are up to seventh in the table, but it could’ve been better as Cameron whipped in a great ball just after half time that nobody finished off.

(MORE: Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher; a partnership Sunderland are relying on)

Just down the M6 to Birmingham, and it was another frustrating afternoon for American goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The reigning Villa Player of the Year made six stops to try and thwart Newcastle, but Guzan was helpless as the Magpies won 2-1 following defensive mishaps from Villa. The loss marked a third-straight defeat for Guzan and Aston Villa, they sit in 16th.

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Jozy Altidore had a goal disallowed as Sunderland’s struggle continued.

Down in the Championship it was an extremely busy week for the Americans.

On Saturday, Nottingham Forest right back Eric Lichaj put in a solid outing as Forest beat Barnsley 3-2, to move back into third spot. And on Tuesday night Forest were in action again, as they drew 2-2 with Middlesbrough. Lichaj was at fault for Kei Kamara’s opening goal, but set up a late equalizer to make amends.

Tim Ream played the first 60-minutes in midfield and then switched to a defensive role for the the final 30 minutes in the Trotters 1-0 loss to Leeds United on Saturday. Then, the former New York Red Bulls defender went the full 90 in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Derby County, assisting on Chris Eagles’ goal just before half time. Bolton still remain bottom and winless after seven games.

(MORE: Brek Shea, the painter, nearing Stoke City return)

There were three other Americans playing down in England’s second-tier, as Jonathan Spector‘s Birmingham lost 1-0 to QPR on Saturday, before being hammered 3-0 by Burnley on Tuesday. Zak Whitbread played for Leicester City on Tuesday as they beat Blackburn 2-1.

But things are going better for Danny Williams at Reading, as the former Hoffenheim man played the full 90 minutes in his first start for the Royals in a 0-0 draw with Brighton on Saturday. Then, on Wednesday night, Williams provided the key assist as Reading beat Leeds United 1-0 with a last-gasp winner from Adam Le Fondre.

EUROPE

Now switching over to the European continent, on Saturday Icelandic-American forward Aron Johannsson continued his good start to the season with another goal. The 21-year-old scored a penalty-kick in a 3-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles, the spot kick was his third of the season so far and overall Johannsson put in a lively display up front.

Following his callup to the U.S. national team for the recent World Cup qualifiers, Johannsson now has four goals in his first six Eredivisie games of the season. And Johannsson also started for AZ in their 1-0 Europa League win away at Maccabi Haifa on Thursday.

No doubt Jurgen Klinsmann will be keeping a close eye on the promising striker over the coming months.

In Belgium, Sacha Kljestan has had a mixed week following league success and UEFA Champions League disappointment. On Saturday Kljestan scored in Anderlecht’s 5-0 win over Mechelen, keeping up his terrific record this season with four goals in five league games. Yet on Tuesday night, the Brussels club came unstuck away at Portuguese side Benfica in their Champions League opener. Kljestan’s men lost 2-0, and the former Chivas USA star was booked to compound a frustrating night in Lisbon.

Over in the Bundesliga, Fabian Johnson‘s Hoffenheim beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1, as the left-sided player was involved in the home teams opening goal.

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A bad night for Kljestan, who was booked late on in Anderlecht’s 2-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League.

Forgotten man Timmy Chandler created FC Nürnberg’s opener from right back with some inventive play, but the USMNT defender was culpable as they dropped a late equalizer to newly-promoted Braunschweig and remain winless after five games.

(MORE: Is Danny Williams re-inserting himself into the U.S. national team conversation?)

Up in Norway, Mix Diskerud played the full 90 in Rosenborg’s shock 1-0 loss at Tromso. It was the Troll Kids first defeat in 16 games and they are now just two points ahead at the top of the table, with seven games to go.  Elsewhere in Norway, goalkeeper Steve Clark and Hønefoss lost yet again as they continue to struggle at the wrong end of the table. The Michigan born star made one save as his side dropped a late1-0 decision to IK Start.

Down in Denmark, Babajide Ogunbiyi was the hero for Viborg as he scored the winner against AGF Aarhus. Ogunbiyi also played superbly at the back, as his side held on for the 1-0 after his goal.

Over in France, Alejandro Bedoya put in yet another tireless display as Nantes beat Sochaux 1-0 at home. The attacker started off brightly and continued that throughout the game before being subbed late on. The Canaries are now seventh in Ligue 1.

In Austria, Terrence Boyd scored his fourth goal in five games as Rapid Vienna hammered FC Wacker Innsbruck 4-0. But in the Europa League on Thursday, Boyd was on the bench and came on for the final 27 minutes, as Rapid lost 1-0 to FC Thun.

MEXICO

Apart from Club Tijuana’s plethora of American players, another US star is making a name for himself in Liga MX. Former US U-20 international Alonso Hernandez helped Monterrey beat Puebla 1-0 on Tuesday, as the 19-year-old set up the goal with a dazzling run.

Keep an eye on this guy.

On Saturday Tigres UANL beat Cruz Azul 1-0, with US midfielder Jose Torres playing the entire game in what was a fiery contest between the Liga MX rivals. Tigres played most of the second half with 10 men but Torres’ side held on for the three points, with the midfielder showing off his creative skills throughout.

Onto the Xolo’s, and Club Tijuana drew 2-2 with CD Guadalajara on Sunday, but the big story was regarding Edgar Castillo, who left the game with an injury late on. Other Americans Paul Arriola and Greg Garza came on as subs for the Northern Mexican side, while surprisingly USMNT midfielder Joe Corona was once again an unused sub.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Puebla’s US duo DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco Fiscal both played in a 1-1 tie with Toluca. And Puebla looked like snatching all three points until the last minute when Toluca’s ‘keeper scored from the penalty spot, you read that right, to equalize late on.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”