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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.

VIDEO: Claudio Ranieri admits tactical mistakes after another road defeat

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Ever-gracious Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has taken full responsibility for the Foxes’ recent struggles, claiming his lineup tinkering has fallen flat.

The Italian said following the 3-0 defeat to Southampton that he has tried a few different formations to maximize his players’ abilities, but that it hasn’t worked out.

[ RECAP: Leicester falls on the road again at Southampton ]

“I think the last two matches I changed the shape to try and help my players to play better and find the right solution, but maybe I make mistakes. I am wrong against Chelsea when I play with three at the back, and also today when I wanted to play with a diamond. My players are used to playing with a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1 and they recognize the position, the game, everything, the movement. I wanted to give something more, but I make a mistake, I was wrong.”

Honesty sure is Ranieri’s best policy, and deflecting criticism from his players is clearly the tactic here. Managers often like to play down the importance of tactical formations at times, but here it clearly has weighed on Ranieri’s mind, who may revert back to his tested formations.

[ MORE: Is Pep Guardiola unhappy in the Premier League? ]

“I think it’s much better to give to them what they know very well. I look and they had to push a lot with this system and this mentality, and keep going and improve of course.”

Whatever the case, something will have to change with Leicester City this season if they wish to continue in the English top-flight. The Foxes have gone all season without a single away win, and they’re 15th in the table with just 21 points, five above the relegation zone.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton rescue Ivanovic, Insigne to Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
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Just nine days remain until the transfer window closes, and teams are gearing up for the stretch run that always provides plenty of action despite what’s been an uncharacteristically quiet January so far.

Chelsea has already shed a bit of dead weight in sending Oscar to China, and they could find suitors for another cast-away in Branislav Ivanovic as well. According to the Liverpool Echo, Ronald Koeman is hoping to bring Ivanovic to Everton as the Toffees look to secure a top seven position in the table.

Ivanovic has been a staple at Chelsea for years, but since being dropped by Antonio Conte on October 1st, he’s managed just 43 Premier League minutes as the Blues exploded on their record-tying winning streak. The 33-year-old doesn’t exactly fit into Conte’s system, but he apparently intrigues the Everton front office.

That move, apparently, could be the trigger that forces a longtime Everton defender to see his way out. According to the Daily Mail, Toffees captain Phil Jagielka has spoken with with Koeman to discuss his future at the club. Jagielka, like Ivanovic, began the season as an obvious choice in the starting lineup, but was dropped in early December and has seen just two Premier League appearances since as Everton has lost just twice since then.

Over in Italy, Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne is having a fantastic season, and it’s alerting clubs domestically and abroad. His contract doesn’t expire in Naples until 2019, but there’s talk of a contract extension due to his stellar season which has seen him bag six Serie A goals and five assists in 20 appearances. According to reports in Italy, Insigne is now shelving contract talks with interest abound. AC Milan is also said to be desiring his services as they push to break into the top echelon of the table, but the Gunners could also swoop, especially if Napoli is unwilling to match his contract demands.

One player who is wanted across the Premier League is Atalanta midfielder Franck Kessie. With links to Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea as well as Paris Saint-Germain, it’s certain to gain steam as Deadline Day approaches, but according to reports in Europe, Atalanta is prepared to ward off all interest by turning down all bids for the player. Kessie, an Ivory Coast international, has helped Atalanta to the 7th spot in the Serie A table, but is currently on international duty in the African Cup of Nations. He has six goals this season from the defensive midfield spot, although four of those came in the first three league games of the season.

Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Burnley (Lineups & Live Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 14:  Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Arsenal at Liberty Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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Arsenal has the chance to go second in the table as the host Burnley at the Emirates live at 9:15 a.m ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin, and Kieran Gibbs have all returned from injury for the Gunners, and all feature on the bench as Arsene Wenger has the chance to leap both Liverpool and Tottenham with all three points. Theo Walcott, however, is still out with a calf injury, allowing Wenger to leave his side unchanged from the 4-0 win over Swansea City.

[ WATCH LIVE: Arsenal vs. Burnley live online at NBCSports.com ]

Olivier Giroud starts up front for the Gunners with a goal in each of his last four games, while Alexis Sanchez is also in fantastic form, with six goals in his last eight games. Sanchez starts again despite his ugly body language after being substituted in the Swansea game with the game well decided, as Wenger played down the issue after the match.

Burnley, meanwhile, could potentially jump into the top half of the table if they could pull off the upset, currently in 13th on 26 points. Dean Marney and Ashley Barnes both return to the lineup after being held out midweek in the FA Cup match against win over Sunderland, but Johann Berg Gudmundsson is still out with an injury, having made just three appearances since late November.

Arsenal has held three consecutive clean sheets against Burnley, with Sean Dyche looking to turn around his team’s away form. The Clarets have earned just a single point all season away from home, the worst away record in the Premier League.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Bellerin, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Lucas.

Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Marney, Hendrick, Defour; Barnes, Gray.
Subs: Robinson, Flanagan, Tarkowski, Barton, Kightly, Darikwa, Vokes.

Southampton 3-0 Leicester City: Saints swarm from start to finish

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Jay Rodriguez (R) of Southampton celebrates scoring his team's second goal wit his team mate Ryan Bertrand (L) during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary's Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Southampton dominated from beginning to end, putting a stop to their four-match losing streak thanks to a 3-0 win over Leicester City at St. Mary’s. James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez both hit first-half goals as the Foxes remain without an away win in Premier League play this season, while Dusan Tadic finished it off late from the spot.

The game’s first opportunity fell to Southampton, who had pushed forward more in the opening 10 minutes. A cross from the left by Nathan Redmond picked out Dusan Tadic in the area, and the Serbian rose high above Christian Fuchs, but his header from close range soared just above the bar.

The Saints flooded Leicester’s box as they pressed high early, and they worked a shot for Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg on nine minutes in that he blasted into the stands. Hojbjerg had a better chance as Tadic fizzed a low ball across the box on 19 minutes, and it deflected across to the far post where Redmond had a shot, but Kasper Schmeichel slid low to make the save.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It remained all Saints as the clock ticked past 25 minutes, and they eventually found the deserved goal. Cedric Soares burst down the right edge of the box, and he clipped the ball to Ward-Prowse who hammered the a curling ball past Schmeichel into the back of the net, a beautiful finish to put Southampton up 1-0 with England manager Gareth Southgate in attendance.

Leicester never truly built themselves into the game in the first half as they continue to search for their first away win of the season. Five minutes before halftime, Southampton pushed the game further out of reach with a second. A free-kick by Ward-Prowse came barreling in, and Maya Yoshida got a head to it, pushing the ball towards the post where Rodriguez was there to crash it into the net.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

There was a worry after the break for Southampton as Virgil van Djik went down injured and had to come off. With Jose Fonte already sold this window, it forced the club to bring on 22-year-old Jack Stephens. They had a chance to put the game away on the hour mark as Fuchs sent Hojbjerg clean through, but he put it wide with just Schmeichel to beat.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Foxes slowly began to work themselves into things with 20 minutes to go, but it was too little too late. Wes Morgan somehow missed for Leicester with a great chance on the half-volley. He was relieved down the other end as it appeared Morgan had put the ball in his own net for a third Southampton goal, but referee Michael Oliver disallowed it for offside after conferring with the assistant. Replays showed Maya Yoshida may have his arm in an offside position, but otherwise there was little to suggest the flag should have gone up.

The Saints did get one last goal as Morgan barreled over Shane Long in the penalty area, earning him a yellow card and forcing Michael Oliver to point to the spot. Tadic obliterated the ball, pummeling it into the top right corner from the spot for his second goal of the season and Southampton’s third of the day.

With the win, Southampton moved above both Bournemouth and Burnley into 11th, while Leicester City remains just five points above the relegation zone in 15th position. On the season, Leicester has garnered just three points on the road, with draws against Tottenham, Stoke City, and Middlesbrough, having lost all the rest.