Americans Abroad preview: Countrymen go head to head

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With a full slate of games around the world this weekend, United States internationals will be busy trying to impress for their clubs.

(MORE: Americans Abroad – Full Archive)

Here are just a few of the match-ups on this weekend:

ENGLAND

• Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan faces another tough test when Manchester City comes to town. With just two league wins this season bookending three losses, Guzan will need to be in top form if his team is to get anything out of this game.

• Stoke City takes on Norwich City on Sunday, and Geoff Cameron is set for another start for the Potters after playing 90 minutes in a 2-0 League Cup win over Tranmere Rovers at midweek. Brek Shea was nowhere to be found in that game, still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in preseason.

• Jozy Altidore’s Sunderland takes on Liverpool without a permanent manager in place. It’s been a frustrating season so far for Altidore, much as his last Premier League campaign was, but if he could get one goal to get him off the mark against a tough team such as Liverpool, his confidence would increase.

• In the Championship, Danny Williams and Jonathan Spector clash when Reading plays Birmingham City. Although the two likely won’t have any head-to-head confrontations, as Williams plays defensive midfield and Spector plays in the back, Birmingham would like to continue the momentum of its first league victory last weekend, while Reading has only lost once, on the opening day of the season.

GERMANY

• Schalke 04 and Jermaine Jones pay a visit to Fabian Johnson’s Hoffenheim on Saturday. One point separates the two clubs early in the season, and they’re both coming off German Cup wins and Bundesliga losses in their last two outings.

NETHERLANDS

• Any time Aron Jóhannsson plays, he could score. That’s what makes PSV Eindhoven’s visit to his AZ Alkmaar exciting: on any given day, you get the feeling he could turn in another special performance. Jóhannsson scored a hat trick, including two goals in extra time, in a 4-1 cup win over Sparta Rotterdam on Wednesday.

AUSTRIA

• Quietly, Terrence Boyd has scored five goals in six appearances for Rapid Vienna this season, including one in the 17th minute of its last league game, Sept. 22 against Ried. Vienna takes on Wolfsberger AC on Saturday, which has lost its last two games and given up 21 goals in nine league matches so far.

MEXICO

• The most Americans on the field in any foreign match this weekend could easily be when Puebla hosts Club Tijuana on Sunday — when DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco host Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Joe Corona, Herculez Gómez and Paul Arriola. Perhaps even better, the match is televised in the United States at 12:50 p.m. ET on ESPN Deportes.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.