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.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.