Americans Abroad review: Altidore shines, “Lex Luthor” wins it late

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With league play back in full swing and international breaks on the back burner for the moment, a number of Americans made their mark in play across the globe, but particularly in Europe.

Not as many Americans scored as we saw last week, but their teams continued to win and our boys were at the forefront of many.

In Premier League play, Jozy Altidore was on point as Sunderland picked up their first win of the season in the ever-important Tyne-Wear derby.  In a match that featured enough stripes to give anyone a headache, Altidore used his strength on multiple occasions to harass Newcastle and help his team.  He won the corner that led to their opening goal by warding off a defender, and he teed up Fabio Borini for the winner as time wound down.

What appeared a simple lay-off by Jozy to Borini was actually a brilliant bit of play.  Altidore caught the Newcastle defenders completely off-guard with the move, giving Borini ample space for the shot. It appeared that even the striker himself wasn’t aware of Borini’s presence until the last second, when he slammed on the brakes and set the ball up for the Italian to smash it home.

Tim Howard had a busy weekend in the Barclays Premier League.  The USMNT #1 shotstopper outdueled his international teammate Brad Guzan as Everton triumphed over Aston Villa 2-0, sending the Toffees up to fourth in the Premier League table. Howard was at the forefront of his team’s activity, saving a Christian Benteke penalty and denying the Belgian a host of other times during the match.

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Tim Howard saved a Christian Benteke penalty en route to Everton’s 2-0 win over Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa.

The 34-year-old then swapped his cleats for a headset, making his way to the broadcast booth where he paired up with Arlo White to commentate the Chelsea vs. Manchester City match for NBCSN.  It took the goalkeeper a few minutes to get comfortable behind the mic, but he performed nearly as admirably as he had on the pitch the day before. Arlo appropriately extended an open invitation for Howard to return, noting the excitement of the match was clearly due to the USMNT star’s presence.

Geoff Cameron started for Stoke City but the visitors couldn’t hang onto a 2-1 lead at Old Trafford as Stoke fell 3-2 thanks to Mexican international Javier Hernandez’s late winner.  Brek Shea did not make the matchday squad, strengthening his desire to go out on loan.

Over in Italy, Michael Bradley made an enormous stride towards returning to the starting lineup after returning from his ankle injury.  On as a 78th minute substitute, Bradley scored the winner for Roma with his first goal of the season as the Giallorossi stayed perfect through nine matches.

Maybe the greatest thing the goal brought this world is an absolutely outstanding new nickname for Bradley, dubbed by an Italian radio broadcaster calling the game.  Amid the broadcaster’s ear-piercing, high-pitched shrieks following Bradley’s goal, he refers to the American as “Lex Luthor.” If this doesn’t stick, I’m not sure what will.  Help us out USMNT fans, we here at ProSoccerTalk need to make this one permanent.

Under new manager Gertjan Verbeek, Timmy Chandler started at right-back and assisted FC Nurnberg’s only goal as they held Stuttgart to a draw and earned a valuable point on the road. The club was not able to get out of the relegation zone with the point earned but they gained ground on 15th-place Ausberg who fell to Bayer Leverkusen.  Chandler picked a good time to play well – USMNT assistant Andy Herzog was in attendence, could Timmy be on his way back?

Jermaine Jones could do nothing to stop Borussia Dortmund as his Schalke side fell 3-1 to the reigning Champions League runners up in the Rurh derby.  Jones was a 74th minute substitute, and he came on after all the scoring had taken place.

Red-hot Aron Johannsson didn’t score but his team AZ Alkmaar had a fruitful week of traveling. The youngster assisted Johan Berg Gudmannsson in their 1-1 with Shakhter Karagandy in during midweek Europa League play. AZ then defeated 5th-placed PEC Zwolle on the road in the Eredivisie 2-1.  The win put AZ into a tie for first place with Twente and Ajax.

Club Tijuana remained undefeated at home with their 0-0 draw against Tigres in Liga MX play. However, the sole point may not be enough to propel Tijuana to the postseason. Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, and Paul Arriola all started for Club Tijuana, with Hercules Gomez coming on as a substitute.

DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco both started in Puebla’s 3-1 loss to Club America at Estadio Azteca.

Sasha Kleijstan needed just a single minute to net his first goal for Anderlecht in a 1-1 draw with table-toppers Standard Liege.  It’s a good bounceback from their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of PSG in the Champions League.

Timmy Chandler netted the winner for Rapid Vienna in the 88th minute as they beat Austria Vienna 1-0 in the Austrian Bundesliga.

PSG suffers big blow as Neymar stretchered off against Marseille

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With an important run of fixtures upcoming, including a UEFA Champions League date with Real Madrid, the Parisians received disappointing news on Sunday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins ]

Despite picking up a 3-0 victory against Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain suffered a massive blow in the second stanza after Neymar was stretchered off the pitch with a right leg injury in the 81st minute.

The Brazilian international appeared to twist his ankle upon landing on the ground after going in for a challenge, although there was no contact when the attacker went down in agony.

Minutes after suffering the apparent ankle injury, Neymar was carried off the field on a stretcher by medical staff, raising questions about his availability in the coming weeks.

PSG faces a crucial run of matches, including Wednesday’s French Cup match against Marseille and their second leg UCL fixture against Real Madrid.

Unai Emery and his side currently trail 3-1 against Los Blancos, as the tie heads back to Paris for the second meeting.

This season, Neymar has tallied 28 goals in all competitions for the Parisians, including six finishes in the UCL, so his potential absence would be a huge blow to PSG’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.

La Liga & Serie A: Griezmann hat-trick paces Atleti, Milan tops Roma

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Sevilla 2-5 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann’s hat-trick helped pace Atletico on Sunday as Diego Simeone and Co. continue to apply pressure to Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Atleti remains seven points behind the Blaugrana in Spain’s top flight, after picking up its 17th victory of the season. The visitors scored twice in the first half with finishes from Diego Costa and Griezmann, before Koke and two more goals from the Frenchman extended the lead to 5-0.

Meanwhile, Sevilla did manage to pull back two late goals through Pablo Sarabia and Nolito, however, it was too late to complete a comeback.

Valencia 2-1 Real Sociedad

A brace from Santi Mina pulled Valencia to within two points of Real Madrid for third place in La Liga. The defeat for Sociedad keeps the bottom half side in 14th place, however, the side has a 10-point cushion above the relegation zone.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Malaga
Villareal 1-0 Getafe

 


Roma 0-2 AC Milan

A big victory for the Milan side has Gennaro Gatusso’s men back in contention for a top five place in Italy. Second-half strikes from Patrick Cutrone and Davide Calabria helped pace the visitors, as Roma suffered a big blow in the title race. Roma now sits 16 points behind league leaders Napoli, while already having lost earlier in the week to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.

 

Elsewhere in Serie A

Crotone 2-3 SPAL
Fiorentina 1-0 Chievo
Hellas 2-1 Torino
Sampdoria 2-1 Udinese
Sassuolo 0-3 Lazio
Juventus vs. Atalanta (POSTPONED)

Usain Bolt claims he’s signed with professional team

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A former world-record sprinter is set to take his opportunity as a soccer player, however, he won’t reveal which club just yet.

[ MORE: Three things from Man City’s Carabao Cup triumph ]

Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt revealed on Sunday that he has signed a contract with a professional side, although the 31-year-old wouldn’t state which club or where the side resides.

The veteran runner retired from track and field last year after winning eight Olympic gold medals in his career.

Bolt has been connected with several major European clubs in the past, including Manchester United — whom he has been a lifelong supporter of — and Borussia Dortmund.

Bolt was set to have a trial with the German side next month, although it’s unlikely that the Jamaican will have that chance now that he’s signed with a team.

Last month, he also trained with South African side Mamelodi Sundown.

Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins

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LONDON — Trophies were expected to come by the bucket load when Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in the summer of 2016.

It has taken deep into his second season to deliver his first piece of silverware, but Guardiola secured the League Cup trophy in resounding fashion as Man City hammered Arsenal 3-0 in the final at Wembley.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Speaking after the game, Guardiola admitted the League Cup isn’t at the top of City’s list of priorities as they set their sights on winning the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in the final months of the season.

“It’s important. There are titles more important than this one, but we are so happy. Congratulations to everyone,” Guardiola said. “Big congratulations for all of Manchester City. From Sheikh Mansour to Sheikh Khaldoon until the last person and fan in the club. That is why it is important to win titles because maybe it is going to help us to win the next games in the Premier League to win the league.”

[ MORE: Kompany reacts to League Cup heroics

The Spaniard also played down the importance of his first trophy in England, as much has been made about his expensive rebuild of a City squad already brimming with talent after trophy successes under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini.

Guardiola thanked Man City’s owners from Abu Dhabi for sticking by him after a trophyless maiden campaign in England.

“I’m so happy but I am part of Manchester City. Every title we won, we won as a staff in the past. You are part of the group. That is why I am so happy for Manchester City because I cannot forgot how they take care of me last season when it wasn’t so good in terms of results and winning titles,” Guardiola said. “I cannot forgot. I will always remember all the club, Sheikh Khaldoon and all the people who helped to support me. It was so important. That is why Manchester City won.”

Another reason why they won was because City’s veteran core stepped up big time.

After a testing week which saw them lose in the FA Cup at third-tier Wigan, the hopes of an unprecedented quadruple were dashed. They’ll just have to settle for a treble now.

Captain Vincent Kompany was named Man of the Match, scored the crucial second goal and shackled Arsenal’s danger man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Sergio Aguero and David Silva both scored and helped City grab the trophy.

“These three guys plus Yaya [Toure], Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta a lot of names, they helped to be what Manchester City is right now,” Guardiola said. “It is special. Sergio, Vincent and David scored the three goals and they help us to understand what it means in the club. They won titles. They put pressure on us to continue to win titles. If you are able to win more titles in the future, the people who are coming here have to know here have to win titles. That’s why it is so so important. Especially for the performance. The first half was not good but the second half Vincent was all over the game, Sergio started amazingly, despite the brilliant goal the way he played, and in the second half David came back to how he normally is.”

Kevin De Bruyne, the star of City’s season so far, has now switched the focus to sealing the PL title as quickly as possible and focusing on delivering the Champions League.

“We have had a good season already, and now we need to keep going,” De Bruyne said. “We have this one in the bag and now we have to maintain the same focus in the Premier League and the Champions League. The potential for this club is amazing, and the way we play is probably one of the best in the world.”

Guardiola is now off and running in terms of trophies and you get the sense this is just the start.