Reading v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship

Americans Abroad Preview: Onyewu vs. Williams and more

1 Comment

It’s the first edition of Americans Abroad since Jurgen Klinsmann admitted that the door for players to work their way onto his roster will be open until May, name-dropping Danny Williams, Oguchi Onyewu and Tim Ream in the process.

So where will they, and the other Yanks plying their trade outside of Major League Soccer, be competing this weekend? Let’s dig in…

England

Brek Shea and the Barnsley Tykes (not a band name, but it should be) find themselves hosting seventh place Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon. Taking three points is big, but still wouldn’t bring the Tykes out of the relegation zone. Still, since Shea arrived the No. 23 club is 1W-2D-1L in Championship play. Not bad.

The only squad to beat Barnsley in league play on Shea’s watch has been Oguchi Onyewu’s Sheffield Wednesday side, winning 1-0 last Saturday. The win pulled Wednesday up to No. 17 in the Championship and, like Shea, Onyewu’s arrival has coincided with solid play. The Owls are 2W-2D in four matches and Onyewu has a goal and an assist.

The next match for Onyewu will be against Williams and Reading, who currently sits in a playoff spot. Williams finally broke through for his first goal of the season, adding an assist in a 3-0 win at Millwall and will look to repeat his heroics against his American teammate.

Tim Ream’s a constant starter for Bolton, but the bad news is that Bolton is a bad team. The Wanderers have lost four-straight overall and sit just four points out of the relegation zone. Bolton hosts Bournemouth to try and bust their slump.

To the PL, where Clint Dempsey will look to find his missing form at Old Trafford. Even stealing all three points would leave Fulham in the relegation zone, but American supporters are simply hoping for a semblance of the Dempsey they desire for the summer’s trip to Brazil.

Tim Howard and Everton head into White Hart Lane hoping to keep their spot in the Top Five, as Spurs lurk just one point below. Brad Guzan and Aston Villa have one less threat to worry about in their bout with West Ham, as Andy Carroll is most certainly out… again.
Geoff Cameron has been steady for Stoke, and now he’ll hope the Potters can move two wins out of the relegation zone with a visit to dangerous Southampton. Buoyed by a derby shellacking of Newcastle, forward Jozy Altidore will hope to get on the score sheet as the Black Cats of Sunderland host Hull City.
Germany
Timmy Chandler’s in terrific form, and will hope it motivates Nurnberg to a massive upset of Bayern Munich, while Steve Cherundolo is ready to fully train but not feature for Hannover. John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin are on the road to Hamburg. Fabian Johnson is still out with a broken hand but Hoffenheim have admitted that he’ll be gone this summer. Stoke could be a destination.
Mexico
Jose Torres’ Tigres squad is in bad shape, with just two points through five match days, and has to find some tonic in a Saturday night visit from Santos. Jonathan Bornstein and Atlante host the Cruz Azul of Alonso Hernandez and Jose Villarreal on Sunday night, while three Yanks will feature for Tijuana tonight against Monterrey: Castillo, Gomez and Arriola. DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco will suit up for Puebla on Sunday when they welcome Guadalajara to Estadio Cuauhtémoc.
 
Elsewhere
Stabaek boss Bob Bradley watched on-trial Michael Stephens hit for two goals in a 7-2 friendly win, according to Brian Sciaretta.
Jermaine Jones showed up to his loan with Besiktas… and promptly was ruled out for a couple weeks with a groin injury.
Juan Agudelo scored for Utrecht on Thursday, but it’s a two-match week for his club as they hope to climb into the top half of the table with a win over fellow relegation scrappers RKC Waalwijk on Sunday. Staying in the Eredivisie, AZ Alkmaar will be expected to win its match against Go Ahead Eagles this weekend, but will they be doing so without Aron Johannsson. He’s been burying goals but left last week’s game with a groin injury.
Nantes haven’t won in three matches, beginning with a 5-0 slaughter at the hands of PSG. Ale Bedoya’s team looks to get back in the win column when they host No. 6 Lyon. A win would leapfrog the Kids.
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht visits Kortrijk over in Belgium.

Report: Clattenburg returning to Premier League

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Referee Mark Clattenburg during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on December 26, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Four days later…

It has not been long since Mark Clattenburg last officiated a Premier League match, instead opting to take a job in Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the move was a power play, because “Clatts” looks set to work his new job and return to his old stamping grounds.

The Sun’s Neil Ashton threw out this Tweet on Monday.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday preview ]

All refs have detractors, but Clattenburg has a solid record in the PL and was awarded with spots officiating the finals of the UEFA Champions League, EURO 2016, and the FA Cup.

Maybe Riley and PGMOL didn’t expect Clattenburg to follow through with his threats to leave town, and it’s fair to presume he’s been rewarded handsomely.

Bielsa returning to French league to take charge of Lille

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - AUGUST 01:  Olympique de Marseille head coach Marcelo Bielsa watches the action during the preseason friendly match between Olympique de Marseille and Juventus FC at Stade Velodrome on August 1, 2015 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Controversial coach Marcelo Bielsa will take charge of ambitious Lille for next season, signaling his return to French football after a chaotic end to his spell with Marseille.

Lille said in a statement on Sunday that Bielsa will replace interim coach Franck Passi on July 1 and has been given a two-year deal.

“Marcelo Bielsa is without a doubt one of the most respected and influential coaches in the world and it’s a huge satisfaction for Lille,” said Marc Ingla, a club director. “It also proves the ambition of our club.”

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday preview ]

A former Argentina manager, Bielsa is highly rated as an innovative, attack-minded leader who brings the best out of his players.

With Lille hiring Bielsa, Lyon already settled into a new stadium, Marseille recruiting aggressively under new American ownership and Monaco challenging Paris Saint-Germain strongly, next season promises to be an even more competitive one in France.

A more entertaining one, too, now that Bielsa is back and likely to give the French media plenty of headlines.

Bielsa stunned fans and the club’s directors when he quit Marseille last season, after just one game of the new campaign. The 61-year-old Argentine was taking charge of his second season and was a fan favorite when he suddenly quit.

[ MORE: Wenger treatment “unacceptable,” says Pep ]

He was out of contract but had struck a verbal agreement with the president to extend his tenure.

Then, just before putting pen to paper on his new deal, he changed his mind, alleging that Marseille officials amended the terms of the agreement at the last minute. He had previously publicly criticized Marseille’s president in a vitriolic outburst during a news conference because he was angry at the club’s transfer policy, saying it had signed players over his head.

Controversy seems to follow Bielsa, who in football circles earned the nickname “El Loco Bielsa” (Crazy Bielsa), due to his driven personality, single-mindedness, tough talking and relentless determination to do things only on his terms.

In the summer of last year, he quit as coach of Italian side Lazio – just two days after the Italian club announced it had signed him.

In football terms, Bielsa made much of his reputation more than a decade ago.

At club level, he won three Argentinian titles with Newell’s Old Boys and Velez Sarsfield – reaching the South American Copa Libertadores final with Newell’s in 2002. Later on, he also guided Athletic Bilbao to the Europa League and Spanish Cup finals in 2012.

[ MORE: Bernardo to Chelsea? Blues reportedly bid first ]

With Argentina, he won gold at the 2004 Olympic Games and led Argentina to the Copa America final the same year.

Lille’s new owner Gerard Lopez, the president of the finance group Genii Capital and former president of the Lotus Formula One team, previously spoke about Bielsa in glowing terms.

Lopez recently took over from Michel Seydoux – a French businessman and film producer who was club president since 2002 – and Lopez is keen on rebuilding Lille with talented young players in the same way Monaco has done.

Athletic Bilbao's coach Marcelo Bielsa (
(Photo credit should read RAFA RIVAS/AFP/GettyImages)

On the final day of the transfer window last month, Lille signed six players aged 23 or under. Dutch forward Anwar El Ghazi, who joined from Ajax, scored his first goal for the club on Saturday.

The club’s scouting network is also likely to be very strong in South America, with Bielsa working closely alongside Luis Campos – who is an advisor to Lopez.

Campos previously worked with Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and then for three years as a technical director with Monaco.

The well-connected Campos oversaw the arrival of several promising young players at Monaco – including highly rated attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva – and they have blossomed so much that Monaco is top of the league and has scored more than 100 goals overall this season.

Lille is playing catch up.

Although Lille qualified six times for the Champions League during Seydoux’s tenure and clinched the league and cup double in 2011, results have dropped and the northern French club is currently in 14th place.

The club’s youth system – which produced players such as Chelsea star Eden Hazard – has not been so successful in recent years and this will also be an area for Bielsa to improve.

Guardiola: Treatment of Wenger “unacceptable”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18:  Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City (R) shake hands prior to kick off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger has been battered by many in the wake of Arsenal’s 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie last week.

One guy who’s not feeling it? Pep Guardiola.

The Manchester City boss says he gets the criticism of player selection, but bristles at the extent and severity of the post-match vitriol being served up to Wenger.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday preview ]

Guardiola was asked about making eight changes to his lineup for Man City’s draw against Huddersfield Town, which caused an FA Cup replay.

Here’s his answer, from Sky Sports:

“My friend, I take the decisions, you analyze my decisions. You have to take a decision before [the game], to the best solution. It was what I did. If you don’t agree, you can write it.

“What I hear in the last 10 days, about how people, ex-players, journalists, treat Arsene Wenger is unacceptable.”

This not a particularly kind stretch for Wenger’s Arsenal, and the Gunners do look set for a seventh-straight exit from the UCL at the Round of 16. Still, Guardiola does have a point when accounting for the fact that Jurgen Klopp, Guardiola, and Jose Mourinho have all seen poor stretches this season.

Yes, Wenger has been at Arsenal much longer than his peers in the Premier League, but the cyclical criticism of the French boss is exhausting and exhaustive. Two decades in one location provides enough data to call someone a legend or brand him a disappointment. It’s a downtime right now, and perhaps the right time to change bosses. But people seem particularly happy to burn Wenger.

Champions League Tuesday: Man City hosts Monaco; Red-hot Chicharito

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Man City's Manager Pep Guardiola celebrates the teams win with Yaya Toure after the whistle during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on November 19, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola gets his next chance at European success when Monaco visits the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

[ MORE: Mourinho pleased with Utd’s attitude ]

It’s one of two Tuesday first legs, with big names like Fernando Torres, Javier Hernandez, and Antoine Griezmann all set to feature in the other.

Manchester City vs. Monaco

How they got here: Man City finished second to Barcelona in Group C, winning two of six matches, while Monaco won Group E over Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, and CSKA Moscow.

History: Tuesday will be the first meeting of Man City and Monaco.

The plot: Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern Munich saw him bounced at the semifinals of three-straight UCL tournaments, and his last final came in 2011.

The subplot: Will Yaya Toure’s City resurgence extend into Europe? How about Radamel Falcao getting some PL revenge? And watch out for Premier League rumor mill men Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, and Joao Moutinho.


Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid leaps over the challenge from Emir Spahic of Bayer Leverkusen during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 17, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid leaps over the challenge from Emir Spahic of Bayer Leverkusen (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

How they got here: Bayer finished second to Monaco in Group E, and Atletico won five of six group stage matches in summiting Group D.

History: The clubs swapped home wins in the 2015 UCL — Atleti progressed after penalties — and drew a pair of UEL matches in 2010.

The plot: Neither side is tempting its usual spot on its domestic table, and both Diego Simeone and Roger Schmidt would be thrilled to progress in Europe.

The subplot: Simeone has won the Europa League, and is chasing his third UCL final in four seasons. … Bayer attacker Chicharito is hot again, with five goals in his last three Bundesliga matches, after waving off MLS rumors.