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Americans Abroad Preview: Onyewu vs. Williams and more

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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.

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

NASL weekend preview: Miami, Minnesota meet playoff fortunes head on

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There are still two full months of soccer to go in the NASL’s Fall Season, but this weekend could be a major day for the title fortunes of one squad in particular.

Miami FC and Minnesota United are level on points with 15 heading into Saturday’s match at FIU Stadium.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

If you’re unfamiliar, the NASL Playoffs involve four teams: the Spring champion (Indy Eleven), the Fall champion, and two other teams with the best combined record between seasons.

Miami’s played one fewer game, and both it and Minnesota — fresh off the news it’s headed to MLS in 2017 — are seven points shy of first-place FC Edmonton.

But Minnesota is on pace to make the playoffs through combined schedule, while Miami had a poor first half and would be better served to win the Fall Season if it wants a shot at the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Saturday
Carolina Railhawks at New York Cosmos
Rayo OKC at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Minnesota United at Miami FC

Sunday
Indy Eleven at Ottawa Fury
Puerto Rico at FC Edmonton

Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:  Lucas Perez of RC Deportivo la Coruna reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio Teresa Rivero on September 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Arsene Wenger‘s much-maligned transfer business is about to take the “much” off the verb.

Lucas Perez of Deportiva de la Coruna is reportedly going to be joining Arsenal on Friday, and the Gunners are also close to finally landing Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Perez, 27, broke out for a career-best 17 goals last season, and scored on debut last weekend. He’s set to cost $22.5 million, while Mustafi makes up the other $46.5 million.

The 12-times capped German center back stands 6-foot, and would bring stability to a Gunners unit which has (again) been beset by injuries.

From the BBC:

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

Is this, coupled with the Granit Xhaka buy, enough to help Wenger right the ship? Mustafi, especially, would be a key piece. Perez is a bit of a lesser-known quality.

MLS Weekend Preview: Desperation mounts as rivals meet in Oregon

Portland Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, second from right, trips up Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, right, in the second half of a MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Seattle. Andriuskevicius was called for a foul on the play, and the Sounders' Clint Dempsey scored a goal on the resulting penalty kick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Desperation is up-and-down the schedule this weekend in Major League Soccer, as the playoff race really heats up.

The calendar turns to September next week, and teams will end this weekend with a clear view of their runs into the season’s final Sunday: Oct. 23.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).

Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:

Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).

Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.

Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.

Schedule

Friday
Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT

Saturday
Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday
New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT