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.

PHOTOS: Tottenham’s stunning new stadium

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Tottenham Hotspur’s new $1 billion stadium is taking shape and it is looking magnificent.

The plan is for Spurs’ new home at White Hart Lane to be ready for the 2018/19 season, with reports stating that Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will play their first couple of games away from home next season in order to squeeze in a few more weeks for construction.

Spurs’ new  home will seat 62,062 fans and will be the second-largest stadium in the Premier League behind Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Take a look at the photos below in the spring sunshine in London, with the largest single-tier stand in Europe looking sublime as the roof panels are going on and the stadium is really starting to come to life.


Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso handed three-game ban

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After being named in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year on Wednesday, it has been a mixed few days for Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso as he has received a three-game ban with immediate effect after being found guilty of violent conduct.

Alsono, 27, stamped on Shane Long‘s calf in Chelsea’s 3-2 comeback win at Southampton last time out but referee Mike Dean missed the incident completely.

Since then Alonso has received a retrospective charge from the English FA and although the Spanish left back appealed the decision and the length of the ban, it was upheld and he will now miss Chelsea’s next three games.

Alonso will miss the clash at Burnley on Thursday, the FA Cup semifinal against Southampton on Sunday and the trip to Swansea City on Apr. 28.

Who will come in for Alonso?

Antonio Conte has already stated that Emerson Palmeri, a January arrival from AS Roma, will start at Burnley on Thursday and if the Brazilian full back impresses then it is highly likely he will stand in for Alonso in the big FA Cup semifinal on Sunday against Saints. Other options would be Davide Zappacosta playing as the left wing-back or even Cesar Azpilicueta out there.

As for Saints, they feel hard done by after Dean didn’t spot Alonso’s foul even though he was standing yards away from the incident and looking straight at it. At the time of the incident they led 1-0 going into half time and their manager Mark Hughes believes it would have made a big difference as Alonso’s cross set up Olivier Giroud to make it 2-1 and the Spaniard made a big difference from left back in the incredible 3-2 comeback victory. Still, at least Saints won’t have to play against Alonso on Sunday with revenge in the air…

PHOTOS: Liverpool unveil new 2018/19 kit

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Liverpool have gone for a “pepper red” kit for the 2017/18 season.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game ]

On Thursday the Anfield club released their new jersey for next season with New Balance once again their kit suppliers.

The key features of this new kit is a small collar, with a fresh white and red look throughout.

Check out the images and video below.


VAR decisions at World Cup to be explained on giant screens

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fans attending World Cup matches in Russia won’t be left wondering about the reasons behind decisions of the video assistant referee.

After the VAR’s decision is made, replays will be shown on giant screens inside the stadiums accompanied by a written explanation.

It’s all part of the VAR information system that FIFA unveiled Wednesday .

[ MORE: Man Utd makes historic hire ]

FIFA will place someone in the VOR (video operations room) who will listen in to the VAR’s decisions and communicate them to both TV commentators and stadium personnel operating the giant screens.

“So we will have graphics on the giant screens, we will have replays after the decision on the giant screens, and we will also inform the fans about the outcome of a VAR incident and review,” said Sebastian Runge, group leader of football innovation at FIFA.

With the VAR making its tournament debut during the June 14-July 15 World Cup, FIFA is holding its final training camp this month for the 99 match officials – 36 referees and 63 assistants – who have been selected to go to Russia.

Thirteen VARs have been pre-selected and are being trained at Italy’s Coverciano complex, and FIFA referees chief Pierluigi Collina said more VARs and VAR assistants will be chosen from the 99 match officials.

Three of the 13 VARs come from Italy’s Serie A and two from Germany’s Bundesliga – elite competitions that already use video assistants.

The VAR can support the referee in four game-changing situations: goals and offenses leading up to a goal, penalty decisions and offenses leading up to a penalty, direct red card incidents and cases of mistaken identity.

Still, VARs in both Italy and Germany have received vehement criticism for long delays and bungled decisions this season.

On Monday, Mainz was awarded a penalty during halftime against a rival Freiburg side that had already left the pitch for the break – prompting the unusual scene of a team returning from the changing room to defend a penalty.

“Yesterday we had already discussed this incident here and gave match officials and VARs clear indication about what should be done if something similar in FIFA competition – specifically the World Cup – happens,” Collina said without providing further detail.

Collina added that the VAR should not be overused, adding that ideally it would intervene at all in a match.

“The goal of VAR is to avoid major mistakes,” Collina said. “The objective is not to have clear and obvious mistakes committed on the field of play. This is the target, the goal is not to re-referee the match using technology.

“There will continue to be incidents when a final answer will not be given and there will be different opinions,” Collina added.

Among other items involving the VAR:

MOSCOW CONTROL CENTER

FIFA will follow the Bundesliga model of a central control center for the VAR rather than using trucks outside stadiums.

“We will have all of the referees based in Moscow so there won’t be any stress in terms of travel,” Collina said.

For each match, Collina will select one VAR and three assistant VARs.

Training operation rooms presented to media included six monitors for the VARs and two more for technical assistants enabling the VARs to see requested replays.

There could be up to four technical assistants in the room for World Cup matches.

OFFSIDE CAMERAS

FIFA will install two extra cameras at matches to monitor offside decisions.

The cameras will be in addition to the 33 cameras used for broadcasters and they will be installed under stadium roofs.

Broadcasters will not have direct access to the cameras but if they are used by the VAR then broadcasters can show the video.

Runge added that three dimensional technology – considered the ultimate strategy for determining offside – is not ready for real-time access yet.

SWEAT AND STRESS

VARs will not officiate more than one match per day.

“It’s not like watching a match on the sofa sipping coffee,” Collina said.

Collina, who officiated Brazil’s 2-0 win over Germany in the 2002 World Cup final, explained why the VARs will wear track suits similar to referees’ on-pitch attire.

“The reason is at the end they sweat as much as someone on the field, because the tension is very high,” Collina said. “They can’t do two matches per day – it’s too stressful.”

COMMS AND HACKING

The Moscow control center will be connected to match officials via a fiber optic network.

If the network fails, the backup plan includes an old-fashioned land telephone line and a telephone stationed near the fourth referee for emergency use.

“Worst-case scenario includes a backup plan on site. That’s when the IBC is down – no power, no fiber network,” Runge said. “Then we have a plan in place where the fourth official would become the VAR and the fourth official would be replaced by the reserve referee.

“We have a cabin in the broadcast compound from where we send all of the feeds to the IBC anyway. That cabin can be turned into a smaller, light version of the VOR.”

Hacking has also been considered.

“We are aware that there might be something but our IT department put measurements in place that will protect us from that,” Runge said.

POST-MATCH BRIEFINGS

In extraordinary circumstances, FIFA will hold post-match briefings to explain decisions in greater detail.

“If something should happen that we think should properly and accurately be explained – and it doesn’t matter if it’s related to VAR or something different – if it is a matter to explain the background of a decision, as an exception certainly we will do it,” Collina said.

“But it won’t be a post-match press conference for every match, explaining every single decision taken during every single match.”

More AP soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf