Terrence Boyd, Benjamin Luethi

Americans Abroad Review: Four Yanks score as Kljestan catches fire, Boyd’s left hammers


Due to the FA Cup weekend and a handful of injuries to the Yanks playing overseas and South of the border, there weren’t as many chances to watch Americans do their thing this weekend.

The goals per appearance rate was pretty high, however, as four Americans danced on scoresheets in the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Austria.

Aron Johannsson continued to give Eredivisie defenses nightmares of the darkest variety, as he scored his 22nd goal across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar in a 1-1 draw against FC Utrecht. On-loan Juan Agudelo played 74 minutes for Utrecht and was unable to manager a shot on frame. Arguments against a healthy Johannsson heading to Brazil seem futile.

Sacha Kljestan was the second American to score overseas this weekend, as his headed goal lead Anderlecht past Mons at home by a 2-0 score. He later added an assist to complete his involvement on all Purple & White goals. Check both out here:

There were two other goal scorers for America this weekend, as Danny Williams opened the scoring for Reading with a free header in their 3-1 win over QPR and Terrence Boyd scored on his return for Austria’s Rapid Wien. Boyd ripped a left-footer off in traffic just inside the 18 for his 13th of the year, but it turned out to be a consolation tally in a 2-1 loss.

Jozy Altidore got the day off in Sunderland’s 1-0 win in the fifth round of the FA Cup, and wasn’t even stressed with an appearance on the bench. Tim Howard was on the bench for Everton’s 3-1 win over Swansea and was not needed.

Fabian Johnson played all 90 minutes at right back for Hoffenheim, as he returned from injury to help his club to a 4-1 win over Stuttgart. The usual left back opened the eyes of many of our readers who followed Richard Farley’s lead in wondering, “Could Johnson be the US left back for the World Cup?”

JPW laid out Freddy Adu’s trial at Blackpool and his hopes of re-entering Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT plans. Jermaine Jones is a little bit closer to making his on-loan debut for Besiktas, as he continues to heal from a groin injury.

In France, Ale Bedoya played 90 minutes for Nantes in a scoreless draw at Nice.

MLSSoccer.com provided a solid recap of the Yanks playing in Liga MX this weekend, including DaMarcus Beasley playing further up the field and some kind words for Michael Orozco Fiscal.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.