Americans Abroad Preview: Jozy in the Capital One Cup Final

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It’s a big weekend for Jozy Altidore and Sunderland. A memorable one for sure.

The Black Cats look to become the second club in two years to upset Manchester City in the Capitol One Cup at Wembley, following Wigan’s lead from last year.

With Manchester City first-choice keeper Joe Hart set to miss out on duty between the sticks for the favorites, Altidore could look to capitalize and give his club its first major trophy since 1973.

Because of the Capital One Cup final as well as the FA Cup quarterfinals next weekend, Altidore’s Black Cats do not have another Premier League fixture scheduled until March 15.

However, other Americans across the Premier League will feature this weekend, including Tim Howard in goal for Everton against West Ham at Goodison Park on Saturday, and Brad Guzan‘s Aston Villa hosting Norwich City on Sunday.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City have a tough fixture, hosting Arsenal on Saturday, while Clint Dempsey‘s loan at Fulham has mercifully ended. He will play in USMNT friendly against Ukraine (if it ends up happening).  If he does play, he will most likely only be in a reserve role for the Sounders in their opener March 8.

In the English Championship, major news out of Bolton has Stuart Holden playing in a U-21 match for the first time on his way back from an ACL tear (more on that later). Tim Ream will most likely feature for the senior side as they host Blackburn.

Brek Shea will look to return to the Barnsley starting lineup, against Huddersfield on Saturday. After starting in four of his first five matches with the club, he has been subbed off at halftime, sat a match, then used off the bench. Part of that could have something to do with the addition of Emmanuel Frimpong at Oakwell.

Freddy Adu failed to secure a contract with an unimpressive trial at Blackpool.

In the Eredivisie, Juan Agudelo has just one goal for FC Utrecht as they battle relegation, hosting 2nd-place Twente this weekend.  They won for the first time since December 18 this past weekend. Meanwhile, Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar are looking to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Ajax as they welcome RKC Waalwijk to AFAS Stadion.

The Bundesliga list of Americans, at least for now, includes a fun new name, as Julian Green chose to train with the USMNT ahead of their (possible) friendly with Ukraine.  Elsewhere, Fabian Johnson has helped Hoffenheim to four points since his return, and figures to be in the mix as they take on Wolfsburg on Sunday. After a good start to the season, John Anthony Brooks continues to ride the bench at Hertha BSC.

Jermaine Jones was unable to feature for Besiktas last weekend against Galatasaray despite his best wishes, but he made his debut today, starting and playing 58 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Antalyaspor.

Anderlecht are still chasing the second spot in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League, and Sacha Kljestan continues to play a major part. With three matches left in the season, they take on sixth-place Genk on Sunday.

MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 3-1 Real Salt Lake (video)

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (37) congratulates forward Alan Gordon (9) for scoring against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of a knockout round MLS playoff soccer match in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are through to the conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they’ll take on the Colorado Rapids beginning Sunday, for the seventh time in eight years with a 3-1 knockout-round triumph over Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Alan Gordon put the home side ahead inside the first quarter-hour before RSL drew level seven minutes later, but Emmanuel Boateng bagged a quickfire brace to complete a pair of brilliant individual exhibitions of dribbling inside the penalty area. With Steven Gerrard unavailable and Robbie Keane only fit to feature off the bench, Bruce Arena turned to Gordon, who gave way to Keane early in the second half after picking up an injury of his own, to play the fulcrum of the Galaxy attack, and it worked to near-perfection during the opening half-hour. Landon Donovan started the game and played 87 minutes, providing the kind of defensive work rate that’s been missing up and down the flanks of LA all season. Sebastian Lletget put in a near-flawless passing performance while playing deep in midfield. Don’t look now, but those are the Galaxy’s biggest question of 2016, all just about answered as the playoffs begin. I won’t say, “I told you so” if/when they win MLS Cup 2016, but…

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

14′ — Gordon finishes from close range for 1-0 — Landon Donovan -> Giovani dos Santos -> Alan Gordon. Just like Bruce Arena drew it up in preseason midseason last month this week this morning.

21′ — Plata converts from the spot after Morales’ dive — Javier Morales was angling for a penalty from the moment he entered the penalty area. All Emmanuel Boateng had to do was look at him, and Morales was going down.

26′ — Boateng weaves through to make it 2-1 — Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Boateng took advantage of some poor defending, and the Galaxy were back in the lead.

34′ — Boateng cuts inside, blows past his man, makes it 3-1 — There’s playing in top gear, and there’s having an extra gear that you rarely have to use because no one else on the field has it. Boateng falls into the latter category.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Emmanuel Boateng

Goalscorers: Gordon (14′), Plata (21′), Boateng (26′, 34′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): 10 years later, Toronto FC are MLS Cup Playoffs victors. For eight seasons, the playoffs eluded them altogether. Last year, they were one-and-done in embarrassing fashion at the hands of their local rivals. In 2016, it was  their year — a proclamation we’d heard plenty times before — and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Union in the knockout round gets the monkey off the Reds’ back, but more importantly, afforded Sebastian Giovinco, who bagged a goal and an assist on the night (his second straight game with such a line), 90 more minutes of game time after missing more than a month through injuries as the regular season wound down. After 270 minutes of action, the Atomic Ant looks sharp as ever, and destined to terrorize New York City FC, whom TFC will face in the conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

15′ — Atlidore feeds Giovinco for 1-0 — The first playoff goal in TFC’s 10-year history. Poor goalkeeping, ball-watching defending, terrible touches, an overhead cross, and a strike off the crossbar. There’s a lot going on here. Watch it all right here.

49′ — Osorio slams home from the corner for 2-0 — The Union have been bad at defending set pieces all season, so is it at all surprising a set-piece gaffe effectively ended their season? No, it’s not.

73′ — Bedoya puts the loose ball home for 2-1 — Speaking of failing to effectively clear a corner kick, the Union were gifted a lifeline 15 minutes before full-time.

85′ — Altidore puts it out of reach, seals it for TFC — Ken Tribbet did not have the best night a center back has ever seen. His final blunder resulted in Jozy Altidore reclaiming TFC’s two-goal lead, and ending the Union’s 2016 season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (15′), Osorio (49′), Bedoya (73′), Altidore (85′)

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

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VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]