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.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

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

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia