AZ Alkmaar v FC Slovan Liberec - UEFA Europa League Round of 32

Americans Abroad Review: Cameron aids Stoke shock, Johannsson brilliant as usual

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The busiest Yanks were in England, though Holland saw Aron Johannsson’s star continue to rise and Stu Holden suffered another setback. Let’s dive right into this weeks Americans Abroad Review.

Jozy Altidore had even less reason to enjoy his club’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final, as the American striker was left out of the Match Day 18 altogether. While he’s been lauded for his work holding up the ball, his lack of proficiency as a striker is alarming for US and Sunderland fans alike.

Tim Howard picked up his 10th clean sheet of the season, but first in a month and a half, as Everton stymied West Ham by a 1-0 score at Goodison Park. The 10 shutouts match his total last season.

Brad Guzan didn’t keep it tidy early, allowing a Wes Hoolahan goal in the third minute thanks in large part to poor marking from his defense. But Aston Villa roared back with Christian Benteke leading Guzan’s Villans to a 4-1 win and moving them even closer to safety.

What else can be said about Geoff Cameron at Stoke City? As steady as you’d like, Cameron played 90 minutes in the back as the Potters shocked Arsenal 1-0. Cameron has now played the duration of all but one Premier League match for Stoke this season.

By the time Brek Shea subbed on for Barnsley in the 55th minute of their derby match against Huddersfield Town, the Tykes were down 3-0. It didn’t get any better with the blonde-haired speedster in the lineup, as Barnsley fell 5-0 and dropped in a precarious 23rd place in the Championship. And then… there’s the matter of his alleged obscene gesture toward his own team’s supporters.

Danny Williams played 90 in the back for Reading as they pulled to within a point of sixth-place Wigan in their fight for a spot in the Championship playoffs by drawing Duane Holmes (73 minutes) and Yeovil Town. Nottingham Forest was beaten soundly by Wigan, 4-1, and Eric Lichaj came out of the game with injury.

Birmingham City fell to Ipswich Town by a 1-0 margin, but Yank defenders Will Packwood and Jonathan Spector each played the entire contest, with Spector picking up a yellow card for a bad foul. Oguchi Onyewu played a strong match for Sheffield Wednesday in its 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Tim Ream also got 90 for Bolton, and almost opened the scoring with a header in the 4th minute before the Wanderers cruised to a 4-0 win over Blackburn. The Wanderers are now nine points out of the relegation zone, but the trouble more Americans will be concerned with has to do with Stu Holden. He suited up for Bolton’s U-21s on Monday in an attempt to comeback from his myriad injuries… and left after 22 minutes with an apparent knee injury.

Aron Johannsson was your proverbial man on a mission in AZ Alkmaar’s match against RKC Waalwijk. He upped his assists to 14 on the season by picking up two in the match. While he didn’t add to his goal total of 25, Johannsson was credited with attempting seven shots. Yes, seven. Altidore beware. This was all on the heels of playing 74 minutes in the Europa League tie against Slovan Liberec… so he’s got that whole “valuable” thing going for him.

Staying in the Eredivisie, FC Utrecht kept Juan Agudelo as an unused substitute in its 1-1 draw with Twente. In Belgium, Sacha Kljestan also didn’t play after making the bench for Anderlecht in a 2-0 win over Genk.

It’s two goals in three matches for Terrence Boyd, though the tally came in Rapid Vienna’s 6-3 loss to Red Bull Salzburg. Boyd played 62 minutes in the loss. Ale Bedoya played 67 minutes in Nantes 2-0 defeat at Evian, while Jermaine Jones finally got on the pitch Besiktas, playing 58 minutes in the Turkish club’s scoreless draw against Antalyaspor.

It wasn’t as busy as usual for Yanks in Germany as Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler continue to fight injuries. Fabian Johnson played the first 87 minutes for Hoffenheim in its 6-2 win against Wolfsburg, and was at right back yet again. John Anthony Brooks did not play for Hertha Berlin in a 0-0 home draw with Freiberg.

Last but not least: watch DaMarcus Beasley turns on the jets to score Puebla’s winner this weekend.

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)
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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