Americans Abroad Preview: European-based Americans back in action

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European-based Americans are back with their clubs following the 2-0 friendly loss to Ukraine.

With that in mind, let’s run down who is in action this weekend outside of the US, where Major League Soccer’s season is opening.

The Premier League has a variety of fixtures, with both league and FA Cup action in play this weekend.

Tim Howard and Everton have an early Cup date with Arsenal, a massive clash and a chance for Everton to deal Arsenal a second consecutive domestic blow after they fell to Geoff Cameron’s Stoke City in the league last weekend.

Cameron and the Black Cats are on the road this week, looking to follow up their shock upset over the Gunners with a result at Norwich City’s Carrow Road.

After being left out of the 18 altogether in their Capital One Cup final at Wembley, Jozy Altidore hopes to play a role in their FA Cup fixture at Hull City this weekend.

Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa are no longer in the Cup after being ousted by Sheffield United, but they also don’t have a Premier League fixture.  Their scheduled opponent for this week Manchester City is still in the competition, and therefore the bout was postponed.

Bolton’s Stuart Holden is back in the United States after suffering yet another knee injury just 23 minutes into his much-anticipated return, and will be out until tests can determine the extent of his new injury. Bolton travels to Leeds this weekend, and Tim Ream will continue to feature.

Brek Shea will look to put both his team’s disastrous performance and his own outburst behind him as Barnsley takes on promotion-hopefuls Nottingham Forest. Barnsley fell 5-0 to Huddersfield last weekend, and fan abuse caused Shea and a teammate to lash out after the match, which they later apologized for.

More Championship heads up:

  • 19-year-old Duane Holmes and his loan home Yeovil Town host Sheffield Wednesday and Oguchi Onyewu.
  • Birmingham City, with Will Packwood and Jonathan Spector at the back, host a downtrodden QPR following news that the London club faces massive debt totals.
  • Eric Lichaj will not feature on the Nottingham Forest teamsheet for at least a month following aggravation of a pelvic injury last weekend.

Aron Johannsson continues to light up the Eredivisie, and his club AZ Alkmaar 12th place SC Heracles Almelo a week after they picked apart RKC Waalwijk, with the American picking up a pair of assists.

Still just four points above the drop, FC Utrecht brings Juan Agudelo in tow to PSV Eindhoven.  He has not scored since Feburary 6th, and was benched last week against Twente.

Alejandro Bedoya hopes his club’s new 16-month transfer embargo won’t become a distraction, and they can get a result this weekend against last-place Ajaccio.

Rapid Vienna will hope Terrence Boyd can continue his scoring streak when they take on FC Wacker Triol. Boyd has two goals in three matches, and hopefully he’ll be back on track in his streaky season.

Sacha Kljestan returns to action with Anderlecht looking at an outside at catching Club Brugge in the Jupiler Pro League’s second slot.  They have two matches to do so, with OH Leuven first up this weekend.

No clean sheet, no cake for Leicester at Rainieri’s birthday party

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:  Leicester City mascot Filbert Fox is seen prior to the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at The King Power Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
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It’s a happy birthday celebration for Claudio Ranieri, though cake will be missing for Leicester City’s players.

The manager turned 65 on Thursday, and was ready to share some of his gigantic birthday cake with his players if they fulfilled his requirements on Saturday.

[ MORE: Match recap | Fuchs’ great goal ]

The Foxes picked up a comfortable-enough 3-1 win through Ahmed Musa, Christian Fuchs, and Shinji Okazaki, but Yohan Cabaye‘s late goal means no dessert.

“I said I would share my birthday cake in the dressing room if I got a clean sheet,” Ranieri joked to the BBC. “They clearly don’t want a piece.”

Ranieri also explained Jamie Vardy‘s bench place being down to squad rotation after a busy week — Leicester beat Copenhagen in the Champions League — and said Musa is about ready to kick on after an adjustment period in England.

Birthday-boy Wenger plans to drown sorrows after Arsenal draw

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor on October 2, 2016 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Arsene Wenger turned 67 on Saturday.

His Arsenal side didn’t reward him with the present of three wins as the Frenchman watched them labor to a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough.

[ MORE: Bradley’s Swans solid ]

The Gunners thought they’d snatch victory at the death but Mesut Ozil’s goal was offside and although they dominated possession, Middlesbrough looked dangerous on the break with Adam Traore, Alvaro Negredo and Gaston Ramirez all going close.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Wenger thought his Arsenal side looked a little bit tired following their 6-0 win in the UEFA Champions League at home against Ludogorets on Wednesday.

“It is a game where you had a lot of possession but there were tired legs and you are prone to counter-attacks. You make it difficult for yourself. 75% possession but you could have lost the game, that is modern football.  When you are not sharp, you lack creativity in the final third. I must say, we gave everything but we did not have the legs today.

“The energy levels were a bit down but we were intelligent enough not to lose it. We were exposed at times. When you cannot win, you must not lose. They had chances but our goalkeeper saved us today. Petr Cech had a good performance in decisive phases. We tried. You don’t win on command though. We lacked our creative potential around the box. That is part of it.”

He was also asked if he plans to have a drink to celebrate his birthday. Wenger’s response was classic…

“At least you can have a drink on your birthday. When you win you deserve it. When you don’t you need it,” Wenger said with a smile.

Regardless of a small slip up and an end to their six-game winning streak, Arsenal sits top of the Premier League on Saturday after the 10 a.m. ET games.

Surely that’s reason enough to have a few glasses of Champagne, Arsene?

Christian Fuchs’ bullet a highlight for Leicester City (video)

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Leicester City showed the class of champions on Saturday, improving its Premier League standing with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

The King Power Stadium saw some dicey late moments thanks to a Yohan Cabaye goal, but first got to celebrate an absolute stunner from an unlikely source.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

While Ahmed Musa and Shinji Okazaki goals are more encouraging signs for the Foxes’ attack, it was a scintillating bit of work from Christian Fuchs that really stoked the fire.

Fuchs came onto a ball with Leicester leading 2-0 and lashed his left football through the ball for a venomous volleyed goal.

Bob Bradley “disappointed” as solid Swansea fail to take chances

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 22:  Bob Bradley, Manager of Swansea City claps the fans prior to kick off during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Watford at the Liberty Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Bob Bradley got his first point as a Premier League manager on Saturday but the American coach knew it should’ve been more.

[ VIDEO: Pulisic’s late goal ]

Gylfi Sigurdsson hit the post and Mike Van der Hoorn produced a fine save from Hurelho Gomes as the Swans drew 0-0 with Watford at the Liberty Stadium in Bradley’s first home game in charge.

Making five changes to his Swansea City side which lost 3-2 at Arsenal last week, Bradley made the Swans much tougher to break down as Watford’s striking duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo barely had a sniff at goal.

Young center back Alfie Mawson impressed, as Bradley changed three of the back four who looked shaky at Arsenal last time out, and for most of the season.

Speaking to the BBC about the 0-0 draw, Bradley was happy with the second half display and Swansea’s first clean sheet in eight Premier League games.

“The second half was strong and we came out right from the beginning looking for a goal. It didn’t happen but there are a lot of positives. It was important to get a clean sheet and the play from our center halves was solid as Deeney and Ighalo are difficult to play against. This is a step we can build on,” Bradley said. “Alfie (Mawson) impressed and it is not a surprise when you see him day in, day out. He is strong, good in the air and I am very happy with him.”

“I think the team we picked today made sense, we had a solid game but we are disappointed. It is a home match so we want three points, but you see the chances we are creating and we can feel good and try to move in the right direction. There is disappointment for sure, but a shared feeling of an all-round good effort.”

If you look at the stats below, it suggests just how tight Bradley’s side was at the back, with the expected goals map showing a 0.4 rating for Watford.

We all know that Bradley will bring defensive solidity and improved organization but the fact that he has done it so quickly at Swansea will be a big bonus for the New Jersey native.

Bradley knows that the goals will come with Sigurdsson and Modou Barrow particularly dangerous, once again, but the main thing which will help the Swans climb up the table and away from the relegation zone is clean sheets and nicking wins.

With the next four games handing Bradley two tough matches and two winnable ones — they face Manchester United and Crystal Palace at home and Stoke City and Everton away — the Swans will look to keep it tight and take their chances when they come.

They didn’t do that on Saturday but the progress is clear for all to see. For a team who is without a win in eight PL games, they aren’t letting it impact their play as Bradley continues to whip them into shape.