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Americans Abroad Review: Guzan blanks Chelsea, Cameron steady again

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The Yanks went unbeaten in the Premier League, while there was an assist in the Bundesliga, an own goal in the Championship and plenty of bench time for Americans in Europe this weekend.

Brad Guzan is going to be extra popular this week in Birmingham after he kept a clean sheet in Aston Villa’s 1-0 upset of Chelsea at Villa Park. Guzan was saved from a not-so-good goal that hit him twice on the way in when it was adjudged that Nemanja Matic handled the ball before shooting.

Geoff Cameron made it 22-straight Premier League matches playing all 90 minutes for Stoke City as the Potters made it three in a row with points in a 3-1 win over West Ham. Stoke’s 34 points give them a lot of room for exhalation with a 9-point cushion above No. 18 Sunderland.

There were only two saves required of Tim Howard as Everton held the play against Cardiff City en route to a 2-1 win. With Spurs stumbling, the Toffees are in the driver’s seat for fifth place in the PL. Everton is two points back of No. 5 Tottenham, but have played two less matches.

Jozy Altidore subbed on at half for Sunderland, as an effective Steven Fletcher was forced to leave with an injury. The Black Cats controlled the ball in the second half and Altidore was a part of that, but he — and they — couldn’t finish one off as Sunderland stayed in the drop zone with a 0-0 draw (though admittedly their path out is rather favorable for a relegation-scrapping squad).

There was plenty of American excitement down a division in the Championship, where all matches were played on Saturday. All three Yanks featuring in Sheffield Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Birmingham Cityplayed 90 minutes, with Oguchi Onyewu coming out on the winning end. Jonathan Spector played the entire match for Birmingham, while Will Packwood had an own goal for the visitors.

Yeovil Town fell to QPR 3-0 and Duane Holmes was pulled off after 29 minutes due to injury and a “lack of impact.” Tim Ream watched as Bolton fell 2-0 to Brighton despite his full game’s work, while Danny Williams was left off the team sheet entirely for Reading’s 0-0 draw with Derby County. Reading remains a point out of the playoffs, while Yeovil Town is three points away from safety and Bolton is a comfortable 11 points ahead of the drop.

Nearly a half-dozen Americans played in the Liga MX match between Cruz Azul and Tijuana, won by the home team 2-1. Herculez Gomez subbed off, while Paul Arriola picked up a yellow card and an assist in the loss. Edgar Castillo played the entire loss, while Alejandro Guido started fed Arriola before the assist. MLSSoccer.com points out that 17-year-old Fernando Arce Jr. was born in the States, and he made his debut for Tijuana.

Jose Torres‘ Tigres club beat the Puebla side of DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco by a 1-0 score.

Juan Agudelo has now gone five matches without a shot on goal after his hot start at FC Utrecht, though by some accounts he was steady in playing the duration of a 2-2 draw with lower-table NEC. Also in the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson subbed off after 60 minutes in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 loss at FC Twente. Johannsson had played 90 minutes just three days prior with a goal in the Europa League win over Anzhi.

Anderlecht unloaded a 4-0 decision on KV Oostende, as Sacha Kljestan played the whole match for the winners, while former DC United player Andy Najar (Honduras) scored. Terrence Boyd went 90 in SK Rapid Wien’s 1-0 win over SV Josko Ried. Vienna is now a point back of second place but 18 back of first place FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Ale Bedoya found himself on the bench for all of Nantes’ impressive 0-0 away draw to Lille, while Jermaine Jones didn’t play for Besiktas in its disappointing 2-2 draw against Caykur Rizespor.

Fabian Johnson picked up an assist for Hoffenheim in a 4-2 loss to Mainz, though his assist put them in front 2-1. John Anthony Brooks didn’t play as Hertha Berlin were embarrassed 3-0 at home by Hannover 96.

Too early for Guardiola to concede Premier League title?

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Pep Guardiola suffered his worst-ever league defeat as a manager on Sunday as Manchester City were hammered 4-0 at Everton in the Premier League.

Post-game he was understandably glum.

[ MORE: Klopp slams United ]

Guardiola even appeared to concede the Premier League title, as the preseason favorites for the crown have now fallen 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go.

When asked if City’s title hopes were over after a fifth defeat of the season, the Spaniard’s answer was emphatic.

“Yes. Ten is a lot of points,” Guardiola said. “The second one [Tottenham] is three points. We have to see. I spoke to my players the last three weeks or a month, forget about the table. Focus on the next game and try to do our best to win the games and after that at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how our level and performance was — how was the coach, how was the players and after we are going to decide.”

It seems like Guardiola has already decided that the title race is over for City, but has he thrown in the towel too early?

With just five points separating second-place Tottenham with sixth-place Manchester United, it appears City’s primary focus will now be to finish in the top four as a mammoth battle ensues in the final third of the season.

Yet, we have seen some miraculous comebacks from teams in the past to win the title. These stats could give Pep hope.

In the 1997-98 season, Arsenal were 12 points behind United after 21 games of the season (United had played a game more) but roared back to win the PL by one point. And of course, City’s two PL crowns came courtesy of stunning late surges in the season with thanks to Sergio Aguero’s magic on the final day in 2011-12 and then Liverpool’s collapse in the closing weeks of 2013-14.

Pep, don’t lost the faith. It can be done.

However, if City lose to Tottenham next weekend and Chelsea extend their lead over Pep’s boys to 13 points by beating Hull City, it is curtains.

Such is the dominance of the big boys this season, City pretty much have to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to have a shot at winning the PL. Given their recent defensive displays that seems unlikely.

We all know Pep is an idealist when it comes to how he wants his team to play but now we are seeing he is a realist too.

Conte urges players “money is not everything” amid Costa rumors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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While new reports are suggesting that China will have to curb its massive spending, Antonio Conte has urged his players that they don’t have to be tempted by the Chinese Super League.

[ MORE: United, Liverpool finish level after late Ibrahimovic equalizer ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League — seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool — but the club has recently been at the center of controversy as star striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move away from the club.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit number of foreign players per team ]

Costa missed his side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday after several outlets reported a rift between the Spaniard and Conte.

The Chelsea manager told reporters following the match that Costa wasn’t available due to a back injury he suffered in training, but there has been continued speculation that the 28-year-old could head to China.

Conte has made it clear to his squad though that the quality of competition in England supersedes the money offered abroad.

“The money is not everything,” Conte told reporters. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

“I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players.

The Blues have lost a number of high-profile players over recent seasons to the high spending of Chinese football, including Brazilian duo Oscar and Ramires, as well as John Obi Mikel.

Oscar departed Chelsea this month to join Shanghai SIPG for a reported $72 million.

“I have to look at the past,” Conte said. “Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

Report: Ian Harkes expected to sign with DC United

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D.C. United didn’t have a top 10 selection in the MLS SuperDraft, but the club is likely to end up with one of the most talented collegiate players in the game.

[ MORE: Robinson, Ebobisse headline latest U.S. U-20 roster ]

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United is expected to sign Wake Forest attacker Ian Harkes to a multi-year contract.

[ MORE: Galaxy keeper Rowe replaces Frei with USMNT ]

Harkes, 21, came up through D.C.’s academy system before playing all four years for the Demon Deacons. The midfielder has gained significant notoriety over his college career, which concluded with Hermann Trophy honors following his senior senior.

As a former member of the D.C. academy, Harkes didn’t have to declare for the SuperDraft and is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in the coming days.

Harkes has also been considering his options abroad, which included second-division sides in England, where he was born. Ian is the son of former U.S. Men’s National Team star John Harkes, who played both in the United States and England over his professional career.

Bayern Munich signs Suele and Rudy from Hoffenheim

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Sebastian Rudy of Germany controls the ball during the International Friendly Match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Milan, .  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic rescues draw for United against Liverpool ]

Bayern said Sunday on its website that Rudy – who is out of contract in the summer – has signed a three-year deal until 2020 while Suele has agreed a five-year deal until June 2022.

[ MORE: Morata to Chelsea? Dybala staying put? ]

“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”

The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.

“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”

Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.

The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.