Americans Abroad Preview: Howard looks for bounceback vs Manchester United

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After their massively disappointing loss midweek that left Everton once again chasing Arsenal for the final Champions League spot, Tim Howard and the Toffees are hoping to turn things around.

They’ll have to do so against a resurgent Manchester United team that’s won three of its last four Premier League matches.  A point behind the Gunners without their game in hand, they’ll need Arsenal to drop points if Howard wishes to play in Europe’s top competition next season.

Elsewhere across England’s top flight, Jozy Altidore‘s struggles are starting to make Jurgen Klinsmann nervous, as Sunderland has to go to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.

(MORE: Premier League Preview – Chelsea vs Sunderland)

Brad Guzan‘s Aston Villa still hasn’t secured Premier League status for next season, although their poor form recently still has a long way to go to be in any serious trouble. Villa hosts Southampton who is coming off a bad loss to Cardiff City.

Stoke City, meanwhile, are flying high and Geoff Cameron continues to be at the forefront of their success. The Potters take on Cardiff tomorrow featured on NBCSN.

WATCH ALL PREMIER LEAGUE GAMES LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Americans in the Championship are dwindiling in numbers as injuries continue to pick people off one by one.  Those still standing include Danny Williams who’s Reading sits just a point outside the final playoff spot.  They have three matches left to make up that deficit, but must wait until Tuesday for their first crack 12th-placed Middlesbrough.

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Oguchi Onyewu (right) has been getting good minutes with Sheffield Wednesday, despite their relatively leaky defense.

Sheffield Wednesday are safe, and that leaves Oguchi Onyewu with little to play for – at least as far as the club is concerned. But he will continue his search for a very outside shot at this year’s World Cup, playing the full 90 in eight of the club’s last 10 games.

However, Oguchi’s defense has given up nine goals in the last three games he’s started. They take on Tim Ream‘s Bolton Saturday, who has little to play for, mired in the middle of the Championship table.

Huddersfield are not yet mathematically safe, but with three matches to go their seven-point cushion appears fine.  They get Yeovil Town on Monday, and Duane Holmes will look for playing time, as he was an unused sub in their loss to Derby last week.

The Eredivisie is off this weekend, and as such so are Aron Johannsson and Juan Agudelo.

Sacha Kljestan waits until Monday for Anderlecht to take the pitch, on the road at Racing Genk where a win could see them pull within three of second-place Club Brugge, if they were to fall to leaders Standard Liege.  After playing nearly all Anderlecht’s minutes through 2013, Kljestan’s had trouble finding the pitch in 2014, playing just 225 minutes in their last 12 matches.

Nantes are not mathematically guaranteed Ligue 1 safety, but with five matches left they would need an epic collapse to find themselves relegated, especially if Ale Bedoya continues his good form. He’s getting lots of minutes and scored his fourth goal of the season two matches ago. They take on relegation candidates Valenciennes on Sunday.

Down south, Puebla are desperately hoping to avoid Liga MX relegation as they take on Pachuca on Saturday with DaMarcus Beasley one of their few bright spots. They remain bottom of the Clausura table, but sit above Atlante by five points on the relegation average table.  Hercules Gomez, Edgar Castillo,and Joe Corona lead Tijuana on the road at Atlante on Sunday looking to do their Puebla buddies a favor.

Fabian Johnson travels with Hoffenheim to Werder Bremen Saturday hoping to secure their top-ten status in the Bundesliga. Johnson’s played the full 90 minutes in five straight matches, in which Hoffenheim have lost exactly none of.

John Anthony Brooks made a stupid and got a massive back tattoo, keeping him out of this weekend’s Hertha BSC fixture with Augsburg.  Things like that are becoming a problem, after German media told Brooks back in December he needs to “become an adult” aka grow up.

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

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Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.