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.


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.

Daniel Sturridge could return for Liverpool against Bordeaux

X during Liverpool FC training session at Melwood Training Ground on September 30, 2015 in Liverpool, England.
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it’s possible that Daniel Sturridge could return to the Liverpool lineup when the Reds host Bordeaux in Europa League action on Thursday.

Sturridge has made just three Premier League appearances this season due to multiple injuries, and has not played since a full 90 minutes against Everton on October 4. He is back in training, however, and was an unused substitute in the 4-1 win over Manchester City on the weekend.

“The best news at the moment is Daniel is getting closer and closer,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “He can train seven or eight times in a row which is the longest period since I’ve been here.”

Klopp was faced with a striker injury crisis at the start of his tenure at Anfield, but the options have slowly improved. The German was first forced to use Divock Origi in his first match in charge. He employed Roberto Firmino up front against Manchester City with great results, but said in his interview with the NBC Sports crew after the match that he had to continually remind Firmino to push forward into a striker role before the Brazilian eventually scored.

Christian Benteke was also among the substitutes against City, and now it appears Sturridge could be close to a return. Klopp said he will be a game-time decision tomorrow, but it sounds like he’s unlikely to play a full 90 minutes, whether he starts or not.

“My decision you will see but it is closer and that is very good,” Klopp said.

Reports: Jack Grealish banished to U-21’s after heavy partying

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25:  Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks around the Etihad Stadium prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on April 25, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Aston Villa youngster Jack Grealish has found himself in hot water with the club’s new manager, and it has him on the outside looking in.

According to reports from England, Grealish has been sent to train with the U-21’s after partying back-to-back nights following a 4-0 pummeling at Everton. Recent comments from Villa manager Remi Garde on Grealish’s on-field performances seem to suggest this has been coming for a while, and the partying was simply the last straw.

Garde called him an “unfinished player” in his press conference prior to the Everton match, saying, “Jack for me is a very gifted player with a lot of skill and quality but what I saw in the last few games he played was not the level he should have played. It is as simple as that. He needed more confidence and more structure in his game.”

Following the Everton defeat, which saw Grealish start and play 74 minutes before being removed, Grealish was pictured partying in Manchester, where he was seen inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons with his friends, the same act that got youngsters Raheem Sterling and Saido Berahino in trouble with their clubs in the past year.

The 20-year-old burst onto the scene last season registering some solid minutes down the stretch as Villa maintained its Premier League status. However, this season has been a rough go for Grealish, who has appeared in eight matches (nine starts) for Villa this season, all losses, and has scored just one goal. The five points earned by Aston Vill this season have all come in matches without Grealish making an appearance.

FC Twente president steps down amid investigation of transfer deals

ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 8: General view of the FC Twente Stadion, home of FC Twente taken during the UEFA Europa League group stage match between FC Twente and Levante UD held on November 8, 2012 at the FC Twente Stadion in Enschede, Netherlands. (Photo by Anoek de Groot/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
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Aldo Van der Laan, the President of Dutch club FC Twente, has stepped down after allegations of shady transfer dealings have surfaced.

This week, a website posted a contract dated 2014 between Van der Laan and Malta-based Doyen Sports Investments that saw a payment of $5.3 million from the company to the club in exchange for between 10 and 50 percent of the transfer rights to seven Twente players.

In a statement on its official website, the club said “Van der Laan has stated that the club is always of paramount importance to him, and that is now in jeopardy. Continuing doubt about him harms FC Twente.” The statement went on to say the Dutch federation (KNVB) is investigating, and that the club will cooperate.

FIFA outlawed third-party ownership of players to keep outside forces from influencing transfer deals. The alleged contract posted is dated before the FIFA ruling went into effect, but the KNVB has outlawed third-party ownership for a while.

According to Dutch reports, five of the seven players listed on the contract have already been sold, including current Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic. The contract states that the two remaining players, Shadrach Eghan (with the first team) and Kyle Ebecilio (on loan at Championship club Nottingham Forest) must be sold by the end of the season, or the club must pay a $1.48 million fine to Doyen.

Those same reports also suggest Twente is likely to see some form of sanction, with some serious possibilities including relegation, a large points deduction, or a transfer ban as long as two years.

UEFA orders Dynamo Kiev to close stadium doors for racist incidents

KIEV, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 19:  FC Dynamo Kyiv supporters during the UEFA Europa League group stage match between FC Dynamo Kyiv and KRC Genk held on September 19, 2013 at the Olympic Stadium, in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Genya Savilov/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
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UEFA handed down a two-match closed door ban to Dynamo Kiev after racist incidents during a Champions League match against Chelsea, with a third match suspended for three probationary years.

Anti-discrimation body Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) brought footage to UEFA of four black fans who appeared to be harassed in the stands at the match on October 20. UEFA charged Dynamo for racist behavior, crowd disturbances, and blocked stairways.

Dynamo was also fined €100,000 for the incidents.

As a result, Dynamo will play in an empty stadium on December 9 in a group stage match against Maccabi Tel Aviv, and their second match will either be in the Champions League Round of 16, or in the Europa League Round of 32 should they finish third in their group, which seems more likely.

Last season, Dynamo was punished by UEFA for racist behavior at Europa League matches, ordered to close part of their stadium on two separate occasions.