How the U.S. players fared in the 2013-14 Premier League season

6 Comments

As we continue our extensive review of the Premier League season, it is time to switch our attentions to Americans in the PL.

Throughout the 2013-14 PL campaign we have all been keeping an extremely close eye on the performances of the U.S. national team stars plying their trade in the English top-flight, as the World Cup in Brazil is just around the corner.

FULL COVERAGE: Premier League season review

Four USMNT players played regularly for PL teams and enjoyed contrasting fortunes throughout the season.

Here’s a look at how your American heroes performed in the PL this year, as we mark them out of 10.

Jozy Altidore – Sunderland

Oh, Jozy. It has been a season of struggle at Sunderland for the USA’s main striker. A regular under Paolo Di Canio at the start of the season, Altidore’s $11 million pricetag seemed to be weighing him down in the early stages as Sunderland scrapped around at the bottom of the standings. Low on confidence and in a team that failed to carve out regular scoring chances, life hasn’t been ideal for Alitdore at the Stadium of Light. When new boss Gus Poyet arrived Altidore has been in and out of the team and has scored just one PL goal in 31 appearances this season. However later in the campaign he often came off the bench to give the Black Cats plenty of energy and a real target up top, while I watched him live in Sunderland 3-0 derby win over Newcastle in February and his hold up play was superb. Will the 24-year-old attacker move on this summer? Let’s wait and see. Not a dream start to life back in the PL for Altidore.

Mark: 4/10

Geoff Cameron – Stoke City

A fantastic season for Cameron at Stoke City, as the 28-year-old was the Potters’ first-choice right back for the entire campaign. Cameron, in just his second season at Stoke, has now racked up 73 appearances for the Midlands club and is a fan favorite at the Britannia Stadium. His versatility is key and he can slot into central midfield or play as a center back whenever the team needs him to. Stoke finished the campaign in their highest-ever PL position of ninth as Cameron played an integral part in a stellar season which saw him often bombing on from right back and whipping in plenty of delightful crosses. He is in top form going into the World Cup and even added two goals this season to his name. Will Klinsmann play him at right back, center back or midfield this summer? Wherever Cameron plays, he’ll do a great job.

Mark: 8/10

 

source: Getty Images
Howard had a wonderful season for Everton.

Brad Guzan – Aston Villa

Is there another ‘keeper in the PL who gets more reps than Brad Guzan at Aston Villa? I don’t think so. Guzan has been incredibly busy once again and has kept Villa in plenty of games this season on their way to yet another successful battle against relegation. There were a few small slip ups here and there but for the most part Guzan put in another solid year in his second-straight season as Villa’s first-choice ‘keeper. 110 stops for Guzan this season, who continues to push Tim Howard all the way.

Mark: 7/10

Tim Howard – Everton

What a great year for the USMNT veteran, on and off the field. Howard helped Everton to a fifth-placed finished and a record points tally in the PL as they took the league by storm with an attractive style of play. Off the field Howard joined NBC’s Premier League coverage regularly as a color commentator and also signed a lucrative new deal with Everton that will take him up to his retirement. Howard made 111 saves, fifth most in the PL, and kept 15 clean sheets which was the second best total in the PL. His standout performance came against Arsenal at the Emirates when Everton drew 1-1 and their goal was bombarded with efforts that Howard kept out.

Mark: 8/10

Best of the rest…

It is hard to give the following guys a mark because they didn’t play in any Premier League matches, but young U.S. stopper Cody Cropper was on the bench several times for Southampton and is making a name for himself down on the South Coast as Klinsmann has called him up to the full USMNT squad. Brek Shea is still waiting to break through at Stoke but he looked useful in brief appearances in friendlies for the U.S. and also had a short spell on loan with Championship side Barnsley.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

Pete Christopher/The Oregonian via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

Photo by Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.