Americans Abroad Preview: Guzan, Howard face tests; Bundesliga opens

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There’s a near-full slate of matches involving Americans in England, Germany, France, Norway and Serbia this weekend, so let’s dig right into it.

If Everton and Tim Howard had trouble keeping Leicester out of the net, wait til they get a load of new-look Arsenal on Sunday. Fortunately for the Toffees, their opponents faced a tough UEFA Champions League playoff tie at Besiktas earlier this week and could be ripe for the taking at Goodison Park.

New American No. 1 goalkeeper, at least for this year, Brad Guzan will get Villa Park behind him as Aston Villa looks to go 2-0 to start the season with a win against Newcastle United. The Magpies looked decent but lacked finish in a 2-0 loss versus Manchester City last weekend.

[ RELATED: Tim Howard taking a break from US international duty ]

[ RELATED: Sunderland manager says Jozy Altidore’s ‘happiest he’s ever been ]

Jozy Altidore subbed on moments before his Black Cats found their equalizer against West Brom last week, and now host wounded Manchester United on Sunday at 11am ET. Geoff Cameron is unlikely to feature for Stoke City when they travel to Hull City on Sunday as his future remains in question.

Down in the Championship, defender Tim Ream and Bolton will look to pick up their first win of the season when they travel to face Brighton and Hove Albion. American whiz kid Emerson Hyndman and Fulham head to American-owned Derby County in an attempt to avoid the dubious distinction of becoming the first group of Cottagers to lose their first four matches since 1956.

Birmingham’s pair of US defenders, Jonathan Spector and Will Packwood, are off to Brentford, while Duane Holmes and Huddersfield Town are off to Ipswich Town.

Off to Germany, where Julian Green has been named in the Bundesliga’s “Top 20 under 20” to watch this season. Bayern Munich opens with Wolfsburg later today.

John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin open up with Werder Bremen in an early Saturday fixture, while Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timmy Chandler duels with Freiburg.

source: Getty ImagesFabian Johnson (right) and new club Borussia Monchengladbach have to wait til Sunday to start, when they’ll take on Stuttgart. Johnson started at right back for Monchengladbach in the Europa League win over FK Sarajevo on Thursday night, so whether he’ll feature on Sunday is in question.

Over in France, Nantes midfielder Ale Bedoya has started a game and subbed into the second as the Canaries have taken points from their first two fixtures. Now they’ll face a stiff test with Monaco on Sunday.

Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg need a Sunday win against Sarpsborg to keep the pressure on the three teams ahead of them, while Bob Bradley, Michael Stephens and Andrew Jacobson look to get back in the win column with a tough match against Stromsgodset.

Freddy Adu’s Jagodina are close to the relegation zone in Serbia… two games in. They’ll face last place Radnički Niš on Saturday.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.