Americans Abroad Wrap: Guzan makes waves, Lichaj atop Championship

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(Cue big movie trailer voice) In a world… where Aron Johannsson and Terrence Boyd are recovering from injuries and Juan Agudelo is searching for a new club, which American players plying their trades overseas can provide us with goals and/or excitement in the Americans Abroad Wrap each week?

Ale Bedoya put two shots on frame in a full day’s worth of work, but neither he nor his Nantes teammates scored, meaning Radamel Falcao’s headed goal was enough to give visiting AS Monaco a 1-0 win at La Beaujoire. Nantes sits midtable with a tricky match-up looming next Saturday against Montpellier.

To the Premier League, where Jozy Altidore put up a strong 13 minutes in relief for Sunderland. He couldn’t find a goal but was effective in the counterattack as the Black Cats drew Manchester United 1-1.

Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan became the first Villa keeper since 1999 to boast shutouts in his first two matches, saving the scoreless draw late with a stinging save of Newcastle’s Siem de Jong.

[ RELATED: Guzan hails Villa’s new-look defense after successive clean sheets ]

Tim Howard did not have a great day for the Toffees, as Everton sacrificed a 2-0 lead to visiting Arsenal. The 2-2 draw mirrors the scoreline from opening day against Leicester City.

Stoke City might want to figure out what they are doing with or without mainstay Geoff Cameron. The allegedly-unsettled back played nearly every minute for the Potters in last season’s surprising run to the top half, and hasn’t played yet as Stoke have a solitary point to start the season. This weekend, it was 1-1 at Hull.

Fulham whiz kid Emerson Hyndman did not play as the Cottagers miserable start to life in the Championship continued with a 5-1 loss to Derby County. Hyndman was on the bench but unused by Felix Magath in the blowout.

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Ream

Tim Ream’s Bolton Wanderers are struggling, pulling just one point through four matches. Their latest effort had 90 minutes of the American defender, but Bolton fell 2-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Birmingham City has five points through four matches after a 1-1 draw against Brentford, with American back Jonathan Spector going 90 minutes as usual for Brum. Birmingham was up a man for 75 minutes of the match but couldn’t pull a winner.

Eric Lichaj was a halftime addition for Nottingham Forest, which blasted atop the Championship in a 4-0 win over Reading. The defender made a key goal line stop for the Reds.

Americans didn’t feature much in the Bundesliga, as Julian Green, Timmy Chandler and John Anthony Brooks were unused substitutes on opening weekend. Bayern won 2-1 over Wolfsburg on Friday, while Chandler’s Eintracht Frankfurt beat SC Freiburg 1-0, while Brooks’ Hertha Berlin drew Werder Bremen 2-2.

[ RELATED: Green makes bench for Bayern’s Bundesliga opener ]

Fabian Johnson enjoyed the 73rd minute this week. After giving an assist for Borussia Monchengladbach at that minute in the Europa League on Thursday — he started and they won 3-2 over Sarajevo — Johnson came off the bench at that point in a 1-1 draw against Stuttgart in the club’s Bundesliga opener over the weekend.

Mix Diskerud went 90 minutes for Rosenborg as they beat Sarpsborg 2-0 in Norwegian play.

Sacha Kljestan did not play as Belgian power Anderlecht stayed in first place with a 1-0 win over Waasland-Beveren that was described as “weak” by the club’s web site.

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

[ MORE: Ronaldo wins Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Atlanta hosts Crew, Whitecaps take on Earthquakes

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34 rounds of MLS action are in the books, and now the real fun is set to begin this week.

The MLS Cup Playoffs have arrived, and 12 teams are firmly in the running to hoist a trophy in December.

[ MORE: PST talks to Justin Meram ahead of the Crew’s playoff run ]

While Toronto FC, New York City FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will each have the opportunity to watch the first round from their homes, the action all starts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s a look at what to expect when the knockout round begins.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Fire were one of the most intriguing stories for much of the regular season, but Veljko Paunovic’s side enters the postseason limping. Lucky for them, the Red Bulls have been just as inconsistent throughout the course of 2017 — which already saw Jesse Marsch’s club lose in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Paunovic and Co. have lost eight of their last 15 matches, which doesn’t bode well entering the home stretch of the schedule. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have won just two of their last 10 matches. The Harrison side should be well-rested though for Wednesday’s encounter after starting a mostly second-tier squad in Sunday’s season finale against D.C. United.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Whitecaps looked to be a sure-fire club destined for a bye in the first round, but things didn’t fall their way on Decision Day. Now, Carl Robinson’s side faces an Earthquakes side that is simply unpredictable.

The Quakes have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference when it comes to acquiring points — holding eight in points 17 matches. However, Chris Leitch has instilled a new-found belief amongst the squad that gives the California side a puncher’s chance.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew — Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

These two sides haven’t met since July 1, so all bets are off about these teams knowing one another. Since that point, Atlanta and Columbus have been two of the hottest sides in MLS and the former moved into a new stadium — which has given opposing sides quite the difficult time.

In their last 10 matches combined, the clubs boast just one loss, which Atlanta suffered at home against Minnesota United. There’s no reason not to expect a great one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Peter Vermes’ Sporting KC side enters the playoffs winless in their last five, while their counterparts are unbeaten in six. The MLS postseason is often about which team is in the best form at the right particular moment, and right now, it doesn’t look like Sporting KC has luck on their side.

It’s also hard to not pay attention to the fact that the Dynamo have lost just once at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, which came on September 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

Carabao Cup preview: Man City hosts Wolves, Chelsea meets Everton

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All eyes will remain on the 11 Premier League sides left in this season’s Carabao Cup, but could a potential upset(s) shake the balance of power in the competition?

Norwich City and Leeds United will be among the teams seeking an upset in the tournament as they take on Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively, on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Meanwhile, fresh off of Ronald Koeman‘s sacking, Everton must regroup quickly when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea. The Toffees have taken just eight points in their first nine PL matches, leaving the Merseyside club in the relegation zone.

The Blues are aiming for their sixth League Cup title this season, while Manchester United could also achieve the same feat with the crown.

Here’s the slate of matches for the Carabao Cup Round of 16.

Tuesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Leicester City vs. Leeds United
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wednesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Chelsea vs. Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.