Americans Abroad preview: League play before qualifier call-ups

3 Comments

Having already qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the United States’ last two qualifiers, against Jamaica and at Panama, have little important meaning. However, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann will likely use the opportunity to begin figuring out who will be on his squad next summer.

Due to injuries, the coach has delayed announcing his roster until after the weekend games. He can wait to see who is still in form and if anybody unexpectedly plays his way onto the team for a couple games.

(MORE: Americans Abroad – Full Archive)

Klinsmann has a vast number of Americans playing in other countries at his disposal. Here are a few whom fans on this side of the pond can watch this weekend:

ENGLAND

• Tim Howard and Everton take on Manchester City in the early Saturday Premier League match (7:45 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). The American No. 1 will look to stay sharp before what will likely be two more starts for his country.

• Stoke City, with Geoff Cameron likely in the back, travels to West London to play Fulham (Saturday, 9:45 a.m., NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). With the injuries in defense and midfield for the U.S., Cameron could play an important role against Jamaica and Panama.

• Aston Villa plays Hull City in a match that could see Brad Guzan be the least busy American goalkeeper in the league (Saturday, 9:45 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra). His performances so far have reminded fans (and Klinsmann and Howard) that the U.S. has more than one capable goalkeeper at its disposal.

• Jozy Altidore faces a reeling Manchester United side when Sunderland hosts the defending champion (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). A goal against one of the best clubs in the world would boost his confidence just in time to do it again on the international stage.

MEXICO

• Club Tijuana and its American contingent — Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Joe Corona, Herculez Gómez and Paul Arriola — host Querétaro on Friday night (10:25 p.m., ESPN Deportes). Gómez finally made his return from injury in league play, finding the field for 72 minutes and 31 minutes, respectively, against Club América and Puebla in the last week.

GERMANY

• Schalke 04 and Jermaine Jones host Augsburg on Saturday, with Schalke needing points to move up the table. It’s been a disappointing early season in the Bundesliga for the club, but a 1-0 Champions League win at FC Basel on Tuesday provided some optimism.

• Hoffenheim, with Fabian Johnson in tow, travels to Mainz to face a side that has lost its previous four league matches after winning its first three. Both Johnson and Jones played the majority of Hoffenheim and Schalke’s 3-3 draw last week.

FRANCE

• Alejandro Bedoya (pictured) and Nantes host Evian TG on Saturday, and another good game could see him earning some minutes for the national team next week. Bedoya came on in the 23rd minute on the left wing last week, after Vincent Bessat picked up a thigh injury, and he looks to be the likeliest candidate for a start at the position this time around.

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.

Whoops! Unai Emery puts up Arsenal message on web site

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal’s next manager is very close to being officially Unai Emery.

That is unless, the Gunners’ brass has its mind changed by his sloppy web savvy.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Emery — or his people, or hackers — mistakenly put up a graphic featuring the Spanish coach, the Arsenal logo, and the phrase “Proud to be a part of the Arsenal family” before taking it down in short order.

Emery is expected to take over for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium this summer. Something tells us we’ll have an announcement on Wednesday or even later tonight…

State TV: Ghana president orders arrest of FIFA executive

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday ordered police to arrest football federation head Kwesi Nyantakyi, a member of the powerful FIFA Council, over allegations of fraud.

Akufo-Addo’s order was announced by the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Abu Jinapor, deputy chief of staff at the president’s office, said the order for Nyantakyi to be arrested and investigated related to an undercover documentary that purports to show the football official asking businessmen for money in return for access to the president and other senior government officials.

“It was a clear case of defrauding by false pretense,” Jinapor said, adding that Akufo-Addo’s order came after he watched excerpts from the documentary, which has not yet been broadcast.

Nyantakyi is president of the Ghana Football Association, a vice president of the Confederation of African Football, and has been a member of the ruling FIFA Council since 2016. He was the FIFA official chosen to oversee the football competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ghanaian media reported that Nyantakyi was not in Ghana at the time of the president’s order but was returning home.

Nyantakyi has been accused of improper behavior before when a British media investigation just before the 2014 World Cup claimed he had been willing to allow the Ghana national team to play in games that could be fixed by others. He denied the allegation.

Premier League managerial power rankings

AP Photo/Jon Super
Leave a comment

There’s a new sheriff at West Ham United, and it’s no small-time boss.

Former Premier League champion manager Manuel Pellegrini is taking over the London side, which had us wondering how high he’d move up the acclaim ladder upon hiring (as of post time).

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

With the 20th spot still open — will it be Fulham or Aston Villa — the Arsenal and Everton jobs vacant for now, and both Neil Warnock and Nuno Espirito Santo yet to manage their clubs in the top flight, we rank the power status of the 15 other active Premier League bosses.

15. Javi Gracia, Watford — Manager don’t usually last long at Vicarage Road, and Gracia doesn’t have a record for sticking around clubs for too long himself.

14. Mark Hughes, Southampton — Saints stayed in the Premier League, and Hughes deserves credit for pushing the buttons on a talented squad.

13. Claude Puel, Leicester City — A disappointing finish to his season keeps Leicester outside the Europa League, and so he has a bit more to prove after an impressive reclamation job at the King Power Stadium.

12. David Wagner, Huddersfield Town — Keeping Town in the Premier League was impressive, but we’re not sure how much we learned about the long-term prognosis of Jurgen Klopp‘s best pal.

11. Chris Hughton, Brighton and Hove Albion — He’d led several clubs to Premier League promotion, and coaxed fine seasons out of what appeared to be a subpar defense at season’s open.

10. Eddie Howe, Bournemouth — One of the brightest young managerial minds, can he take the next step on the South Coast?

9. Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace — What he did upon inheriting and then overseeing one of the worst starts in Premier League history was nothing short of brilliant. Clearly he hasn’t stopped learning unlike many other PL “retreads.”

8. Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham — What will a few years outside the Premier League, if anything, have done to the one-time Man City leader. Don’t forget: The season City won the PL season, he coaxed 20-plus goal campaigns in all competitions from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo, and Yaya Toure.

7. Antonio Conte, Chelsea — Tactically and experience-wise, he’s so much higher on the list. Regardless of the mess at Chelsea, better was needed this season.

6. Sean Dyche, Burnley — Guiding tiny Burnley to the Europa League is as impressive a feat as any outside of what Guardiola did this year and Claudio Ranieri did at Leicester City.

— BONUS — 6b. Unai Emery, if hired at Arsenal —

5. Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United — Considering his resume, it shouldn’t be as surprising that he kept United up despite his owner refusing to green-light a real answer at center forward. Worked career years out of Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.

4. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool — The Champions League final says something, especially in a year he sold Philippe Coutinho, but his team still lacks the consistency of the three men in front of him.

3. Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur — Spurs have smartly spent and kept their stars around, but their financial outlay arguably should not have them consistently finishing ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

2. Jose Mourinho, Manchester United — Still a defensive marvel, still a genius, still somewhat hilarious… but we all know who No. 1 is…

  1. Pep Guardiola, Manchester City