Americans Abroad Review: Guzan blanks Chelsea, Cameron steady again

1 Comment

The Yanks went unbeaten in the Premier League, while there was an assist in the Bundesliga, an own goal in the Championship and plenty of bench time for Americans in Europe this weekend.

Brad Guzan is going to be extra popular this week in Birmingham after he kept a clean sheet in Aston Villa’s 1-0 upset of Chelsea at Villa Park. Guzan was saved from a not-so-good goal that hit him twice on the way in when it was adjudged that Nemanja Matic handled the ball before shooting.

Geoff Cameron made it 22-straight Premier League matches playing all 90 minutes for Stoke City as the Potters made it three in a row with points in a 3-1 win over West Ham. Stoke’s 34 points give them a lot of room for exhalation with a 9-point cushion above No. 18 Sunderland.

There were only two saves required of Tim Howard as Everton held the play against Cardiff City en route to a 2-1 win. With Spurs stumbling, the Toffees are in the driver’s seat for fifth place in the PL. Everton is two points back of No. 5 Tottenham, but have played two less matches.

Jozy Altidore subbed on at half for Sunderland, as an effective Steven Fletcher was forced to leave with an injury. The Black Cats controlled the ball in the second half and Altidore was a part of that, but he — and they — couldn’t finish one off as Sunderland stayed in the drop zone with a 0-0 draw (though admittedly their path out is rather favorable for a relegation-scrapping squad).

There was plenty of American excitement down a division in the Championship, where all matches were played on Saturday. All three Yanks featuring in Sheffield Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Birmingham Cityplayed 90 minutes, with Oguchi Onyewu coming out on the winning end. Jonathan Spector played the entire match for Birmingham, while Will Packwood had an own goal for the visitors.

Yeovil Town fell to QPR 3-0 and Duane Holmes was pulled off after 29 minutes due to injury and a “lack of impact.” Tim Ream watched as Bolton fell 2-0 to Brighton despite his full game’s work, while Danny Williams was left off the team sheet entirely for Reading’s 0-0 draw with Derby County. Reading remains a point out of the playoffs, while Yeovil Town is three points away from safety and Bolton is a comfortable 11 points ahead of the drop.

Nearly a half-dozen Americans played in the Liga MX match between Cruz Azul and Tijuana, won by the home team 2-1. Herculez Gomez subbed off, while Paul Arriola picked up a yellow card and an assist in the loss. Edgar Castillo played the entire loss, while Alejandro Guido started fed Arriola before the assist. MLSSoccer.com points out that 17-year-old Fernando Arce Jr. was born in the States, and he made his debut for Tijuana.

Jose Torres‘ Tigres club beat the Puebla side of DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco by a 1-0 score.

Juan Agudelo has now gone five matches without a shot on goal after his hot start at FC Utrecht, though by some accounts he was steady in playing the duration of a 2-2 draw with lower-table NEC. Also in the Netherlands, Aron Johannsson subbed off after 60 minutes in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 loss at FC Twente. Johannsson had played 90 minutes just three days prior with a goal in the Europa League win over Anzhi.

Anderlecht unloaded a 4-0 decision on KV Oostende, as Sacha Kljestan played the whole match for the winners, while former DC United player Andy Najar (Honduras) scored. Terrence Boyd went 90 in SK Rapid Wien’s 1-0 win over SV Josko Ried. Vienna is now a point back of second place but 18 back of first place FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Ale Bedoya found himself on the bench for all of Nantes’ impressive 0-0 away draw to Lille, while Jermaine Jones didn’t play for Besiktas in its disappointing 2-2 draw against Caykur Rizespor.

Fabian Johnson picked up an assist for Hoffenheim in a 4-2 loss to Mainz, though his assist put them in front 2-1. John Anthony Brooks didn’t play as Hertha Berlin were embarrassed 3-0 at home by Hannover 96.

Forster stars as 10-man Celtic beat Rangers, claim 10th-straight trophy

Photo by Jeff Holmes/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

At some point, Rangers supporters will be forgiven for thinking Celtic doesn’t have all the luck in Scotland.

The Bhoys, second best for most of the day, scored a 60th minute goal and then overcame a red card three minutes later to claim their 10th successive piece of Scottish silverware with a 1-0 win the Scottish League Cup.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Celtic’s Chris Jullien prodded home a free kick before 18-year-old Jeremie Frimpong was sent off, and Rangers had already controlled the proceedings before seeing a 16-5 edge in shot attempts at the final whistle.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster, the former Saints and Newcastle man, was outstanding in the win, even stopping an Alfredo Morelos penalty as the Rangers star failed to deliver.

From the BBC:

“It was just one of them days, it went my way today. I’m buzzing. There’s been days when it’s not gone my way, today it has. I can’t say how much it means to me. I didn’t really think about the penalty to be honest. I picked the way it went. I’ll take it.

“That’s why I came back; to play in games like this, to win silverware, to play European football.”

Rodgers: “Historic day” as Leicester City extends win streak

Leave a comment

Of course it’s early, but it looks like Leicester City is the Premier League’s lone bright hope of challenging Liverpool for the title.

And yeah, that’s a big deal, even after the Foxes claimed the most inexplicable title in top flight history just four seasons ago.

[ RECAP: Villa 1-4 Leicester City ]

But the Foxes remain leery about embracing their title credentials, even after setting a club record by winning their eight-straight via a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.

“I thought they were amazing,” said Brendan Rodgers. “It is a historical day for the club and the performance warranted that. It really does mean something special, it puts the team in the history books of Leicester City.”

Okay, but… just a little bit about the title fight, Brendan? No?

Perhaps goal scoring defender Jonny Evans would take the bait.

“We are up there and it shows we are playing well. Our performance was good, against one of the best Villa teams I faced in years. It shows we are capable of coming away and getting results. It is nice people are talking about us, we’re enjoying it and there’s great spirit in the club.”

Leicester is eight points back of first, the only team within 10 points of Liverpool. Man City is 14 back and Chelsea 17.

The Foxes host Norwich City before its next stretch of proving ground arrives via a League Cup quarterfinal at Everton prefaces league matches versus Man City and Liverpool.

Scrappy Sheffield United comes back to win again

Leave a comment

George Baldock had a goal and an assist as Sheffield United came back to beat poor Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Enda Stevens also scored for the Blades, who got back in the win column after a loss to Newcastle at midweek. United is eighth, the top of three teams on 22 points.

Alex Tettey scored Norwich’s lone goal, the Canaries locked in 19th and four points back of safety.


Three things we learned

1. Baldock’s banner day: The Blades dangerous right back loves to whip in a cross, and it’s no surprise he got his assist that way. He’s been quite lively around the box this year, and his turn and fire to make it 2-1 was a fitting finish given the 26-year-old’s day.

2. Basham gets VAR reprieve: Sometimes it’s not black and white, and you go to VAR, and VAR decides the shades of gray. Chris Basham was sent off for a vicious tackle on Kenny McLean, but the Sheffield United man saw VAR decide it wasn’t quite so dastardly and Blades continued with 10 men. A tough one if you’re a Norwich supporter.

3. Buendia stays bright: Norwich playmaker Emiliano Buendia is keeping the Canaries in games, the proverbial don’t write it, don’t write it, don’t write it canary in a coal mine. Five more key passes for Buendia to accompany more fine dribbling and a surprisingly good battle for a player as skillful as the 22-year-old Argentine.

Man of the Match: Baldock.


The Canaries went in front through Tettey inside a half-hour of kickoff, a corner dealt with poorly from the Blades that the Norwegian struck well for 1-0.

Norwich was good money for its halftime lead, with an 8-4 edge in shots, 53 percent of the ball, and six corners to the Blades’ zero.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Blades leveled things through Stevens, who headed in a Baldock cross before the assister became the scorer. The goal was no small ask, Baldock navigating the 18 to get off his shot.

Vardy, Iheanacho power 4-star Foxes past Villa

Leave a comment

Kelechi Iheanacho again collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City punished Aston Villa in an entertaining 4-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jonny Evans also scored for the Foxes, who maintain their place eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jack Grealish scored for Aston Villa, which stays ahead of 18th place on Southampton on goal differential.

Leicester City hosts Liverpool on Boxing Day, a date to circle on the calendar.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho emergence a new wrinkle: Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho was always lurking as a possible star during his time at Man City, but couldn’t break through and transferred to the King Power Stadium. Life hadn’t been easy at his new home, but a goal and an assist in consecutive Premier League fixtures can make a difference as Leicester hopes to challenge Liverpool. Resting Jamie Vardy on occasion without a big drop-off would be a potentially monumental development.

2. Vardy’s party a record bash: The 15th and 16th goals of Vardy’s PL run put him on pace for 38. That would be six better than Mohamed Salah‘s 38-game record and four better than the 42-game mark shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Even when he makes mistakes, he finishes.

3. Hobbled Mings a big worry: Villa star center back Tyrone Mings pulled up with an injury but attempted to fight through it. Full credit to him, as he’s been the easy star of the newly-promoted side’s start to life in the Premier League, but an absence or step back from the block and clearance machine will be a major blow to Dean Smith‘s side.

Man of the Match: It’s between Vardy and Iheanacho — James Maddison was also good — and we’ll choose Vardy because we gave it to Iheanacho at midweek.


Kelechi Iheanacho slipped Vardy through on goal, and the Foxes striker nearly blew his chance despite dribbling the keeper.

Ezri Konsa would’ve liked to challenge Vardy following the unusual mis-touch, but the defender was felled by his own sliding keeper.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After Anwar El Ghazi just missed a promising bid to equalize, Villa’s Bjorn Engels slid to break up a Vardy pass to a wide open Iheanacho.

The Nigerian got his goal in the 41st, a James Maddison cross deflected goal ward and off his leg for 2-0.

Grealish bounced a shot through traffic and inside the far post after Vardy couldn’t clear a corner kick.

Leicester needed less than four second half minutes to restore its two-goal advantage, the unmarked Evans perfectly placing a back post header across goal off a corner kick.