Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Americans Abroad Rewind: Johannsson stays hot, Guzan keeps rolling

Americans Abroad Rewind: Johannsson stays hot, Guzan keeps rolling 

 Aron Johannsson just can’t stop scoring, and it is becoming more and more difficult to see him not be a part of the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers in October.

The 22-year-old striker notched his 10th goal in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar on Saturday, belting a looping long-distance shot to lead AZ to a surprise 2-1 victory over Dutch league leader PSV Eindhoven.

That victory didn’t keep AZ manager Gertjan Verbeek from being fired on Sunday, a dismissal that was certainly a head-scratcher considering Saturday’s victory moved the club into fourth place. The coach reportedly wore out his welcome and saw his relationship with players and staff deteriorate.

Brad Guzan continued his stellar season for Aston Villa, recording five saves to help keep the Villans in their game against Manchester City on Saturday. After trailing 2-1, Aston Villa scored two goals to pull off an improbable comeback and win 3-2. Guzan capped that comeback with an assist after his perfect long kick found teammate Andreas Weimann, who slotted home the winner to help lift Aston Villa into the top half of the English Premier League.

The biggest international club match-up involving Americans took place in Mexico, where Puebla handed Club Tijuana a 2-0 defeat on Sunday. A total of six Americans saw action in the match, with Michael Orozco and DaMarcus Beasley starting and helping shut down the Xolos attack. Joe Corona earned his first Liga MX appearance in five matches, but came out of the match at halftime and was replaced by fellow American Paul Arriola. Herculez Gomez made his first Liga MX appearance of the year, just three days after making his Club Tijuana debut with a second-half hat trick in CONCACAF Champions League play.

A pair of Americans enjoyed victories in derby action, with Eric Lichaj and Alejandro Bedoya coming out on the winning end of a pair of rivalry games. Bedoya and Nantes posted a 3-1 victory over Stade Rennes in the latest installment of the Derby Breton. Bedoya came on as a 24th-minute sub for Nantes, which climbed to sixth place in Ligue 1 with the victory.

Lichaj and Nottingham Forest climbed to fifth place in the English League Championship after a 1-0 victory over Derby County in the latest installment of the East Midlands Derby. Lichaj has started every match for Forest, and helped the club post its fourth shutout of the season.

In Belgium, Sacha Kljestan continued to enjoy a dream season, setting up the game-winning goal in Anderlecht’s 2-0 win versus Lierse on Saturday.

It wasn’t all good news for Americans Abroad last weekend. Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson both started in Schalke’s 3-3 tie with Hoffenheim, but both U.S. national team starters came away with injuries. Jones followed up the draw by having knee surgery that will keep him sidelined for up to six weeks, while Johnson suffered a bruised ankle that could cause him to miss playing time as well.

Jozy Altidore rough start at Sunderland continued as the Black Cats dropped a 3-1 decision to Liverpool. Altidore did earn the start in Sunderland’s first match since Paolo Di Canio’s firing, but poor service from Sunderland’s midfield and Liverpool’s physical defense kept Altidore from finding his first Premier League goal for Sunderland.

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