The big performance of the weekend for Americans playing abroad belongs to Jozy Altidore who bagged a brace in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle.
Neither goal was spectacular, but two goals is still two goals.
There was plenty of action elsewhere as well with five Americans getting action in the English Premier League, three in the Bundesliga and plenty of rumored transfer action among the Scandinavian contingent.
Here’s the wrap-up.
Liverpool had 72 percent of the possession and outshot Villa 29 to 11, but Villa made the most of its counterattacks.
Led by the brilliant play of Christian Benteke, Villa came out of the match with all of the points.
Brad Guzan, starting between the sticks for Villa, did his part in the win with a number of smart saves.
He was strong off his line, catching and punching away multiple Liverpool crosses into his area. He also had a great hockey stop in the second half, knocking away a loose ball in the ball with a kick save.
Guzan’s greatest contribution on the day was a terrific save on a Daniel Agger blast in the second half.
Additionally, Guzan had several other good catches, especially with Luis Suarez coming in each time looking for loose balls.
On the one that did get by him, there was nothing Guzan could do as a Glen Johnson shot deflected off Steven Gerrard and in.
Eric Lichaj also started for Villa, again as a right wing-back.
Early in the match, Lichaj struggled to get into the game. In the fifth minute, Lichaj was lucky not to score an own goal on a dangerous Liverpool ball into the area.
And for the first half hour, Liverpool was able to repeatedly take advantage of the space in behind Lichaj’s more advanced wing-back position and shred Villa’s three-back.
However, Liverpool wasted their chances, and Lichaj eventually settled into the match.
In the 29th minute, Lichaj dispossessed Suarez on the play that led to Villa’s opening goal.
Then, in the 43rd minute, Lichaj finally had enough of Raheem Sterling’s runs and chopped him down.
Considering he was facing Sterling and Glen Johnson for most of the game, Lichaj did fairly well. Lichaj even frustrated Johnson enough that when Lichaj dispossessed him early in the second half, Johnson wrestled Lichaj to the ground in retaliation.
Clint Dempsey started at left midfield for Tottenham, but put in a very anonymous performance and was rightly withdrawn in the 70th minute.
Dempsey, who has seen a decent run of form over the past month, struggled all day to get involved in Spurs attack.
Shortly after Dempsey was taken off, Spurs were finally able to find a goal in this drab affair and escaped the match with a 1-0 win.
Hugo Lloris did not have a lot to do for Spurs, but did make the saves he needed to in the shutout. Lloris’ continued good form makes it very unlikely American Brad Friedel will be getting off the bench anytime soon.
It was a chippy affair at the Britannia between Stoke and Everton, with the two teams drawing at a goal apiece.
Geoff Cameron was not too busy on the day, as the two teams spent much of the game battling in the middle third.
He had one good clearance in the first half, but also had two bad giveaways in possession, one that Everton definitely should have scored on.
It was also a bit disturbing to see Cameron, who is supposed to be the U.S.’ best center-back on the ball, repeatedly hoof the ball up the field.
Tim Howard had a mixed performance making four excellent stops, but he must have felt like he could have done better on Stoke’s goal.
Howard had two fantastic punches on a good Stoke sequence in the 35th minute, palmed away a Charlie Adam chance in the 47th minute and stoned Cameron Jerome on a breakaway in the 79th minute.
On Stoke’s goal, Howard seemed to be expecting Kenwyne Jones to put his header to the far post. When the ball went to the near post, Howard was completely wrong-footed and basically just fell down as he unsuccessfully tried to keep the ball out of the net.
In the end, Stoke will probably feel hard done they didn’t pick up all three points.
Everton’s goal was on a Steven Pienaar cross that Ryan Shawcross put into his own net. Everton also should have been playing the last 30 minutes down a man after a disgraceful head butt by Marouane Fellaini went unpunished.
Maurice Edu was not in the 18 for Stoke.
Jermaine Jones served the first of his four-game suspension as Schalke lost 3-1 to Freiburg. When Jones returns, he will have to earn the trust of a new manager, as Schalke boss Huub Stevens was fired after the Freiburg defeat.
Steve Cherudolo started and went the distance in Hannover’s 2-1 loss to Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Timmy Chandler started and played the entire match in Nurnberg’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.
Fabian Johnson started in Hoffenheim’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund. Danny Williams was not in the 18 for Hoffenheim. The team is in real trouble, which is not good for either Williams or Johnson. With only 12 points from 17 games, Hoffenheim sits firmly in the relegation zone.
John Anthony Brooks started and went the full 90 in Hertha Berlin’s 2-1 win over FSV Frankfurt. With Bundesliga 2 now going into their winter break until February, Brooks could be called up into the USMNT’s January camp.
Joe Gyau and St. Pauli tied Ingolstadt 0-0. Gyau come on in the 77th minute, but couldn’t help St. Pauli break the deadlock.
Carlos Bocanegra made his return from injury starting and going the distance in Racing Santander’s 1-0 to Sabadell.
Oguchi Onyewu was not a part of Malaga’s 2-0 win over Sevilla.
Michael Bradley started for Roma as they lost 1-0 to Bradley’s former team Chievo Verona. Bradley was uncharacteristically withdrawn in the match in the 68th minute.
Jozy Altidore got back among the goals scoring twice in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle.
Terrence Boyd started and went the full 90 for Rapid Vienna in their 1-0 loss to Wiener Neustadt.
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht beat Oud-Heverlee 2-1 with Kljestan going the distance.
The Scandinavian leagues are done until March, so Mix Diskerud, Clarence Goodson, Michael Parkhurst, Conor O’Brien, Josh Gatt and Alejandro Bedoya are all on break.
Parkhurst is likely done playing for Nordsjaelland. He is said to be mulling over offers from Germany, Italy and Spain, among others (via MLSSoccer.com)
The Mexican Liga MX is on hiatus until the first week of January.
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