With most of the European leagues still on winter hiatus, the bulk of this weekend’s action for Americans playing abroad was focused on England and Mexico.
With the United States Men’s National Team in its annual January camp right now and the first hexagonal World Cup qualifier only 24 days away, it’s important for every American to be putting their best foot forward with their club form.
Here’s how they did this week.
There was a little bit of everything this week from Stoke’s American contingent.
On Friday, Geoff Cameron was named ESPN’s English Premier League Defender of the Year for the first half of the 2012-13 campaign.
Then on Saturday, Cameron and Stoke, who normally are outstanding defensively, were routed 4-0 by Chelsea.
For Maurice Edu, who has seen a grand total of 10 minutes of playing time so far this season for Stoke, the escape hatch may have finally opened.
Goal.com's Alex Labidou reported this week that Stoke may be ready to loan Edu out and that several Ligue 1 clubs in France are interested.
Clint Dempsey was a late entry into Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with lowly Queens Park Rangers, coming into the game in the 69th minute.
Neither Dempsey nor Spurs were able to create too many quality chances in the match. In fact, Tottenham’s two best chances on the day came early in the first half when QPR goalkeeper Cesar made two world-class stops on successive shots by Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas now seems to prefer a front four of Adebayor, Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale with Dempsey being the preferred first substitute.
However, with Adebayor about to depart for the African Cup of Nations (via ESPN FC), Dempsey should find himself more regularly in the first XI for Spurs.
In net for Tottenham, Hugo Lloris continued to look strong, particularly in the 77th minute when he came well off his line to knock away a QPR through ball.
The play was all the more impressive considering Lloris beat speedy QPR winger Shawn Wright-Phillips to the ball on the play.
It’s difficult to believe American goalkeeper Brad Friedel would have been able to make the same play.
Tim Howard had a solid game in net for Everton as they took on Swansea. However, Everton’s attack couldn’t break down Swansea’s defense and the game ended 0-0.
Howard played particularly well off his line, especially in the first half, killing numerous Swansea counterattacks by coming out to scoop up Swansea through balls behind Everton’s defense.
Howard’s best moment of the game came in the 36th minute when he was able to get a fingertip to a beautifully attempted chip by Swansea forward Michu.
Villa started the game brightly and dominated most of the match, but were harshly punished when a comedy of errors clearing the ball out of their box resulted in a penalty kick for Southampton.
The penalty kick call looked to be dubious, at best, as two players going for the ball simply came together. But, Southampton left no doubt on the kick, putting it away for the game’s lone goal.
Villa made a valiant effort looking for the equalizer, but were unsuccessful and now sit 18th in the league.
Eric Lichaj made the bench for Villa, but did not play.
Tim Ream played 90 minutes in Bolton’s 1-1 draw with Millwall, but the big news for American fans is the imminent return of Stuart Holden.
After over a year on the sideline recovering from a knee injury suffered at the hands of Manchester United’s Jonny Evans, Holden played 65 minutes in a reserve match this week.
And, according to Bolton manager Dougie Freedman, Holden may make his first-team return as early as Tuesday’s FA Cup match (via The Bolton News' Marc Iles).
Jonathan Spector came on at halftime for Birmingham in their 1-1 draw with Huddersfield.
Zak Whitbread was not involved in Leicester’s 4-0 win over Bristol City.
Carlos Bocanegra caused a minor stir this week when he tweeted, “Finally it’s all over. I can return,” leading some USMNT fans to think a return to Rangers was in the cards:
finalmente todo ha terminado. Puedo volver— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) January 9, 2013
However, it turned out to be a visa issue that was actually preventing Bocanegra from returning to Santander (via Yanks Abroad).
Bocanegra did not feature in Santander’s 2-0 loss to Hercules this weekend.
Oguchi Onyewu did not play in Malaga’s 3-1 loss to Barcelona.
Michael Bradley started and went the distance in Roma’s 1-0 loss to Catania .
Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt and Alejandro Bedoya are spending their offseason as part of the USMNT’s January camp.
And finally, the American contingent of players in the Bundesliga will be back in action next week as the German league returns from its winter break.
Liga MX is back in full swing.
Club Tijuana stayed unbeaten in the Clausura, as they beat Leon 1-0. Americans Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both started and went the distance. American Greg Garza did not feature.
Santos beat Guadalajara 2-0 with Herculez Gomez starting and playing 88 minutes.
Jose Torres’ Tigres takes on Atlante Sunday night, but Torres is not expected to feature due to a thigh injury.
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