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USMNT Watch: Championship Pair Star, Johannsson Scores Against Ajax

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2015

BOLTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04:  Tim Ream of Bolton Wanderers is marshalled by Adam Lallana of Liverpool during the FA Cup Fourth round replay between Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool at Macron Stadium on February 4, 2015 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

While the domestic-based players in the United States men's national team talent pool were either training for the Major League Soccer season or preparing for the Panama game, the Europe-based players delivered a mixed bag of results over the last week. 

A few of the biggest American stars in Europe over the last seven days came from the Championship, where two players shone bright for their respective sides.

Big news concerning one of the top forwards on the first-team depth chart also came out of the Eredivisie.

Below is a look at how the foreign-based USMNT players fared over the last week.

Tim Ream and Danny Williams Turn in Strong Performances

Tim Ream once again turned some heads in FA Cup action with Bolton Wanderers, putting in a strong 90-minute shift in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.

That performance followed a standout showing in the initial tie of the fourth-round matchup with Brendan Rodgers' side.

In the Trotters' 4-1 defeat at the hands of Derby County on Saturday, Ream was rated as the top Bolton defender by WhoScored.com after he made seven interceptions, six clearances and won three aerial duels. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Tim Ream of Bolton during the FA Cup fourth round match between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Anfield on January 24, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Danny Williams and Reading were able to leap a few spots ahead of Bolton in the Championship table after a 2-1 road victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers

Williams was responsible for scoring the game-winning goal in the 70th minute, as he hit a shot from the top of the box off the left post. The goal was the first time the 25-year-old has scored in league play this season.

Elsewhere in the Championship, Oguchi Onyewu went 90 minutes in Charlton Athletic's 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough, Eric Lichaj played every second of Nottingham Forest's 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion and Jonathan Spector helped Birmingham City earn a point against Fulham, playing 90 minutes at center-back.

Up and Down Week for Aron Johannsson in the Netherlands

Aron Johannsson started the week off in thrilling fashion, as he scored the game-winning goal in AZ Alkmaar's upset win over Ajax. His tap-in in the 76th minute was his fourth strike of the season for the fifth-placed side in the Eredivisie.

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Check out #USMNT star Aron Johannsson's winning goal for AZ Alkmaar against Ajax tonight: http://t.co/cy2qCo5VJF

After the match, it was revealed the forward suffered an ankle injury that may keep him out of Sunday's trip to Groningen, per Brian Sciaretta of the New York Times: 

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Breaking: I'm told Aron Johannsson's ankle is swollen but not too serious. Will probably miss this weekend's game but be ready for PSV game

Rubio Rubin played up top for 66 minutes in Utrecht's 3-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven. During his time on the pitch, the 18-year-old failed to record a single shot.

Results Differ for Germany-Based Players

Center-back John Brooks had the most successful week of any American player based in the Bundesliga, as he anchored the back four in Hertha Berlin's 2-0 win over Mainz. 

The decent showing from one of the top defenders in the talent pool came three days after he was left on the bench for the 1-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkeusen. 

Borussia Monchengladbach's Fabian Johnson also spent one game on the pitch and one on the bench this week. He started on the left wing in Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Freiburg, but he did not feature against Schalke.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Johnson did play two key passes in his start against Freiburg, but he also recorded a 54.6 percent pass accuracy in midfield. 

Julian Green once again did not see any playing time with Hamburg, while Timothy Chandler was suspended for Eintracht Frankfurt's midweek match with Wolfsburg.

In the lower divisions in Germany, Bobby Wood finally earned some playing time, while Alfredo Morales played all 90 minutes for Ingolstadt.

Wood is on loan at Erzgebirge Aue in the second division after finally escaping his tumultuous time at 1860 Munich.

Another Rough Day at Aston Villa

Brad Guzan was again on the losing end of the scoreline Saturday, as Aston Villa dropped a match to Chelsea. Both goals in the 2-1 defeat were the result of questionable defending by the Villa back four.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17:  Brad Guzan of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on January 17, 2015 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If the poor defensive trend continues throughout the rest of the season and the Villans are relegated, the current first-choice USMNT goalkeeper might be looking for a new club. 

Tim Howard did not feature in the Merseyside derby for Everton, while Geoff Cameron provided Peter Crouch with an assist on Stoke City's late equalizer in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle United

One American Moves Abroad

At a time where many USMNT players are coming home, one American defender decided to leave Major League Soccer this week.

Oct 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact defender Heath Pearce (44) dribbles the ball during the second half against the New England Revolution at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Heath Pearce, who was selected by Orlando City in the expansion draft, opted to head back to Europe and sign with IFK Goteborg in Sweden. He has already started training with the club ahead of the new Allsvenskan campaign. 

Pearce spent the past six seasons in MLS with FC Dallas, Chivas USA, the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact.

Mexico-Based Players Keep on Rolling

Nothing earth-shattering happened this week in terms of playing time for the handful of USMNT players based south of the border. 

Greg Garza picked up another start for Club Tijuana, as did Michael Orozco at Puebla. In those two matches, Joe Corona and Herculez Gomez came off the bench for their respective sides. 

Garza and Corona are near the top of the table, while Orozco and Gomez are locked in a relegation battle.

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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