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USMNT Watch: Guzan Goes into Christmas Bound for Relegation

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 20, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13:  Brad Guzan of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park on December 13, 2015 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)
James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Saturday represented a small step of progress and a reminder of just how far Brad Guzan and Aston Villa are from staying safe in the Premier League. 

The co-No. 1 goalkeeper for the United States men's national team enters Christmas on the worst team in the Premier League. The situation at Villa is something USMNT fans and manager Jurgen Klinsmann should monitor closely over the next few months. 

No players stood out over the last week in Europe, but a pair of MLSers did receive awards from U.S. Soccer for their play in 2015. 

Continue reading below for updates on the big stories involving the top American players in the game in our latest USMNT Watch. 

Guzan and Villa Pick Up Valuable Point

Good news hasn't been flowing out of Villa Park on a constant basis this season, so Saturday's 1-1 road draw with Newcastle United was a welcome sight to a fanbase that has suffered mightily since August. 

Guzan hasn't helped his status as the co-top goalkeeper in the USMNT talent pool, either, as he does not have many standout performances on his 2015-16 resume. If Villa's poor form keeps up, which many think it will, Guzan could move on from the club in search of playing time in the top flight, but that is a matter to worry about when the time comes. 

Brad Guzan
Brad GuzanJeff Roberson/Associated Press/Associated Press

To be fair to the Villains, they haven't been relegated yet, but with only seven points and one win at Christmas, the situation looks bleak for the team and its American netminder.

The other USMNT goalkeeper starting in the Premier League had a rough Saturday at Goodison Park. In the 3-2 loss to leaders Leicester City, Tim Howard let in a pair of penalties for Everton

The Toffees enter the busy holiday fixture list in 10th place with 23 points, but they are only six points back of fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur.

Tim Howard
Tim HowardPAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

DeAndre Yedlin didn't feature for Sunderland on Saturday, while Stoke City left Geoff Cameron out of their matchday squad with an injury.

In the Championship, Emerson Hyndman earned his first start for Fulham in close to a year, while Tim Ream started at left-back for the Cottagers in their 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers

Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Spector, Duane Holmes and Gboly Ariyibi all picked up starts in the lower leagues of English football over the weekend as well. 

In Sunday's action in the Championship, Danny Williams netted a stunning goal for Reading in their 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers

Wood, Wooten Earn Starts Against Each Other 

Bobby Wood and Andrew Wooten started across the pitch from each other on Friday in the 2. Bundesliga. Neither of the up-and-coming USMNT forwards scored in the 1-0 Union Berlin win. Wood played all 90 for the victors, while Wooten featured for 62 minutes for Sandhausen in defeat. 

Bobby Wood
Bobby WoodJeff Roberson/Associated Press/Associated Press

Up in the German top flight on Saturday, Alfredo Morales started for Ingolstadt in their 1-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. Timmy Chandler failed to see the pitch for Eintracht Frankfurt

John Brooks started and played a strong 90 minutes for Hertha Berlin in their win on Sunday over Mainz. The win secured third place in the table for Hertha Berlin heading into the winter break. 

Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach closed out the Bundesliga weekend with a thrilling 3-2 win over Darmstadt. The Foals surged into fourth with the victory. If the season ended today, Brooks and Johnson would both qualify for the UEFA Champions League. 

Bradley, Miazga Earn Player of the Year Honors

Michael Bradley was named U.S. Soccer's Men's Player of the Year this week. The Toronto FC man beat out Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore to win the award. 

Michael Bradley
Michael BradleyWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The current USMNT captain made his 100th appearance for the Yanks in 2015. He also featured in 18 international matches for the red, white and blue over the last 12 months. 

New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga captured the U.S. Soccer Young Male of the Year award on Friday. The U20 centre-back was a vital part of the team that advanced to the final eight of this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Jones Tweets Contract Update

Jermaine Jones provided us with an update on his current contact negotiations on Friday via Twitter: 

Jermaine Jones @Jermainejunior

I would like to return to @nerevolution but they have offered me less than 20% of what I made last year.

Jones is currently out of contract after his 18-month deal with New England expired at the end of the 2015 Major League Soccer season. 

The defensive-minded midfielder had a base salary of $2.8 million for the 2015 season, per the MLS Players Union salary database. Due to his age (34) and the need for the Revolution to bring in fresh faces, Jones will have to take some type of pay cut to remain in New England. 

News and Notes

Alejandro Bedoya earned another start for Nantes on Saturday in their 0-0 draw with Lorient in Ligue 1 action.

Gedion Zelalem missed out on Rangers' 2-1 loss to Falkirk in the Scottish Championship because of an injury.

The USMNT will start the group stage of the Copa America Centenario at Levi's Stadium in California on June 3 before heading to Chicago and Philadelphia for the other two matches on June 7 and 11. 

Joe Tansey covers U.S. Soccer for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90

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