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USMNT Watch: Edgar Castillo Scores 1st Goal Since 2014, Tim Howard Benched

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2016

Edgar Castillo (L) of Monterrey vies for the ball with Ruben Botta (R) of Pachuca, during their Mexican Apertura 2015 tournament football match on August 11, 2015, in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon State.  AFP PHOTO/CARLOS RAMIREZ        (Photo credit should read CARLOS RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
CARLOS RAMIREZ/Getty Images

The last seven days weren't exactly the most eventful for players in the United States men's national team talent pool. 

With plenty of players not in favor at their respective clubs or suffering from injuries, the news from Europe wasn't great. However, the weekend didn't turn out to be a total wash for USMNT-eligible players, as a few in Mexico delivered strong performances. 

The most surprising feat from Saturday's play down in Liga MX was the goal scored by left-back Edgar Castillo. The 29-year-old with 16 international appearances scored his first strike for Monterrey on Saturday.

We'll have more on Castillo's solid showing south of the border and USMNT news below in our weekly USMNT Watch. 

Castillo Scores for First-Place Monterrey

Castillo netted his first tally for Monterrey since joining the club in 2015 in the 30th minute of his side's 5-1 win over Veracruz on Saturday. 

The left-back made a run into the left side of the box off a set piece and sent a shot into the bottom part of the net to hand his team a two-goal advantage at that point in the contest. Brian Sciaretta of American Soccer Now shared footage of the score:

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Here is video of Edgar Castillo's goal for Monterrey just now https://t.co/vTjvCxp16r #USMNT

The goal was the first for Castillo since September 27, 2014, and only his ninth since he began playing in Mexico back in 2007. The win kept Monterrey on top of the Liga MX table with 18 points. 

William Yarbrough, who has a serious chance to start a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in March, helped Club Leon remain second in Liga MX on Saturday night. Yarbrough made a save in his team's 5-1 home win over Toluca.

Omar Gonzalez played 90 minutes for third-place Club Pachuca in their 1-0 defeat to Atlas on Saturday night. Pachuca are four points off Monterrey in the table. 

The fourth-place club in Liga MX also have an American on their roster. However, Ventura Alvarado did not play for Club America this weekend. 

Jonathan Bornstein started for Queretaro, while Luis Gil and Paul Arriola made appearances off the bench for their respective sides. 

Tim Howard Relegated to Backup Role at Everton

The announcement USMNT fans were dreading for a while came on Friday, as Everton boss Roberto Martinez confirmed Joel Robles is the club's new No. 1 goalkeeper. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Tim Howard of Everton reacts after Chelsea's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on January 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

"It's been a really good, consistent period for him and the back four," Martinez said, per ESPN FC (via the Press Association). "I think defensively, you look at the performance against West Brom and it's exactly what we expected. We only conceded one corner, one shot on target, and unfortunately that went in. To have three clean sheets before that is something we can build on and carry on on those lines." 

With Howard now a permanent fixture on the bench, the top two goalkeepers on the USMNT depth are now backups. Brad Guzan lost his starting gig at Aston Villa around the start of the new year. 

Since No. 3 option Bill Hamid is out for a long stretch due to an injury, Yarbrough could be in line for a start if he continues to perform well in Mexico. 

On the pitch, Everton advanced to the final eight of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth. Reading downed West Bromwich Albion 3-1 on Saturday in the round of 16, but Danny Williams did not play due to injury: 

Reading FC @ReadingFC

Injury keeps Danny Williams out of the squad today - but he's here as a fan to get behind the boys... https://t.co/995Q3DsIhF

Emerson Hyndman, Tim Ream and Lynden Gooch all did not feature for their respective sides during a lighter slate of league matches across England. 

Bob Bradley Earns Second Straight Win at Le Havre

Bob Bradley kept Le Havre in the race for promotion in Ligue 2 on Saturday as they won 1-0 at home over Creteil. 

The victory came a week after Le Havre downed Metz at home by the same score to end a two-game losing streak.

Egypt's US coach Bob Bradley watches his players during their friendly football match against Qatar in the Qatari capital Doha on March 7, 2013. The match comes in the frame of the both national teams preparation for Asian and African qualification rounds
KARIM JAAFAR/Getty Images

After 27 matches, Le Havre sit nine points behind leaders Dijon in fourth place. They are eight points behind second-place Nancy and two adrift of Red Star in third. 

Alejandro Bedoya did not play in France this weekend because Nantes' trip to Bastia was postponed due to concerns over fan violence at Bastia.

John Brooks Starts, but Hertha Berlin Remain Winless in Bundesliga in 2016

John Brooks started once again in the middle of the back four for Hertha Berlin on Saturday, but the third-place team in the Bundesliga were not able to break their win drought. 

The 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg on Saturday kept Hertha Berlin without a win in the new year in league play. The good news for the club is four of their five Bundesliga results in 2016 have been draws and not losses. 

Dortmund's midfileder Ilkay Guendogan (R) and Hertha Berlin's US defender John Anthony Brooks vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match, Hertha Berlin v Borussia Dortmund, at the Olympic stadium in Berlin on February 6, 2
ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

Fabian Johnson started on the left wing for Borussia Monchengladbach in their 1-0 win over Cologne at Borussia-Park on Saturday. Monchengladbach sit just one point behind Hertha Berlin in the race for third place. 

Seventeen-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic earned his first start for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for the clash against Bayer Leverkusen

Timothy Chandler and Alfredo Morales were out of their respective matchday squads in the Bundesliga this weekend. 

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