Europa League: American Expats in Europe

October 18, 2011 — by Rob Kirby


For those looking to spot Americans in action overseas, check the Europa League—it’s televised, great teams abound and, well, there are Americans, too. The elusive soccer grail, as it were. Europa League matches offer rare chances to see national team expats competing against high-caliber opponents on a real live TV. No streaming, no pirating, just a mildly usurious cable package.

He rocks the mic, he rips through defences. Word.

While English Premier League devotees get to see Clint Dempsey (right), Tim Howard and Brad Friedel scoring and shot-stopping on the regular, and Serie A followers will catch the occasional glimpse of Michael Bradley, the Europa League showcases players in the Portuguese, Dutch and Belgian leagues who get showcased seemingly nelsewhere. To be fair, GolTV does broadcast  the occasional Bundesliga match, giving some small-screen shine to Steve Cherundolo and the German-Americans in the national team, but to see Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) or Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City), Europa’s your best bet.

Ironically, the team most populous in expat Americans, Rangers, utterly dominates the Scottish Premier League this season but got dumped out of the Europa League in late August (after getting dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers in early August). Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya regularly receive starting berths, but that didn’t stop Slovenian minnows NK Maribor from handing the team its collective Glaswegian ass two months back, so that’s that for the American Rangers. Other Americans who could be seen until they couldn’t are/were Clarence Goodson (Brøndby) and Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), who both compete in the top flight in Denmark.

Fear not, though. Many survived the qualifying cull, performed well in Matchdays 1 and 2, and may again feature this Thursday on Matchday 3.

High-functioning U.S. perennial Dempsey has been on fire for Fulham this season and he scored the lone goal against Honduras two weeks back. He gives everything in every game and excels at nearly everything he does (check the Deuce’s rhymes on YouTube…or better yet, don’t). Friedel, for his part, has proven such a crucial addition to Tottenham since joining this summer that Tottenham keep resting him in the Europa League, so don’t necessarily expect to spot his particular shiny bald pate, unless it’s atop a body seated on the bench. Spector, who once more sees the TV cameras zooming in after West Ham’s relegation last season, helped exact revenge on Maribor for his SPL compatriots in Birmingham City’s 2-1 win over the Slovenian outfit on Matchday 2, so good on him (thanks be giving, Rangers supporters).

Altidore will likely lead the line again for AZ Alkmaar, after netting his fourth in the tournament and seventh of the season for the Dutch champions last time out. The spectacularly bearded Onyewu, that unlikely cross between Isaac Hayes and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, has similarly returned to form with Sporting Lisbon, after escaping from PSV Eindhoven purgatory this past summer. From the bench, current Schalke 04 midfielder and former Blackburn loanee Jermaine Jones came on as a substitute in the 3-1 Matchday 2 victory over Maccabi Haifa. AZ Alkmaar, Sporting Lisbon and Schalke 04 all top their groups, and the group leader trend continues at Anderlecht, where Sacha Kljestan will look to start again, having done so in all 13 matches this season, including Anderlecht’s 5-0 thrashing of Standard Liege on Sunday.

Hannover 96 captain Cherundolo, meanwhile, must cope with the ignominy of second place. Although tied with Standard Liege on points, the team cedes first on goal difference. Let’s see some more clean sheets, Steve.

Dominic Cervi, third in line for the goalkeeper spot at Celtic, has yet to feature this season. Perhaps he will at last get a shot to stop the shots. (But be honest. Have you ever heard of him?)

Stay tuned for the continuing exploits of Uncle Sam’s soccer spies overseas. (Seriously. I mean to make a series of this.)

As one last word on Deuce’s iced-out flows, in a freestyle a few years back he had a truly great/awful line in “If I was a dolphin, I would have a platinum fin.” That one really is kind of worth checking out.


Matchday 3, October 20:
1:00 pm EST on GolTV, DirecTV: Club Brugge vs. Birmingham (Jan Breydel Stadium)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: AZ Alkmaar vs. Austria Vienna (AFAS Stadion)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Wisla Krakow vs. Fulham (Stadion Miejski im)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Stade Rennes vs. Celtic (Route de Lorient)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: AEK Larnaca vs. Schalke 04 (Neo G.S.Z. Stadium)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: SK Sturm Graz vs. Anderlecht (UPC Arena)
3:00 pm EST on GolTV, DirecTV: Sporting Lisbon vs. FC Vaslui (Estadio Jose Alvalade)
3:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Tottenham Hotspur vs. FK Rubin Kazan (White Hart Lane)
3:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Hannover 96 vs. FC Copenhagen (AWD-Arena)

To recap, Americans still in the competition:
Clint Dempsey (Fulham, MF)
Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, D)
Brad Friedel (Tottenham, GK)
Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City, D)
Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, F)
Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon, D)
Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, MF)
Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, MF)
Dominic Cervi (Celtic, GK)

And those Americans who let down themselves, their teams and their country:
Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers, D)
Maurice Edu (Rangers, MF)
Alejandro Bedoya (Rangers, MF)
Clarence Goodson (Brøndby, D)
Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland, D)

Just by plucking names from this group of current and eliminated Europa players, one could field a highly competitive national side. In fact the back 4 and front 2 played the second half against Honduras in the last international break.


Cherundolo – Bocanegra – Onyewu – Spector

Kljestan – Edu – Jones – Bedoya

Altidore – Dempsey




Freddie Adu can go to hell

August 13, 2011 — by Sean1

Sell me some soup, you poor bastard.

I’m really excited about the EPL starting. I’m out of town, and I won’t be able to see any of the games live, but I’ve set my DVR and I’m sure no one will text or tweet or email about results. When I get back home on Sunday night I’ll just sit on my couch and watch kickoff as if it was only just happening at that moment.

And since I don’t even want to even think about the EPL I’ll turn my brain energy upon the return of Freddie Adu to the United States and MLS. The little Ghanaian is back from a harsh go in Europe. I blame the system.

Here we had a promising young player, who maybe isn’t really as young as we say he is (that one’s for you, Conspiracy wonks). We send him overseas to be developed. He moves to Benfica during his late teens, a stranger to the culture with his head full of grand ideas bled in from agents and sportswear marketers. His confidence dissolves while he’s alone in a foreign land. He struggles and is moved and moved, and so far we haven’t seen the player for whom we’d hoped.

It’s unlikely he had adequate support when he most needed it, but that’s par for the course when bringing in foreign players to a strange system thousands of miles from their homes. Many clubs buy their athletes for big money then drop them into play as if they were a new part, unpacked from the shop. Kids fall through the cracks, unable to keep up with the demands of advanced football while simultaneously finding a home, learning a language, figuring out how to get laid. It’s tough out there.

So he’s back. Philadelphia, a city whose teams I support to the one—the one being the Union. There was no Union when I lived in the Delaware Valley. In theory, I support the Red Bulls. In theory, because I don’t really pay them much mind. But they’re my local team, and while I’m happy to see if Feddie can blossom in the city of brotherly love, he can also go to hell.

CommentaryUnited States

Klinsmann & USMNT: Concerns, But Cautiously Optimistic

August 10, 2011 — by Simon

Klinsmann & Vasquez: Back together again

My concern with Klinsmann is exactly the one lots of commentators have already cited–he’s not really a tactician, and it was Jogi Löw who did all that heavy lifting with the German National Team. And Martin Vasquez, who went from being an assistant at MLS’s Chivas club to being Klinsmann’s assistant at Bayern (and came back for a short tenure as Chivas’s head coach), isn’t really a tactician either–but he seems to impress folks since he got the Youth Development Director position with Real Salt Lake post-Chivas. I like Dooley as a possible assistant.  He would seem to bridge some of the American/German dynamics. And Tab Ramos is still in my eyes the best player ever to wear the shield (sorry to the Claudio Reyna and Landon Donovan fans), and I think he has high potential as a coach.  This might be an audition for him with the u20s or 23s since he’s the interim there. I think it would make sense to have Claudio as the new technical director to be on the staff in some capacity. But having a big-time tactician on board is key. To make a cross-sport analogy, Phil Jackson was always the big picture, motivation, keeping the team in balance guy, while he let Tex Winters install and run the offense in the Triangle. I think that’s the dynamic (at least that’s the word coming out of Germany after the hire, and also previously during the multiple Gulati-Klinsmann flirtations). So the question for me becomes: is there a dynamic tactician somewhere in the ranks of USMNT youth squads, or MLS, or elsewhere. Sadly this person will probably have to come from his old German contacts.

In terms of who I would like to see him bring in–there’s Peter Nowak.  Now this might be my Chicago Fire bias, but he’s a former international for Poland, and has worked in both MLS and the US youth systems. I realize that as a former Bradley assistant he might be fraught with baggage, but I think he might add some “bite” that complements Klinsmann. Other guys I think would be interesting as assistants are Dom Kinnear and Franky Yallop, who I got to watch and talk to when I was coaching in Nor-Cal when they were with the Quakes (or Dynamos now).

I tell you who I DON’T want to see in the assistant positions Sigi Schmid or Rongren. I’ve never been impressed with Schmid at any of the levels he’s coached at–UCLA, Galaxy, etc. And Rongren made some COLOSSAL mistakes in my opinion in terms of who brought in to camp and did/didn’t develop in his time with the U-20’s. [Editor’s note: read the sad (for US Soccer) Subotic saga.]

I’m cautiously optomistic on Klinsmann generally. I don’t think he’ll be the savior that some think he will be, in part because of the need to change soccer culture vis-a-vis player development, which will be a long time coming.

Finally, on a player selection note, I’d like to see him bring in (Stanford Bias Warning!) Chad Marshall. He had a good run with the U23’s on the back line, played well as a center back for the Columbus Crew last year, and was in the WC2010 camp, so hopefully he can get a longer look.

CommentaryScheduleUnited States

CONCACAF Gold Cup 101: An Infographic by US Soccer

June 7, 2011 — by Suman1

The CONCACAF Gold Cup started on Sunday, with four games already in the books. The USMNT kicks off its campaign tonight, taking on Canada at Ford Field in downtown Detroit (8pmET on FSC).  US Soccer has produced an infographic with just about everything you need to know about “the region’s most important international tournament” (click to view a larger version):


Gold Cup 101


USA 1990 World Cup Qualification Celebratory Rap Video

March 31, 2011 — by Sean

Back in 1990 the US hadn’t qualified for the World Cup in some 40 years, and people were frickin geeked about our boys traveling overseas in search of the gold and malachite trophy—not that anyone knew what the hell soccer was. Confused enthusiasm is the only explanation for the shirtless beach frolicking behind this lyrical misadventure (warning: includes cameo by OJ Simpson), enjoy!

Not to ruin the chorus, but a quick glimpse: Togetherness, and unity, means victory, in Italy


USA vs Argentina Preview

March 26, 2011 — by Sean1

The US play those guys in baby blue and white stripes tonight, so we thought it’d be a good time to pour the mind juices over Bradley’s picks (is that guy still the coach?). Having been to the last meeting between these squads at the old Meadowlands, we can say with some surety that most of the fans there will be cheering for Argentina.

But let’s not forget that there’s a team in red out there too. Most importantly the next round of young’ins. Juan Agudelo is a favorite (as you know), and maybe be America’s next great hope up top. There’s also this kid Tim Chandler, a defender who plays in Germany, who has all of 20 years. Also in defense is Eric Lichaj, who sounds to be pretty foreign, but unlike these last two guys was actually born in America. He’s been bouncing around England on loans, but has still managed more playing time at Aston Villa than the US coach’s son.

Who else is there…Tim Ream, another defender who plays in NY. Good potential there but his teammate Agudelo is the shining light. Finally there’s Mixx Diskerud. Mixx, sure. He’s a midfielder playing in Norway, and that’s all we know.

Let’s hope Big Bob lets the kids play. Especially up top. Have we not seen that Altidore doesn’t have what it takes? But that’s for the another post…

Position…. ….Hgt…. …Wght… …Birthdate.. Hometown Club Caps/Goals
Agudelo, Juan F 6-0 180 11/23/92 Barnegat, N.J. New York Red Bulls 2/1
Altidore, Jozy F 6-1 175 11/06/89 Boca Raton, Fla. Bursaspor (Turkey) 32/10
Bocanegra, Carlos D 6-0 170 05/25/79 Alta Loma, Calif. Saint-Étienne (France) 85/12
Bornstein, Jonathan D 5-9 145 11/07/84 Los Alamitos, Calif. UANL Tigres (Mexico) 36/2
Bradley, Michael M 6-2 175 07/31/87 Manhattan Beach, Calif. Aston Villa (Germany) 50/8
Buddle, Edson F 6-1 185 05/21/81 New Rochelle, N.Y. Ingolstadt (Germany) 6/2
Chandler, Timothy D 6-1 180 03/29/90 Frankfurt, Germany FC Nürnberg (Germany) 0/0
DeMerit, Jay D 6-0 185 12/04/79 Green Bay, Wis. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 23/0
Dempsey, Clint F 6-1 170 03/09/83 Nacogdoches, Texas Fulham FC (England) 68/19
Diskerud, Mixx M 6-0 150 10/02/90 Oslo, Norway Stabaek (Norway) 2/0
Donovan, Landon M 5-8 158 03/04/82 Redlands, Calif. Los Angeles Galaxy 128/45
Edu, Maurice M 6-0 170 04/18/86 Fontana, Calif. Rangers (Scotland) 19/1
Feilhaber, Benny M 5-9 150 01/19/85 Irvine, Calif. Aarhus (Denmark) 38/2
Hahnemann, Marcus GK 6-3 220 06/15/72 Seattle, Wash. Wolverhampton Wanderers (England) 8/0
Howard, Tim GK 6-3 210 03/06/79 North Brunswick, N.J. Everton (England) 57/0
Jones, Jermaine M 6-1 172 11/03/81 Chicago, Ill. Blackburn Rovers (England) 2/0
Kljestan, Sacha M 6-1 150 09/09/85 Huntington Beach, Calif. Anderlecht (Belgium) 25/4
Lichaj, Eric D 5-11 160 11/17/88 Downers Grove, Ill. Aston Villa (England) 2/0
Onyewu, Oguchi D 6-4 210 05/13/82 Olney, Md. FC Twente (Netherlands) 58/6
Ream, Tim D 6-1 165 10/05/87 St. Louis, Mo. New York Red Bulls 1/0
Spector, Jonathan D 6-0 180 03/01/86 Arlington Heights, Ill. West Ham United (England) 28/0
Yelldell, David GK 6-4 185 10/01/81 Stuttgart, Germany MSV Duisburg (Germany) 0/0