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Weekend preview

10 things for American fans to watch this upcoming weekend

There is a lot going on this weekend for American soccer fans and ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here to give you a glimpse of what to watch for among the numerous big games both domestically and abroad. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 10, 2018
7:00 AM
This should be a fun weekend for American soccer fans. Major League Soccer is in full swing and the European seasons are just beginning. Here are 10 things to watch in the coming weeks.

Ream’s return to the Premier League

American Tim Ream should be making his return to the Premier League when Fulham hosts Crystal Palace on Saturday at Craven Cottage. This will be fun matchup for American fans because Ream, 30, was one of the most important reasons why Fulham earned promotion last season and he was named the team’s player of the season.

Fulham also holds a special place for many American fans due to it being the home of so many great American players including Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and many others. Now the club will be making its return to the top flight.

Fulham was very busy in the transfer window where it spent nearly £100 million on new players. Survival in the Premier League is the goal for newly promoted teams and for Fulham, home games against Crystal Palace are crucial because they are the most winnable. This is an important early season game.

Sounders continue push vs. FC Dallas

It wasn’t long ago when the 2018 seemed like a lost cause for the Seattle Sounders as the playoffs were far out of reach. But Seattle is now the hottest team in the league and has won four games in a row. While many of the games during this run have come against the league’s weaker teams, Sunday night’s contest against Western Conference leading FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field will be a good indication as to where Seattle stands in 2018.

Clint Dempsey’s role on the team has been dwindling and he missed the last game due to a sore back and Jordan Morris is out for the year. This Seattle team has been carried by Nico Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso, and its defense.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas leads the Western Conference but is coming off a terrible loss to San Jose at home. It traded away Kellyn Acosta – who has played like his former self at Colorado. Oscar Pareja has a lot of work to do for Dallas if it wants to maintain its grip on the Western Conference lead.

Hines-Ike awaits test vs. Brugge

On Friday, Brendan Hines-Ike and Kortrijk will visit Belgian champions Club Brugge in a tough matchup for Kortrijk. But it is also a big opportunity for Hines-Ike who has impressed since joining the club from Orebro in Sweden. Still, Kortrijk has just one point from its first two games and Brugge will be the heavy favorite.

Hines-Ike, 23, has mostly flown under the radar from American fans and media but helping achieve a result in games like these will help raise his stock.

Hobro’s Sabbi aiming to continue strong start

There are a lot of good young American players at the moment both domestically and abroad. The forward position remains full of questions as there are not many young American forwards playing first team minutes.

Emmanuel Sabbi, 20, is a rare exception and he has quietly improved since playing as a reserve for the 2017 U.S. U-20 World Cup team. In the Danish Superliga, Sabbi has scored two goals in four games has been a bright spot for a struggling Hobro team.

On Saturday, Hobro will host OB and Sabbi has an opportunity to continue to raise his stock and maybe look to get sold to a better club in the winter.

Will Miazga make his Nantes debut?

On Saturday, Nantes will host Monaco and it could be the club-debut for United States international Matt Miazga who joined Nantes on a season-long loan from Chelsea in July.

Miazga, 23, is coming off of two very good seasons on loan with Vitesse but Nantes is a clear step up in Ligue 1 and the club has far more competition in his central defense position. Miazga will have to raise his game to prove he belongs and if he does play, he will have to play well to continue to earn minutes.

Yedlin faces tough challenge in EPL opener

DeAndre Yedlin, 25, and Newcastle have a tough assignment in the opening week of the 2018/19 Premier League season at home against Tottenham. For Yedlin, he will be facing off against the team that bought him from the Seattle Sounders but one where he struggled to breakthrough.

Newcastle does not have a good chance to qualify for Europe this season but a midtable finish would be successful and realistic. For Yedlin, starting a majority of the games at right back would be ideal and it would give him the momentum to perhaps be a leader (and maybe even the captain) for the United States national team for the upcoming cycle.

A lot at stake for Toronto and NYCFC

A month ago, nothing was working for Toronto FC and its effort was poor. There is still a long way to go for Greg Vanney’s team to make the playoffs but its chances are considerably better now than a few weeks ago thanks to seven points from its past three games.

What is going right? The return of Jozy Altidore has helped quite a bit. He has been hungry to make an impact since coming back from his injury and his passing has helped open up the game for his teammates. Last weekend’s draw away at Atlanta was a significant improvement than at any point since the Champions League.

Altidore is still unpopular among many U.S. national team fans although it is impossible to rule out his future with the team given that there are not many players either in MLS or abroad who are pushing him out of the picture with first team success. If Altidore can continue to lift Toronto, his stock will continue to rise.

Meanwhile NYCFC could be heading in the other direction with a loss to Seattle and a tough draw against Vancouver in its last two games. New head coach Domènec Torrent will not want to ride a three game winless streak as it is neck and neck with the New York Red Bulls for a first round playoff bye.

Novakovic and Fortuna Sittard season opener

Will Andrija Novakovich make a smooth transition from the second tier of Holland to the Eredivisie? American fans will be curious to see how the Wisconsin native adjusts after he was one of the top forwards for Telstar.

On loan from Reading, Novakovich clearly deserves this opportunity and success in the Eredivisie will boost his stock for both Reading and the U.S. national team. Newly promoted Fortuna Sittard is aiming for survival and Excelsior is a winnable game – even on the road.

Will Palmer-Brown feature for NAC Breda?

On loan from Manchester City, 2017 United States U-20 World Cup captain Erik Palmer-Brown will be making a step up into the Eredivisie with NAC Breda.

Palmer-Brown, 21, had a successful loan to Kortrijk in Belgium at the beginning of the year and that helped him become adjusted to first team European soccer. But NAC Breda is a bigger opportunity but one where he can be successful.

It is unclear if playing time will happen right away for Palmer-Brown or if he will have to wait awhile but Sunday’s matchup away at AZ Alkmaar is a tough assignment. The Kansas City native arrived with Breda late and new manager Mitchell van der Gaag has been non-committal about Palmer-Brown’s chances early in the season.

"He exudes calm, although he is sometimes too calm,” van der Gaag said earlier in the week. “Has arrived a bit later….He has now shown himself for the first time. He is slowly coming. "

LAFC gets ready for SKC

The best match in MLS this weekend is on Saturday night when fourth place LAFC hosts third place Sporting Kansas City.

LAFC is loaded for attack after recent acquisitions and is hoping to score its way into the playoffs in its inaugural season. Bob Bradley is building a strong case to be the MLS Coach of the Year in 2018 for his work with the expansion team but it will be interesting to see what the game plan is moving forward.

LAFC’s attack will now face off against a very defensively disciplined Sporting Kansas City which has a backline that has been among the best in the league for years.

But there has been a youth movement going on at Sporting which is refreshing to see. United States U-20 fullback Jaylin Lindsey and U.S. U-17 attacker Gianluca Busio have both been featuring for Peter Vermes in recent weeks and Busio’s game-winning assist last week against Houston was one of the league’s highlights of the week.

It’s a contrast in styles and features two of the more experienced American coaches in the game. There is more at stake for LAFC in this game which could move closer to the top of the Western Conference standings with a win.

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