Sunderland is playing for a trophy. What? Yeah that's right. How do you like them apples? Elsewhere, two American goalies try to get back into the victory column and aid their sinking sides.
February 28, 2014
SHARE THIS STORY
The League Cup Final is this weekend, and Jozy Altidore and the Black Cats are taking on Manchester City for the championship. In other games around the world, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes will try to stop their five-game skid, while Tijuana and its roster of Americans look to bounce back as well. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are also coming off defeats. Seems odd at this point that Sunderland has had the most good fortune of late in the world of Americans Abroad.
Evian vs. Nantes
2:30 p.m. (all times Eastern)
beIN Sports Play
Alejandro Bedoya got limited minutes last week but may feature more against Evian as Nantes tries to climb out of their slump. Recent results have seen them drop out of Europe and all the way down to 14th place. Evian could be a good slump breaker, sitting two points away from relegation, but nothing has been easy for Nantes in 2014.
Everton vs. West Ham
NBC Sports Live Extra
Last week's disappointing 1-0 loss to Chelsea set Tim Howard and the Toffees back to seventh place on goal differential, giving way at last to Manchester United. They remain five points out of Europe, as Tottenham's unexpected loss to Norwich City kept the Spurs from taking advantage. Now playing the surging Hammers who have 13 points from their last five games, Howard and Everton must find a way to get some momentum back. One of the keys will be stopping Kevin Nolan, who has five goals in his last four games.
Veracruz vs. Tijuana
This is the best chance of the season for the TijuanAmericans to get their campaign back on track, as they visit last place Veracruz. Herculez Gomez is reportedly unhappy with the situation in Tijuana. But the rest of the potential National Team players have been enjoying their minutes, especially Paul Arriola who has once again taken on an increased role off the bench. And now with former New York Red Bull homegrown player Armando Moreno in the Tijuana camp, things could get even more interesting as the spring approaches.
Manchester City vs. Sunderland
beIN Sports USA
Jozy Altidore and Sunderland may well pay the price of relegation for their efforts in the League Cup, but they are in the final against Manchester City, so at least there's some justification. With City still alive in the FA Cup and chasing the Premier League title, they could sweep the domestic hardware this season. For Altidore and company, this could be their best, and only, chance to redeem the awful regular season. Also, remember that Altidore has a good track record of clutch goals in domestic cup championships.
Aston Villa vs. Norwich City
NBC Sports Live Extra
Another week, another disappointing result for the increasingly lifeless looking Villans. Brad Guzan continues to excel in goal, making the games closer than they should be at times. Aston Villa remain a mere four points away from relegation, despite their strong start to the season. Though the bottom three look cemented there, the Birmingham side need to turn things around soon to put some distance between themselves and the Championship. Norwich City presents a fine opportunity, with the Canaries having drawn even on points with Villa after last week's surprising win over Tottenham.
NO U.S. ANGLE...
Spain: La Liga
(11:00 a.m., Sunday, beIN Sports USA)— It's the Madrid Derby, and it's for title implications in La Liga. Real Madrid has finally been able to pull three points ahead after Atletico's shock loss to Osasuna last week. Don't expect Diego Costa and Atletico to play timid for Madrid though, despite Los Blancos looking like the second best team in the world right now. The Brazilian-Spanish phenom has been insane this year, scoring 27 goals in all competitions, ranking only behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo in Europe's major leagues. After declaring his intention to play for Spain last fall, one must wonder if his performance this season, outscoring all other Spanish forwards by at least four goals, has been enough to get in the dog fight for a place in Vicente del Bosque's roster for Brazil. This game against Real Madrid may be telling in that regard.
So what are you watching this week? Let us know in comments section below.
Christopher McCollum is a New York City based writer and an ASN contributor.