111113_isi_johannssonaron_usmntmj101113223 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
Americans Abroad

Aron Johannsson Stars Once Again for AZ Alkmaar

The Icelandic-American striker tallied two more goals—one from the penalty spot—and tops Brian Sciaretta’s list of the best U.S. performances in Europe this past weekend.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 11, 2013
10:54 AM
IT WAS AN UP-AND-DOWN weekend for Americans in Europe.

Michael Bradley came on as a first-half sub for AS Roma and contributed to yet another good result, this time a tie. Jozy Altidore sat on the Sunderland bench for 75 minutes but his hold-up play in the closing minutes helped the Black Cats to an upset win over Manchester City. Brad Guzan earned another shutout for Aston Villa against Cardiff while Geoff Cameron and Stoke played to a high-scoring 3-3 draw against Swansea.

In Germany, Fabian Johnson made his return from injury in a 3-2 loss to Hertha Berlin while John Brooks also made the bench for Hertha for the second time following an elbow injury. National team scouts watched German-American Shawn Parker, who remains eligible to switch to the United States despite playing for German youth national teams.

Meanwhile in Norway, Steve Clark could not prevent Honefoss from relegation this year and new U.S. U-20 forward Ben Spencer made an appearance for Molde.

While those were all interesting stories, here are the top six performances from last weekend.

6) Mix Diskerud
Sunday was a bittersweet day for Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg, which was still pushing for the Norwegian title heading into this weekend. Rosenborg needed to win its final game of the season, against Lillestrom, and Stromgodset had to either win or draw against Haugesund. Rosenborg did its part with a 3-0 victory but Stromgodset took advantage of a Haugesund red card to coast to a 4-0 win and the championship.

Diskerud also did his part in the win, giving a solid 90-minute performance in central midfield and helping Rosenborg dominate its opponent.

Although the regular season has come to an end, Diskerud still has one more match. On November 24, Rosenborg will take on Molde in the final of the Norwegian Cup.

5) Caleb Patterson-Sewell
Normally the backup keeper for Gil Vicente behind Brazilian Adriano Facchini, Caleb Patterson-Sewell made the most of his start against Cova de Piedade in the fourth round of the Portuguese Cup on Saturday.

With Gil Vicente sitting in fourth place of the Primeira Liga and Cova de Piedade mired in the third division, it was expected to be a mismatch. For the first 90 minutes, Gil Vicente dominated but could not find a goal. Then, in extra time, the underdog hosts began to control thanks to two Gil Vicente players receiving red cards.

Patterson-Sewell made several acrobatic saves in extra time to keep things level. And then, in penalties, he made two more stops in a Man of the Match performance. The former New York Red Bull will now be looking to push Facchini as the team's No. 1 keeper.

4) Tim Howard
Given the loss of head coach David Moyes and the subsequent transfer of Marouane Fellaini, nobody knew what to expect from Everton this season. But Tim Howard has been a rock this year, and Everton’s 0-0 draw on the road against Crystal Palace was the club’s third straight shutout.

Howard made two big saves in the game and was dominant in controlling his area on crosses. Through 11 games in the Premier League, Howard has six shutouts. Not too shabby.

3) Alejandro Bedoya
Back in August Alejandro Bedoya admitted that the goal for newly promoted Nantes was simply to avoid relegation this season. Well, things change. Nantes has been one of the biggest surprises in France and is in sole possession of fourth place in Ligue 1.

On Sunday, Nantes cruised to an impressive 3-0 road win over Bordeaux. Bedoya was involved in the build-up to two of the goals but that only tells part of the story. Nantes played in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Bedoya had 54 total touches—the highest among the five attacking Nantes players. In addition, Bedoya had an 86 percent pass completion rate, which was also the highest of the five attacking Nantes players.

It’s now no longer a question of whether or not Bedoya goes to Brazil, it is whether he starts.

2) Tim Ream
It seemed last year many people were writing off Tim Ream as an American who was solid in Major League Soccer but who couldn’t hack it in Europe. Well, the tide has certainly changed. Ream’s performances over the past two months have helped elevate Bolton from the bottom of the Championship table and into a much safer 17th place. The club hasn’t lost in seven games.

In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Millwall, Ream set up Jermaine Beckford’s goal in the 43rd minute (at 0:56 of the video below) with a magnificent assist. It may have taken a while but the former St. Louis University defender is finally hitting his stride.

1) Aron Johannsson
Aron Johannsson celebrated his 23rd birthday in style, helping AZ Alkmaar earn an impressive 2-2 draw on the road against Feyenoord. Yes, AZ fell out of first place in the Eredivisie, but a draw on the road against Feyenoord is a confidence-boosting result for a club still adjusting to a new coach.

Johannsson gave another brilliant performance, scoring both of AZ’s goals. He secured the opening goal of the match with great positioning in the box, and he leveled the score in the 57th minute with a confident penalty kick. He now has 14 goals in all competitions for AZ.

Looking ahead to the upcoming friendlies, expect Johannsson to get extended minutes to continue his integration into the core group. And if the U.S. is awarded a penalty, hopefully he will be the one to take the kick. He certainly looks more comfortable taking them than Clint Dempsey.

OK, now it's your turn. Which of these players would you like to see in the upcoming November friendlies. Tell us in the Comments section below.

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