Can a recovering Michael Bradley demonstrate he belongs in the Starting XI for one of the best teams in the world? Can Terrence Boyd maintain his torrid scoring pace? Yes and Yes, as Brian Sciaretta reports.
AFTER A FEW LACKLUSTER
October 28, 2013
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weekends for Americans in Europe, this past weekend represented a step in the right direction. Yes, several American players padded their statistics with goals and assists, but more importantly these players helped their teams achieve important results.
From a national team perspective, it was also a productive weekend in that some of the squad's most important players played well. With friendlies scheduled in November, this past weekend no doubt put a smile on Jurgen Klinsmann’s face.
10) Will Packwood
At the start of 2013, Birmingham City's Will Packwood was one of the best American teenage players in the game, but his career was jeopardized following a horrible broken leg in an FA Cup game against Leeds. Now on loan with League 2's Bristol Rovers—a rehab stint—Packwood is close to picking up his career where he left off.
On Saturday, Bristol Rovers played to a scoreless draw with Chesterfield and Packwood was named Man of the Match for the second time in his last three games. He will be returning to Birmingham City in mid-November and he looks like he will be a quality addition to the Blues. It has been a remarkable recovery, to be sure.
9) Steve Clark
Can Steve Clark help save Honefoss from relegation yet again? If so, it will be a close call. There are just two games remaining in Norway's top league, the Tippeligaen, and Honefoss sit dead last. It currently trails Tromso by two points for a relegation playoff spot.
On Sunday against Brann, Clark made several big saves and picked up a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw, earning his club a valuable point. Regardless of what happens to Honefoss, Clark should be able to find a new club easily. He's been one of the best keepers in Norway for a while.
8) Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor may not be getting the minutes people expected when he moved to Omonia in Cyprus, but that may be about to change after an eye-opening appearance off the bench on Sunday. With Omonia up 4-0 over Doxa, Taylor entered the game in the 76th minute. He scored the final two goals of the game in the 86th and 90th minutes to complete Omonia's 6-0 rout.
7) Julian Green
There is excitement buzzing about Julian Green's pending arrival in camp with the U.S. national team, and of course he is yet to file his one-time switch with FIFA. But still the 18-year-old is giving everyone a glimpse of his potential.
Over the weekend he scored two more goals for Bayern Munich's U-23 team in a 5-0 win over Heimstetten. The Tampa-born German-American now has 15 goals in 14 games spanning 945 minutes. That's one goal every 63 minutes—a ridiculous scoring rate.
The most impressive aspect of Julian Green's development is that he has performed well at every single level since joining the Bayern Munich system. He has not stagnated once moving from the U-17s to the U-19s and now the U-23s.
6) Timmy Chandler
If there one way to get out of Jurgen Klinsmann's doghouse, it is to put on a solid showing on a day when he sends scouts to watch you. There is no doubt that the U.S. team could use help at the fullback positions and Chandler has been making a solid case now for well over a month.
Starting for FC Nurnberg in the first game since Gertjan Verbeek was hired as head coach, Chandler assisted on the first-half equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Stuttgart. It was a terrific through-ball from a wide position that sent Josip Drmic in alone on the keeper for the goal.
5) Sacha Kljestan
After winning the Belgian league the past two years, it hasn't been a smooth ride for Anderlecht, which is playing with an extremely young team this season. For Kljestan, he has had to be leader both on and off the field.
On Sunday he scored the opening goal for Anderlecht in the opening minute of the game in a 1-1 draw against arch-rivals Standard Liege. For the Californian, it was his fifth goal in 11 games in the Belgian Pro League.
4) Tim Howard
For the first time in many years, there have been questions whether Tim Howard is the best American goalkeeper. There is no doubt that Brad Guzan's performances for Aston Villa have been excellent, but on Saturday Tim Howard made a convincing case when he is still the main man in a 2-0 win over Guzan and Villa.
Exhibit A: Howard's first-half penalty stop on Christian Benteke that kept Villa off the board when the teams were still scoreless.
3) Jozy Altidore
It has been a rough start to the season for Sunderland, which entered the weekend without a league victory and at the bottom of the Premier League table. On Sunday, however, the team showed signs of life in an intense and hard fought 2-1 victory over Newcastle.
American striker Jozy Altidore did not score but his hold-up play was instrumental in the win. He was constantly involved in the attack and was repeatedly fouled. To top things off, Altidore earmed the assist on Fabio Borini's game-winning goal in the 84th minute.
2) Terrence Boyd
For soccer fans, there are few things more satisfying than defeating your arch-rival in its stadium. Rapid Vienna fans have the bragging rights now over Austria Vienna thanks to Terrence Boyd's dramatic 88th-minute winner on Sunday in the Vienna Derby.
Boyd's powerful header gave him seven goals in 10 Austrian Bundesliga appearances. He is scoring once every 98 minutes, and it's safe to say he is beyond this league at the moment and a move should be on the horizon.
1) Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley is the most valuable player on the U.S. national team and now he is trying to earn minutes on a Roma team that is one of the best in all of Europe. In his first game back since missing more than a month with an ankle injury Bradley quickly proved what an influential player he can be.
With Roma deadlocked in a scoreless draw with Udinese, Bradley came on in the 78th minute and scored the game's only goal just four minutes later. The win kept Roma's perfect season intact, and the club now has 27 points through nine games—conceding just one goal on the year. The bottom line is that Bradley is playing for one of the best clubs any American player has ever played for.