92313_isi_chandlertimothy_usmntmj020513021 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
Americans in Europe

U.S. Right Backs Making Right Moves in Europe

From Iceland to Israel, numerous Americans performed well in Europe this weekend. Not all the players on this list are in the national team picture but all of them deserve to be on this top 10 list.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 23, 2013
12:10 PM
IT WAS ANOTHER EVENTFUL week for Americans in Europe, primarily for goalkeepers and right backs.

From a national team perspective it was a newsworthy week abroad as several players likely raised their standing in the eyes of Jurgen Klinsmann. Timothy Chandler is now playing his best soccer of 2013 and Geoff Cameron no longer looks out of position at right back. Terrence Boyd was not on the most recent roster for World Cup qualifying but he firmly back in the picture from his recent performances.

Here are the 10 best American performances in Europe this week.

No. 10—Eric Lichaj
Eric Lichaj was once again effective in the attack for Nottingham Forest, creating several opportunities in a 2-2 draw against Doncaster. Nottingham Forest has goals of contending for promotion to the Premier League this year and Lichaj will be an important part of the equation.

No. 9—Chuck Chijindu
Iceland’s top tier, the Úrvalsdeild, is not the highest-rated league in Europe, but the former Chivas USA forward Chuck Chijindu has made all the difference this year for the club Thor Akureyri.

Thor was promoted to the Úrvalsdeild at the start of the year and many expected it to be immediately relegated. Instead Chijindu put the team on his back, scoring nine goals in 16 appearances this season. His second-minute goal on Sunday against IA gave Thor a 1-0 win and clinched the club’s survival in the Úrvalsdeild.

The Icelandic season will end next weekend, and the California native is just two away from the league lead in scoring. A big outing in the finale could give him a share of the crown.

No. 8— Bryan Gerzicich
Bryan Gerzicich has long been considered one of the best defensive midfielders in the Israeli Premier League, but he opened his scoring account with Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday in a 3-1 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva. On the play he headed home a corner to give Hapoel Tel Aviv a three-goal cushion.

Hapoel Tel Aviv have earned just four points from its first three games but the team is expected to once again be one of the best teams in Israel.

No. 7—Tim Howard
Through the first five weeks of the Premier League season, there is only one undefeated team—Everton. It’s been a transitional year for Everton as Roberto Martinez signed on as coach and top midfielder Marouane Fellaini left for Manchester United. Through all the changes, however, Tim Howard has been constant.

On Saturday, Howard helped Everton to a hard-fought 3-2 win over West Ham on the road. He was not at fault for either goal (one came on a penalty and the other on a deflection) but instead was a steady force in the back for Everton—which is now in sixth place.

No. 6—Steve Clark
Last year Steve Clark was voted the best goalkeeper in Norway and he nearly saved Honefoss from relegation. The problem is that Honefoss are even weaker this season, so Clark’s job of saving his club is even more difficult. But on Saturday, Honefoss came up with a crucial road victory against Lillestrøm. Clark’s stellar play was once again the difference in 2-1 win, as he made several acrobatic saves to preserve the result and help his squad move to within two points of safety.

No. 5—Jide Ogunbiyi
For the second straight week the Rochester native has made the list of top American performers of the weekend. He didn’t score for Viborg this time but he helped his team earn a scoreless draw on the road against Danish Superliga leaders Midtjylland. In the 35th minute of the game, Ogunbiyi made a diving goal line clearance to preserve the clean sheet for Viborg. In the 79th minute, he made another save off the line—this time heading the ball to safety.

The season is still young, but Ogundbiyi so far has been one of his league’s best defenders. (You can see his first goal line clearance at the 0:42 of this video; his second is at 2:20.)

No. 4—Terrence Boyd
Just when Terrence Boyd seemed to be falling down Klinsmann’s depth chart for the U.S. national team, the German-American has raised his game. Competition brings out the best in many players, and Boyd has responded well to being pushed.

On Sunday, Boyd scored in the 17th minute to help Rapid to a 2-0 win over Ried. Boyd now has six goals in all competitions and five goals in the Austrian Bundesliga season in just 376 minutes played (that’s one goal for every 76 minutes). He is playing very well at the moment and his stock is surely rising among American forwards. A move in the January transfer window is now looking likely.

No. 3—Geoff Cameron
Stoke City may have lost on Sunday against Arsenal but Geoff Cameron has continued to impress at right back. He might even be the club’s best player so far this season.

Against Arsenal, Cameron scored his first Premier League goal when he fired a left-footed blast off a rebound. Cameron has always been a good defender and central defense may still be his preferred position, but he is adjusting to right back quickly. Jurgen Klinsmann will surely be taking note of Cameron’s ability to effectively get into the attack.

No. 2—Timothy Chandler
Chandler has been out of the national team since February 2013, and when Michael Parkhurst (who rarely makes the 18 for Augsburg) was being selected over him, it became clear that Chandler needed to raise his game in the eyes of Klinsmann.

So far this month, he has made a strong case. First, he reclaimed his starting right back spot with Nurnberg. Second, he was solid in last week’s draw against Eintracht Braunschweig. On Saturday he gave another well-rounded performance in Nurnberg’s 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund. (It was the first two points the 2013 Champions League runners-up have dropped.)

If Chandler continues to play this well, he will be impossible to ignore.

No. 1—Brad Guzan
Is there a better goalkeeper in the Premier League right now than Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan? Unlikely. Guzan has been terrific this season and his performance on Saturday in the 1-0 win over Norwich was a gem. He stopped Robert Snodgrass’ penalty in the first half but his true highlight came in the 89th minute when he punched Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s close range shot over the bar. Aston Villa had no business earning a result but Brad Guzan was the difference.

Brian Sciaretta is a frequent American Soccer Now contributor and a member of the ASN 100 editorial panel. Follow him on Twitter.

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