The American forward looks to help his club squad turn the corner in yet another crucial EPL match. Meanwhile, Michael Bradley goes to Milan and two U.S. goalkeepers take the field against quality sides.
IT'S NOT EVEN CHRISTMAS
December 13, 2013
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and there are already games with title implications in England. So yes, it's getting late early for the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City.
There aren't any Americans involved in that contest, but it's a nice consolation that a few good results will see Tim Howard within shouting distance of the top. In related English news, there's another opportunity for Jozy Altidore and Sunderland to gel into a team against West Ham. In France, Alejandro Bedoya should see as much playing time as he wants against underwhelming Toulouse. And a big game in Milan puts Michael Bradley and Roma's undefeated season on the line against Robinho and Mario Balotelli.
Here's your curated guide to the best American-flavored soccer on TV this weekend.
West Ham vs. Sunderland
10:00 a.m. (all times Eastern)
NBC Sports Live Extra
For better or worse, you keep getting the impression that Jozy Altidore and Sunderland are about to turn a corner. They've put in reasonably decent showings the past few weeks against good teams, so maybe the slight drop in quality that West Ham will bring will allow Altidore and Co. to open things up. Altidore especially has been playing well, considering the limitations of the players around him. It isn't his fault that Steven Fletcher looks like he's a victim on Invasion of the Body Snatchers this season.
Everton vs. Fulham
NBC Sports Live Extra
Tim Howard has been propelling Everton into the upper echelons of the Premier League this season, leading the league in shutouts and having the third best GAA among keepers with at least 10 games this season. Fulham has been Fulham this season, sitting in the relegation zone and hoping that Dimitar Berbatov feels like playing today. Amusingly, for those who haven't caught it yet, they also seem to have missed having Mousa Dembele on the team, so they've been giving more minutes to 17-year old French prodigy Moussa Dembele as a result. A win over Fulham and a couple positive results in the Liverpool-Tottenham and Manchester City-Arsenal games will vault the Toffees into a Champions League spot.
Nantes vs. Toulouse
beIN Sport Play MAX 6
Alejandro Bedoya continues to shine for Nantes, and is now the second leading goal scorer on the team. He keeps finding himself in the right place at the right time, and is capitalizing on his opportunities. Up next is 14th place Toulouse who have only one win in their last five games. Toulouse is not without their quality though, with Abel Aguilar and Wissam Ben Yedder leading the team. It should be a good matchup.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United
Brad Guzan has been a hero this season for Aston Villa. If Tim Howard wasn't also being a hero for Everton at the same time, you'd have to think that maybe the pendulum was shifting for the U.S. National team. All Guzan can do though is keep playing his best, and that's what he's doing. This could be an especially fun game to watch, as Manchester United continues to falter, only getting five points from their last five games, and currently sitting mid-table.
Milan vs. Roma
We don't normally include games that aren't on the weekend, but Michael Bradley and Roma visiting San Siro with their unbeaten record on the line is worth it. After a heroic late win against Fiorentina last week, Roma stole three points to stay within a game of Juventus at the top of Serie A. Still holding on with Bayern Munich as the last unbeaten teams in Europe, this will be one of the toughest tests of the season, despite Milan's struggles. The last time Roma visited Milan, Michael Bradley played 90 minutes on the way to a 0-0 tie in May.
NO U.S. ANGLE, BUT...
England: Manchester City vs. Arsenal
(7:30 a.m., Saturday, NBCSN)—It's a clash of the titans on Saturday morning, as the Gunners head to Etihad Stadium to try to get rid of one of their contenders before the winter break. It's a must-win game for both teams, as a Manchester City win puts them in great position to go even with Arsenal after next week's game with Fulham. Meanwhile in West London, Chelsea is playing Crystal Palace this week before traveling to Arsenal next week, also giving them the opportunity to close the gap and potentially take over the top spot if the Gunners falter. Meanwhile in Liverpool, the Reds have Tottenham and Cardiff City over the next two fixtures, which should be two wins wit the way Luis Suarez is playing. This is a pivotal game for Arsenal if they want to keep clear of the next three teams.
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.