Americans Abroad: A Look Ahead

Corona (Getty Images)

By FRANCO PANIZO

This time last year, Joe Corona and Club Tijuana were fighting to gain promotion to the top division in Mexican soccer. Now, the team has its eyes on the Primera Division title, but it will need a road comeback to keep that dream alive.

Corona is one of several Americans partaking in the liguilla this season, and he and fellow Americans Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza will look to help Tijuana overturn a 2-1 deficit to CONCACAF Champions League winner Monterrey in the quarterfinals of the Mexican playoffs.

Also in the hunt in their respective league's playoffs, RSC Anderlecht can secure the Belgian league title this weekend if they can knock off second-place Club Brugge at home. Anderlecht is currently seven points ahead of Club Brugge in the standings, and a win would put them out of reach with two games remaining. After a mid-week return from suspension off the bench, Sacha Kljestan should assume his role in Anderlecht's midfield as the club aims to win its 31st league championship.

Tim Ream and Bolton Wanderers are nowhere near the league title in England, but they are close to the Championship. Still in the relegation zone with two games remaining, Bolton could use a win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday to move closer to avoiding the drop and securing another season in the Premier League.

Here is who the Americans Abroad play this weekend:

FRIDAY

Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City play Blackpool in the League Championship promotion playoffs. (Spector is out injured.)

Ricardo Clark, Sean Cunningham and Stabaek IF play Rosenborg.

SATURDAY

Zak Whitbread and Norwich City play Arsenal.

Anton Peterlin and Walsall play Milton Keynes Dons.

Frank Simek and Carlisle United play Oldham Athletic.

Mike Grella and Bury play Stevenage.

Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra and Rangers play Motherwell.

Terrence Boyd and Borussia Dortmund play SC Freiburg.

Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 play Andrew Wooten and Kaiserslautern.

Alfredo Morales and Hertha Berlin play Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, Joe Gyau and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. (Williams is out injured.)

Timmy Chandler and FC Nurnberg play David Yelldell and Bayer Leverkusen.

Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 play Werder Bremen.

Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting CP play FC Porto.

Mix Diskerud and KAA Gent play KV Kortrijk in the Pro League playoffs.

Michael Parkhurst and FC Nordsjaelland play Lyngby.

Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza and Club Tijuana play Monterrey in the Liguilla.

Jose Torres and Pachuca play America in the Liguilla.

SUNDAY

Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj and Aston Villa play Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur.

Stuart Holden, Tim Ream and Bolton Wanderers play West Bromwich Albion. (Holden is out injured.)

Clint Dempsey and Fulham play Sunderland.

Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann and Everton play Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Dominic Cervi and Celtic play Dundee United.

Michael Bradley and Chievo Verona play Palermo.

Villyan Bijev and Fortuna Dusseldorf play MSV Duisburg.

Luis Robles and Karlsruher SC play Eintracht Frankfurt.

Matt Taylor and SC Paderborn 07 play St Pauli.

Bobby Wood and TSV 1860 Munich play Alemannia Aachen.

Quentin Westberg and Evian Thonon Gaillard play AC Ajaccio.

Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar play FC Groningen.

Eugene Starikov and Zenit St Petersburg play Spartak Moscow.

Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht play Club Brugge in the Pro League playoffs.

Brad Rusin and HB Koge play AGF Aarhus.

Clarence Goodson and Brondby IF play Aalborg BK.

Steve Clark and Honefoss BK play Sandnes Ulf.

Josh Gatt and Molde FK play Aalesund.

Herculez Gomez and Santos Laguna play Adrian Ruelas and Jaguares de Chiapas in the Liguilla.

Jonathan Bornstein and Tigres UANL play Morelia in the Liguilla.

MONDAY

Adam Henley and Blackburn Rovers play Wigan Athletic.

Charlie Davies and Sochaux play AS Nancy Lorraine.

Conor O'Brien and SonderjyskE play FC Midtjylland.

Samuel Petrone and Mjallby AIF play GAIS.

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Which matches are you most looking forward to? Think Corona and Tijuana will top Monterrey? Expect Kljestan and Anderlecht to beat Club Brugge? Do you see Ream and Bolton winning?

Share your thoughts below.

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20 Responses to Americans Abroad: A Look Ahead

  1. SwagSurfin says:

    I was actually at the first Leg of Xolos vs Monterrey last night and while Monterrey was a vastly superior team. The lone bright spot was Edgar Castillo he really stood out as one the most dangerous players on TJ. I think he should get a look for qualifying for left back while the majority of CONCACAF planning style is a lot like the Mexican league he could contribute. Joe Corona just looked nervous and lost the entire game on the other side.

  2. Judging Amy says:

    So is jozy not injured then?

  3. Rlw2020 says:

    All the xolos games iv seen this year “el homie” has looked sharp. He also is always playing LW or TJ must play like barça with the fullbacks as wingers. Crazy how quickly we went from LB options being bornstien, pearce or noone to johnson, chandler, lichaj, castillo, etc

  4. I’ve been hearing similar things about Castillo, and am very interested to see if he gets called in. He didn’t impress last time with the USMNT in my opinion, but his club situation has vastly improved since then, and everything I’ve heard about him has been positive.

    SwagSurfin – definitely agree that Castillo’s got an advantage over other pool players in terms of being more accustomed to the style of play we’ll see in CONCACAF.

    Rlw2020 – also can’t believe that we’ve actually got options on the left. I’ve heard Castillo can play LB or on the wing, but even with that versatility, he’s got competition. Chandler, Johnson, Lichaj at back; Shea and Johnson on the wing.

    Read an article on MLS’s website (Gringo Report) this afternoon about Castillo. He sounds very hungry for another chance. Always great to see players striving for a callup!

  5. On twitter, he said he would be available for this weekend’s game, should his coach call on him. Not sure if that answers your question but at least his injury doesn’t seem too serious, at this point.

  6. CplDaniel says:

    Nice avatar.

  7. Four Cents says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that we all looked at that same picture and though another potential US star got away from us. It’s a great feeling to see Joe Corona on the cover of Americans Abroad.. wOOt! (Also- Castillo definitely deserves another look IMO, he’s a classy person/player for sure)… Lets go you Yanks!

  8. Brian says:

    I’d like to see Castillo get a shot at left wing. I still don’t think he’s that great of a defender, so I’d rather see Lichaj, Johnson or Chandler at LB.

  9. biff says:

    I am one of maybe a half dozen people in the world who thought Edgar Castillo did not look that bad last autumn in a USMNT uniform, and in fact showed potential. I watched him last weekend playing left wing and he was exceptional, with ball-handling and passing skills approaching the levels of Jose Torres and Fabian Johnson. I think we need some players who play club ball in Latin-flavored leagues for he WCQ. Castillo has definitely earned another look from Klinsmann to see whether he can transfer his club form to the USMNT. If he can, then that is yet another winger that has the potential to help turn both the USMNT left and right wings into potent offensive forces—anchored by Clint Dempsey in the middle.

  10. biff says:

    Want to note that it appears Alfredo Morales will not be on the bench this weekend for Berlin against Hoffenheim. He was demoted to the regional league. There is speculation in the German press about the reason for this, and German news stories are not clear about it. But one key player, Tunay Torun, was sent to the regional league because of a spat with the coach, according to news stories. This game has potential to be an explosive affair, as Hoffenheim Coach Markus Babbel was fired by Berlin in December because he would not sign an extension of his contract, which was due to expire this summer. Berlin team management is generally thought to be lacking. With emotions running high in a relegation battle for Berlin, am hoping that Fabian Johnson is not on the wrong end of a bad tackle. In any case, this is game to watch for anyone interested in high drama.

  11. biff says:

    Just saw the note from four cents below about Castillo being a classy guy. The game I watched last week was a “family day” game or something like that (I don’t speak or read Spanish, but got the gist), and the Tijuana players who are daddies walked onto the field either carrying their small children or holding hands with their bigger kids for a group photo in front of a “family day” banner. It was totally cute with the band playing in the background and Castillo had his little son in his arms.

  12. predicto says:

    Yeah, agree – I thought Castillo’s attacking on the side was positive for the USMNT last year. But that left him open to get burned on D – which is where, I think, all the bad comments originated.

  13. kev says:

    hat trick for Dempsey and Altidore this weekend, please

  14. Mig22 says:

    I’m hoping for substitute appearance or bench for Dempsey. He’s played a few too many games for my liking this year (funny how we used to worry that he wasn’t getting minutes?). With friendlies and qualifiers coming up, I’d just as soon have him rested.

    For Jozy, yeah…more goals.

    Cheers!

  15. Zak1FCK says:

    Morales has been injured.

  16. Chuck says:

    Xolos, on it’s way to be America’s team.

  17. bryan says:

    i agree Castillo deserves another chance. our players are certainly making it hard on the coaches to make their selections. it’s guaranteed some players who are playing well will be left out.

    castillo, gomez, wondo, orozco, sasha and beasley the most obvious. all of them are playing really well, and there is basically a 0% chance all of them will get called up.

  18. biff says:

    Not disputing what you are saying. Could be, but I have not seen any stories reporting him as injured. Several news articles are saying he was sent to the regional or u-23 team, such as these two:

    link to pnn.de

    link to bz-berlin.de

    A lot of people in Germany feel that Otto Rehhagel has been ineffective since he was brought in to save the team from relegation. Would not surprise me if some players are not happy with him.

  19. Zak1FCK says:

    He got a thigh injury in training prior to the Kaiserslautern game. He has been out since.