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Americans Abroad

The 10 Best Americans In Europe This Past Weekend

ASN contributor Brian Sciaretta watched a ton of soccer over the past few days, and he ranked the top performances by Americans playing on the continent.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 16, 2013
9:45 AM
THE SEPTEMBER INTERNATIONAL break is over and players have returned to their clubs. This past weekend was certainly a good one for Americans in Europe as there were several standout performances in top leagues.

No. 10—John Brooks
Hertha Berlin may have lost on Friday to Stuttgart by a narrow score of 1-0, but U.S national team central defender John Brooks was in fine form. After dominating the 2.Bundesliga last season with Hertha and helping the team earn promotion, this year was always going to be telling for Brooks, a young mang asked to anchor his club’s backline in the Bundesliga. The 20-year-old Brooks has surpassed expectations so far. He has improved in aerial game and his passing out of the back is first rate.

No. 9—Jozy Altidore
The Premier League season is still young but one thing is clear, Jozy Altidore is going to have to work extremely hard for Sunderland this year. Altidore was impressive in Sunderland’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, but it wasn’t enough. The difference in talent between the clubs was apparent from the onset but Altidore was still able to be dangerous and poor officiating denied him a goal in the second half.

The good news is that if Altidore can be a handful to defend when his club is being out-possessed nearly 2:1 and the opposition has considerable more skill in the midfield, he can still be a good Premier League forward.

No. 8—Terrence Boyd
The Austrian Bundesliga is not a strong league and an American player will have to do extraordinarily well there to earn playing time with the U.S. national team. Fortunately for Terrence Boyd, his numbers are very impressive in the early part of the season. With his goal on Saturday in Rapid Vienna’s 4-0 rout over Wacker Innsbruck, Boyd now has four on the season. He could have had two goals Saturday but his first-half penalty was saved.

Boyd, who missed a few games with a shoulder injury, has played a total of 286 minutes so far this season giving him an impressive ratio of one goal for every 71.5 minutes.

No. 7—Alejandro Bedoya
If any player deserves a grade of “A+” for a transfer window move, it is Alejandro Bedoya. In making the move to Nantes, Bedoya has moved to a top 5 European league and has gone to a club where he is a lock starter.

On Saturday, Bedyoa started and went 75 minutes for Nantes in its 1-0 win over Sochaux. While the goal was scored after he left the game, Bedoya earned positive reviews from the French media attending the game. Any newly promoted team such as Nantes will have the top priority of staying up, and the win puts Nantes in the top 10 of Ligue 1 early in the season.

No. 6—Jide Ogunbiyi
If ever there was an American flying under the radar early in the European season it is Viborg central defender Jide Ogunbiyi. Shortly before the international window, the 26-year-old Ogunbiyi was named to the Danish Superliga team of the week in Viborg’s 3-1 win over Esbjerg.

On Saturday, Ogunbiyi may find himself on the team of the week again, seeing as his goal off a header in the 20th minute was all Viborg needed in a 1-0 road win over AGF Aarhus. The six-foot-four Ogunbiyi has been one of Viborg’s best players and the club sits in 5th place in the Superliga but just two points out of 2nd. Next weekend will be telling as Viborg visits league leaders Midtjylland.

No. 5—Timothy Chandler
If Timothy Chandler is going to climb out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s doghouse, he is going to have to both reclaim the starting right back spot at Nurnberg and play well in the process. On Saturday, the German-American made checked both boxes.

Making just his second start of the Bundesliga season, Chandler helped give Nurnberg a 1-0 lead over lowly Eintrach Braunschweig when his overlapping run gave him the space to send in a nice cross—which Adam Hlousek finished. Despite Chandler’s assist, Nurnberg could not hold onto the lead and settled for a 1-1 draw. As a team, Nurnberg did not play well but Chandler was among the best players in the game.

No. 4—Aron Johannsson
Aron Johannsson may have only been a U.S.-affiliated player for a little more than a month, but he has been playing consistently well for more than a year. On Saturday, he tallied another goal for AZ Alkmaar in a 3-0 win over the Go Ahead Eagles. Johannsson’s goal came from the penalty spot but he deserved full credit as his outstanding move drew the foul to earn the penalty.

No. 3—Tim Howard
Do you remember when some people were questioning Tim Howard’s status as the best American goalkeeper after the U.S team’s 3-1 loss to Costa Rica? That is ancient history. Not only did Tim Howard put on a stellar performance against Mexico to clinch qualification for the World Cup, but he has played fantastic soccer for Everton. ON Saturday he posted a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Everton has played four league games so far this season, and with Howard playing every minute the Liverpool-based club has conceded just two goals.

No. 2—Geoff Cameron
Right back may not be Geoff Cameron’s favorite or even best position, but you would never be able to tell with the way he played on Saturday for Stoke City in a 0-0 draw against Manchester City.

What was most impressive about Cameron’s performance is that he didn’t simply sit back and defend. He pushed forward effectively against a talented Manchester City defense and was dangerous at times. Perhaps Cameron will eventually move back to his natural position of central defense, but the fact that his versatility allows him play right back well in the Premier League is a huge bonus—for both club and country.

No. 1—Sacha Kljestan
Sacha Kljestan is playing very well to start the year in Belgium. He has started all seven of Anderlecht’s games and on Saturday he put in a complete performance in a 5-0 romp over Mechelen. His 18th-minute goal was his fourth on the season and it puts him just two off the league lead.

This is nothing new, as Kljestan has been playing well for Anderlecht for years. But his solid form comes at a perfect time since his club begins Champions League group play Tuesday against Benfica. Last year Anderlecht did not advance out of the group stage but this year expectations are higher and it is crucial for the club that Kljestan plays well.

Kljestan, ranked 14th in the ASN 100, was the highest-rated healthy American not called in by Klinsmann for the September World Cup qualifiers. The Champions League will give him a big opportunity to showcase his ability, and if he plays well in the group stages, Klinsmann may feel obliged to give the former Seton Hall Pirate another chance with the national team.

Which of these performances excites you the most? Did any other European performances warrant inclusion on this list? Share your thoughts below.

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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