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Americans Abroad

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

Eric Lichaj 2 (Getty Images)

By FRANCO PANIZO

Eric Lichaj and Aston Villa may have lost their match against Tottenham on Sunday, but the American put forth one of the most solid performances of his young career.

Starting at right back in the 2-1 loss to Tottenham on Boxing Day, Lichaj helped contain the dangerous Gareth Bale before Bale eventually moved over to the opposite flank. Lichaj looked poised and comfortable on the ball, and almost equalized late in the game when he got on the end of a cross before seeing his shot hit the side netting.

Eddie Johnson also saw the field on Boxing Day, coming off the bench and playing 36 minutes in Fulham's 3-1 loss to West Ham United. The defeat placed Fulham in the relegation zone along with the Hammers and Wolves.

Here is how the Americans Abroad performed this weekend:

England

PREMIERSHIP

  • Tim Howard and Everton's game vs. Birmingham on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.
  • Clint Dempsey started and played 54 minutes in Fulham's 3-1 loss vs. West Ham United on Sunday.

  • Eddie Johnson came off the bench and played 36 minutes for Fulham.
  • Brad Friedel started, played 90 minutes and made two saves in Aston Villa's 2-1 loss vs. Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
  • Brad Guzan dressed but did not play for Aston Villa.
  • Eric Lichaj started and played 90 minutes for Aston Villa.
  • Marcus Hahnemann dressed but did not play in Wolverhampton Wanderers' 2-1 loss vs. Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
  • Jonathan Spector dressed but did not play in West Ham United's 3-1 win vs. Fulham on Sunday.
  • Stuart Holden started and played 90 minutes in Bolton Wanderers' 2-0 win vs. West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

CHAMPIONSHIP

  • Conor Doyle and Derby County's game vs. Doncaster Rovers on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.
  • Zak Whitbread and Norwich City's game vs. Crystal Palace on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.

LEAGUE ONE

  • Frank Simek and Carlisle United's game vs. Oldham Athletic on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.
  • Mike Grella and Carlisle United's game vs. Oldham Athletic on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.
  • Anton Peterlin and Plymouth Argyle's game vs. AFC Bournemouth on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.
  • Jemal Johnson and Milton Keynes Dons' game vs. Leyton Orient on Sunday was postponed due to the weather.

Scotland

PREMIER LEAGUE

  • Maurice Edu did not dress in Rangers' 4-1 win vs. Motherwell on Sunday. He is recovering from a knee injury.

Belgium

  • Sacha Kljestan started and played 78 minutes in RSC Anderlecht's 6-0 win vs. Lierse SK on Sunday.

————–

What do you think of these performances? How do you rate Lichaj's 90-minute showing? Impressed? Surprised Johnson and Fulham are in the relegation zone?

Share your thoughts below.

46 comments
  • Jack

    Was very impressed by Lichaj. He contained Bale better than many more seasoned defenders this season, knew when to get up and drop back, and even got in two good shots. The fact that Bale didn’t get anywhere until he switched sides says a lot. With Cherundolo on the downslope of his NT career, it’s honestly a relief to see someone with the potential to not only fill his spot, but fill it well.

    Like

  • Chicago Fire Fan

    It’s great to think that Lichaj’s defensive work might have forced Tottenham’s hand in moving Bale to the other side of the pitch.

    21 year old defender forcing one of the top wingers in the world to move positions to be more effective.

    Like

  • Jay

    Lichaj, i think was the best player in AV. Containing Bale was no easy task and he did well. Not only that, but he looked dangerous in the attack. This guy is a very good pick up for the USMNT.

    Like

  • angel_v13

    It’s nice to see an American defender be pro-active instead of reactive. Hopefully with today’s performance, Lichaj has won Houllier’s confidence. 2011 looks like it’s going to be a good year for Americans abroad and the USMNT. Dempsey needs to leave Fulham in the summer regardless of their seasons outcome.

    Like

  • NK

    Anyone know why Dempsey was taken off so quickly? He scores way more than anyone on Fulham. I understand taking off Etuhu to score goals, but why Dempsey?

    It’s no wonder the Fulham fans are reported to have chanted “you don’t know what you are doing!” to Mark Hughes after that move.

    Like

  • angel_v13

    The commentators were saying he might have had a slight ankle knock and that Hughes didn’t want to risk him getting hurt. I don’t think it was serious since he was able to walk off. The boos directed at hughes were pretty awesome when he pulled dempsey off.

    Like

  • Herm

    Albrighton was the best in my opinion. Ablonlahor was solid too though he couldn’t deliver. Lichaj was right there though. Just my opinion though.

    Like

  • Sean

    Agreed. Lichaj had a few misplaced passes that could have hurt AV. Overall, he was very good though

    Like

  • David

    I agree. Lichaj was better than I expected. He is quality. At least we have some depth at right back!

    Like

  • David

    I was impressed with Lichaj. He was able to contain Bale and got forward to be an offensive threat. Great to see that BB will have options at right back.

    It might be time for EJ to come home. There are a few MLS teams that could use him. He has not produced for Fulham and I don’t see other clubs in the EPL wanting him.

    Like

  • Timothy M.

    for sure. defensively none of the goals allowed were his fault and he contained bale and lennon for much of the whole game. there was probably like 3 times the combined both of them got past him.

    he served in some pretty decent crosses as well. he could get better technically so in order to take some men on running forward, but i don’t suppose he lacks that and it’ll come the more comfortable he gets. But offensively and defensively, he was everywhere he was supposed to be. positioning was just phenomenal.

    Like

  • Timothy M.

    the gold cup is gonna be awesome. there’s no doubt that jermaine jones is quite the talented player, but i’d love to Sacha Bradley and Holden as the three mids in the back at some point.

    Like

  • Edwin

    Sacha? Are you serious? have we not seen enough of him?

    The second you put some pressure on him he breaks down and turns it over, no thank you.

    I’ll take Edu, Bradley, Jones, Holden and even Torres in the middle before Sacha.

    Hell even Mix Diskerud before Sacha oh god no!

    Leave Sacha where he is let him get better or make a better impact. If Michael Bradley is a permanent 90 EVERY game or 120 in tournaments with OT, then I am sorry but it’s Jones or Edu at the other CM spot, maybe even Holden if BB wants to put Dempsey or LD in the middle to create and someone else on the wing who plays with more pace or just better wide player? Feilhaber?

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    I always did and still like about Sacha that he seeks to make the incisive forward passes that our middies so often puss out on. That he doesn’t connect often enough is unfortunate.

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    Gold cup
    Jozy
    Clint Landon
    Jones Holden Bradley
    Borno Goodsen Edu Dolo
    Timmy

    Buddle
    Feilhaber Torres
    Lichaj Pearce Gooch
    Guzan

    extended
    Gomez
    Bedoya
    Spector ?
    Rimando

    Like

  • Edwin

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but I had Season tickets to Chivas USA this year and went to about 6 or 7 games last season and don’t recall Sacha doing anything remotely like that?

    Maybe in 2008 when he went to the Olympics? But after that I recall a lot of lazy play in the WCQ group vs Cuba, T&T & Guatemala, even Adu was like you Crazy Sacha and took the free kick to score in Colorado.

    Then vs Mexico, @ El Salvador and for some stupid reason Bob played him in Nashville vs T&T and he sucked, the minute Jozy came in the US got better, I think he came in for Pearce (Another scrub who should never be in US nats) Beasley went to RB & LD to wing. But then when Torres came in for Sacha new story!

    Even in the Confeds he sucked, that guy is several levels below our B team guys

    Like

  • Edwin

    Not sure you can put Gomez ahead of Agudelo right now let alone someone like Braun or Bunbury if they BOTH continue to score in the 1st few games of MLS. Or depending on what they do vs Chile, Egypt and Argentina if indeed they play them in March.

    I don’t know about Rimando but I guess until we can see if Perkins can get back to his old self or someone like Cervi or Robles comes up? I like to get one of the U-20 guys ready. Sean Johnson looks sick too for future.

    Pearce? No thank you, play someone else, maybe a LB surfaces in U-20 or from College but not sure in time for Gold Cup, where do you leave Boca? I think he can make till June?

    Like

  • Edwin

    This is my Gold Cup pool:

    GK: Tim, Guzan, Rimando/Cervi/Johnson/Hartman?
    DF: Dolo, Goodson, Gooch, Ream/Gonzales, Bocanegra, Lichaj, Bornstein, good LB????
    MF: LD, Deuce, Bradley, Jones, Holden, Feilhaber, Torres, Edu, Bedoya
    FW: Jozy, Agudelo, Buddle

    Fringe guys??? Robles, U-20 keeper, DeMerit, Alston/Sean Franklin, loser of Ream/Omar, Spector, Mix, Geoff Cameron, Larentowicz, Convey ( I doubt if Bob didn’t give him a look in Jan Camp never will happen under Bob) and maybe a healthy Davies????

    Like

  • BFT

    Apart from one or two nervy moments, Lichaj played very well. He shut down Bale and forced Harry Redknapp to make a tactical switch, which is all you can really ask for. A few decent attempts on goal too!

    Interesting that both teams eventually needed to switch their wingers to be effective offensively. Apart from that one Agbonlahor chance, Villa never really looked like scoring until Albrighton (for me their best player on the day) switched flanks.

    Like

  • Lost in Space

    Turgid, you’re not far off but I expect US to play in more of a 4-2-3-1 than your 4-3-2-1 formation. Therefore I’d expect the Gold Cup Roster to look more like:

    ———————Jozy—————————–

    —Landon———–Holden—————–Dempsey—-

    ———–Jones————Bradley——————-

    -Boca———-Ream———Goodson————–Dolo-

    ——————-Timmy——————————

    Subs:

    Forward: Buddle, Juan

    Midfield: Edu, Benny, Mikkel, Bedoya

    Defense: Lichaj, Gooch/DeMerit/Gonzalez, Bornstein

    Goal Keepers: Guzan

    Bubble Players include:

    Forwards: Teal, Davies,

    Midfield: Torres, Shea, Spector

    Defense: Gooch, DeMerit, Gonzalez, Spector

    If any of these bubble players show realy well in the friendlies running up to the Gold Cup and/or start lighting it up for their clubs they could easily take spots of some of those I’ve listed as making the squad.

    Anyway just my 2 Cents.

    Like

  • jig

    wonder why he starts for anderlecht then. they must love the fact that he gives the ball up every time he comes under pressure. must be why he keeps getting run out there.

    Like

  • Edwin

    Ummm yeah he starts at Anderlecht, but he has struggled to actually make the job his this season, he had a few goals and then started missing games. He’s been getting in most of the recent games the last month or so but just because he starts in Belgium doesn’t mean he can actually create and that he does indeed give the ball up easily when you apply simple pressure on him. Ask people who watched him play. He’s an okay player but not worthy of the US when we have about 6 or 7 1st team choices who are much better

    Like

  • Jdavids

    Lichaj is mean. From the look of him, he’s the kind of guy i’d want on my team. I love his character in the few games i’ve seen. He isn’t going to take sh** from anyone.
    He’s quietly made his way and I can’t wait to see him develop into a MNT regular.

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    I’d probably agree also with your forward pool more or less. But I’m not ready to say Agudelo is a starter or even a lock for the bench. I’d waffle between him and Herc until I see more.

    Similarly, until I get evidence that Gooch is back to himself, I can’t advocate for him.

    Mostly (except Dolo and Buddle) I’d like to shy away from anyone who is likely to be too old at WC14. Granted if they’re still the best in our pool at their position, they probably do feature in the GC–we do want to win it, after all.

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    Yeah, you are probably right. I was almost thinking of it as a 4-3-3, with Clint and ‘Cakes playing wide advanced wings or something.

    And I do think Ream may also be in there, along with Mix. My lineup was obviously not that well considered. I like a lot of elements of the others you all have posted since.

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    Hm, I only watched bits of CUSA games but still caught times I thought he was making positive plays.

    Maybe I was looking for reasons to like him still.

    Like

  • JFC

    i wanna see a 4-4-2. maybe jozy and charlie up front (if hes healthy) or maybe buddle. get holden in CAM for service. i think our boys are doing well.

    Like

  • Turgid Jacobian

    Yes. I’m reclaiming the nickname for the forces of good, right, and the American Way an’ stuff.

    Like

  • Timothy M.

    Have you seen any of the europa league games this season edwin? you mentioned before, that you had season tickets to chivas last season and that you saw him play, “but you’d take your word for it”, concerning what Turgid said. Then you all the examples you site about Sacha are from last year. Well he sucked last year! everyone knows that!

    He had a bad year. After his the transfer with Celtic went through, he was in a horrible slump and apathetic towards MLS and soccer really. Sacha can pick out a pass. And the great thing is he doesn’t really play exactly like Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. We saw what happened with those two last time out in the friendlies and it didn’t go so well. Sacha and Holden aren’t true wingers but are really balanced box to box mids, which i think would make them great in a 1-2-3-4

    Like

  • Timothy M.

    No more 4-4-2. Do you know how many true wingers we have? Donovan, Dempsey, Bedoya. Then there’s Beasley, Rogers, Convey, Brad Davis, etc.

    Im tired of playing with our most creative players on the wing, when their central mids. That’s our depth and our strength.

    we don’t really have a pull the strings type of attacking mid, but we do have some really creative central mids.

    One thing i can say for sure is that, I’d like Lichaj to start at RB and and Shea to get a run out at LB. I think he will this coming camp anyways.

    Like

  • Sandtrout

    This is my official announcement that I have left the Fulhamerica bandwagon. I love Dempsey and others on the team, but just can’t stand to care about Fulham anymore.

    Sincerely,

    Sandtrout

    Like

  • Timothy M.

    Its never been about teams abroad for me, but the americans playing for them. I suspect I’m not the only one.

    I’d say if anything I’m more a fan of managers who give american’s the chances to succeed then the club’s themselves.

    I’d admire good soccer and certain team’s but there’s just no personal affiliation.

    Like

  • Brian

    No way, should EJ come home. I would have said that two months ago, but Hughes is giving him more and more time on the pitch it seems as the months go by. It would be nice to see him put one in the back of the net

    Like

  • OC

    Early in the game he tried to take Bale on down the right touch line but Bale tackled him and won the ball well, that might have killed his swag in terms of trying to take players on. I agree, I think he just needs to get a little more comfortable and we’ll see his attacking work catch up to his defensive ability.

    Like

  • OC

    Sacha is inconsistent. But I think this year has certainly been one of his best. Sometimes it just takes a little confidence to make an average player a good one. I was never a big fan of his ever since his USMNT hat trick, but I’m hoping he has matured a little bit in his time over there because he can make a killer pass once or twice a game.

    Like

  • Jack

    Why would you play 4 in midfield when that is by FAR our deepest position in the pool? That would mean benching either Jones, Bradley, or Holden, all of which would, at least in the current way that things stand, would be counterproductive.

    Like

  • Sandtrout

    I guess that’s what I mean. As you follow a team with Americans on it, you get connected to some of the other players or personalities, too. But when they suck as a team, that goes by the wayside and you just root for the Americans. At least I do.

    Like

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