Americans Abroad: Guzan gets his chance, Dempsey gets his record
Brad Guzan ascends to No. 1 at Aston Villa with starting keeper Shay Given out
Guzan will record his first EPL start and could face Tim Howard in January
Clint Dempsey broke his tie with Brian McBride with his 37th career EPL goal
The "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" quips about Brad Guzan's European career can head to the back burner. At long last, Guzan is Aston Villa's No. 1 goalkeeper. With Monday's word that regular starter Shay Given will be out for the next month after tearing his hamstring in the first half of Aston Villa's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday, the Villans will turn to the 27-year-old Illinois native between the pipes. Guzan looked at ease upon entering against the Red Devils and didn't concede a goal, though he was hardly put to the test in 52 minutes.
"Great credit to Brad for coming in and handling it," Villa manager Alex McLeish said on the club's official website. "He did really well. He was unfazed, and I was delighted with his performance."
The way things have unfolded for Guzan since he left Chivas USA for the bright lights of the Premier League in 2008 certainly hasn't been ideal. After patiently waiting as a backup behind Brad Friedel for three seasons and now Given, Guzan finally has an opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level.
The challenges will be there for Guzan while he claims all the first-team minutes. During Given's spell on the injured list, Guzan is looking at six more league games -- including tests against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea -- and potentially an FA Cup match as well before he is expected to yield back starting duties.
If Given suffers a setback of any sorts and extends Guzan's reign as top dog any longer, it could set up a potential head-to-head matchup with U.S. No. 1 Tim Howard and Everton on Jan. 14 in what would become a must-see match for all U.S. Soccer fans.
In his time abroad, Guzan has started FA Cup, League Cup, Europa League and UEFA Cup matches, but he has never started a Premier League game (he did start League Championship games for Hull City while on loan last season). If he is ever to truly capitalize on his move to England -- not to mention re-register himself on the national-team radar after Jurgen Klinsmann handed Guzan's long-standing duties as Howard's backup to internationally untested D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid -- now is the time.
"We have to meet these challenges and we will," McLeish said. "We have total faith in Brad who, as I said after the game against Manchester United on Saturday, can be proud of the way he stepped in when Shay had to come off."
While Guzan finds himself in relatively new territory, Clint Dempsey found himself in a familiar spot at Craven Cottage on Monday, scoring the game-winning goal for Fulham late against 10-man Liverpool. Dempsey was quick to pounce on a spilled shot by goalkeeper Pepe Reina to not only deliver three precious points to a team looking to build some momentum after a slow start but also to etch his name in the record books yet again.
With his goal, Dempsey pulled past former U.S. and Fulham great Brian McBride for most goals scored alltime in the Premier League by an American (37), a standard that will continue to rise with every vintage Dempsey performance for as long as he remains in England's top flight.
The recent developments involving Guzan and Dempsey were the most notable ones involving Americans playing abroad, with a consolation prize going to Jozy Altidore. The national team striker found the back of the net again for AZ Alkmaar to keep his strong season rolling along. Here is how that trio and the rest of their countrymen fared over the past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):
Clint Dempsey, M, Fulham - Not in the 18 for Fulham's 1-0 loss to FC Twente in the UEFA Europa League group stage on Thursday. Dempsey sat out that match with a minor thigh injury, but he started, played 90 minutes and scored the game-winning goal in Fulham's 1-0 victory over Liverpool in league play Monday. Dempsey fired home a spilled rebound off a Danny Murphy shot in the 85th minute for the game's lone goal. SEASON: 20 games, 20 starts, 6 goals
Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham - Not in the 18 for Tottenham's 2-1 loss to PAOK Salonika in the Europa League group stage Wednesday. Friedel started, played 90 minutes, made four saves and earned the clean sheet in Tottenham's 3-0 victory over Bolton in league play Saturday. SEASON: 13 games, 13 starts, 60 saves, 16 goals allowed, 4 clean sheets
Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa - In the 18, came on in the 38th minute and made two saves in Villa's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday. He'll be the club's starter for the next month while Shay Given recovers from a torn hamstring. SEASON: 2 games, 1 start, 5 saves, 0 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Everton - Not in the 18 for Everton's 1-0 loss to Stoke City on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games
Tim Howard, GK, Everton - Started, played 90 minutes and made one save in Everton's 1-0 loss to Stoke City on Sunday. SEASON: 13 games, 13 starts, 31 saves, 16 goals allowed, 2 clean sheets
Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa - Not in the 18 for Villa's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 1 goal
Zak Whitbread, D, Norwich City - In the 18, did not play in Norwich City's 5-1 loss to Manchester City on Saturday. Whitbread's appearance on the bench marked his return to the first team from a lengthy spell on the sidelines because of a hamstring injury. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts
Conor Doyle, F, Derby County - Not in the 18 for Derby County's 1-0 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday or for Derby County's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Friday. SEASON: 5 games, 1 start
Robbie Findley, F, Nottingham Forest - Started, played the first half of Nottingham Forest's 4-0 loss to Leeds United on Tuesday. Findley was not in the 18 for Nottingham Forest's 1-0 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. SEASON: 19 games, 11 starts, 5 goals
Jonathan Spector, M/D, Birmingham City - Started, played 90 minutes in Birmingham's 1-0 loss to Sporting Braga in the Europa League group stage Wednesday. Spector started and played 75 minutes in Birmingham's 1-0 loss to Cardiff City in league play Sunday. SEASON: 21 games, 21 starts
Mike Grella, F, Brentford - Started, played the first half of Brentford's 1-0 loss to Wrexham in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 13 games, 3 starts, 4 goals
Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United - Not in the 18 for Carlisle's 2-0 loss to Charlton Athletic in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start
Anton Peterlin, M, Walsall - In the 18, did not play in Walsall's 1-1 draw with Dagenham & Redbridge in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The draw forces a replay to determine which team advances to the third round. SEASON: 16 games, 11 starts
Jemal Johnson, F, Southend United - Not in the 18 for Southend's 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The draw forces a replay to determine which team advances to the third round. Johnson was suspended for two weeks by Southend for getting arrested after an altercation at a nightclub in October. According to a team statement, Johnson won't participate in training with the club while his case is reviewed. SEASON: 7 games, 2 starts
Jon-Paul Pittman, F, Crawley Town - In the 18, did not play in Crawley Town's 5-0 victory over Redbridge FC in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 1 start, 1 goal (7 games, 1 start with Oxford United)
Terrence Boyd, F, Borussia Dortmund - Not in the 18 for Dortmund's 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday. SEASON: 0 games
Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Nurnberg's 2-0 loss to Hamburg SV on Sunday. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts, 1 goal
Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Hannover's 2-0 loss to Standard Liege in the Europa League group stage Wednesday. Cherundolo also started and played 90 minutes in Hannover's 1-1 draw with SC Freiburg in league play Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 14 starts
Fabian Johnson, M/D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Started, played 59 minutes in Hoffenheim's 2-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday. SEASON: 13 games, 10 starts, 1 goal
Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Schalke's 2-1 victory over Steaua Bucuresti in the Europa League group stage Thursday. Schalke clinched first place in its group with the win and will move on to the knockout stage. Jones was not in the 18 for Schalke's 3-1 victory over FC Augsburg in league play Sunday. He was suspended because of yellow card accumulation. SEASON: 13 games, 9 starts
Alfredo Morales, D, Hertha Berlin - Not in the 18 for Berlin's 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games
Daniel Williams, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Started, played 90 minutes in Hoffenheim's 2-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Friday. SEASON: 11 games, 8 starts (1 game, 1 start with SC Freiburg)
David Yelldell, GK, Bayer Leverkusen - In the 18, did not play in Leverkusen's 2-0 victory over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 1 save, 4 goals allowed
Edson Buddle, F, FC Ingolstadt 04 - Started, played 90 minutes in Ingolstadt's 1-0 loss to Eintracht Braunschweig on Friday. SEASON: 19 games, 11 starts, 6 goals
Ricardo Clark, M, Eintracht Frankfurt - Not in the 18 for Frankfurt's 2-0 victory over Karlsruhe on Saturday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start
Luis Robles, GK, Karlsruhe - Started, played 90 minutes and made six saves in Karlsruhe's 2-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 14 saves, 13 goals allowed
Matt Taylor, F, SC Paderborn 07 - In the 18, did not play in Paderborn's 1-1 draw with St. Pauli on Friday. SEASON: 13 games, 5 starts, 4 goals
Michael Bradley, M, Chievo Verona - Started, played 90 minutes in Chievo's 0-0 draw with Atalanta on Sunday. SEASON: 12 games, 11 starts
Quentin Westberg, GK, Evian Thonon Gaillard - Not in the 18 for Evian's 2-1 victory over Valenciennes on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts, 8 saves, 3 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar - Started, played 90 minutes in AZ's 0-0 draw with Malmo FF in the Europa League group stage Wednesday. Altidore also started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in AZ's 5-1 loss to SC Heerenveen in league play Sunday. Altidore worked a nifty combination, timed his run into the box well and took a slick touch to evade a defender before quickly releasing a low blast to pull AZ level in the 20th minute. SEASON: 23 games, 19 starts, 9 goals
Oguchi Onyewu, D, Sporting Lisbon - Started, played 90 minutes in Sporting's 2-0 victory over FC Zurich in the Europa League group stage on Thursday. Onyewu also started and played 90 minutes in Sporting's 2-0 victory over Belenenses in the Round of 16 in the Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) on Monday. SEASON: 12 games, 12 starts, 1 goal
Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht - Started, played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 2-1 victory over AEK Athens in the Europa League group stage Thursday. Kljestan also started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Anderlecht's 0-0 draw with OH Leuven in league play Sunday. SEASON: 22 games, 22 starts, 2 goals
Alejandro Bedoya, M, Rangers FC - In the 18, did not play in Rangers' 2-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday. SEASON: 24 games, 18 starts, 4 goals (16 games, 15 starts, 4 goals with Orebro SK)
Carlos Bocanegra, D, Rangers FC - Not in the 18 for Rangers' 2-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday. Bocanegra missed the match with a slight a hamstring tear. SEASON: 15 games, 15 starts, 2 goals (1 game, 1 start with St. Etienne)
Maurice Edu, M, Rangers FC - Started, played 90 minutes in Rangers' 2-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday. SEASON: 20 games, 20 starts, 2 goals
Dominic Cervi, GK, Greenock Morton - Started, played 90 minutes and made eight saves in Greenock Morton's 1-0 loss to Falkirk on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts, 20 saves, 5 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Jonathan Bornstein, D, Tigres UANL - Not in the 18 for Tigres' 0-0 draw with Queretaro in the first leg of the Apertura Liguilla semifinals on Thursday or for Tigres' 1-0 victory Queretaro in the second leg on Sunday that put the club into the final, where it will take on Santos Laguna. SEASON: 0 games
Clarence Goodson, D, Brondby IF - Started, played 90 minutes in Brondby's 1-1 draw with HB Koge on Sunday. SEASON: 21 games, 21 starts, 1 goal
Conor O'Brien, M, Sonderjyske - In the 18, came on as a 75th-minute substitute in Sonderjyske's 4-0 loss to Odense BK on Monday. SEASON: 16 games, 8 starts, 2 goals
Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Nordsjaelland - Started, played 90 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 0-0 draw with FC Midtjylland on Sunday. SEASON: 23 games, 23 starts
Chris Rolfe, F, Aalborg BK - Started, played 90 minutes in Aalborg's 4-2 loss to Silkeborg on Saturday. SEASON: 19 games, 17 starts, 4 goals
Brad Rusin, D, HB Koge - In the 18, came on as a 73rd-minute substitute in Koge's 1-1 draw with Brondby IF on Sunday. SEASON: 15 games, 11 starts, 2 goals
The list of MLS-based Americans going overseas to train with European clubs keeps growing by the week. Here's an updated look at where players have either finished training, are currently training or will be training over the coming weeks:
Juan Agudelo, F, New York Red Bulls (Liverpool after a stint in Germany with VfB Stuttgart)
Teal Bunbury, F, Sporting Kansas City (Bolton)
Bill Hamid, GK, D.C. United (West Brom)
Sean Johnson, GK, Chicago Fire (Everton)
Jeff Larentowicz, M, Colorado Rapids (Bolton)
Zac MacMath, GK, Philadelphia Union (Everton)
Tim Ream, D, New York Red Bulls (Bolton, West Brom)
Omar Salgado, F, Vancouver Whitecaps (Fulham)
Brek Shea, M, FC Dallas (Arsenal)
Kyle Beckerman, M, Real Salt Lake (Kaiserslautern)
Perry Kitchen, D/M, D.C. United (SC Freiburg)
Amobi Okugo, M, Philadelphia Union (SC Freiburg)
Zach Pfeffer, M, Philadelphia Union (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)
Robbie Rogers, M, Columbus Crew (Kaiserslautern)