With the major European leagues winding down, it’s time to renew an annual OT tradition: the OT XI. With our expansion into more coverage of Americans in Mexico, we’ve adjusted the eligibility for the OT XI. In the previousthreeeditions, only Clint Dempsey has managed to be a mainstay. Will that continue this year?
Without any further delay…
Matt Taylor, Preußen Münster (Germany)
Jozy Altidore, AZ (Netherlands)
The 2012-13 OT XI features two forwards for the first time since the 2009-10 team with the lone forwards from each of the last two seasons (Taylor in 2010-11, Altidore in 2011-12) earning the honors. Taylor returned to the 3. Liga after a season in the 2nd Bundesliga and put up another 15+ goal season, scoring 16 as Preußen Münster jumped from mid-table to nearly earning promotion. He added a hat trick in a DFB-Pokal upset over top-tier Werder Bremen. Altidore, unsatisfied with his 19 goals across all matches in 2011-12, decided that he wanted the American record for goals in Europe to return to the Netherlands and shattered Clint Dempsey’s record from last year as he buried 23 league goals and another eight in cup matches.
Michael Bradley, Roma (Italy)
Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht (Belgium)
Conor O’Brien, SønderjyskE/ Nordsjælland (Denmark)
Clint Dempsey, Totenham Hotspur (England)
After a solid debut season in Serie A with Chievo Verona, Bradley made the jump to perennial power Roma and became a fixture for the Coppa Italia finalists. Kljestan put in another strong season of central midfield play and great mustaches as Anderlecht repeated in Belgium. With that title, Kljestan will play in the Champions League group stage once again. After a decent debut season in the Danish Superliga, O’Brien flourished into full-blown World Cup sleeper with four goals in twenty matches with SønderjyskE. After his contract expired mid-season, he jumped to eventual runners-up FC Nordsjælland and became a regular there by season’s end. Dempsey overcame a slow start following his move to a bigger club to hit double-digit goals across all competitions for the third straight year.
Charles Kazlauskas, Helmond Sport (Netherlands)
John Anthony Brooks, Hertha BSC (Germany)
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City (England)
Edgar Castillo, Tijuana (Mexico)
The Milwaukee native rightback Kazlauskas put in another strong season in the Eerste Divise, scoring five goals across the board as Helmond Sport made the promotion playoffs again. Brooks, in his first full professional season, was dominant as Hertha cruised to the 2nd Bundesliga title. In a crazy centerback stat, he did not receive a yellow card all season. Cameron made the jump from MLS to the Premier League and featured all across the backline in making 35 appearances. Castillo, having made a permanent move to Xolos, put in the strongest season of his previously-troubled career as Tijuana won the Apetura in just their second season in the top flight.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa (England)
After years of languishing on the bench, Guzan finally got the chance to start regularly in 2012-13. Despite not having a great goals allowed record, Guzan single-handedly kept a dreadful Aston Villa defense afloat. With Villa frequently starting 3+ defenders under the age of 23, Guzan came up with critical save after critical save, earning his teammates’ vote as their player of the year.
Jozy Altidore, F, AZ
Altidore becomes the first person to win this award not from Nacogdoches, Texas, to win this award. His 31 goals, as stated, broke Clint Dempey’s American-in-Europe record of 23 from last year while stealing the MVP award away from him as well. AZ, despite a poor Eredivise campaign, won the KNVB Cup for the first time in 31 years behind his winning goal in the final. Altidore will almost assuredly leave the Netherlands this summer after finishing 4th in the Dutch scoring charts.
Goal of the Year
It may have looked awkward, but Clint Dempey’s 35-yard goal against Stoke City late in the season was simply splendid.
Performance of the Year
In a critical late season match against Manchester City, Clint Dempsey sparked Tottenham’s dramatic comeback with a goal and an assist in Spurs’ 3-1 victory that kept their Champions League hopes alive for the time. It was exactly the type of match and performance that we people wanted to see Deuce come up with after his move from Fulham.
Howie’s Pick – Matt Taylor (Preußen Münster – German 3. Liga)
Matt Taylor’s brace was the key to Preußen Münster’s 2-1 win over Karlsruher SC that pulled them within one point of the league lead with four matches to play.
Matt’s Pick – Matt Taylor (Preußen Münster – German 3. Liga)
Matt Taylor scored two goals over the weekend, giving him a team-leading 14 on the season, which is also tied for the sixth most in the 3. Liga. Going back to his 2010-11 season with Rot Weiss Ahlen, Taylor has scored 31 goals in 61 3. Liga appearances.
Stuart Holden had a good chance to play in a reserve match for Bolton earlier this week, but the game was called off due to that lovely December weather in England.
The US ended the year ranked #28 in the latest FIFA world rankings, one spot down from last month. Mexico holds down the top spot in CONCACAF at #15. Brazil is actually at #18, which I believe is its worst ranking ever.
Jimmy Conrad spent some time with Brad Guzan in Birmingham. Both guys seem like good people.
EPL Index recently broke down Tim Howard’s last few seasons. If you are a fan of stats, I recommend checking it out. Looks like he has made a few more defensive errors this year than in previous seasons.
Mathew Wagner recently checked in with Matt Taylor as he enters the winter break.
Brian Sciaretta talked to Marc Pelosi as he joins up with the US U-20 camp in Florida.
Lyle Martin is returning to the US with the San Antonio Scorpions after spending some time in China.
These first two links are a little dated from last week, but I didn’t have a chance to post them.
The first one is about Celtic having interest in signing Juan Agudelo, but Chivas USA are not interested in selling him. And Tim Ream wants to find more consistent playing time with Bolton so he can return to the USMNT picture.
Sticking with Ream, he spoke with Andy Schreur of Yanks Abroad for an interview.
We are approaching the winter transfer window/silly season and Brian Sciaretta gives us a list of Americans in Europe who could be on the move during the window.
Former US youth international Mobi Fehr will have a new team in MLS come Tuesday via a weighted lottery. Fehr was born in the US, but grew up in Japan and was part of Tokyo Verdy’s youth teams.
Mix Diskerud’s dad confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that Portland has contacted Mix about coming to MLS, but the league/Portland has yet to bid on his services.
According to this report, Jurgen Klinsmann did invite Aron Johannsson to come to the US camp in January to check out how things are run (not to play), but his most recent injury (I guess he is getting surgery) is going to keep him in Europe during January.
Herculez Gomez will be wearing these new kits for Santos Laguna next season.
Carlos Bocanegra returned early from his muscle tear and played for Racing Santander in their 1-0 loss to Sabadell on Sunday.
With their 2-1 win over OH Leuven on Sunday, Anderlecht have now won their last eight league games when Sacha Kljestan starts.
And a quick league leaderboard update. Jozy Altidore’s 11 goals are fourth most in the Eredivisie (more on this tomorrow). Matt Taylor’s 11 goals are tied for the third most in the German 3. Liga as they enter the winter break. And Terrence Boyd’s nine goals are tied for the fifth most in the Austrian Bundesliga.
It looks like the site’s server woke up from its post-turkey nap and is running somewhat faster. That all said, here are a few links from the last week or so.
This report out of Scotland has Celtic manager Neil Lennon wanting to sign Juan Agudelo after impressing during his training stint with the Scottish club. STV Sport also did a 13-minute video interview with Agudelo right here.
Some Danish reports are saying Jurgen Klinnsman will help Michael Parkhurst find a new club come January.
Staying in Mexico, Tijuana (Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza) are headed to the Liga MX final to face Toluca after defeating Leon 3-2 on aggregate. Both Corona and Castillo started in yesterday’s second-leg victory. By making the final, they also earned a spot in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Bolton News recently did an interview with Tim Ream. Ream started at defensive midfielder on Saturday in Bolton’s 1-1 draw to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Continuing with the interviews, Brian K. Blickenstaff spent some time with Danny Williams in Germany.
Brian Sciaretta looks at some potential options for the USMNT central defense aside from Geoff Cameron.
Here is a highlight video of Kemi Kings’ Christian Eissele and his 2012 season in Finland, which saw him lead the Kakkonen in goals.
As for some noteworthy performances from the weekend. Fabian Johnson scored for Hoffenheim in their 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen (highlights here). Clint Dempsey assisted on one goal and “hockey” assisted on another in Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over West Ham United (highlights here). And Charlie Davies head-butted a guy (highlights here).
Marc Heider scored his eighth goal of the season in Holstein Kiel’s 3-0 win over Victoria Hamburg in German Regionalliga action. Eugene Starikov is starting to get more playing time in Russia, getting another start for Rostov in their 2-0 win over Mordovia Saransk. And Bobby Wood has fought his way back from injuries to make an appearance off the bench (16 minutes) for 1860 Munich in their 2-2 draw to Union Berlin.
Matt Taylor scored his league-leading 11th goal of the season in Preußen Münster’s 3-2 victory over Rot-Weiß Erfurt. With the win, Preußen Münster sit in second place of the German 3. Liga table. Here are the highlights, including Taylor’s goal (4:00 mark).