Holy smokes. Can you believe that this is the sixth edition of the legendary OT XI? When we started this thing there were actually a ton of American players in Europe. Of the original OT XI, only two (Alejandro Bedoya and Jonathan Spector) are still playing abroad, and five (Ryan Guy, Landon Donovan, Brad Friedel, Eddie Johnson, and Carlos Bocanegra) are retired. Crazy times.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Aston Villa (England) [2nd appearance]
If you want to talk about the decline of American players abroad, look no further than goalkeeper (and talk to our friend Will, who wrote this pick.) Even though he didn’t have the greatest of finishes, it was Brad Guzan who carried Aston Villa through the first half of the season, when they couldn’t buy a goal. Guzan carried his team out of the relegation zone so that when it came to the meaningless games in the season, his poor performance didn’t matter. Admittedly, it’s a weak pick without glamour but of all the overseas goalkeepers, Guzan helped his team the most.
Greg Garza, Tijuana (Mexico) [1st]
Tim Ream, Bolton Wanderers (England) [2nd]
Ventura Alvarado, Club America (Mexico) [1st]
Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest (England) [2nd]
Two from Liga MX and two from the Football League Championship make up the backline. Garza basically made Edgar Castillo, the 2013 honoree at leftback, expendable at Tijuana as he also established himself as the likely national team heir apparent to the internationally-retired Edgar Castillo. Ream played a little of everywhere defensively for Bolton and earned his second consecutive team MVP. After time on loan, Alvarado blossomed with the CONCACAF Champions League winners and broke into the national team. Meanwhile, back in England, Lichaj had his healthiest season and made 42 appearances, more than the previous two seasons combined (since they play like 800 games in the lower divisions of England).
Guys, guys! We had a guy qualify to the Champions League out of a top five league! Johnson stepped up his team quality and managed to break in and do his usual thing of being a solid contributor at multiple spots on the flank. His former teammate at Hoffenheim, Williams, makes his second consecutive appearance as he continues to play well for Reading. Morales, who looked somewhat out of his element in early caps with the Nats, has blossomed into an legit prospect and helped Ingolstadt earn promotion, meaning he’ll join Johnson in the Bundesliga next year. Bedoya, meanwhile, continued his strong form in Nantes. With Bedoya’s 4th OT XI appearance, he ties Sacha Kljestan and Clint Dempsey for the all-time lead and is a solid favorite to hold the title by his lonesome sooner rather than later.
Matt Taylor, 1. FC Saarbrücken (Germany) [3rd]
Cesar Romero, FC Pyunik (Armenia) [2nd]
Taylor is basically one of our favorite OT players ever. He is a mortal lock to bang in double digit goals in any season that ends in an odd-numbered year (2011- 17; 2013- 16; 2015- 13) and takes advantage of the lengthy injury absences to Terrence Boyd and Aron Jóhannsson, two of last year’s forward honorees. Meanwhile, another OT favorite completely dominated Armenia, scoring 20 goals as Pyunik won their first league title since 2010. He also inspired us to make a ton of The Joker references, although we probably should have made more, because that’s an awesome nickname.
Tim Ream, D, Bolton Wanderers
Ream has gone from MLS breakout prospect to national team disaster to Premier League overmatched to extremely useful Championship player. He has really excelled the last two years with Bolton, and he’s mostly a classic example of how a players can take a while to adjust to a new country.
Goal of the Year
Aron Jóhannsson really wanted to make this post despite missing so much time injured, so he won this late-season match against NAC Breda in the waning moments with this ridiculous strike from distance.
Performance of the Year
Seriously, Jóhannsson got healthy and just wanted OT honors. Plus he has a desire to spend his Thursdays traveling across Eastern Europe in Europa League. So Gunner Stahl (time to resurrect that nickname) decided to dump two goals and an assist on Excelsior (fantastic club name, I’m glad they managed to stay in the Eredivisie) in a match to clinch Europa League for AZ. Highlights!
As for the mid week so far, Gedion Zelalem help setup a goal for Arsenal’s U-21 team. Michael Orozco had an assist as Puebla won the Copa MX final over Chivas (Herculez Gomez watched from the bench). And Andrija Novakovich scored a goal for Reading’s U-21 team.
The US U-20 team is in Austria this week and here is their roster. They had a 2-2 draw against Qatar yesterday with the US goals coming from Amando Moreno and Conor Donovan.
The US U-23 team will take on Mexico later tonight at the StubHub Center. Here is their roster. Apparently manager Andi Herzog asked Hamburg permission for Julian Green to stay after last week’s friendly against Mexico for this game but they didn’t respond yes to him until Green was already on a plane back to Germany. Herzog also wants to create a pipeline to the USMNT with the U-23 team. And Liviu Bird’s random observation from training earlier this week, Jordan Morris has Type 1 diabetes and tests his blood sugar during training.
For those of you that miss watching grainy Youtube videos of Josh Gatt flying down the wings, we have some good news. He has been cleared to play again after a couple knee surgeries.
Hannover 96 did some shuffling around of their coaching staff and Steve Cherundolo has been promoted to an assistant.
There is nothing really new with Gedion Zelalem, but Steven Goff reminds us where we all stand at the moment.
RB Leipzig announced yesterday that Terrence Boyd has resumed to jogging as he rehabs from his ACL surgery. ESPN’s Doug McIntyre also saw Boyd jogging and riding the exercise bike while he was with the USMNT earlier this month.
It looks like Danny Williams picked up an injury while with the USMNT and his doubtful for this weekend’s game against Blackpool.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and DeAndre Yedlin both played with Tottenham’s U-21 yesterday with CCV wearing the captain’s armband. Here is also a photo gallery from the game.
Another week and another goal by Duane Holmes with Huddersfield Town’s U-21 team. I believe that is the third straight week with a goal. Highlights of their U-21 team usually emerge a few days after the game.
US Soccer is about to have a busy next couple of weeks with the USMNT, U-23 and U-20 teams all having camps and friendlies throughout Europe. It looks like we should expect to see the various rosters over the weekend.
While we wait for the rosters, a bunch of names are kind of leaking out. Thanks to Birmingham City’s site, we know that Will Packwood is going to be with the U-23 team. Brian Sciaretta is also hearing that Jerome Kiesewetter will be with the U-23s, while Andrija Novakovich will be with the U-20s. And while there has been speculation that Jurgen Klinsmann is going to call in Ventura Alvarado with the MNTers, there is at least one report of Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough being called in as well.
Will Packwood scored his first professional goal yesterday in Cheltenham Town’s 2-2 draw to Portsmouth (highlights). He had to be subbed out due to some kind of injury, but he tweeted after the game that he is “feeling groggy” but is OK.
DeAndre Yedlin is back on the field and played with Tottenham’s U-21 team on Monday. Here is a photo of him in action.
Andrija Novakovich made his debut with Reading’s senior team over the weekend in Reading’s 4-1 loss at Watford. Here is a photo of Novakovich about to come onto the field.
Reading and Danny Williams (went the full 90) won their FA Cup 6th round replay over Bradford City on Monday. Reading is headed to the FA Cup semis for the first time since 1927.
And finally, FIFA announced the stadiums that will be used at the 2016 Olympics and somehow Arena da Amazônia in Manaus made the cut as one of the seven stadiums. I still remember drinking two full glasses of water while just walking to my seat in the upper deck. It was such a furnace. I did snap this nice photo.
Julian Green’s situation with Hamburg is odd. Bild reported last week that Green could possibly get fined for refusing to play with the U-23 team. And now it looks like Green is supposed to meet with the team today to discuss whether he will or will not play with the U-23 team.
The FA Cup quarterfinal draw was held yesterday and a couple Americans are still left in the competition. Brad Guzan and Aston Villa will be facing West Brom, while Danny Williams and Reading will take on Bradford City.
I posted yesterday the news that Tesho Akindele turned down an invite with the Canadian national team to keep things open with the US. And now Ives Galarcep is hearing that Akindele will be called in by the USMNT next week.
Jozy Altidore’s agent, Lyle Yorks, is headed to Sunderland to talk to the club about his future. HITC’s Andrew Gibney takes a look at why a loan to France would be a good move for multiple parties. Jozy also turned 25 yesterday. According to the always good Paul Carr, his 24 international goals are the second most in USMNT history before turning 25. Some guy named Landon Donovan leads the way with 27.
Speaking of numbers, go check out where Rubio Rubin’s four assists rank in Europe among players 20 or younger.
Let’s start off with some leftovers from last Friday. Oguchi Onyewu is showing off the importance of having an EU passport as he continues to find work in England as he signed with Charlton Athletic until January.
CONCACAF held the draw for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship last week and the US U-20 team has learned its fate.
Greg Seltzer takes a look at some possible January transfer scenarios for Jozy Altidore, Mix Diskerud and Brek Shea. One of the teams mentioned for Altidore is the French side Lille and there might be some more to this possible loan according to this tweet from a reporter who follows the French league. I think we are all in agreement that Jozy just needs to get out of Sunderland.
Jozy Altidore in 10 EPL games this season: 0 starts 6 appearances 81 minutes 2 shots 9/20 passing
Unfortunately, the next coaching staff to come in midway through the 2013 season was very different. The coaching staff was unable to communicate in English and were not good about translating for those of us who didn’t speak Spanish. I was punished by this coaching staff towards the end of the season for not understanding something that was said to me in Spanish, because it was not translated for me, therefore I did not respond to it. I was called into the coach’s office and helplessly tried to plead my ignorance of my apparent disrespect. There was no interpreter present and my message was not received. As punishment, I was demoted from second on the depth chart to third.
Yay Chivas USA?
We have had a few goals over the last couple days. Terrence Boyd scored his first goal since May in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Erzgebirge Aue in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday (highlights). And of course he broke out the cyclops. Sacha Kljestan made his first start of the season and scored his first goal of the season in Anderlecht’s 3-2 win over Kortrijk (highlights). Bryan Gerzicich scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday in Maccabi Petah Tikva’s 1-0 win over Hapoel Haifa (highlights).
Aron Johannsson returned to AZ Alkmaar’s first team yesterday, playing in the 5-0 win over GVVV in the KNVB Beker.
The roster for next week’s friendlies should probably be released this weekend and various people online are making guesses at that roster, including Jon Arnold and Matthew Doyle.
Steven Goff gives us some more information about the next two weeks regarding US Soccer. Sounds like all the names will be released at once, but guys might only go to one of the games due to MLS’s schedule next week. Some of the young guns (Emerson Hyndman, Cody Cropper and Rubio Rubin) could be headed to Brazil with the US U-23 team instead of the senior team friendlies. And US Soccer is trying to schedule another friendly next month in Europe during the international week when they play at Ireland.
One player who could potentially be on the US roster next week is Miguel Ibarra and Brian Sciaretta caught up with the Minnesota United midfielder about the rumors.
Gedion Zelalem scored a nice little goal for Arsenal’s U-19 team against Galatasaray yesterday in the UEFA Youth League. The guys over at The Short Fuse also looked into the curious case of his citizenship.
Brian McBride is one of five people selected by Fulham chairman Shahid Khan to help in Fulham’s search for a new manager.
And finally, we have a Devann Yao sighting! He was last seen parting ways with UR La Louvière Centre in Belgium’s third division and now he has popped up on Neustrelitz in the German Regionalliga. He has made one appearance for the club so far in 2014-15.