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Americans Abroad Preview: Fringe national team prospects square off

Goal.com

Jurgen Klinsmann and his scouts have plenty of matches to consider watching this weekend as they scout the U.S. national team pool, and you can argue that no match carries as much intrigue as the League Championship clash between Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.

No, it isn’t exactly a glamorous clash, but it does feature two Americans who have been boosting their national team stock in recent weeks in Oguchi Onyewu and Danny Williams. Onyewu has helped Wednesday climb away from the relegation zone in the League Championship, anchoring the defense and earning plaudits as a stabilizing force. Williams has been a steady starter on a Reading side that is in the promotion playoff race, and is fresh off having scored his first goal of the season.

Both Onyewu and Williams are leading candidates to earn call-ups from Klinsmann for next month’s friendly against Ukraine, and it isn’t a stretch to think both could start for the U.S. if they keep impressing in February.

Another player who has seen his stock rise is Tim Chandler, who will face an extremely tough test this weekend as Nurnberg faces European champion Bayern Munich. Chandler has helped Nurnberg climb out of the relegation zone, but beating Bayern will be a much tougher proposition. One thing it will do is give Chandler a chance to show what he can do against the same level of competition the U.S. will face at the World Cup.

Juan Agudelo will look to build on his first European goal, scored on Thursday in a loss to FC Zwolle, when FC Utrecht faces RKC Waalwijk on Sunday. Agudelo has had a hand in goals in each of his past two matches and could find success against a Waalwijk side that has just one win in five matches.

Aron Johannsson will look to shake off the leg injury that forced him out of his last match when AZ faces Go Ahead Eagles. Johannsson could be rested, but he will probably want to take the field against a Go Ahead Eagles side with one of the worst defenses in the Dutch League.

In the English Premier League, Jozy Altidore will face the club he once played for in England when Sunderland takes on Hull City on Saturday. Altidore has played well in recent matches, re-establishing himself as a regular starter for Gus Poyet, but he needs to find the net to help ease some of the mounting pressure on him to break his goal drought.

Tim Howard and Everton could climb back into the top four in the Premier League with a win against Tottenham in one of the weekend’s marquee matchups. With Liverpool facing first-place Arsenal, the Toffees could leapfrog their rival with a win at White Hart Lane.

Brad Guzan and Aston Villa will be looking to keep West Ham United’s woes going when they face off on Saturday. Villa can create more distance between itself and the bottom half of the Premier League table with a win against the Hammers, who are currently in the relegation zone despite last week’s win against Swansea City.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City will look to build on last week’s win against Manchester United by beating a Southampton side unbeaten in four matches. The Potters snapped a three-match losing streak with that upset of the Red Devils, but winning at Southampton could prove difficult.

In Turkey, Jermaine Jones could be in line to make his debut for Besiktas on Friday against Gaziantepspor. Jones has yet to appear for the Turkish side since joining on loan from Schalke.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya and Nantes will look to stop a recent three-match winless skid against Olympique Lyon on Saturday.

In Mexico, the Club Tijuana contingent of Americans will be in action on Friday night against Monterrey. The Xolos are coming off a bad loss to UNAM Pumas, but could make a push for the Top Four in Liga MX with a win against a Rayados side with just one win in five matches.

DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco will look to help Puebla build off last week’s win by beating Chivas Guadalajara on Sunday.

Jose Torres and UANL Tigres will try to turn around an awful start to the Clausura campaign by posting their first win of the new year against Santos Laguna on Saturday.

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