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Americans Abroad: MLS-based players getting year-round point

With the 2011 Major League Soccer season completed and months of inactivity, regeneration and rest on the horizon, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's message that MLS-based players need to be maintaining their match and training fitness almost year-round to stay in the mix for national-team consideration has certainly been heard.

A number of MLS players -- some with Klinsmann's direct assistance -- have recently secured training stints with top-flight European clubs to get a brief taste of the abroad experience, and all of those players are currently on either the senior national team or 2012 U.S. Olympic team radar.

Four players are getting an opportunity to soak up the German Bundesliga experience. Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers and Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman are training together at Kaiserslautern; New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo is at VfB Stuttgart and D.C. United defender/midfielder Perry Kitchen is with SC Freiburg.

Another five players are getting, or have already received, English Premier League exposure. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid recently completed a session with West Brom; FC Dallas winger Brek Shea has the opportunity to play under Arsene Wenger's watchful eye at Arsenal; Vancouver Whitecaps forward Omar Salgado has joined Clint Dempsey at Fulham until early December; Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson is closing in on the chance to train at Manchester United; and Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz will train with injured U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden's club, Bolton.

This development isn't completely a novelty, as Americans have been training with bigger clubs overseas during the offseason for years; however, the abundance and frequency with which players are getting opportunities to gain snippets of European experience is a sure sign that not only is the caliber of player being produced by MLS and U.S. Soccer improving, but that settling for months off after a strong season will no longer be the norm for the top tier of talent.

It is important to note that none of the multiple-week training stints are official trials, despite what foreign reports might suggest. It is certainly feasible that if a player shows well and catches the eye of a manager or assistant that a potential move, or at least an increased interest, would come into play, though. Of the nine MLS players currently in that boat, only Rogers is out of contract.

For all of them, though, the training periods are like taking a brief internship. Sure, there's no guarantee of future employment, but it certainly can't hurt to bankroll the contacts and gain further exposure while growing one's own name, staying sharp and perhaps even acquiring new skills.

All of those players training abroad would surely not mind getting the chance to replicate the success a pair of MLS alums enjoyed overseas this past weekend, as former Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley and former FC Dallas center back Clarence Goodson each found the back of the net in victories for their respective clubs in England and Denmark.

Here's a closer look at how they and the rest of the Americans actually under contract abroad fared this past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):

Premier League

Clint Dempsey, M, Fulham -- Started, came off in the 90th minute of Fulham's 0-0 draw with Sunderland on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 5 goals

Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham -- Started, played 90 minutes, made one save and earned the clean sheet in Tottenham's 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Monday. SEASON: 11 games, 11 starts, 52 saves, 15 goals allowed, 3 clean sheets

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Monday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 3 saves, 0 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Everton -- Not in the 18 for Everton's 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton on Saturday. SEASON: 0 games

Tim Howard, GK, Everton -- Started, played 90 minutes and did not make a save in Everton's 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 11 starts, 27 saves, 15 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa -- Not in the 18 for Villa's 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Monday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 1 goal

Zak Whitbread, D, Norwich City -- Not in the 18 for Norwich City's 2-1 loss to Arsenal on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts

League Championship

Conor Doyle, F, Derby County -- Not in the 18 for Derby County's 2-0 loss to Hull City on Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 1 start

Robbie Findley, F, Nottingham Forest -- Started, played 81 minutes and scored a 42nd-minute goal in Nottingham Forest's 3-2 victory over Ipswich Town on Saturday. Findley pounced on a failed clearance attempt off a Forest free kick to finish from a few yards out into an empty net and level the score at 1-1 at the time. SEASON: 17 games, 9 starts, 5 goals

Jonathan Spector, M/D, Birmingham City -- Started, played 90 minutes in Birmingham's 1-1 draw with Peterborough United on Saturday. SEASON: 17 games, 17 starts

League One

Mike Grella, F, Brentford -- In the 18, came on as a 79th-minute substitute and picked up a yellow card in Brentford's 1-0 loss to Charlton Athletic on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 2 starts, 4 goals

Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United -- Not in the 18 for Carlisle's 1-0 loss to Sheffield United on Saturday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start

Anton Peterlin, M, Walsall -- Not in the 18 for Walsall's 4-2 loss to Bury on Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 11 starts

League Two

Jemal Johnson, F, Southend United -- In the 18, did not play in Southend's 3-2 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday. SEASON: 7 games, 2 starts

Jon-Paul Pittman, F, Crawley Town -- Not in the 18 for Crawley Town's 4-1 victory over Oxford United on Saturday. SEASON: 10 games, 1 start, 1 goal

Bundesliga

Terrence Boyd, F, Borussia Dortmund -- Not in the 18 for Dortmund's 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich on Saturday. SEASON: 0 games

Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg -- Started, played 90 minutes in Nurnberg's 4-0 loss to FC Schalke 04 on Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 15 starts

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 -- In the 18, did not play in Hannover's 4-1 loss to VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. SEASON: 12 games, 11 starts

Fabian Johnson, M/D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Started, played 90 minutes in Hoffenheim's 2-0 loss to Hamburg SV on Sunday. SEASON: 11 games, 8 starts, 1 goal

Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 -- Started, played 73 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Schalke's 4-0 victory over FC Nurnberg on Saturday. SEASON: 11 games, 7 starts

Alfredo Morales, D, Hertha Berlin -- Not in the 18 for Berlin's 2-2 draw with SC Freiburg on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games

Daniel Williams, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- In the 18, did not play in Hoffenheim's 2-0 loss to Hamburg SV on Sunday. SEASON: 9 games, 6 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 Kaiserslautern on Friday. Yelldell played for a team of Leverkusen Under-23s and reserves against a U.S. Under-23 side last Tuesday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 1 save, 4 goals allowed

2. Bundesliga

Edson Buddle, F, FC Ingolstadt 04 -- In the 18, came on as a 65th-minute substitute in Ingolstadt's 1-0 loss to 1860 Munich on Friday. SEASON: 17 games, 9 starts, 6 goals

Ricardo Clark, M, Eintracht Frankfurt -- Not in the 18 for Frankfurt's 4-3 victory over Alemannia Aachen on Sunday. SEASON: 1 game, 1 start

Luis Robles, GK, Karlsruhe -- Started, played 90 minutes and did not make a save in Karlsruhe's 2-1 loss to SC Paderborn 07 on Friday. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts, 6 saves, 9 goals allowed

Matt Taylor, F, SC Paderborn 07 -- In the 18, came on as a 78th-minute substitute in Paderborn's 2-1 victory over Karlsruhe on Friday. SEASON: 12 games, 4 starts, 4 goals

Bobby Wood, F, 1860 Munich -- Not in the 18 for Munich's 1-0 victory over FC Ingolstadt 04 on Friday. According to the club's official website, Wood injured his knee while participating in the U.S. Under-23 national team camp and will undergo surgery on Tuesday that will shelve him for the rest of 2011. SEASON: 4 games

Serie A

Michael Bradley, M, Chievo Verona -- Started, played 90 minutes in Chievo's 2-1 victory over Catania on Sunday. SEASON: 10 games, 9 starts

Ligue 1

Quentin Westberg, GK, Evian Thonon Gaillard -- Not in the 18 for Evian's 2-1 victory over Lorient on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts, 8 saves, 3 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Eredivisie

Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar -- AZ's match with Excelsior Rotterdam on Sunday was abandoned at halftime with the score 0-0 because of thick fog. Altidore started the match and played the entire first half. According to AZ's official website, the two teams will play the final 45 minutes of the game on Dec. 7 as opposed to replaying the match in its entirety. SEASON: 20 games, 16 starts, 8 goals

Primeira Liga

Oguchi Onyewu, D, Sporting Lisbon -- Started, played 90 minutes in Sporting's 2-0 victory over Sporting Braga in the fourth round of the Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) on Sunday. SEASON: 9 games, 9 starts, 1 goal

Jupiler League

Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht -- Started, played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 3-1 victory over Sint-Truiden on Sunday. SEASON: 19 games, 19 starts, 2 goals

Premier League

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Rangers FC -- Started, played 76 minutes in Rangers' 0-0 draw with St. Johnstone on Saturday. SEASON: 23 games, 18 starts, 4 goals

Carlos Bocanegra, D, Rangers FC -- Started, played 90 minutes in Rangers' 0-0 draw with St. Johnstone on Saturday. SEASON: 15 games, 15 starts, 2 goals

Maurice Edu, M, Rangers FC -- Started, played 90 minutes in Rangers' 0-0 draw with St. Johnstone on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 2 goals

First Division

Dominic Cervi, GK, Greenock Morton -- Not in the 18 for Greenock Morton's 5-1 victory over Deveronvale in the third round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts, 10 saves, 2 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet

Primera Division

Jonathan Bornstein, D, Tigres UANL -- Not in the 18 for Tigres' 1-0 victory over Pachuca in the first leg of their Apertura Liguilla quarterfinal matchup on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games

Adrian Ruelas, F, Jaguares -- Not in the 18 for Jaguares' 2-2 draw with Santos Laguna in the first leg of their Apertura Liguilla quarterfinal matchup on Sunday. SEASON: 0 games

Superliga

Clarence Goodson, D, Brondby IF -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored the opening goal of Brondby's 2-1 victory over FC Copenhagen on Sunday. As is the case for almost all goals that Goodson scores, the center back connected for a header off a free kick, with this one coming with his back to the goal from about eight yards out in the 17th minute. SEASON: 19 games, 19 starts, 1 goal

Conor O'Brien, M, Sonderjyske -- In the 18, did not play in Sonderjyske's 2-0 loss to FC Nordsjaelland on Sunday. SEASON: 14 games, 7 starts, 2 goals

Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Nordsjaelland -- Started, played 90 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 2-0 victory over Sonderjyske on Sunday. SEASON: 20 games, 20 starts

Chris Rolfe, F, Aalborg BK -- Started, played 84 minutes in Aalborg's 3-1 victory over FC Midtjylland on Sunday. SEASON: 17 games, 15 starts, 4 goals

Brad Rusin, D, HB Koge -- Started, played 90 minutes in Koge's 2-2 draw with Lyngby on Sunday. SEASON: 13 games, 11 starts, 2 goals

Tippeligaen

Sean Cunningham, D, Molde FK -- Not in the 18 for Molde's 3-1 victory over Sarpsborg 08 on Sunday. SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts

Mikkel Diskerud, M, Stabaek -- Started, played 90 minutes in Stabaek's 2-1 loss to Haugesund on Sunday. SEASON: 31 games, 31 starts, 3 goals

Josh Gatt, M/D, Molde FK -- Not in the 18 for Molde's 3-1 victory over Sarpsborg 08 on Sunday. SEASON: 27 games, 19 starts, 5 goals