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Rising U.S. stars Johnson, Williams team up for success at Hoffenheim

For the last few years, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Germany was a breeding ground for a pair of the top U.S. soccer prospects. Promising U.S. teens Joe Gyau and Charles Renken became a part of the club's youth setup in 2009, with U.S. soccer fans expecting big things, maybe too big, out of the duo before their careers even got started. And while the speedy Gyau remains a Hoffenheim player and on track for eventual stardom (the winger is currently on loan in Germany's second division) and Renken is aiming to get his injury-derailed career on track with the Portland Timbers, Hoffenheim is still a must-follow club for U.S. fans.

Why? Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams. The two U.S. national team staples are fixtures in Hoffenheim's team, and their respective performances over the weekend helped the club to its first victory of the young Bundesliga season. Both scored goals -- with Johnson's highlight-reel effort coming at the expense of Steve Cherundolo of all people -- to help fortify their places in the club's lineup and maintain their cases for regular call-ups by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Johnson's place at left back is one of the most locked-down spots there is on the national team. With the position being a black hole for the U.S. men for so long, and Johnson repeatedly referred to as one of the best left backs in the Bundesliga by Klinsmann, fans should take the opportunity to find Hoffenheim's matches on TV or online to gain a further appreciation for his attacking prowess down the flank and his defensive quality. With Williams continuing to hone his skills in central midfield after finally getting a chance to start there for the U.S. against Jamaica and showing very well for himself, a continued good showing with his club should lift him up the pecking order in Klinsmann's central midfield. The U.S. coach spoke after the Jamaica game in Columbus, Ohio, about how Williams was in a fight with so many other players -- Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu among them -- for a coveted spot in the center of the U.S. formation, but with Edu yet to play for Stoke City since his transfer from Rangers and Williams continuing to impress, it could be the latter in that starting central role yet again when next month's World Cup qualifiers roll around.

Johnson and Williams were joined on the score sheet this week by Conor O'Brien, a 23-year-old New Yorker whose goal and assist helped Danish club Sonderjyske battle back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a point Friday. Aside from those who figured in the scoring this past week, U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra made his long-awaited debut for Racing Santander after joining the Spanish club on transfer deadline day almost a month ago. On the other end of the spectrum, Tim Ream finds himself in a fight for playing time with Bolton after being relegated to the club's U-21 side for a mid-week match, and Oguchi Onyewu has yet to debut for his new side, remaining an unused substitute for Malaga. Here is how the Americans playing abroad, including those kicking off the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, fared this past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):

Premier League

Geoff Cameron, D/M, Stoke City - Played 90 minutes at right back in Stoke City's 1-0 loss to Chelsea on Saturday.SEASON: 5 games, 4 starts

Cody Cropper, GK, Southampton - Not in the 18 for Southampton's 4-1 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday. The club signed Polish veteran Artur Boruc this past week, meaning the 19-year-old Cropper's chances at cracking the first team sometime soon are even slimmer.SEASON: 0 games

Clint Dempsey, M/F, Tottenham - Started, played 75 minutes in Tottenham's 0-0 draw with Lazio in its UEFA Europa League group stage opener on Thursday. Dempsey, who had a goal off a diving header in the first half waved off on a tight offside call, also started and played 88 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts.

Maurice Edu, D/M, Stoke City - Not in the 18 for Stoke's 1-0 loss to Chelsea.SEASON: 0 games.

Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham - Not in the 18 for Tottenham's 0-0 draw with Lazio. Friedel started, played 90 minutes and made three saves in a 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers.SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 6 goals allowed.

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa - Started, played 90 minutes, picked up a yellow card and made three saves in Villa's 4-1 loss to Southampton on Saturday.SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts, 5 goals allowed, 2 clean sheets.

Tim Howard, GK, Everton - Started, played 90 minutes, made four saves and earned the clean sheet in Everton's 3-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 5 goals allowed, 2 clean sheets.

Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa - Started, played 68 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Villa's 4-1 loss to Southampton.SEASON: 5 games, 4 starts.

League Championship

Conor Doyle, F, Derby County - In the 18, did not play in Derby County's 3-2 victory over Charlton Athletic on Tuesday and in a 2-1 loss to Burnley on Saturday.SEASON: 2 games, 1 start.

Stuart Holden, M, Bolton - Not in the 18 for Bolton's 2-1 loss to Birmingham City on Tuesday or a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.SEASON: 0 games.

Will Packwood, D/M, Birmingham City - Not in the 18 for Birmingham's 2-1 victory over Bolton on Tuesday or a 5-0 loss to Barnsley on Saturday.SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts.

Tim Ream, D, Bolton - Not in the 18 for Bolton's 2-1 loss to Birmingham City or a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Ream spent time playing with the club's U-21 team this past week, suggesting he has a bit of work to do to reclaim his place in Owen Coyle's lineup.SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts.

Jonathan Spector, D/M, Birmingham City - Started, played 90 minutes in Birmingham's 2-1 victory over Bolton and in a 5-0 loss to Barnsley.SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 1 goal

Zak Whitbread, D, Leicester City - In the 18, did not play in Leicester City's 2-1 victory over Burnley on Wednesday and in a 3-1 victory over Hull City on Sunday.SEASON: 1 game, 1 start.

League One

Mike Grella, F, Scunthorpe United - In the 18, came on as an 88th-minute substitute in Scunthorpe's 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic on Tuesday. Grella was in the 18 and did not play in a 1-0 victory over Colchester United on Saturday.SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 2 goals.

Robbie Rogers, M, Stevenage - Not in the 18 for Stevenage's 3-1 victory over Walsall on Tuesday or for a 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.SEASON: 4 games, 3 starts.

Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United - Started, played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 0-0 draw with Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday and in a 2-1 victory over Coventry City on Saturday.SEASON: 7 games, 6 starts.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg - Started, played 70 minutes in Nurnberg's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday.SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts.

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 - Started, played 90 minutes in Hannover's 2-2 draw with FC Twente in their Europa League group stage opener Thursday. Cherundolo also started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in league play Sunday.SEASON: 10 games, 10 starts.

Fabian Johnson, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Started, played 90 minutes and scored Hoffenheim's first goal in the club's 3-1 victory over Hannover on Sunday. Johnson displayed his blistering pace by turning the corner on Cherundolo on an advanced run down the left flank and finishing from a tight angle to level the score at 1-1 a minute after Hannover had gone ahead.SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts, 1 goal

Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 - Started, came off in second-half stoppage time and picked up a yellow card in Schalke's 2-1 victory over Olympiakos in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener Tuesday. Jones also started and played 78 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in league play Saturday.SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 1 goal.

Danny Williams, M, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Started, played 90 minutes, picked up a yellow card and scored a late goal in Hoffenheim's 3-1 victory over Hannover. Williams made a darting run down the center on a Hoffenheim breakaway and finished into an empty net from 12 yards out in stoppage time to seal the victory.SEASON: 3 games, 2 starts, 1 goal.

2. Bundesliga

John Anthony Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin - Not in the 18 for Berlin's 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern on Saturday.SEASON: 3 games, 2 starts.

Joe Gyau, M, St. Pauli - In the 18, did not play in St. Pauli's 2-1 loss to FSV Frankfurt on Friday.SEASON: 0 games.

Alfredo Morales, D, Hertha Berlin - Not in the 18 for Berlin's 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern.SEASON: 1 game.

Andrew Wooten, F, SV Sandhausen - In the 18, came on as a 55th-minute substitute in Sandhausen's 3-0 loss to SC Paderborn 07 on Saturday.SEASON: 2 games.

Serie A

Michael Bradley, M, AS Roma - Roma's match against Cagliari Sunday was canceled due to Cagliari's refusal to play in an empty stadium after its home park did not meet Italian security guidelines. Roma was awarded the three points, and, according to the club's official website, Bradley has returned to full training with the club after missing almost a month with a thigh injury.SEASON: 1 game, 1 start.

Primera Division

Oguchi Onyewu, D, Malaga - Not in the 18 for Malaga's 3-0 victory over Zenit-St. Petersburg in their Champions League group stage opener Tuesday. Onyewu was in the 18, but did not play in a 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao in league play Sunday.SEASON: 0 games.

Segunda Division

Carlos Bocanegra, D, Racing Santander - Started, played 90 minutes in Racing Santander's 1-0 victory over Mirandes on Saturday, marking his debut with his new club.SEASON: 8 games, 8 starts (7 games, 7 starts with Rangers).

Eredivisie

Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar - Started, played 90 minutes in AZ's 2-1 loss to NAC Breda on Sunday.SEASON: 8 games, 8 starts, 7 goals.

Pro League

Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Anderlecht's 0-0 draw with AC Milan in their Champions League group stage opener Tuesday. Kljestan was in the 18 and came on as an 88th-minute substitute in a 3-2 victory over Zulte-Waregem in league play Saturday.SEASON: 13 games, 7 starts, 1 goal.

Primeira Liga

Caleb Patterson-Sewell, GK, Vitoria Setubal - In the 18, did not play in Vitoria Setubal's 1-0 victory over Olhanense on Saturday.SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts, 7 goals allowed

Tony Taylor, F, Estoril Praia - In the 18, did not play in Estoril's 3-1 victory over Maritimo on Monday.SEASON: 3 games, 2 starts.

Bundesliga

Terrence Boyd, F, Rapid Vienna - Started, played 90 minutes in Rapid Vienna's 2-1 loss to Rosenborg in their Europa League group stage opener Thursday. Boyd was in the 18, but did not play in a 2-0 victory over Ried in league play Sunday.SEASON: 12 games, 11 starts, 6 goals.

Liga MX

DaMarcus Beasley, M, Puebla - Not in the 18 for Puebla's 2-0 loss to Toluca in the Copa MX on Tuesday. Beasley started and played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Leon in league play Friday, assisting on the equalizing goal with a short lay-off pass after winning the ball to keep it in the attacking third.SEASON: 10 games, 10 starts.

Jonathan Bornstein, D, Tigres UANL - Started, played 55 minutes in Tigres' 1-1 draw with Real Esteli in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday. Bornstein was not in the 18 for a 1-1 draw with Morelia in league play Friday.SEASON: 2 games, 1 start.

Edgar Castillo, D, Tijuana - Not in the 18 for Tijuana's 2-1 victory over Pumas UNAM in the Copa MX on Wednesday. Castillo started and played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Atlas in league play Saturday.SEASON: 8 games, 8 starts.

Joe Corona, M, Tijuana - In the 18, came on as a 58th-minute substitute in Tijuana's 2-1 victory over Pumas UNAM in the Copa MX. Corona started and played 69 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Atlas in league play.SEASON: 10 games, 8 starts.

Michael Orozco Fiscal, D, San Luis - Not in the 18 for San Luis' 1-1 draw with Jaguares in the Copa MX on Wednesday. Orozco Fiscal was in the 18 and came on as an 81st-minute substitute in a 1-0 victory over Pachuca in league play Saturday.SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 1 goal.

Greg Garza, D, Tijuana - Started, played 90 minutes in Tijuana's 2-1 victory over Pumas UNAM in the Copa MX. Garza was not in the 18 for a 1-1 draw with Atlas in league play.SEASON: 8 games, 6 starts.

Herculez Gomez, F, Santos Laguna - In the 18, came on as an 86th-minute substitute in Santos' 0-0 draw with Jaguares on Saturday.SEASON: 8 games, 6 starts, 2 goals.

Benji Joya, M, Santos Laguna - In the 18, came on as a 54th-minute substitute in Santos' 0-0 draw with Jaguares. Joya, a U.S. U-20 midfielder, made his professional debut with the appearance.SEASON: 1 game

Jose Francisco Torres, M, Pachuca - Not in the 18 for Pachuca's 1-0 victory over Atlante in the Copa MX on Wednesday. Torres started and played 68 minutes in a 1-0 loss to San Luis in league play Saturday.SEASON: 9 games, 9 starts, 2 goals.

Superliga

Charlie Davies, F, Randers - In the 18, did not play in Randers' 1-1 draw with FC Nordsjaelland on Saturday.SEASON: 9 games, 1 start.

Clarence Goodson, D, Brondby - Started, was sent off in second-half stoppage time with a straight red card in Brondby's 1-1 draw with FC Midtjylland on Sunday.SEASON: 9 games, 9 starts, 1 goal.

Conor O'Brien, F, Sonderjyske - Started, played 90 minutes and had a goal and an assist in Sonderjyske's 2-2 draw with AGF Aarhus on Friday.SEASON: 10 games, 10 starts, 3 goals.

Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Nordsjaelland - Started, played 90 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 2-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday. Parkhurst also started and played 82 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 1-1 draw with Randers in league play on Saturday.SEASON: 9 games, 9 starts, 2 goals.

Tippeligaen

Chad Barrett, F, Valerenga - In the 18, did not play in Valerenga's 3-2 victory over Honefoss on Monday.SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts.

Steve Clark, GK, Honefoss - Started, played 90 minutes in Honefoss' 3-2 loss to Valerenga on Monday.SEASON: 23 games, 23 starts, 29 goals allowed, 7 clean sheets.

Sean Cunningham, D, Stabaek - Not in the 18 for Stabaek's 1-0 loss to Fredrikstad on Sunday.SEASON: 21 games, 21 starts.

Mix Diskerud, M, Rosenborg - Started, came off in second-half stoppage time in Rosenborg's 2-1 victory over Rapid Vienna in their Europa League group stage opener Thursday. Diskerud also started and played 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Brann in league play Sunday.SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 1 goal.

Josh Gatt, M, Molde - Not in the 18 for Molde's 2-1 loss to FC Copenhagen in their Europa League group stage opener Thursday or for a 0-0 draw with Odd Grenland in league play Sunday. Gatt is still recovering from a hamstring injury, but reports in Norway suggest he is closing in on his return.SEASON: 20 games, 17 starts, 6 goals.

Allsvenskan

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Helsingborg IF - Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Helsingborg's 1-0 loss to Levante in their Europa League group stage opener Thursday. Bedoya also started and played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Malmo FF in league play Monday.

SEASON: 7 games, 6 starts, 1 goal.

Brian Span, M, Djurgarden IF - In the 18, came on as an 86th-minute substitute in Djurgarden's 3-0 loss to Hacken on Friday.

SEASON: 7 games, 1 start, 1 goal.

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