Landon Donovan's return to the MLS playing field from his personal hiatus stole the headlines this past weekend, but the U.S. contingent based abroad that was filling the national team infirmary exited one-by-one as well, much to the relief of fans and coaches and much to the benefit of the U.S. depth chart.
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra may not have been injured, but he saw the field for the first time in almost two months, playing the full 90 minutes in Racing Santander's scoreless draw with Segunda Division-leading Elche. His veteran counterpart, Steve Cherundolo, returned to Hannover's matchday roster for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in early February, and even though he did not play, he appears to be well on his way back for the Bundesliga-closing stretch.
The three starting-caliber U.S. fullbacks that missed out on the World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico also returned to action. Edgar Castillo, broken facial bones and all, played for Club Tijuana sporting a protective face mask. Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler shook off their respective minor knocks to feature for their respective German clubs.
Perhaps the most surprising return of all was that of Tim Howard, who surely did not look like a 34-year-old player diagnosed with broken bones in his back less than a month ago. Howard was as agile, alert and spry as ever in denying Stoke City from getting on the board and posting his fifth clean sheet of the Everton season.
The U.S. does not have a completely clean bill of health. Jermaine Jones sat out Schalke's game over the weekend as he continues to recover from the sprained ankle he suffered against Costa Rica, while Clarence Goodson missed a pair of Brondby's matches with his hamstring injury. Considering how dire the situation was across the board two weeks ago when Jurgen Klinsmann released his roster for the qualifiers, though, it's safe to say the storm clouds over the U.S. program have cleared and made way for clearer skies.
On the goal-scoring front, DaMarcus Beasley carried his national team form over to his Mexican club, Puebla, tallying his fourth goal in all competitions. Tony Taylor, a part of the U.S. Under-23 qualifying roster last year, scored in Portugal's top flight for his first goal of the season, and his U-23 teammate, Mix Diskerud, opened his 2013 account with Rosenborg, which leads the Norwegian Eliteserien after two games. Here is how the significantly healthier. more active Americans abroad contingent fared this past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):
Geoff Cameron, D/M, Stoke City -- Started, played 79 minutes in Stoke City's 1-0 loss to Everton on Saturday.
SEASON: 31 games, 29 starts
Cody Cropper, GK, Southampton -- Not in the 18 for Southampton's 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday.
SEASON: 0 games
Clint Dempsey, M/F, Tottenham -- Not in the 18 for Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.
SEASON: 34 games, 25 starts, 8 goals
Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham -- Started, played 90 minutes and made two saves in Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Swansea City.
SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 26 goals allowed, 2 clean sheets
Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa -- Started, played 90 minutes and made five saves in Villa's 2-1 loss to Liverpool on Sunday.
SEASON: 30 games, 30 starts, 55 goals allowed, 6 clean sheets
Tim Howard, GK, Everton -- Started, played 90 minutes, made three saves and earned the clean sheet in Everton's 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Saturday.
SEASON: 32 games, 32 starts, 38 goals allowed, 5 clean sheets
Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 2-1 loss to Liverpool.
SEASON: 21 games, 13 starts
Brek Shea, M, Stoke City -- Not in the 18 for Stoke City's 1-0 loss to Everton.
SEASON: 2 games
Conor Doyle, F, Derby County -- In the 18, did not play in Derby County's 3-0 victory over Bristol City on Friday and in Derby County's 2-1 victory over Leeds United on Monday.
SEASON: 3 games, 1 start
Stuart Holden, M, Sheffield Wednesday -- Started, played 61 minutes in Sheffield Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Barnsley on Saturday. Holden was not in the 18 for Sheffield Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Bristol City on Monday. Holden was loaned from Bolton to Sheffield Wednesday for a month, with an eye on seeing more playing time and the opportunity to play in five more games for the club that is attempting to stave off relegation to League One.
SEASON: 4 games, 1 start (3 games with Bolton)
Tim Ream, D, Bolton -- Not in the 18 for Bolton's 3-2 loss to Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
SEASON: 16 games, 14 starts
Jonathan Spector, D/M, Birmingham City -- Not in the 18 for Birmingham's 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Friday or for Birmingham's 3-2 loss to Wolverhampton on Monday.
SEASON: 29 games, 25 starts, 1 goal
Zak Whitbread, D, Leicester City -- In the 18, did not play in Leicester City's 1-0 loss to Millwall on Friday. Whitbread started and played 90 minutes in Leicester City's 2-0 loss to Barnsley on Monday.
SEASON: 16 games, 15 starts, 1 goal
Mike Grella, F, Scunthorpe United -- In the 18, did not play in Scunthorpe's 2-1 victory over Leyton Orient on Friday. Grella was in the 18 and came on as an 88th-minute substitute in Scunthorpe's 1-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth on Monday.
SEASON: 24 games, 12 starts, 2 goals
Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United -- Started, played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town on Friday and in Carlisle's 0-0 draw with Sheffield United on Monday.
SEASON: 40 games, 38 starts
Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg -- Started, played 90 minutes in Nurnberg's 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg on Sunday.
SEASON: 27 games, 27 starts, 1 goal
Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 -- In the 18, did not play in Hannover's 2-0 victory over FC Augsburg on Saturday.
SEASON: 28 games, 27 starts
Fabian Johnson, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Started, played 74 minutes in Hoffenheim's 3-0 loss to FC Schalke 04 on Saturday.
SEASON: 23 games, 23 starts, 3 goals
Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 -- Not in the 18 for Schalke's 3-0 victory over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday.
SEASON: 28 games, 25 starts, 2 goals
Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Augsburg -- Not in the 18 for Augsburg's 2-0 loss to Hannover 96 on Saturday.
SEASON: 23 games, 21 starts, 2 goals (21 games, 20 starts, 2 goals with FC Nordsjaelland)
Danny Williams, D/M, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Started, played 83 minutes in Hoffenheim's 3-0 loss to Schalke.
SEASON: 21 games, 17 starts, 1 goal
John Anthony Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin -- Started, played 90 minutes in Berlin's 2-0 victory over VfL Bochum on Saturday.
SEASON: 22 games, 19 starts
Joe Gyau, M, St. Pauli -- Started, played the first half and picked up a yellow card in St. Pauli's 2-2 draw with SC Paderborn 07 on Monday.
SEASON: 13 games, 5 starts
Alfredo Morales, D/M, Hertha Berlin -- In the 18, came on as a 75th-minute substitute in Berlin's 2-0 victory over Bochum.
SEASON: 5 games, 2 starts
Bobby Wood, F, TSV 1860 Munich -- In the 18, came on as a 59th-minute substitute in Munich's 1-0 victory over Erzgebirge Aue on Thursday.
SEASON: 12 games, 5 starts, 2 goals
Andrew Wooten, F, SV Sandhausen -- Started, played 61 minutes in Sandhausen's 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern on Sunday.
SEASON: 22 games, 15 starts, 5 goals
Michael Bradley, M, AS Roma -- In the 18, did not play in Roma's 2-0 loss to Palermo on Saturday.
SEASON: 25 games, 21 starts, 2 goals
Oguchi Onyewu, D, Malaga -- In the 18, did not play in Malaga's 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 2 goals
Carlos Bocanegra, D, Racing Santander -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Racing Santander's 0-0 draw with Elche on Sunday.
SEASON: 20 games, 20 starts (7 games, 7 starts with Rangers)
Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in AZ's 2-1 victory over Heracles on Sunday.
SEASON: 36 games, 36 starts, 25 goals
Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht -- Started, played 79 minutes in Anderlecht's 2-1 loss to Genk in the opening game of the Belgian playoffs on Monday.
SEASON: 40 games, 33 starts, 2 goals
Terrence Boyd, F, Rapid Vienna -- Started, played 90 minutes in Rapid Vienna's 3-2 loss to Ried on Saturday.
SEASON: 34 games, 28 starts, 15 goals
Maurice Edu, M, Bursaspor -- Not in the 18 for Bursaspor's 2-0 loss to Kasimpasa on Sunday.
SEASON: 12 games, 10 starts (1 game with Stoke City)
Caleb Patterson-Sewell, GK, Vitoria Setubal -- In the 18, did not play in Vitoria Setubal's 4-2 loss to Maritimo on Saturday.
SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 12 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Tony Taylor, F, Estoril Praia -- In the 18, came on as a 72nd-minute substitute and scored a last-gasp equalizer in second-half stoppage time of Estoril's 1-1 draw with Moreirense on Saturday. Taylor pounced on a flicked-on ball in the box after a long free kick and finished from a tight angle to salvage the point for his team and notch his first goal of the season.
SEASON: 16 games, 4 starts, 1 goal
DaMarcus Beasley, M, Puebla -- In the 18, came on as a halftime substitute and scored off a goal in Puebla's 2-1 loss to Tigres UANL on Sunday. Beasley split two defenders with a run to meet a cross and headed home from the center of box to account for Puebla's scoring.
SEASON: 16 games, 12 starts, 4 goals
Jonathan Bornstein, D, Tigres UANL -- In the 18, did not play in Tigres' 2-1 victory over Puebla on Sunday.
SEASON: 1 game, 1 starts
Edgar Castillo, D, Tijuana -- Started, played 90 minutes in Tijuana's 1-0 loss to Toluca on Saturday.
SEASON: 11 games, 11 starts, 1 goal
Joe Corona, M, Tijuana -- Started, played 63 minutes in Tijuana's 1-0 loss to Toluca.
SEASON: 14 games, 10 starts, 1 goal
Michael Orozco Fiscal, D, Puebla -- Started, played 90 minutes in Puebla's 2-1 loss to Tigres UANL.
SEASON: 14 games, 14 starts
Greg Garza, D/M, Tijuana -- Not in the 18 for Tijuana's 1-0 loss to Toluca.
SEASON: 4 games, 2 starts
Herculez Gomez, F, Santos Laguna -- Started, played 90 minutes in Santos Laguna's 1-1 draw with Queretaro on Saturday.
SEASON: 14 games, 14 starts, 5 goals
Benji Joya, M, Santos Laguna -- Not in the 18 for Santos Laguna's 1-1 draw with Queretaro.
SEASON: 0 games
Jose Torres, M, Tigres UANL -- Started, played 69 minutes in Tigres' 2-1 victory over Puebla.
SEASON: 12 games, 12 starts
Charlie Davies, F, Randers FC -- Started, played 90 minutes in Randers' 0-0 draw with Odense BK on Thursday. The start was Davies' first in league play this season. Davies also started and played the first half of Randers' 2-0 victory over Sonderjyske on Sunday.
SEASON: 20 games, 3 starts
Clarence Goodson, D, Brondby IF -- Not in the 18 for Brondby's 1-0 loss to Esbjerg on Friday or for Brondby's 3-2 victory over AGF Aarhus on Monday.
SEASON: 18 games, 17 starts, 1 goal
Conor O'Brien, M/F, FC Nordsjaelland -- Started, played 90 minutes in Nordsjaelland's 4-2 victory over AGF Aarhus on Friday and in Nordsjaelland's 3-1 victory over FC Midtjylland on Monday.
SEASON: 26 games, 16 starts, 5 goals (22 games, 12 starts, 5 goals with Sonderjyske)
Alejandro Bedoya, M, Helsingborg IF -- Started, played 82 minutes in Helsingborg's 3-0 victory over Djurgarden IF on Sunday.
SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts, 2 goals
Brian Span, M, Djurgarden IF -- In the 18, came on as a 55th-minute substitute in Djurgarden's 3-0 loss to Helsingborg IF on Sunday.
SEASON: 4 games, 1 start
Steve Clark, GK, Honefoss -- Honefoss did not have a game this past week.
SEASON: 1 game, 1 start, 3 goals allowed
Mix Diskerud, M, Rosenborg BK -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Rosenborg's 4-0 victory over Brann on Monday.
SEASON: 2 games, 2 starts, 1 goal
Josh Gatt, M, Molde FK -- Molde did not have a game this past week.
SEASON: 1 game, 1 start