Americans Abroad: Key U.S. players return from injuries
Call it the Weekend of the Comeback.
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):
Caleb Patterson-Sewell, GK, Vitoria Setubal -- In the 18, did not play in Vitoria Setubal's 4-2 loss to Maritimo on Saturday.
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.