Americans Abroad eye championships, promotion as seasons wrap
It is the time of year when the P words take on more relevance: Prestige. Playoffs. Promotion.
Americans abroad are competing for all three as seasons across the world come to a close. Some are playing vital roles for their teams in quests for each kind of glory.
Clint Dempsey continued his assault on the Manchester clubs, scoring a turning-point goal in Tottenham's come-from-behind win over Manchester City on Sunday. His 75th-minute finish off Gareth Bale's cross sparked a three-goal, seven-minute surge that kept Tottenham in the race for the prestige of a place in the Champions League.
Dempsey has 11 goals in all competitions this season, and three have come in games against the top two teams in the Premier League, Manchester United and City, which have helped Spurs net seven valuable points. Dempsey completed his transfer to Tottenham in hopes of competing on Europe's grandest stage, and he's doing his part to try and get Spurs there after they barely missed out last season.
As for domestic cup prestige, Michael Bradley and Charlie Davies will play for silverware in their respective countries. Bradley's Roma eliminated Inter Milan to reach the Coppa Italia final against rival Lazio. Davies' Randers will play in the Danish Cup final against Esbjerg after advancing this past week. Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar have long sealed their place in the Dutch Cup final, where they will face PSV in a rematch of Saturday's league contest in which Altidore left with a minor injury.
In the playoff hunt, Sacah Kljestan's latest goal capped a postseason win for Anderlecht, fighting a dip in form at the worst time. With five games remaining in Belgium's 10-game playoff round robin, Anderlecht is in second place, a point out of a place that cements an automatic berth in next season's Champions League.
Halfway across the world, Santos Laguna and Tigres have cemented spots in the Mexico's eight-team playoffs, which means more meaningful matches for Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres. Gomez also has the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey as he looks to become the first American since Torres (2008) to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.
As for promotion, after everything Stuart Holden has endured over the last two years, having him reclaim a place in the Premier League would be just desserts. Bolton has recalled him from his loan to Sheffield Wednesday for the remainder of the season as it looks to cement a place in the League Championship promotion playoffs. One side that has already sealed it's top-flight fate for next season is Hertha Berlin and its two U.S.-eligible products, defenders John Anthony Brooks and Alfredo Morales, who will play in the Bundesliga next season -- assuming they remain with the club -- after clinching promotion from the 2. Bundesliga.
Elsewhere of note this past week, January U.S. camp call-ups Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud scored goals, while Freddy Adu made his debut in Brazil with Bahia as a substitute in the Campeonato Baiano. Here's how the Americans abroad contingent fared overall (season statistics encompass all competitions):