Anticipated debuts, goal-scoring forwards and a potential renaissance.
All in a week's work for American soccer players stationed abroad.
The debuts belong to midfielders Michael Bradley and Stuart Holden, with Bradley appearing as a second-half substitute to play his first minutes in Serie A for Chievo Verona.
Holden, meanwhile, is set to make his long-awaited return from injury to first-team action on Tuesday. His name made the rounds on Monday when Bolton manager Owen Coyle announced that the U.S. midfielder would start Bolton's League Cup match against Aston Villa, marking his return from a serious knee injury that he suffered against Manchester United in March.
"In terms of my body mechanics I'm feeling close to 100 percent, but now it's all about putting the miles in my legs," Holden said in an interview on Bolton's official website.
To date, Holden has appeared in three reserve matches, but facing top-level opposition in a meaningful game will provide a good barometer for where he stands and how much is left to be done for him to reach his peak form.
"Stuart has obviously been out for a long time, and this game gives him the opportunity to play against Premier League opponents," Coyle said on the club's site. "We all concede that we look a better team when he plays and agree that he was one of the top midfielders in the Barclays Premier League last season."
Another sight for sore American eyes was the play of forwards Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez, who combined to account for four goals in wins for their respective teams. Altidore's goal was the best of the bunch and was perhaps the top tally of his career. In a UEFA Europa League tilt against Swedish club Malmo, the 21-year-old Altidore created a tremendous chance seemingly out of nothing, taking a touch, turning and firing a rocket from outside the box into the right upper-hand corner of the goal for his sixth score in nine games this season.
While Altidore is enjoying a coming of age during his first season in the Netherlands, the potential renaissance belongs to Oguchi Onyewu, who has earned the chance to perform regularly in his first season in Portugal for traditional power Sporting Lisbon.
Onyewu, who went from fixture to afterthought in the U.S. centerback discussion in a flash after dealing with a serious knee injury, made his third consecutive start on Monday and left a lasting impact on his team's victory. He headed home a vicious game-winning goal off a corner kick in the 3-2 win over Rio Ave, displaying the raw athleticism and sheer power that made him an unquestionable national-team selection during the previous World Cup cycle. As Onyewu, 29, approaches the two-year anniversary of tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee while helping the United States qualify for the 2010 World Cup, he appears to be making some headway toward at least returning to the call-up conversation.
Here is how the Americans playing abroad -- including a rejuvenated DaMarcus Beasley and a U.S.-committed Timmy Chandler -- fared this past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):