U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has championed the value of the players participating in big-time games and in big-time competitions, and this weekend he certainly gets his wish. Seasoning, experience, and ability to prove yourself in challenging moments all come from these types of opportunities, and with the National Team camp set to begin in a few weeks’ time, there’s no better time to shine. Many U.S. internationals will be lining up for important matches this weekend with high stakes - spots in Europe on the line, huge derbies, and games against fellow Americans. Here's a look at the highlights:
Timmy Chandler vs. Fabian Johnson - Hoffenheim retain slim hopes of qualifying for the Europa League – at the expense of Steve Cherundolo’s Hoffenheim – while Nurnberg look to crack the top half of the table when the two left-sided U.S. internationals square off. The big news from Hoffenheim this week was the shoulder injury to Danny Williams, which raises a question mark on his availability for the National Team this summer.
Steve Cherundolo - After reaching the quarterfinals this year, Hannover are in the hunt for another Europa League berth and they travel to face the team currently in possession of the last spot. Bayer Leverkusen is in sixth place and three points ahead of Hannover with two games left on the docket.
Tim Howard v. Clint Dempsey (FOX Soccer tape delay, 5 p.m. ET) - Two teams that have had fantastic seasons in large part to the contributions of the U.S. internationals square off at Goodison Park as Everton welcome Fulham. Fresh off being voted the fourth best player in the Premier League this season, the milestone of scoring his 50th career goal at Fulham sits in front of Clint Dempsey, and his long-time U.S. teammate looks to deny him the achievement for at least another week.
Jermaine Jones (GolTV, 2 p.m. ET) - Schalke 04 maintain a two-point lead above Borussia Moenchengladbach for third place in the Bundesliga and a spot in the Champions League. They host relegation Hertha Berlin, the club of Alfredo Morales, who are likely relegation bound.
Jozy Altidore - AZ face a massive match at Feyenoord on Sunday, as the two teams are deadlocked on 61 points with three games remaining. While Ajax seems to have a hold on the title, second place means a spot in Champions League qualifying. Altidore has been on fire recently, scoring five goals in his last four matches.
Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu (FOX Soccer tape delay, 7 p.m. ET) - Despite the title race being decided, there's never any incentive needed for an Old Firm as Rangers meet Celtic for the final time this season. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra will likely sport the armband Sunday, and with the turbulent times off the field, Rangers would like nothing better than a victory in the Glasgow derby to add a little sunshine to the season.