Stats: Howard vs Guzan – Who has been better this season?

The USA’s top two goalkeeper’s are set to go head-to-head when Everton welcome Aston Villa to Goodison Park as the Premier League returns following the international break this weekend.

The Toffees come into the game in poor form, having failed to win in their last five in all competitions, but they will be confident of getting a result against a Villa side that has lost its last three league games without scoring a goal.

Tim Howard will hope to earn his first home clean sheet of the campaign against his fellow USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who has taken the number one spot in Klinsmann’s team while Howard has a break from international football.

Statistic Tim Howard Brad Guzan
Appearances 7 7
Clean sheets 1 3
Goals conceded 16 9
Saves/game 2.43 2.71
Punches/game 0.29 0.57
Successful catches/game 2.29 1.00
Accurate goal kicks/game 5.43 3.86

Howard has endured a tough start to the new season, and has conceded 16 times in his first seven matches, a significantly worse record than Guzan so far.

The Villa ‘keeper has conceded nine in the same number of games, but Everton’s defence is considerably stronger on paper, and Howard is maybe struggling with a ‘World Cup hangover’ after such excellent displays in Brazil.

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Guzan has made more saves per game this season, and tends to punch the ball away from danger more often that Howard too, but the Everton shot-stopper is much better at catching the ball, and is also more accurate with his feet.

The game at Goodison Park this weekend looks set to be a good one as both sides are desperate to find some form after the break, and whichever US goalkeeper performs best will likely see his team succeed.

Who has been more impressive this season – Guzan or Howard?

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The Europeans are coming, send them home with something to think about

The football season is over for the European teams, and they are now planning their assaults on their relevant leagues next season.

Part of that planning involves pre-season friendly matches against opposition which will give them a good game, and also add the chance for some additional marketing opportunities at the same time.

This year a whole host of European clubs are off to the USA to play against teams from various US leagues.

From Great Britain there are clubs such as Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Fulham and Swansea.

That is nearly 50% of the current EPL clubs set to make the trip stateside this summer.

To emphasise the current view of MLS, it is Arsenal who are perhaps showing their hand more than any other. The Gunners are coming for just one game in a friendly against their former club legend, Thierry Henry, and his NY Red Bulls side.

This is the only pre-season friendly they are playing outside Europe, so it must be thought of great benefit to the club to warrant the effort involved.

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(Photo: Thierry Henry can’t wait to face his former side this summer)

Other European clubs making the trip across the pond are giants such as Real Madrid, Inter Milan, AS Roma, AS Monaco, Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos.

These clubs are not heading across for the benefit of their health; they are looking at potential opportunities for future growth and expansion. They are most likely aware MLS is on the up and now is a good time to for a US tour to get your brand name into the hearts and minds of American soccer fans.

The English Premier League is already popular in the US and it certainly won’t hurt to get your club to the front of the shop window.

But lets not think the relatively young Major League Soccer is naive. This trip works both ways and MLS is not going to be shy in coming forward.

MLS clubs such as Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire will be hosting these teams and promoting the fastest growing league in the world, to some of the sports biggest teams.

With the huge array of talent amongst the visiting teams, it will certainly get public attention from both sides of the Atlantic. The European audience will be eager for the new season to start and to forget their possible World Cup disappointments.

While the American fans will be looking to see how the improving US teams now compare to the European old guard.

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(Photo: Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team is one of many giant clubs heading to the US this summer)

Sport is of course synonymous today with business, and all of these clubs involved will be looking to increase revenue as a result of the tour.

The biggest winner to come out of this though should be MLS.

The European fans will be keen to watch their own team and also the other Euro opposition in early action. In doing so they will get a ringside seat of what is currently on offer from MLS and all being well, MLS will benefit most from the venture.

This is another giant stride in the right direction for Major League Soccer, and interest from across the pond should increase dramatically as a result.

MLS & EPL: closer than you thought?

With many English Premier League teams touring the USA and Canada this summer, it is perhaps fitting to look at the links between Major League Soccer and the EPL.

Some are learned facts, some are obscure stories and some are spurious rumours. The one thing in common is the love of the beautiful game and the historic partnership between North America and Great Britain.

Shoulder to shoulder, we all share the same passion; that great sport we all call football, no…soccer, sorry…football, no….soccer. Oh who cares? We love them both!

The list below will show the links that the 2013/14 Premier League teams have with North American soccer, and give an insight into the development of MLS.

Arsenal – American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder of Arsenal and also the owner of Colorado Rapids. The two teams formed an official link with each other in 2009.

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Aston Villa – Randy Lerner, current owner who has recently placed the club up for sale. American Brad Guzan is the current goalkeeper. Allegedly a US consortium are planning to become the new owners.

Cardiff City – The Welsh club share the honour of the most watched Premier League game in US this season with their rivals Swansea in the Welsh derby.

Chelsea – Have a megastore in North Carolina but have cancelled their proposed US tour this summer to focus on squad development. Though of course Frank Lampard has been linked with MLS for the past few years and is currently being linked again.

Crystal Palace – was affiliated with Crystal Palace USA team in 2006, by the then Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, in the old USL second division. In 2010 the US Palace team severed the link, stating they were to take a year out and re-structure the team. They have unfortunately never surfaced again, unlike Simon Jordan who pops up on British TV now and again showing off his penchant for expensive wristwatches. The Eagles are set to play three games in the US this summer.

Everton – Everton America is a direct link with Everton FC. They partner local sports organisations and help youth development in the US. A big pat on the back is deserved for this. Oh yeah, they also have the Big Man, Tim Howard between the sticks and have had Landon Donovan and Brian McBride play for them in recent years.

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Fulham – Have American based billionaire Shahid Khan as an owner, American Airlines as their official airline and had Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride as players.

Hull City – Twinned with Harlem as part of the “Keep calm and pick a side” campaign to promote the EPL. We are presuming no pictures of Hull were shown as it isn’t exactly the most attractive place in the UK to visit! They also visited NASA in 1984 and then Chairman, Don Robinson, said they would be the first team to play on the moon.

Liverpool – Home of The Beatles and the nearly Champions of the EPL in 2014.  Also have a lakeside village in Onondaga County NY apparently! They have the honour of having some of the coolest men in the US as fans, namely, Dr Dre, Samuel. L. Jackson, LeBron James and Brad Pitt. Not bad eh? Oh, and let’s not forget the American owner John W Henry II.

Manchester City – The newly crowned EPL champions are partnering with the New York Yankees to form a New York franchise; New York City Football Club, with Man City being majority owner. An incredibly wealthy team, and at this rate, they will eventually own every team in the EPL and MLS!

Manchester United – They have a large fan base in the US and even though the outgoing champions had a poor season, they are still a giant in the game. Owned by Americans, Malcolm Glazer and his family. A US investment company, Baron International, has recently bought $150 million worth of shares as an investment. This only equates to 2.5% of the club however, and was not enough to influence the club not to employ David Moyes as the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor!

Newcastle United – Andrew Parkinson, a striker, played for them from 1977-1979, who has got to be one of the first players from the USA to play here which is impressive. (Even though he wasn’t the first in the EPL, John Harkes has that honour). It is also the only decent link we could find so the Toon Army need make some connections across the pond, rather than just France.

Norwich City – Zak Whitbread, an American/English player who played for two and a half seasons for Norwich from 2010. We have nothing more to say about that.

Southampton – Have a Canadian owner in Ralph Krueger, and have been partial to an American keeper with the same initials, Kasey Keller and Cody Cropper.

Stoke City – Current Manager Mark Hughes is at present not having a great US experience due to the failure of a second appeal for a work permit, with young American striker Juan Agudelo. He is now apparently contemplating only signing European players following this protracted appeal. This would be a crying shame as the EPL/MLS bond has been strengthening on a yearly basis. On the plus side they do currently have American International, Geoff Cameron formerly of Houston Dynamo, Brek Shea, the ex FC Dallas man and Maurice Edu on their books. (Maurice Edu is currently on loan at Philadelphia Union).

Sunderland – American owner Ellis Short is currently at the helm and Jozy Altidore is currently on the books, but Jozy unfortunately hasn’t had the best of times in the EPL with one goal in over 30 league appearances this season.

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Swansea City – Featured in the most watched EPL game against Cardiff and the second-most watched game when they were away to Man Utd. We believe two of the Swansea players also drive Escalades!

Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs have been affiliated with San Jose Earthquakes since 2008, they also have Brad Friedel, one of the best free transfers in the league under their belt. Clint Dempsey also played for them before his recent return to MLS with Seattle Sounders. Whilst they recently sold Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC in a big move for MLS, and Spurs are set to tour the United States this summer.

West Bromwich Albion – Apparently The Baggies were sniffing around US player Tim Ream, currently playing for Derby County, but everyone and their aunt are denying that.

West Ham United – The Hammers run a respected International Academy within the USA and Canada. They had Jonathan Spector as a player from 2006-2010. Clive Charles also played for them in 1972/1973.

And we couldn’t write a piece like this without mentioning David Beckham. A huge GB and US name in our beloved sport, he is currently trying to start his own franchise in Miami and we are quietly hoping it gets called Miami Vice. Perhaps Jan Hammer can do the music as the team emerge from the tunnel?

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May the union between our countries long continue, and the gap between MLS and the EPL draw ever closer. There can only be one winner….all of us mad fans!