U.S. World Cup Stars Back In Action As Premier League Season Kicks Off

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

By Ives Galarcep,

Tim Howard starred at the World Cup while Jozy Altidore missed most of it. Both will look to write new chapters to their careers this week as they kick off the season in England.

The start of the English Premier League season means an opportunity for the England-based contingent of Americans Abroad to build on World Cup successes, and for some, a chance to make up for lost time.

Jozy Altidore appears ready to return to action after being sidelined since the World Cup with a hamstring injury. The U.S. striker appears to be in Sunderland’s plans for the new season, and manager Gus Poyet could hand him a chance to take the field when the Black Cats take on West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Altidore will be eager to put to rest the bad memories of last season in England, when he managed just one goal in English Premier League play (and two in all competitions) for Sunderland. Altidore will also want to get back into action after missing out on most of the world Cup with the hamstring injury suffered in the U.S. team’s World Cup-opening win against Ghana.

Competition for minutes at Sunderland won’t be easy for Altidore, with Connor Wickham still in the fold, Steven Fletcher back, Fabio Borini in line to be purchased and Jack Rodwell the newest arrival. If the Black Cats wind up with all four heading into the new campaign, Altidore could find himself struggling for playing time, assuming Sunderland doesn’t try to move him before the transfer deadline.

Tim Howard heads into the new season with far fewer worries than Altidore, and far more attention than in any of his previous seasons at Everton. The U.S. team’s star at the World Cup, Howard has enjoyed a summer basking in the glow of his World Cup heroics, and his Toffees ride into the new campaign on a wave of confidence after putting together one of the best summer transfer periods.

Everton managed to keep manager Roberto Martinez, re-sign Ross Barkley, buy Romelu Lukaku, and also add World Cup standouts Christian Atsu and Muhamed Besic. With Howard coming off a tremendous season and showing in Brazil, the Toffees could pose a serious threat to the top four in the Premier League, and that challenge begins on Saturday against Leicester City.

World Cup teammates Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan will renew acquaintances at the Britannia when Stoke City plays host to Aston Villa on Saturday. Cameron has been the subject of transfer speculation this month, with rumors suggesting clubs ranging from Hull City, Sunderland and Southampton, to Bundesliga sides Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt are targeting Cameron for a transfer.

It appears, for now, that Cameron will start the season with the Potters. Fellow American Brek Shea seems less likely to stick around at Stoke, with winger not featuring in manager Mark Hughes’ first-team plans this summer, making a loan move very likely at this point.

The English League Championship began play last week, and that first week also signaled the professional debut of 18-year-old American midfielder Emerson Hyndman, who started for Fulham in last week’s season-opening loss to Ipswich. Hyndman and the Cottagers take on Millwall on Saturday.

Tim Ream will face former U.S. Gold Cup teammate Eric Lichaj when Ream’s Bolton meets Lichaj’s Nottingham Forest. Americans Jonathan Spector and Will Packwood lead Birmingham City against Brighton & Hove Albion.

In Germany, the Bundesliga season doesn’t kick off yet, but the DFB Pokal is in full swing, and will feature several U.S. World Cup players. Fabian Johnson is set to make his debut for Borussia Monchengladbach, which meets FC 08 Homburg on Saturday, while John Brooks and Hertha Berlin meet Viktoria Koln. Timmy Chandler is set to make his Eintracht Frankfurt debut against Viktoria Berlin.

In France, Alejandro Bedoya and FC Nantes will look to build on their season-opening win against Lens last week by beating FC Metz on Saturday. Bedoya started in central midfield for Nantes in the opener and looks ready to play a key role for the French club this season.

Freddy Adu failed to make his debut for Serbian side FK Jagodina last week, but will look to make his first appearance on Saturday, against Crvena Zvezda.

Down in Mexico, the American contingent at Club Tijuana will be in action on Friday night, when the Xolos meet fellow American Gabriel Farfan and Chiapas. Tijuana is winless in four matches to start the season, and face a surprising Chiapas side that has won two of three.

Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez will lead UANL Tigres against a Puebla side that will be without American defender Michael Orozco, who is serving a red card suspension.

Edgar Castillo and red-hot Atlas meet winless Leones Negros in a match that has the makings of a rout. Atlas has won three straight, with Castillo settling in at left back since transferring from Club Tijuana.

The only team ahead of Atlas right now is 4-0 Club America, which meets Morelia on Saturday. American defender Ventura Alvarado played eight minutes in Club America’s most recent win, against Tigres, and the 21-year old as done well to earn a regular place on the bench for the Mexico City powerhouse.