ENGLISH SEASON PREVIEW
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
ANDREW VORCE - Thursday, August 12, 2010
While the names of the Americans in the Premier League remains relatively unchanged, several new faces in new places in the Championship and League One highlight the Yanks playing abroad in England.

The 2010/2011 campaign should see Jon-Paul Pittman and Anton Peterlin looking to help their clubs earn promotion while staving off relegation will be the focus for World Cup players Stuart Holden, Marcus Hanemann and Jonathan Spector in the Premier League.

Premier League

Aston Villa
Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj

Last Season: 6th, Qualified for Europa League Play-Off Round

2010/2011 Outlook
The combination of US Mens National Team retired veteran Brad Friedel and the future of the American goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, has created a solid rear guard to compliment a very exciting squad going forward. Villa lists 18 English players in their squad to go along with international stars John Carew and Stiliiyan Petrov.

Villa's biggest obstacle for the 2010-11 campaign will not be their Europa League duties, but finding a head coach worthy of steering the up-and-coming squad to success. One week before the season, head coach Martin O'Neal resigned his post leaving a huge void to be filled. Plenty of candidates lay in wait, one being current US head coach Bob Bradley.

One of O'Neal's biggest problems of creating a heavyweight squad was the constant stampede of 'big clubs' snatching up his best players. The biggest transfer news of the summer surrounding the Birmingham-based club was the possible departure of James Milner to fellow Europa League participants Manchester City.

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
With Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew and Ashley Young all raring for goals up front, this season has the potential for greatness at Villa. If they can overcome their coaching hunt and the new boss can steer the club back on course, Villa should have no problem retaining Europa League status next season while making a run in the tournament itself.

Everton
Tim Howard

Last Season: 8th, Premier League

2010/2011 Outlook
Last season Tim Howard provided Everton head coach David Moyes with an ever dependable shot stopper in the back, which allowed the Toffee outfield players to go about their business as they liked. Everton finished two points behind seventh placed Europa League qualified Liverpool, narrowly missing out on the tournament.

Moyes' biggest problem last season was the dreaded injury bug which saw a number of his players on the sidelines for long stretches, as well as taking Marouane Fellaini out for the entire season. Landon Donovan was brought in on a 10 week loan which saw him earn Player of the Month in January, where he played 13 games and scored twice in that time period.

One of Everton's most exciting aqcuisitions of the summer has to be Jermaine Beckford, who went on a scoring rampage with Leeds United including scoring the game winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford to progress in the FA Cup.

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
As one of the best British head coaches in the Premier League, Moyes should be able to successfully steer his club back into the fight for the Europa League. If all of his players stay fit and healthy, Europa League qualification is in their grasp.

Fulham
Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson

Last Season: 12th, Premier League; 2nd (Runners-up), Europa League

2010/2011 Outlook
Clint Dempsey helped lead Fulham on one of their most exciting roller coaster seasons ever as the American helped push the London club all the way to the Europa League Finals. Dempsey was a contender for goal of the season with his sublime 20 yard back post chip against Juventus that saw them progress in the Europa League.

Eddie Johnson will be re-joining the club after a moderately successful loan spell at Aris with fellow countryman Freddy Adu. Johnson, like Adu, has spent his time in Europe on loan rather than at the club that bought him for 90% of every season. Settling down in Greece allowed Johnson to refocus, and now the former Kansas City Wizard may be on the track for Premier League minutes.

The biggest obstacle for Fulham will be the replacing former head coach Roy Hodgeson, who left the club to take up the head coaching position at Liverpool. The Premier League was very top heavy last season, with the difference between the top eight and the next placed team, ninth placed Birmingham, being an 11 point gap.

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
Fulham have had their ups and downs the last few years, but finished a respectable 12th in the Premier League lasts eason after their fairy tale run in the Europa League. A new coach can make or break this team, but if all falls into place a top half finish is possible.

Bolton
Stuart Holden

Last Season: 14th, Premier League

2010/2011 Outlook

Stuart Holden can expect to be a regular at Reebok Stadium for The Trotters who are coached by Owen Coyle. Coyle joined Bolton from Burnley after impressive displays, and steered the club to their 10th consecutive top flight season. Holden was largely regarded as a bright light in a dark room in his first appearance for Bolton, a 4-0 beating by Tottenham in which he played 90 minutes.

His season was cut short by Manchester City's Nigel de Jong, who broke Holden's leg in a friendly between the US and Netherlands. Fully recovered, Holden will look to be able to hold down a starting position for the 2010/11 season.

Coyle will have his work cut out for him as he now enters his first full season with the club. Holden will be a welcomed addition as the club only finished nine points above safety. There is plenty of talent in the Bolton line up, but Coyle must bring out their best over the whole season.

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
If things go right, Bolton should have no problem surviving another season in the Premier League. Don't expect a top half finish, but they should be able to secure 14th place again.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Marcus Hahnemann

Last Season: 15th, Premier League

2010/2011 Outlook

Marcus Hahnemann helped Wolverhampton Wanderers survive relegation from the top flight of the English game for the first time since 1981, having never played back to back seasons at the highest level since.

2010 also saw them finish the highest position in the last 30 years, eight points above the relegation zone and in 15th place. Despite little attacking impetus, head coach Mick McCarthy had a strong rear guard to help guide his ship towards Premier League survival.

The new campaign should change things as the club took a proactive movement in the transfer market soon after the conclusion of last season. Jelle van Damme, Steven Fletcher, Steven Mouyokolo and Steven Hunt were all brought in immediately, including making Adlene Guedioura's loan deal permanent.

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
If Wolves can learn how to finish their opportunities and drastically improve their goal scoring low from last season (32), McCarthy may be able to keep them in the Premier League for another season. A 16th placed finish should be acceptable to Wolves fans.

West Ham United
Jonathan Spector, Sebastian Lletget

Last Season: 17th, Premier League

2010/2011 Outlook

Jonothan Spector had a less than ideal league season last year, coupled with an interesting run in the Carling Cup. The most memorable moment for the American defender surely would have to be the heinous scenes at Upton Park when bitter enemies Millwall made the short trip to visit the Hammers.

There were plenty of downfalls last season with the club owners being unable to provide funds, as the club's shirt sponsor had to purchase Alessandro Diamanti because the club only had one fit and experienced striker.

West Ham was in the relegation battle for a majority of the season, narrowly finishing in the last safe position, five points above relegated Hull City.

2009 saw West Ham finish ninth, but Giofranco Zola's horrific 2010 season forced the club to terminate Zola's contract. Former Chelsea head coach Avram Grant was appointed his successor at the end of the season who could elect to feature young American Sebastian Lletget at some point for the senior squad.

Lletget says

"My ultimate goal last season was just to get noticed by Zola, who was West Ham's head coach, and that is exactly what happened. Everything just took off from there."

"This season will be a little tricky in the sense that there is a new coach and that we have a big squad this year compared to last year. Now, I am just focused on catching the eye of all the first team staff. Anything can happen in soccer and things can change at such a fast pace, so I'm taking it step-by-step and continue working in accomplishing my ultimate goal, which is still to make my first team debut."

"After the first six weeks are over, I'll have a better idea of where I stand in the team. If I'm not in the squad for the first couple months, then I'll have to keep proving myself in the reserves."

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
With Avram Grant now at the helm of a talented squad, West Ham United should have no problem regaining the presence of seasons past. If everything goes their way, the Hammers should have no problem finishing in 12th position.

Championship

Norwich City
Zak Whitbread

Last season: 1st, League One (Promoted)

2010/2011 Outlook
Norwich City ran away with League One last season amassing 95 points and finishing nine points ahead of Leeds. There is still alot for head coach Paul Lambert to feel good about as the scoring nucleus of Grant Holt, Chris Martin and Wes Hoolahan all return for the Canaries.

Holt found the back of the net 24 times in league play while Martin scored 23 goals. Not to be outdone was Hoolaham who scored 13 times on the campaign.

But there are still questions as to how Norwich might fare in the back this season after the club released the ever-popular Gary Doherty. All the Irish defender did while last season was earn a spot on the League One team of the year.

Whitbread will have to fight for time on the Canaries' defense as import Steven Smith comes in to reinforce the back. The former teammate of Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley at Rangers brings a championship pedigree to the squad.

Also anchoring the back is goalkeeper John Ruddy. The well-traveled netminder comes via Everton where he made nine different loan stops in the last five years with the Toffees. Needless to say Ruddy will be out to solidify his starting position so he won't be looking for a new apartment somewhere soon.

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Certainly an enticing pick to make a run towards promotion with such an abundance of goal-scorers. They might not get there, but they will be fun to watch. A finish between 7th-12th would a good starting point with a look towards 2011/2012.

Leeds United
Mike Grella

Last season: 2nd, League One (Promoted)

2010/2011 Outlook
Arguably the most demanding fan base in the Championship if not all of England will be eagerly anticipating Leeds' return to the second level of English professional soccer.

Now almost ten years removed from their run to the 2001 UEFA Champions League semifinals, Leeds are halfway back to their stated goal of joining the Premier League after having achieved automatic promotion last season from League One.

Head coach Simon Grayson bid adieu to dazzling striker Jermaine Beckford who has taken his craft to Everton, but still has plenty of talent in the cupboard with Robert Snodgrass and Patrick Kisnorbo.

Unfortunately for Kisnorbo, an achilles injury to the defender has him out the first half of the season giving a green light to the other clubs in the Championship who will try to expose that side of the field in his absence.

Snodgrass will be looked upon to generate some offense as he displays some of the similar tendencies as a winger/striker that Beckford possessed.

Should he not see any time early, you can expect Grella to request a loan to get some more playing time but, judging by the opening week match where the former Duke product saw some decent second half minutes in league and Carling Cup action, Grella might just stay at Elland Road at least until the winter transfer period.

Grella says:
"I think we can at least fight for a playoff spot and even make a run at automatic promotion. We beat Wolves in the preseason. We're strong so we're definitely shooting for promotion."

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Grella's optimism aside, fans of the Whites may want to dial down their expectations as injuries could be of concern to Snodgrass and forward Billy Paynter. A 12th place finish sounds a bit more reasonable.

Derby County
Conor Doyle

Last season: 14th, Championship

2010/2011 Outlook
Now entering his third season at the helm of the Rams, Nigel Clough commands a squad that could very well make a run back towards the top of the Championship standings.

Since their disastrous campaign in the Premier League in 2007/2008 when the club accrued the smallest point total ever for a Premier League team, Clough has been able to extract some positive results with the help from Scottish midfielder Kris Commons who is the fulcrum of the Derby attack.

There is talent up front with Rob Hulse who scored the season's first goal for the Rams in their opening 2-1 win over Leeds United. Hulse was also the Derby County player of the year for the 2008-2009 season.

As for the young Texan Doyle, consistently making the gameday roster and appearing in a handful of matches would be a great first step for a player who pleasantly surprised Clough during his three week trial at the club.

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Inexperience may be the biggest hindrance Clough has to deal with. The squad is a bit thin so if the injury bug strikes, a fairly green team may leave Derby fans feeling blue.

A top ten finish is a realistic expectation and certainly an improvement from the previous season.

League One

Plymouth Argyle
Anton Peterlin

Last season: 23rd, Championship (Relegated)

2010/2011 Outlook
The 2009/2010 campaign was an unmitigated disaster for the Pilgrims who were submerged in the lower rungs of the Championship the entire year. It also proved to be a fruitless loan stop for American Kenny Cooper who packed his bags and returned to his parent club of 1860 Munich.

Former PDL player Anton Peterlin hopes to find greener pastures under the direction of Peter Reid. Peterlin spent last season in the Everton youth system before signing with Plymouth earlier this summer.

The American midfielder will hope to improve the Pilgrims' attack as Plymouth were not even able to average a goal per game last season.

However a hard-nosed defense will keep Reid's club in many matches and very competitive throughout the season as evidenced by the team's 1-0 win over Southampton in the opening weekend.

Peterlin says:
"My goal last season was to get some games under my belt in the English League. I got those in the reserves and did well. I have learned a lot from older and experienced players in my position and have taken that with me to Plymouth. I have also learned a little more about the English style of soccer which is very direct and physical. I have accomplished it but want more."

"To impress and get first team soccer is my primary goal this season and help the team win matches. To get stuck in and play simple. Another goal is to score some goals. I have always thought as myself as a box to box player and hope to get some goals."

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Plymouth will contend for automatic promotion and at the very least qualify for the promotion playoffs.

Carlisle United
Frank Simek

Last season: 14th, League One

2010/2011 Outlook
When your leading scorer is a defender, then you know there's a problem up front with your strikers and attacking midfielder and such is the case with the Cumbrians.

Irishman Ian Harte tallied 17 times for Carlisle from the back line last season and is joined in defense by the American Simek and James Chester who joins the club on-loan from giants Manchester United.

Midfielder Tom Taiwo presents an intriguing possibility at midfielder as the former Chelsea prospect looks for a breakout season at the young age of 20. Otherwise, Joe Anyinsah will have to pick up the offensive slack for Greg Abbott's club.

Simek says:
"It's hard to tell right now how we shape up. We did well in our preseason so we take confidence in that for this season. We start with a tough first couple of weeks, but if we do well, we can build off that."

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Simek and Carlisle will pose as a challenge to teams trying to score but relying on a defender to score the bulk of your goals is an uneasy proposition. A finish in the middle of the standings is a safe bet.

League Two

Wycombe Wanderers
Jon Paul-Pittman

Last season: 21st, League One (Relegated)

2010/2011 Outlook
Optimism abounds even for a team that suffered through a disastrous season last year.

Gary Waddock took over for Peter Taylor in October of last year and even though he could not save Wycombe from relegation, he seems to have earned the respect of the club's fans.

Even at the young age of 23, new striker Scott Rendell brings in a long playing resume and could pair nicely with Yank Jon-Paul Pittman but Waddock could also utilize Ben Strevens up front as well. The latter is a well-traveled veteran and has plenty to prove after League One club Brentford moved forward without him in the offseason.

Pittman comes into the 2010/2011 campaign on a roll having tallied eight goals in seven preseason matches, including a hat trick in just four minutes versus a Chelsea team that was mainly made up of reserves.

Add to the fact that the Oklahoma native already has a goal in league play tallying in their season opening win over Morecambe, it makes for a very confident striker.

Yanks Abroad prediction:
Pittman and company hover in the top three all season long and secure promotion to League One with a second place finish.

Northampton Town
Seb Harris

Last season: 11th

2010/2011 Outlook

Gone from Sixfields is team leading scorer Adebayo Akinkenwa so the onus will be on the rest of the strikers to make up for the 17 goals Akinkenwa scored last season.

New signing and Irishman Tadgh Purcell looks to be a good candidate to fill that need while Harris will also hope to see some time off the bench and improve on his modest goal scoring total of one from last season.

The Michigan native did enough to impress the team's brass to receive another contract after last season.

The strength of Ian Sampson's team though is on its back line and the addition of former Coventry man Marcus Hall helps add a veteran presence.

Northampton has a tendency to yo-yo during the season and an opening 3-0 loss to Torquay United started the season off on the wrong foot.

Harris says:
"We are aiming for the playoffs at the very least or better. The defense is a lot stronger now and the midfield is tighter. We also have other strikers that have all scored in pre season. The knocking out of Brighton from the Carling Cup will help us to get back on track!!"

"The mood is very very good and we have bonded well pre season, and there is no reason we can't carry this on thru this season."

Yanks Abroad Prediction:
The Northampton roller coaster will have its peaks and valleys throughout the season but will still be on the outside looking in come playoff time due to a lack of scoring punch up front.

Notes

Look for plenty of movement to occur for Americans in either transfer window including the much anticipated news of whether or not Donovan will make another ten week cameo in the EPL.

Another thing to focus on is which young American players could make their debuts for their senior clubs. Lichaj of Aston Villa and Lletget of West Ham are solid candidates while William Packwood at Birmingham and Cody Cropper at Ipswich could also see time.
Desi
Friday August 13, 2010 12:02 pm
DeMerit was released by Watford. He's a free agent without a team.
Lou
Thursday August 12, 2010 9:11 pm
Where is Watford and Jay DeMerit?
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