by GIANFRANCO PANIZO
With only a handful of Americans participating in this weekend's soccer festivities, most fans might assume it was a relatively quiet weekend. It wasn't. The number of players may seem miniscule but there was plenty to talk about when the weekend came to a close.
It was more of the same in England. Tim Howard picked up three points and his eighth shut-out of the season for Everton while Brad Friedel's Aston Villa topped West Bromwich. The Villans are now dead even with Manchester United at 41 points and are just five back of league leaders Liverpool.
Clint Dempsey and Fulham had their game against Blackburn postponed due to a frozen pitch caused by frigid temperatures that would've probably been better suited for penguins and polar bears than a soccer game.
Yet the biggest news of the weekend came right from the United States.
Jose Francisco Torres (pictured) and Pachuca took on Atlas in one of two InterLiga finals held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. on Sunday night and a berth in the Copa Libertadores was on the line. The Mexican-American, who was being watched closely by Bob Bradley and the U.S. coaching staff from a press box, enjoyed a solid performance showing off his offensive creativity as well as his composure on the ball.
The game was an emotional roller-coaster ride and Pachuca led 3-0 at half-time thanks in part to some creative passing by Torres. Atlas was a man down but refused to give up and somehow managed to equalize before the end of regulation. The game went to penalty kicks and took 13 rounds before Pachuca came out victorious. Torres, who recently played in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, converted his spot kick.
Here's how the Americans Abroad did this weekend:
Tim Howard started and played 90 minutes in Everton's 2-0 win vs. Hull City on Saturday.
Brad Friedel started, played 90 minutes and made two saves in Aston Villa's 2-1 win vs. West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Brad Guzan dressed but did not play in Aston Villa's 2-1 win vs. West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Clint Dempsey and Fulham's game vs. Portsmouth on Saturday was postponed due to the weather.
Jonathan Spector did not dress in West Ham's 2-2 draw vs. Newcastle United on Saturday.
COCA COLA CHAMPIONSHIP
- Frank Simek did not dress in Sheffield Wednesday's 1-1 draw vs. Ipswich Town on Saturday. He is recovering from a hamstring injury.
- Jay DeMerit started and played 90 minutes in Watford's 4-0 loss vs. Reading on Friday.
- Eddie Johnson and Cardiff City did not play this week.
- Marcus Hahnemann did not dress in Reading's 4-0 win vs. Watford on Friday. He is recovering from a calf injury.
- Bobby Convey did not dress in Reading's 4-0 win vs. Watford on Friday.
DaMarcus Beasley and Rangers did not play this week.
Maurice Edu and Rangers did not play this week.
Bundesliga 1 and Bundesliga 2 are both on winter break.
- Jozy Altidore did not dress in Villarreal's 3-3 draw vs. Valencia on Saturday.
- Danny Szetela and Brescia did not play this week.
Carlos Bocanegra started and played 90 minutes in Rennes' 1-0 win vs. Grenoble on Saturday.
Freddy Adu did not dress in AS Monaco's 2-1 loss vs. Nantes on Saturday.
- Quentin Westberg and Troyes did not play this week.
The Jupiler Pro League is on winter break.
The Danish First Division is on winter break until March.
The Austrian Bundesliga is on winter break.
- Jose Francisco Torres started and played 90 minutes in Pachuca's 3-3 draw vs. Atlas on Sunday in the InterLiga. Torres also scored his penalty kick in Pachuca's penalty shoot-out vs. Atlas. Pachuca won the shoot-out 10-9.
American-born Players Playing for Other Countries
Giuseppe Rossi (Italy) started, played 90 minutes and scored a GOAL in Villarreal's 3-3 draw vs. Valencia on Saturday.
Brede Hangeland (Norway) and Fulham's game vs. Portsmouth on Saturday was postponed due to the weather.
Boaz Myhill (Wales) started and played 90 minutes in Hull City's 2-0 loss vs. Everton on Saturday.
What do you think of these performances? Still waiting for all the European leagues to get back in full throttle? Are you secretly wishing for Brad Friedel to come out of international retirement to provide more depth at the GK spot for USA? Think Torres' resume is getting more impressive as the weeks go by? Happy/Bitter to see Rossi hit the equalizer against Valencia?
Share your thoughts below.