Postcards from Europe: Americans across the continent have plenty to play for

Title races, European berths, and relegation battles

Jozy Altidore, Hull City

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

With the standard fall-to-spring
European campaigns heading down the stretch, several Americans have much to
play for overseas. We have a lot to get through, so let's ditch with the
ceremony, and set the scenes.

Crown Jewels

DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice
of Rangers are on the inside lane and have the finish line in sight.
With a game in hand on second place Celtic, the Light Blues lead their Glasgow
arch rivals by 10 points with 10 to play. So barring a mighty collapse, they
should raise championship silver in May.

Elsewhere, recovering AC Milan
defender Oguchi Onyewu could return
just in time for a San Siro Scudetto
tussle. The Rossoneri are a mere point behind in-house rivals Inter, though
they face an unenviable run-out featuring Sampdoria, Palermo, Fiorentina, Genoa
and Juventus.

In Their Cups

Having already bagged the CIS
Insurance Cup on the weekend, Rangers are in for a domestic treble. They visit
Dundee United for a Scottish Cup quarterfinal replay on Wednesday.

A pair of Americans also remains
in the FA Cup draw. Brad Friedel's
Aston Villa await a semifinal date with Chelsea, while Clint Dempsey’s Fulham visit Tottenham for a quarterfinal replay on

Sochaux forward Charlie Davies could come back from
injury with silver on the line if his teammates can top Coupe de France
quarterfinal hosts Monaco on Wednesday.

The Aris duo of Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson head to Kavala on Thursday holding a 3-1 lead in the
Greek Cup semifinal. Advancement would likely see them face league leaders
Panathinaikos for the whole gyro.

In Danish Cup quarterfinal play,
Michael Parkhurst's Nordsjælland
visit Silkeborg on April 8, the same day Euan
and second flight Vejle BK host SønderjyskE.

Promotional Tour

A couple of Americans employed
in second divisions are angling for the big time. With seven to play and two
automatic promotion spots on offer, Luis
' Kaiserslautern are five points clear at the top and look good to
jump to the Bundesliga.

In Portugal, Aves loan item Kamani Hill has begun seeing good time
off the bench recently. The northerners stand just six points out of the second
promotion slot and will face each of the five teams ahead of them in the table
in the final seven matches.

Keep It Up

Let's start in England, where
the fight to stave off relegation has the highest stakes. Based on Newcastle's
books after being relegated from the Premier League last spring, the drop
should cost three teams upwards of £35 million ($52.8M).

Hull City and striker Jozy Altidore are in the worst
position: 19th and four points from safety. The good news is the Tigers still
face three of the four teams ahead of them.

Jonathan Spector's West Ham United have lost four straight to fall
to 17th, but remain three points clear of the danger zone. Five of their final
eight matches at home.

Marcus Hahnemann and 16th-place Wolverhampton visit the Hammers on
Tuesday with a one-point edge. They still travel to Arsenal and Fulham, but
their remaining slate is kind.

In Germany, Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 currently reside in 16th, which
would send them to a promotion/relegation playoff against the third place
2.Bundesliga side (currently St. Pauli). The Reds have a rough run-out. In
between survival derbies with Cologne and Bochum, Hannover must face all three
title contenders.

Continental Divide

The fight for Champions League
and Europa League spots is is where things get complicated, so pay attention.

With Milan and Rangers looking
safe for Champions League berths, we start this look with Aston Villa.

Tom Hanks' favorite side,
currently is seventh place,  is
five points shy of a Champions League invite. They have a game in hand on
fourth-place Spurs and two on sixth-place Liverpool. Apart from trips to Chelsea
and fifth-place Manchester City, their remainder is not so scary.

Meanwhile, Tim Howard and Everton are seven points out of the Europa League
place currently held by city rivals Liverpool. Though they still must visit Man
City and Villa, the Toffees won't play anyone else currently ranked above 10th.

In France's Ligue 1, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes have won
three straight to climb to within seven points of Europa League ball. Of their
remaining nine games, the key contest looks a May 5th trip to fourth-place

Both Eintracht Frankfurt's Ricardo Clark and Mainz 05's Jared Jeffrey are hoping for Bundesliga
debuts en route to the Europa League. Each club sits eight points off pace with
seven games left.

In Greece, Adu and Johnson are
also chasing Europe for their loan employers. Aris stand in the final playoff
spot, five points clear of Kavala. From the four-team round robin, one club
will enter Champions League qualifying and two earn a Europa League

Finally, in Denmark, Chris Rolfe and Marcus Tracy can help fifth-place Aalborg BK get another Europa
League qualifying-round spot. The team is seven points out of the berth, but
still get one crack at third-place Esbjerg once and two at fourth-place