Fulham and Sunderland have had nightmare seasons to date. Both EPL teams have jettisoned the managers they started the season with, both are facing relegation (with Sunderland in dead last, and Fulham hovering in 16th, just two points above the drop zone), and they have the two worst goal differentials in the league to date.
But for American soccer fans who feel that competing against Premier League talent is a measure of potential World Cup success, Saturday's match at London's Craven Cottage is must-see TV.
Clint Dempsey, brought into the Fulham squad on a two-month loan to bolster the squad's attack, will see his first Premier League action since leaving Tottenham Hotspur at the start of the 2013-14 season, with the team where he's enjoyed his greatest overseas success to date. Dempsey scored 60 goals in 225 appearances during his six seasons in Fulham, including 17 goals in 37 league matches in 2011-12 -- the year he set the record for most goals in a career as well as a season for an American in the EPL.
Jozy Altidore's first EPL season has hardly been record-setting. Coming off a brilliant Eredivisie season last year, in which he scored 31 goals in 41 competitions for AZ Alkmaar, he's only scored one goal in 18 league appearances for the Black Cats -- though he's also contributed a goal in Sunderland's surprising Capital One Cup run. Altidore's team, winning 2-1 versus Manchester United in the first leg on the semi-finals at home this past Tuesday, is potentially 90 minutes away from making the cup finals. Manager Gus Poyet, responding to criticism about Altidore's form in November in the Sunderland Echo (as reported by ESPN FC), expressed confidence that Altidore's obvious strengths, as evinced by his USMNT goal-scoring form over his last ten international matches, would eventually emerge for Sunderland. Obviously, Poyet would like that to happen as soon as possible with relegation looming.
The Americans will duel at 10 am ET; the game will be televised on NBC's Premier League Extra Time.